Like most other things in life, decluttering is a little more doable when you have a buddy.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated January 11, 2019
Decluttering Tips Buddy System - two women decluttering together
Credit: Manfred Rutz/Getty Images

Decluttering tips tend to focus on the particulars: things to get rid of, specific rooms to target, little mistakes that can actually cause clutter, and the like. Figuring out a broader decluttering strategy is a little trickier, especially because decluttering success typically relies on willpower. Finding motivation to start decluttering is the real challenge—once that happens, all these little decluttering tips can fall into place. Until then, most decluttering tips and tricks are just temporary fixes.

Two clever women recently shared a new decluttering motivation strategy with ABCNews, though, and it’s absolutely genius. It’s essentially the buddy system: The two women, Lynne Hilton and Jenni DeWitt, have been friends for years and have promised to text each other every day in January with pictures of items they’re getting rid of, why they kept the items, and why they’re getting rid of them at last.

According to the report by ABCNews, their strategy is based on The Minimalists 30-Day Minimalism Game, in which you and a friend or family member get rid of a number of items every day for thirty days, based on the day of the month. On the first day, one item gets tossed; on the thirteenth, thirteen possessions need to go, all the way to thirty. Whoever can’t reach a day’s number goal loses.

The original version makes decluttering a contest (which is actually a smart strategy for competitive types), but Hilton and DeWitt’s adaptation allows them to reflect on the items they’re getting rid of. They can discuss the significance of certain items and laugh at the lack thereof of others, clearing out their homes and nurturing their friendship at the same time. Talking through the rational behind getting rid of something can also make the process less lonely.

The key to making decluttering with a buddy work is holding each other accountable. A decluttering buddy’s text of a book he or she plans to get rid of serves as a reminder to find something to toss, and a real friend won’t let a decluttering buddy abandon the effort.

The decluttering buddy system can easily be adapted. The goal can be to get rid of just one thing a day, or even every other day. As long as the buddies are encouraging each other to keep chipping away at their clutter, it’s working. Try it for yourself—a decluttering buddy can be a coworker, a family member, or a friend. As long as they won’t let you get away with abandoning your decluttering efforts, this decluttering attempt will work.