If you read the MW’s Cleanse introduction you know that we were greatly inspired by Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. If you ever followed one of their home cures – like I’ve been doing for the last few years – you know what the title is about. If not, you are probably lost.

To me, this concepts teach us two valuable lessons for a simpler, happier and healthier life – avoid clutter and let stuff go. And if you ever made any cures, cleanses or other challenges alike, you know how important it is to declutter your home and mind and how fundamental it is to… Just. Let. Go.

Set up an Outbox and put one item in it

This is key to the success of your cleanse and the setting up is fairly easy. On the other hand, actually getting rid of stuff – to which we have emotional and financial connections – can be a little bit harder. But the Outbox, one of Apartment Therapy’s classic simple and brilliant ideas, makes it so much easier! Here’s how you do it today:

Choose a space that is clearly defined and out of the way of your household daily activities, preferably out of sight so you can comfortably allow it to get messy and chaotic for a short while – like in a storage room, a pantry, a closet or a guest room, but any small area or corner near your front door will do. Designate it your Outbox.

That’s it. Start using it to detach yourself from objects you have in your home and probably no longer need. Remember that the Outbox doesn’t necessarily need to be a box. It can be a corner, a bucket, a basket, a drawer, a shelf, a closet. It is a halfway house where things sit while their fate is being decided. Ours has been a 50 cm long portion of a shelf inside a storage room that opens up to our home entryway since we moved in.

Here are the Outbox rules, as designate by Apartment Therapy’s Maxwell Ryan:

1 – Anything can go in the Outbox;
2 – The Outbox is allowed to get messy;
3 – Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week;
4 – After that time you have several choices:
a) Take anything back out;
b) Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week;
c) Dispose of the rest by gifting it, donating it or recycling it.

To take this challenge to the next level, instead of just putting an item in your Outbox, get rid of it – give it to someone you know will enjoy it, donate it, write a note and put it the city street offering it to someone who wants it or recycle it. Just let one thing go and see how it feels to open up one brand new space in your home and mind. I’m letting go of a pair of blue shoes I’ve owned for about 4 years and didn’t wear once. I will gift them to a friend that has always commented on them when she gets in my closet.

January Cleanse Day 5

Set up a landing strip or re-organize one you already have

Depending on how you have your home organized, this assignment can be a little easier or a little harder. We present you another one of Apartment Therapy’s classic simple and brilliant ideas, The Landing Strip. Think of it as a filter for what goes into your home or a conscious way of keeping the mess outside: the less dirt, clutter, junk mail and everyday items come in, the less time you need to spend cleaning and organizing your home later. It doesn’t need to be a large area, nor does it need to be fancy. It needs to be functional and, if possible, inviting (it is an entryway, after all).

Today you can either work toward the main Landing Strip elements (coat hook, door mat, and a clear surface) or you can simply establish a routine for the setup you already have. Choose to construct or to strategize!

This is how it works:

1 – Put a doormat outside your front door and use it to wipe your feet before entering your home;

2 – If you have a designated entryway consider putting a small rug in the space – it will gather all the dirt you might still bring inside and you’ll only need to vacuum that weekly, which will make the need to vacuum the rest of the house much more scarce;

3 – Put up some hooks or hangers for coats, other outer garments and maybe even bags, keys, dog leashes and umbrellas or use the nearest closet for immediately hanging your coat when you get home – not having your coat thrown on the couch or hanging on the dinner table chair will make your home feel more organized and your mind will notice that by not noticing a mess;

4 – Set up a spot on a surface (like a small side table) to sort items as they come in, including keys, change, wallets, tablets, phones, mail, purchases and other items you may carry on your hands, pockets and bags – do not take junk mail and needless receipts into your living area or they will just pile up on the kitchen table and make you lose time tossing them later;

5 – Consider shoe storage or, at least, consider taking off your shoes before going further inside your home – let’s all remember the key is to keep all dirt and clutter outside and this simple habit is very, very helpful and it will also mean less frequent cleaning (!);

6 – Making the last suggestion a habit may create the need for seating arrangements near the front door, to provide a location for people to remove shoes;

7 – Also helpful for a very complete Landing Strip routine is a small wastebasket or recycling bin to hold your discarded incoming stuff to be recycled;

8 – And because your Landing Strip is also where you take off into the world, consider adding a mirror for last minute check-ups before you are out the door;

9 – Once you’ve set up your landing strip, use it consciously every time you come home and, as you finish the routine each time, take a moment to enjoy the fact that now you can relax and fully enjoy your clutter free home.

At our home we need an area rug for the entryway and a surface to drop everyday items as we come in, which are two things I would like to find and add to our Landing Strip this month. We have hooks where we hang our coats, umbrellas, hats and scarves as well as the dog leash and collar. Keys are hang in the door hinge and the dog waste bags – you know, to glamorously pick up our dog Goji’s poop during her walks – are kept in a small wall cabinet that hides away our electricity meter. Our bags and coats go inside the closet which is directly in front of the front door.

Now, I know that not every home has a clear entryway space to gather all this items, so please remember to adapt the landing strip to your needs and space by selecting only the items you really need and use.

Browse through Apartment Therapy for great ideas on how to deal with a “no-entryway entryway”, hot tips for the Landing Strip set up and a list of links on Landing Strip’s projects, ideas and inspiration.

 

Head over to MW’s Cleanse page to check other New Year improvements suggestions and click here to download the calendar illustrated by Elsa Poderosa. No worries if you are late – no one is controlling you, we are here for support. Just start on day one. Feel free to leave any questions and let us know how you are doing with your cleanse in the comments section. And share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #mwcleanse. Happy New Year!