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source: Mandi Ehman

Announcing the Simplify for Fall Challenge

Have you ever read Joshua at Becoming Minimalist’s story? He tells of a weekend he spent cleaning out his garage and how he was simply fed up with the amount of time he spent managing his stuff.

I’ve been feeling a lot like that this summer (not just about stuff, but about our family’s routines and discipline as well).

By most people’s standards, we’d probably be considered minimalists already — although I’d bet that most minimalists would disagree! — but I’m ready to take it to the next level and simplify life.

We’ve fallen into the trap of having extras of many of the things in our home (clothes, towels, dishes, office supplies) for convenience, and I really think they’re robbing us of simplicity instead. I’m ready to limit the girls to 10 outfits each, the number of towels to those that fit in a single load, and so on to simplify life.

And as we head into fall and get back into the swing of school, I’m determined to get control!

On that note, I hope you’ll join me for the Simplify for Fall Challenge — from Monday, August 20th through Saturday, August 25th — as we tackle one area per day.

Why One Week?

It’s obviously pretty lofty to try to overhaul your whole home and all of your routines in a week, so that’s not exactly what I’m after! In fact, I really am a proponent of slow and steady progress since changes to simplify are made intentionally over time and are the ones that last the longest.

Our family has already begun working on some habits and routines, which you’ll read about in the coming weeks — things like developing better discipline, cleaning out the car every time we get out of it, following the touch it once rule, etc.

And I’ve spent a lot of the summer evaluating our clutter and organizing systems as we go about our daily life to figure out where the trouble spots are and how I can simplify them. Now I just need some focused time to make those changes happen!

If you’re just getting started with organizing or decluttering your home, I’d encourage you to start with one of these resources, all of which take you through baby steps over several weeks:

On the other hand, if you just need to tighten things up, clean up some hotspots, and take your decluttering to another level to simplify your life, then this series is for you! (And there will be plenty of tips for you to refer back to later if you want to tackle it more slowly!)

Simplifying for Fall

What to Expect

I’ll be doing this challenge a little bit differently than the ones I’ve done in the past, in a “live blogging” kind of format.

Each morning at 8 a.m. EST, I’ll post my plan for the day here on the Home channel with tips for tackling that day’s assigned areas. Then, I’ll update the post with my progress throughout the day, share before and after pictures and chat with you in the comments.

I’ll also be sharing my progress on Pinterest and Instagram, and I’d love to have you join me on either platform (or both!) with the hashtag #simplifyingforfall!

Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday, 8/20 — Clothes & Laundry Room
  • Tuesday, 8/21 — Kitchen & Meal Plan
  • Wednesday, 8/22 — Toys & School Supplies
  • Thursday, 8/23 — Bedrooms & Bathrooms
  • Friday, 8/24 — Paper Clutter & Budgets
  • Saturday, 8/25 — Routines & Schedules

How You Can Prepare Now

The key to this is going to be prepared over the next four weeks:

Clear Your Schedule

It’s hard to spend any focused time on your home when you’re busy running around, which is why I haven’t gotten many house projects done this summer! I’m planning to stay home every day except Friday during this challenge (since Friday is our campus orientation for our homeschool group) so that I will have a couple of hours of focused time each day to spend working through my list of decluttering and organizing projects.

If at all possible, clear your schedule and plan to enjoy a restful but productive week at home!

Plan Easy Meals

Begin stocking your freezer with meals now and fill in any gaps with easy meals from your rotation. Then, use the time you’d usually spend slaving away in the kitchen to work on “fall cleaning” your home instead.

Decide What’s Realistic

Although I plan to tackle my home from top to bottom this week, it’s not an all-or-nothing kind of challenge. If you won’t have that much time (or energy!), pick the areas that are bugging you the most and start with those. You can always go back and deal with the rest later!

Get Your Family Involved

Depending on the ages of your kids, having their help may or may not be actually helpful, but if they’re at an age where they can help organize or deep clean, get them on board now. If your hubby’s game, make a list of projects he could help with as well.

Make a Game Plan

The other thing you can begin doing now is identifying your trouble spots and brainstorming ways to fix them:

Are there too many toys shoved in toy bins or cabinets? Could you reduce the number of outfits that each member of your family has in their closets and drawers? Where does clutter build up? Is there some way you could reroute it before it lands there? Do you need to move some things around to make them more easily accessible? Where has your family gotten lazy or off track in your routines and schedules? Do you have a system in place for handling incoming mail and school papers?

Spend the next four weeks evaluating your home so that you’ll have a better idea of what you want to declutter and organize during the challenge week. Of course, if something can be taken care of quickly and you have the time, go ahead and do it now — there’s no reason you have to wait until the challenge starts!

What hot spots are driving you nuts this summer? Are you ready for “fall cleaning”?