From starting to get rid of your unnecessary stuff, to finally becoming clutter free – here are the 12 simple rules of decluttering that will make getting rid of unwanted stuff (and the whole decluttering process) so much easier.
When I started on my decluttering journey, I found it hard for many reasons.
Knowing where to start, what to do, what to declutter, etc… all became reasons to procrastinate over the huge task ahead.
Truth is – it really doesn’t matter how you personally go about decluttering – what DOES matter is that you have a method that works for you, and that you can follow.
And the most empowering decluttering strategy I know is to have a few rules to follow…
These parameters give you a structured way to work – and can truly be the key to success.
So – if you’re struggling with your decluttering anything from unwanted gifts, prized possessions, sentimental items, duplicate items and more, these 12 rules of decluttering will really help focus you.
By following them, you can reap the rewards and achieve that clutter free home you’re craving a little faster.
Hope they help!
The Rules of Decluttering You Need to Know:
Rule #1 – Don’t have a Maybe Pile
This is key to making decluttering easier overall – and it feels like it should make it harder when you first read it, right?
Well – the fact is that decluttering involves decision making. Decisions on every item as to whether you keep it or let it go.
When decision fatigue sets it, or when you just can’t make a decision at all – that’s when the maybe pile comes into play.
But really – how is this helping?
You are just allowing yourself to procrastinate about that decision, putting it off until a later date.
You’re spending more time on that item than necessary – even though at first glance it may appear that you’ve made progress.
Honestly – next time you declutter and you still decide to have a maybe pile – I will wager it’s one of the largest by the end of the day…
Don’t do it!
This is a great tip to follow – because it stops procrastination in it’s tracks if you don’t allow yourself an easy option.
Rule #2 – Don’t try and Tidy as you go
Decluttering is something we all do to, well, get rid of clutter! Eliminate the mess.
So it stands to reason that we feel it shouldn’t get messy when we’re doing it. If it does, then somehow we’ve failed in our task.
We spend ages trying to keep things neat by tidying as we go – and this takes time and energy that’s wasted…
Because, as the saying goes “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs” – and you can’t sort out your stuff without making mess along the way.
Trust that it will be tidy before you know it, and embrace the messiness that decluttering will bring with it (it’s only for a short time, I promise!)
Rule #3 – Never declutter others peoples stuff
Although this can be tempting – never ever throw away anything that isn’t yours to make the decision about.
Even professional declutterers won’t let things go unless their clients approve it.
Because you don’t know what IS and ISN’T clutter for anyone else.
Think about it the other way around – would you be happy with someone sorting through your stuff? Probably not…
Rule #4 – Get things out of the house ASAP
When you declutter you’ll end up with lots of bags and boxes full of stuff that you’ve decided to let go.
Whether they’re going to charity, recycling, the rubbish tip, or to a friend or relative – they are going.
The decision has been made.
Trouble is – it’s far too tempting to take a look back inside those containers when they’re sitting by the front door waiting for you to take them to their final destination.
And then, you run the very real risk of items making their way back out of said container again.
This is NOT the plan!
So – in order to stop this happening, a great decluttering rule is to get those items out of the house ASAP.
Schedule time at the end of the day / the decluttering session – to deliver the items to their rightful place.
This will not only take away that temptation, but also finish your decluttering off properly, and give you that brilliant feeling of being completely done – so you can relax and enjoy the feeling of less clutter around you from now on.
Rule #5 – You Need to have a plan
Decluttering is a HUGE job – and without a plan in place it can feel far too overwhelming and daunting.
And when a task feels that big, it’s easy to stop altogether – and that would be a shame to say the least…
So – write down your plan of action and then you can follow your progress, reward yourself for reaching those mini milestones, and know the answers to any questions that may stop you in your tracks otherwise:
- Where will things go when you get rid of them?
- What room order will you tackle things in?
- When will you make the time to declutter?
Rule #6 – Have a place for everything
My rule for what clutter is, is as follows:
Which means that you need to know whether something belongs in the place it’s in to begin with.
As such, I suggest sitting down and drawing yourself a floor plan of your home. Mark out where things need to go, and stick to this as you declutter each space.
