Clutter Control—the 27 X 9 Challenge by Virginia McCullough

Clutter—the common denominator of modern life we all complain about. But I learned one small clutter-control strategy that takes very little time. A couple of years ago, I was part of group of women who met on the phone once a month for the purpose of supporting each other’s dreams and goals, small or large. We’d pass on helpful ideas about all sorts of things, and one of the women heard about a way to jumpstart her quest to clear her clutter. She called it the 27 x 9 Challenge:  Eliminate 27 items from your home every day for nine days.  

Naturally, we asked why 27, why nine? My friend didn’t know the thinking behind the formula, but not being numerology specialists, we all decided we’d run with the idea without analyzing it. I committed to finding 27 items a day and by the tenth morning my local library had about 50 books to add to their annual book sale. A local charity-run thrift shop had a couple of bags of clothing and other odds and ends. Plus, my recycle bin was filled to the brim!

I’ve repeated the 27 x 9 challenge a few times since, and I just finished another “getting ready for fall” go round. Once again I end up feel lighter. Without question, counting out my 27 items is both fun and freeing. For one thing, I don’t have time right now to set aside a few days to carry out the major clutter-dumping, reorganizing-my-life project I’m always saying I need. I can cruise through the house and pick up 27 easy-to-dispose- of-items in a matter of minutes, at least for the first four to five days. By the ninth day, however, it can be trickier to part with some things. 

By the way, a book counts as one item, as does the old T-shirt you toss in the trash. But throwing away 27 pieces of paper or junk mail is, let’s say, a stretch. I’d never attach a pejorative like “clutter” to a book, but eventually it comes time to pass on a few you can bear to part with.

So, a couple of weeks ago in the course of nine days, I cleared away many things, including the quick-start easy stuff: two full boxes of paper, including paper copies of drafts of my own and clients’ books, which are now published and on sale. Why had I kept them so long, anyway? I also added a box of old makeup and first-aid items that should have been tossed the last time I did 27 x 9. 

  


Over the next few days, the library got more books and the thrift stores got two of my most favorite coats. Too bad they never fit well. In other words, liking them a lot didn’t make them wearable. I also threw out a bag of clothes not good enough to give away. If they aren’t good enough for a thrift shop to sell, I asked myself, why am I wearing them? Just because I work at home, how many “wear around the house” sweaters do I need? 

My kitchen cabinets are lighter—I mean, really, I like flowers, but when will I simultaneously use a dozen glass vases? Some of these flower shop vases should never have taken up space in the first place. My latest de-clutter challenge probably took less than an hour total. 

Here’s a 27 x 9 bonus:  Even a fast trip around my house always leaves me profoundly grateful for my life. Everywhere I look I see evidence of a life of love and adventure and work I love. I have cherished items brought back from wonderful trips or on fun shopping excursions with my daughter. My lovely home speaks of special people, places, and things. So, next stop, organizing what’s left. 

What's your favorite strategy for decluttering the chaos?

*****

Virginia McCullough is at work on ALL IN THE PAST, Book 1 of her new three-book series for Heartwarming, this one set in a small town on the fictional Bluestone River in north central Illinois. Like her other books, the series tells stories about characters who could be our neighbors and friends struggling with everyday life issues. LOVE, UNEXPECTED, Book 3 of Virginia’s Two Moon Bay series, was released in May 2018, and the entire series is available through all online retailers and the Harlequin Books site. 

Virginia has called many places home, but now lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she writes her novels and nonfiction books and coaches other authors looking to create a fulltime writing business. Her other award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles include THE JACKS OF HER HEART, AMBER LIGHT, and GRETA’S GRACE.


Comments

  1. Because I switch out summer and winter clothing, I get two opportunities a year to keep on top of clothing in my house. Back-to-school is always a good time to sort through stationery. I love the idea of 27 x 9, Virginia. I think I did that on my daughter's room this past weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do the same clothes switch--makes sense when we go from hot to cold--any minute now. That does prompt some sorting and tossing. As I looked at my summer things the other day, I had to admit there a few things I never took of the hanger all summer. Hmm...it's time to pass them on! (Or, maybe I should get out more!)

      Delete
  2. I love this idea, and it would certainly be a good one for me to try. Thanks for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really simple...my kind of household job!

      Delete
  3. I'll have to try this. The clutter is overwhelming, but I could grab a few items everyday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It went against my grain not to set aside time for the big deal clear out, but I found this was satisfying enough to keep doing it.

      Delete
  4. I may have to try this. I keep thinking I'm hanging onto "stuff" for my kids and grands. Mostly they probably won't want the sentimental items either. Thanks for the method.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is my problem, Roz. I have things I'm just convinced my son or daughter will be able to use at some point. They seem to be less convinced :(

      Delete
    2. If things have real sentimental value, I'm not for throwing them out, necessarily. But these items I just gathered in the nine days were not like that. It was stuff, folks, stuff. I only miss the two coats I couldn't wear anyway!

      Delete
  5. Virginia, this post is so timely for me! I'm currently on a declutter quest. I just finished a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It was an interesting read, but really not relevant for the circumstances of my life. Lol. I like this 27x9 challenge idea though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad it intrigued you. Let me know if it worked for you.

      Delete
  6. We literally just had a local charity pick up items at our house yesterday. I think I there were at least 50 items. Hmm...seems I need to keep this up for 8 more days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds good. And 50 is almost two days worth!

      Delete
  7. I'll bookmark this idea for when we're back at the house. Since we just started living on the boat, I'm pretty sure that if I get rid of 27 things a day for 9 days we won't have anything left!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't I know it. You're officially excused from this exercise in clutter control. Living on a boat does that for you. Funny how much you can fit, though. I've lived in this condo for 15 years, the longest I ever lived anywhere in my entire life. No wonder I saved so much stuff. A boat won't let you do that--and that's not all bad. I hope you're enjoying yourself.

      Delete
  8. Wow. That's an amazing strategy. But I really hang onto my clutter. Can I get rid of 9 things a day for 27 days? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could pretend you're moving--or pretend you're Kim and moving onto a boat. How about if you start with the 27 x 27 challenge? Forget the 9 altogether. (Maybe not, it sounds like a lot of work.)

      Delete
  9. I knew someone who tried to de-clutter with a personal rule : If she brought one new thing home, she got rid of two things she already had. Her inspiration for this was a friend who was genuine hoarder and had to walk sideways between her belongings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not a bad idea--especially for people downsizing, and they need more going out than coming in!

      Delete
  10. Getting ready to move. I have 25 boxes of old yellowed books of mine for the junk guy. Already tossed those old paper drafts too. Wish I’d heard of your challenge when I started! Great idea.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment