15 Rules to Help You Declutter

October 13, 2021

Do you have a hard time decluttering?

These 15 decluttering rules can help you decide what stays and what goes.

When Marie Kondo's best advice isn't quite enough to achieve your desired clutter-free home, these simple rules will assist your decluttering process. Don't let your tough decluttering decisions derail your progress!

Rule #1: You Decide

You get to decide what goes and what stays. If you love it, that may be reason enough to keep something. But in case you need it, here is some extra advice for decluttering sentimental items.

Rule #2: No Duplicate Items

Duplicates are (usually) unnecessary.

Rule #3: Keep What You Use Regularly

If you haven't used it in 6 months, it can probably go (but see rule #1). Make exceptions for seasonal items.

Rule #4: Evaluate the Value

If it costs more to store than the value it brings to you, you should let it go.

Rule #5: To Each Their Own

Don't allow other people's ideas of what is important to dictate what you keep or declutter (but keep your loved one’s opinions in mind).

Rule #6: Give Items to People Who Appreciate Them More

If someone else thinks something is particularly special, maybe they should store it instead of you.

Rule #7: Giving Away Items Is OK

You can choose to sell something but it’s also OK to give it away if that's easier. Not everything should be sold. A trip to a donation center is encouraged!

Rule #8: Most Things Can Be Replaced

If you declutter something and discover you need it later, chances are it can be replaced. Struggling with this concept? Try the 20/20 decluttering rule.

Rule #9: Don't Declutter Someone Else's Stuff

Don’t declutter things belonging to others without permission (exceptions for kids who refuse to take care of their possessions).

Rule #10: Learn to Appreciate Less

Mementos and toys are even more treasured when there are fewer of them.

Rule #11: You Are Not Your Stuff

You are not defined by the things you keep. (For example, owning a lot of books doesn't make you smarter, although reading them might.)

Rule #12: Kids Produce a Lot of Clutter

Toys. Papers from school. You name it! That's OK and to be expected. Help them learn how to manage their clutter instead of ignoring it.

Rule #13: Stop Holding Out for Someday

Keeping something "for someday" may be holding you back from living your life right now.

Rule #14: Not Everyone Has the Same Clutter Tolerance

It's OK if you desire more or less of it than someone else. Rules for decluttering will vary by person. Clutter can even be quite stressful and overwhelming for some people.

Rule #15: Organized Clutter Is Still Clutter

Read that again. Organized clutter is still clutter.

What decluttering rules do you follow?

About the author 

Sarah Mueller

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A Brain-Friendly Tutorial to Clearing Your Clutter

The free tutorial is for you if:

  • Your clutter feels overwhelming
  • You have 1 or more rooms that need significant work
  • You've been trying to declutter for 6 months or longer