When you go around each room you’ll start to move things into their rightful homes (whether that’s in the house still, or let go completely) – and you’ll be constantly making steps towards the clutter free home you’re craving.
TIP – This rule will also help you when it comes to seeing what duplicates you have in your home. It’s all too easy to think that yes, you need a pair of scissors. So you keep that pair of scissors. Then you declutter another room and find another pair, so you keep them – forgetting you already had some elsewhere. These individual decisions were correct, but you still end up with extra clutter because you’re not able to see the whole issue. Having a specific place for items means that you’ll put those scissors together, and see that you have lots of unnecessary items after all…
Rule #7 – Don’t get sidetracked
It can be tempting to start one room, find something that belongs somewhere else, take it to that space, and then start doing something there.
Before you know it – you’ve completely forgotten about the decluttering you started to do – until you walk into the original space a few hours later…
Not ideal! and not a good way to use your time wisely.
Instead, make a pact with yourself to not get distracted as much as you can when decluttering. Do it when the house is quiet (get childcare for the day if necessary), listen to music so you get energised, and do whatever is needed to stay on track.
This will mean that you get finished more quickly, and reap the rewards of your decluttering a lot sooner.
Rule #8 – Don’t sell anything that’s not worth it
One of the largest reasons people hold on to more things than necessary is they feel it’s a waste of money.
I get it. I really do.
But the fact is that you have already spent that cash, and whether you keep the item or not is irrelevant to whether you have wasted your money or not. It’s no more valuable staying at the back of the cupboard than it is if you let it go.
However, sometimes it IS sensible to look at selling some items that are still worth some cash – and if you’ve researched what you can get for something and it’s worth your time selling – then go for it, by all means.
But be selective with what you sell.
Know whether you’re procrastinating about letting it go (because it will be in your home until you sell it), or whether you’re selling for the right reasons…
Rule #9 – Take it one step at a time
The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time – right?
Well – when you’re decluttering you can only do a little at a time, even though it’s a huge job to declutter your whole home or an entire room.
So – break things down into manageable chunks, and work through each chunk in turn.
You’ll get there, one step at a time.
Rule #10 – Know your WHY
When motivation is low to carry on (or even get started!) – and it will be at times because it’s natural to feel like that – you need to have a REALLY good reason for carrying on.
Your WHY is all important at this stage.
So – know why you’re doing it and keep that front and centre when working through any space. It will help you in the tough times…
Some possible ‘Whys’ are:
- So your kids have a good role model
- So you can invite guests over without embarrassment
- So you can find anything you need quickly
- So you stop arguing with your partner
- So you can create space for a new baby/new business/ new hobby
Rule #11 – Declutter before you organise
Have you ever sorted some part of your home out and found that it still feels less than organised?
It’s probably because you’ve organised BEFORE you decluttered.
And if you’re organising things that you don’t need, you’re wasting time, energy AND money.
So – the trick here is to remember that decluttering is a separate task to organising – and you need to declutter first.
That way, you’ll be sure that any storage containers you buy, any storage furniture you choose – etc… – will be the right size to fit the right amount of stuff you want to keep, and no more.
Rule #12 – Go easy on yourself
Left until last, but arguably one of the most important rules of decluttering – because it will make your life a LOT more simple if you remember it.
It’s too easy to compare your progress with other peoples when you start to tackle something big like decluttering.
Trouble is – we all too easily forget that other people may well have more time, less stuff, more help, less stress – etc…. than us.
It’s almost impossible to have a fair comparison with anyone else, because we are all so very different.
So it’s worth remembering that you are running your own race, with your own milestones and end point. You are allowed to go at your own pace!
Don’t worry about how fast or slow you’re going – you’re doing just fine as you are – and ANY progress is good…
And there you have it – all 12 rules of decluttering…
Do you follow them all? Do you break any of them?
Truth is – using them makes decluttering a LOT easier (because it can be really hard) – and that’s got to be worth it, right?
And if you want to know what NOT to do as well (because if you know the rules to follow, it stands to reason you want to know what NOT to do as well!) – then this article on decluttering mistakes is a great read for you next…