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Declutter Rules that Work

Updated: Jun 30

“I love rules and I love following them, unless that rule is stupid.” Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm


There are many rules of life out there in the Cosmos. Rules like, never watch a pot of water boil (it will take longer if it is watched, lol), everything in moderation, practice makes perfect. Most rules we follow are fair and for our protection and the safety of everyone around us. But some rules are open to interpretation and depending on how our lives are going, we may need to tweak the rules to fit more snuggly into our life’s narrative.


The same is true for getting organized and decluttered. There are methods and rules and steps to take if you find that you need a detailed road map toward achieving those goals to the best of your ability and beyond. Here are a few rules that have worked and keep working time after time no matter how you individually interpret them. There is no set order to these rules, but you would be hard pressed to try to eliminate or skip one of the rules because following these rules saves time, sanity and creates good habits for the future. However, if you find that expounding on these rules is more your style, go for it.


Rule #1:

Keep a DONATION box in these spaces for effective ongoing purging and re-evaluation:

· Pantry

· Bedroom

· Linen closet

· Garage

· Laundry room


When the box is full, go through it one last time if you desire to do so, put the box in the car and take it to your local donation station, put it out on your driveway for anyone to take for free, advertise these items on giveaway sites or trash the entire box. Do this purging every 6 months and you will have so much less clutter to deal with on a regular basis. And while you are at it, make a box for each room for re-imagining/re-purposing some of the items you have collected.



Rule #2:


10 minutes every day, declutter.

Ask yourself: Does this still serve my current need or original purpose? Do I still love this? Would I buy this today if I were shopping? Keeping clutter piles to a minimum is key when decluttering for 10 minutes every day. Pick a new area to concentrate on each day and you will be amazed at how much lighter and breathable your spaces become. Here is a quick look at how we can make the most of our TIME.


Rule #3:


You’ve heard this one before, 1 in 1 out.

Maybe consider 1 in 2 out. If decluttering is the priority, then up the purge amount. How many of an item do you actually need? Example, dish towels. I go through them very quickly because I cook every meal at home and do dishes at least 4 times per day so my towels tend to look and feel dingy and worn in 6 months’ time. I only buy one bundle of dish towels each time I need to do so which keeps my pile fresh and to a minimum and the old towels make great cloths for dusting and garage use as well as liners for storage boxes or for wrapping up what is fragile and going to the donation location of my choice.


Rule #4:


Sort and attend to mail right away.

It helps to have a command center in a central, well used location in your home, typically the kitchen. Set up individual mailboxes and sort mail right away. It helps to be able to sort your own mail at the same time. For example, a mailbox for bills, statements, receipts, subscriptions, etc. Choose one day each week or each month to go through each mailbox so that you start fresh at the beginning of the week or month. Nothing is waiting for your attention, and nothing is piling up and getting out of hand.


Rule #5:


Nothing on the floor.

Any floor, in any room, nothing should be on the floor that does not belong there. Everyone in the family can help with this one. If everyone takes one thing and puts it where it belongs and off the floor, there will be no piles, no clutter. There will be homes for where everything belongs, and it becomes easier to spot when something is out of place because you are used to seeing it in its place more often.


These rules will always work when you are ready to maintain your hard work around getting decluttered and organized. In one summer’s worth of time or less you can establish great habits that will yield great results every time.


“The best kind of happiness is a habit you're passionate about.” Shannon L. Alder


Photos by: Klara Vemarcova, Marcelo Leal, McGill Library, Chris Blonk, Beazy

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