The “Piles to Smiles” Challenge

A 7-day PILE PURGE to reset your home in the new year.

Full disclosure: this challenge is entirely inspired by the way my home looked on Christmas Eve last year. You know how it goes: the holiday madness sets in in late November and you are run ragged by all that you have to do. You let the little things go and those little things literally PILE UP.

So, if you, like me, are coming out of the holiday haze and currently looking around your house at stacks of mail, baskets of laundry, cords all over the countertop, etc., this is the challenge for you! Give yourself 10 minutes a day for seven days and reset your home for the new year.

I promise you’ll feel better when you’re done.

How It Works

Click on the photo below to download your piles checklist. Print it out and put it on your fridge for some accountability. Then, each day, for seven days, choose a category from the list. Set a timer for 10 minutes and put away as much as you can.

If it takes longer than 10 minutes, keep going if you are feeling motivated. Often the getting started is the hardest part. Once you start, you create momentum and it will be easier to finish it. But even just doing it for 10 minutes will make a huge difference.

Make this part fun! Enlist the help of your family and make it a race. Each person puts away all their laundry, for example, and the first to finish gets to choose the movie for movie night.

Don’t forget to reward yourself after each session by taking a marker and checking off the category on the checklist. We all know this is the best part! 🙂

Below are a few more details and reminders about each of the categories in the challenge. What piles do you have around your home that aren’t on the list? Add them to the blank spaces on the printable.

  • Clothes: Put away any laundry. Hang up or wash any clothing draped over chairs or ottomans.
  • Returns, errands, exchanges: Gather it all together and get any paperwork needed to complete the task (receipts, shipping labels, boxes, etc.). Put it all in your car and schedule a time to get it done.
  • Donations: Gather everything together and load it in your car. Just like above, add the drop off to your calendar (or do it now if you have time) OR schedule a donation pick up online. (You can also mail it to Thred Up if it’s clothes.)
  • Bedside table: Clear it off if things have piled up and return them where they belong. Don’t forget the drawer!
  • Countertops (bathroom): Put away all the products that have accumulated on your bathroom counter. If you like having your dailies on the counter, buy yourself a caddy or divided turntable to contain it.
  • Countertop (kitchen): This may be the worst pile of all. Before you clear it, take note of the things that tend to accumulate there. Make a plan for preventing it in the future. For example, if it’s a lot of paperwork, set up a family file box and add an inbox for action items in an out-of-the-way spot.
  • Shoes: Reset all the piles of shoes in your house and put them back where they belong. If you need a new system, add a basket or shoe shelf near your front or garage door.
  • Arts and Crafts: Clean up all the arts and crafts supplies sitting out on tables. Gather together any works-in-progress and put them in their own labeled bin.
  • Toys + Games: Toys tend to creep into other rooms of the house where they don’t belong. Return the piles of toys to their original home. If they don’t have a home, now is the time to make one! (Be sure to donate a few along the way.) 
  • Paperwork + Taxes: Go through all the mail and paperwork piles and start by sorting into categories…needs action, to file, recycle.  For bonus points, complete everything that needs action to start off the year fresh. This is also the time of year when you start getting tax documents in the mail and they can pile up. Gather them together in a designated spot or labeled folder.
  • Keepsakes: If you have any piles of photos, holiday cards you want to keep, or artwork, put them away where they belong. It’s always good to go through the piles of your kids school work mid-year. Toss anything that’s not a “keeper.”
  • Electronics + Cables: Chargers, cables, and electronic devices can create a mess. Organizing and labeling cables, as well as designating a specific area for electronics (like a charging station), can help you always be able to find what you need. Visit my Digital Decluttering challenge for more on this subject.
  • Holiday Items: Put away all the piles left over from the holidays. Gift bags, gifts, holiday cards, decor, treats, etc. Holidays and celebrations can often leave behind piles that linger and add clutter to your home. I give myself a week deadline and make sure I put away any birthday or holiday items. It’s helped so much!

If all of this sounds overwhelming, we are here for you! Let this year be the year you give yourself grace and outsource the creation of systems that can prevent the piles next year. Reach out to schedule a free consultation with me and we can come up with a plan together for organizing your home.

Happy Organizing!



Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…

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