Here's the answer to one of the most common questions about the Declutter 365 missions, whether the missions can be done in a different order than the one listed in the calendar.
I've got two versions of the answer for you below, the short and long version.
You can do these missions in whatever order you want, and still succeed.
The goal is to complete all the missions, in whatever order. There are some disadvantages to going in a separate order from the calendar schedule but if you're willing to accept these, for reasons compelling to you, you can still meet your goal of getting your home decluttered using the system, but in a different order of your choosing.
When you receive your Declutter 365 calendar for the year (you can get your FREE yearly calendar here, if you don't have yours yet) I suggest that you look at the mission for the day it currently is, and start from there.
Inevitably though, I hear from those who aren't sure they want to start wherever we happen to be in the missions. It's understandable to at least want to consider starting elsewhere and wonder if that is permissible.
It is permissible, but it's still not what I recommend. Ultimately though you get to choose, so below I've listed the advantages to following the order of the missions as I've written them. Next, I've listed the most common reasons you may still choose to do them in a different order. And then finally, I've provided suggestions for how to get the most out of the Declutter 365 missions even if you do decide to go in a different order than the one listed.
Here's some of the biggest advantages of following along with the listed calendar schedule.
If you go with your own order you'll have to take a lot more care to make sure you don't forget or skip whole sections and areas of your home, something that is much less likely to happen if you follow the calendar itself.
Staying on pace with others that are participating has several advantages. First, it allows you to experience camaraderie with the rest of the participants which can be psychologically motivating to know everyone is in it together, and to help you get inspired by what others are also accomplishing.
In addition, the free newsletters I send out (click the link to sign up), as well as the social media posts, and the Declutter 365 daily text messages and the Declutter 365 Premium group all follow along with the yearly calendar schedule, so to get the most out of these resources you'll need to follow the order as listed.
When you follow the missions, as listed in the calendar, you've got to make just one decision, which is that you'll follow the plan. This is one decision, one time, and then after that all you've got to do is act on that decision.
If, on the other hand, you choose your own order you're going to have to make a lot more decisions, and make those decisions a lot more frequently. And for some people deciding is an extra hurdle that keeps them from actually getting to the part that needs to happen -- the doing.
If you're feeling torn and indecisive about where you should start, or what you should do next, then you've become paralyzed with inaction, or at least its slowing you down. That's something you should and can avoid by just following the order as put forth in the calendar.
Finally, following the order as listed means you keep moving forward, because the calendar just keeps marching on. That may at first feel like a problem, or that you're being rushed, but really it can be seen as a blessing instead.
When you keep going with your decluttering efforts, mission after mission, you don't get overly bogged down in one area, or try to reach perfection, but can celebrate progress and "good enough" and move on to another area.
(Please understand that many people do these Declutter 365 missions year after year, with the first year being the hardest and biggest effort, and subsequent years dealing with areas that needed more work, or need a little maintenance to stay functional, so clutter creep doesn't come back. That's one of many reasons moving forward consistently is a positive, not a negative.)
Since above I shared some of the advantages for staying with the calendar, now I'm listing some of the most common reasons I see that people choose a different order for doing these missions, plus my response to each of these reasons.
Similarly, there's no reason that you HAVE TO start with the January 1st mission. Instead, the missions are designed so you start with the mission listed on the day you discover them, wherever we are in the calendar.
But feel free to start with the January 1st mission and get going from there if that gets you to start, because DOING the missions is most important.
You might be following along with the calendar but then life happens and you miss a mission, or one or more missions takes longer than 15 minutes for you to complete. This causes many people to want to slow down and finish, or to catch up, or start changing around the order of the missions.
It's not necessary to do this, but check out these FAQs about these two potential reasons for switching around the order, to see the pros and cons.
If you look at the order of the Declutter 365 missions by studying the yearly calendar you'll notice that there are several "sections" of the missions, such as focusing first on the kitchen and food areas in January, and moving on from there. Other examples of big sections of the missions include such as things as the paper section, clothing section, and more.
Often deciding on what section to work on first is a stumbling block for people, and leads to taking no action at all. But if you are quite motivated to start somewhere in particular, such as in your closet and clothing area, or with paper, or your bathroom, or wherever, and it gets you to ACT and start decluttering, then go for it.
Don't forget that after you finish that area of your home if you start to lose motivation or you ever start feeling at a loss for what to do next, and it's slowing down your decluttering progress, you can default back to following the calendar again, starting then.
I've specifically designed these missions to take you around 15 minutes per day, and to be done daily to help you develop the habit of decluttering. That means we're going slowly, a little at a time.
I do realize, though, that sometimes the slow but steady approach isn't going to fit your timeline. Feel free to do the missions more quickly if that is necessary, but if you ever find yourself doing nothing because you can't do it quickly, I encourage you to slow back down and at least do a little each day again, by re-focusing on doing that smaller step of the day's mission.
If you find that certain missions don't apply to you, I understand in those situations you're going to have to substitute another task for the day so you can continue developing and maintaining your decluttering habit. Here's my FAQ with what to do when a mission doesn't apply.
Now that you know the advantages of sticking with the listed order of the missions, and also reasons you might still go in a different order, it's totally up to you to choose if you'll chart your own path to finish these Declutter 365 missions or just follow the path I've laid out.
If you do decide to go in a different order you're going to have to put in more effort than someone who follows along, but you can still succeed. Here's some things I suggest you do to make sure your order of tackling the missions still results in ultimate success for you:
If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), and get started today.
As you know, you can start wherever you want, in whatever order, but I encourage you to find today's date in the calendar and just start right there! No matter which one you choose though, do a 15 minute decluttering mission today!
I've got quite a few more FAQs answered, to help you get started and make the most of the Declutter 365 tasks, so find them all in this round up of answers to FAQs:
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!