Letting go of the past: A 7-day declutter challenge

Words, images, and videos by Alessandra Sio

People generally associate being at home with having lazy, relaxing, and generally unfruitful days,  but there are actually many ways to make homestays productive.  The enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed by the government due to COVID 19 required those who weren’t health care workers to stay home which gave us the perfect opportunity to tackle the chores many of us have long-avoided. And even if some of us still had school or work to do, the majority still were left with a large amount of free time. 

After I finished the school year, I realized that my room was quite a mess as I had put off cleaning it at all during my finals week. There’s a saying that we should always tackle the hardest thing first, and in my case, that was to clean my room. After this, other areas in the house would follow. Humble proposed a 7 Day Decluttering Challenge that made the entire cleaning process easier. The challenge would have you tackle a certain part of your home every day and set guidelines for that certain area, to make your decluttering process more doable and effective.


My decluttering journey began with planning. I had never thought of making a list of the areas that I wanted to clean, but this actually encouraged me to finish the challenge all the way through because it gave me a certain goal in mind of how I wanted these areas to look after. 

My closet seemed to be my biggest worry and challenge, so I chose to do it first. Because I’m such a visual person, the biggest issue I had was that I couldn’t see all the clothes covered and buried under the piles, which resulted in me wearing the same things over again. In addition, I still held on to multiple articles of clothing that I didn’t wear or those that didn’t fit me anymore. I began by taking out all of my clothes so I could see everything and be able to sort out those that I didn’t care for anymore. Once the sorting was done, I put the clothes that I didn’t want to wear but were still new or in good condition in a pile for donation.   This would be sent to my local parish once everything has settled. The clothes I still wanted to use were folded and put back in my closet in a more orderly manner. 

My bookshelf was up next and the time actually flew by doing this because there wasn’t any folding or hanging. The process was simple, set aside books I do not plan on reading soon or I don’t absolutely love. Around 16 books made its way to the giveaway pile which will be going to some younger cousins who I know will give the books the love that they deserve.

In the “Decluttering Challenge,” Day 4 actually meant having to sort papers, but having finished school a month prior to doing this, I already disposed of them as I had already graduated so I took care of the next item on my list: to clean “komono” items which in Japanese means small or miscellaneous items. In my case, “komono” referred to my make-up drawer. It was clear to me that I still held on to expired makeup which had to be thrown out and the entire drawer had lost its sense of organization as the lipsticks were with the eyeshadows and the brushes were outside of its container. The process took less than an hour and the results made my day. I had thrown out about 8 expired products and organized the rest. 

The area that easily gets cluttered in my house is the small pantry area by our kitchen which had to be cleaned. The before and after was drastic as I threw away multiple food boxes and jars that haven’t been used for a long time. I also repackaged certain food items by putting them in jars to give a cleaner and more pleasing effect.

I saved the best for last, fixing up the sentimental items I have collected over the years. Having just graduated, I had multiple boxes of memorabilia from high school that I needed to sort and choose the ones I wished to keep. Going through the boxes didn’t even feel like a chore or challenge because it felt so good to remember the things that I went through with my friends and family. 

In the end, it felt very refreshing and productive to have gone through the 7-day decluttering challenge.  It helped me let go of the things I no longer needed. Cleaning the rooms also decreased my stress level because I could see the way it made for brighter, more open-spaced, and orderly living areas. The immediate feeling was catharsis and the longer-term effect was general good vibes all around.

Going through the memory box made me feel grateful for the experiences I’ve had in life and setting aside a pile of barely used clothes gave me joy as I knew that they would go to those who need them more. Also, seeing the progress of the kitchen cleaning gave me the inspiration to maintain this clutter-free lifestyle. 

Cleaning up definitely is one of the most productive ways you can spend your free time. Make the Decluttering Challenge your guide and envision the future result as your inspiration to start now!