Decluttering is the first step toward more organization, mindfulness, and freedom. Many people, however, don’t know where to start. They look at their homes and stare at a mountain of useless items, emotional attachment, and guilt. That’s where the following six rules of home decluttering come into play.
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Lots of aspiring minimalists struggle with the idea of home decluttering.
What if I need this avocado slicer next year? I cannot donate that dress, I paid a fortune for it. And I certainly cannot get rid of that coffee table book. It was a present after all.
Those are the thoughts that prevent people from decluttering their homes.
The result is obvious. A never-ending cycle of buying more stuff that will end up gathering dust in a dark corner.
If you want to re-take control over your possessions, there is only one solution: effective rules of home decluttering.
6 effective rules of home decluttering
By defining your boundaries when it comes to material possessions, you create norms.
And these norms will help you purchase the right objects and purge the ones that don’t add value to your life.
Categorize your possessions
When it comes to the most effective rules of home decluttering, categories are paramount.
What are these categories?
First, there are essential items.
Those are the ones you are 100% sure about. You use them daily and their importance is unquestionable – for example, your bed, your main clothes, and your couch.
The second category contains doubtful items.
You don’t know whether you need them but you still keep them for one reason or another.
These are the trickiest. You should probably get rid of them but you struggle to say goodbye.
Certain emotional items, fancy electronic devices, books, and clothing items fall into this section.
Here are a few questions to ask:
- Did I use the item in the last six months?
- Does it provide value and durability?
- Does it add measurable joy to my life?
If all of these questions elicit a resounding yes, you should probably keep the item in question.
Finally, there are expendable items.
Here, there is no middle ground. If you’re serious about decluttering, you need to get rid of those.
I am talking about worn-out, 10-year-old t-shirts, kitchen gadgets you never use, and dust-friendly travel mementos.
Home decluttering is practically synonymous with getting rid of duplicate items.
There are two major points here.
On the one hand, certain reserve items are necessary for specific situations.
As an example, if you’re a photographer, you probably need a reserve camera. Your life depends on it and the second camera safeguards your peace of mind.
Other duplicate items, on the other hand, are superfluous. If you buy the same item twice without needing or using both, you’re not decluttering your home.
Don’t keep items you wouldn’t buy now
Many people have this weird tendency of keeping items simply because they paid for them in the past.
Times change, and so does the usability of material possessions.
Ask yourself: would I buy this shirt again? If I hadn’t paid for it, would I still keep it?
To evaluate material possessions rationally, you need to take a step back and ignore the product’s history.
Use your current mindset to determine the item’s value and don’t get bogged down with past circumstances or criteria.
Get rid of all the dead wood in your home
Sometimes, home decluttering has to be a radical process.
I am not in favor of purging without reflection, but in certain instances, it’s the only solution.
That’s why you should take a few hours and collect all the dead wood in your home. If you immediately categorize items as “expendable”, there are no doubts.
This temporary method works well if you’re overwhelmed by all the stuff in your home.
When categorization becomes a tedious, unsatisfying endeavor, radical decluttering is the best technique to make way for a more nuanced approach.
Set yourself two limits: time and the number of objects. As an example, spend two hours tossing at least ten objects.
This radical process can have a liberating effect. As such, it can act as a prelude to more complex rules of decluttering.
Keep things in their right place
Another major decluttering principle is to keep things in the same, dedicated spot.
Let’s take the example of a workspace.
Keeping things in a fixed place is also important for remote workers and digital nomads.
When I started to travel the world full-time, I lost a few important items in the first couple of months.
After establishing my principles of minimalist traveling, I discovered that keeping my stuff in the same pre-determined locations prevented losses and also improved my packing skills.
Let go of your guilt and peer pressure
Finally, guilt and peer pressure are poisonous in the context of home decluttering.
If you want to savor the benefits of a well-organized, minimalist home, you need to let go of emotional barriers and implement a rational mindset.
All my friends use this kitchen gadget. I need one too.
I paid a lot of money for those sneakers. They are broken, but I don’t want to get rid of them.
Those statements have to change into the following:
All my friends use this kitchen gadget, but I don’t need it. It’s my kitchen after all.
I paid a lot of money for these sneakers but they are broken. It’s time to replace them with something more durable.
Once you’ve established your rules of home decluttering, you’ll find that guild and peer pressure don’t provide a cozy, liveable home. Quite the opposite.
That’s why you should act according to your organizational principles, not external cues.
Some of the best books on home decluttering
- The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay on Amazon
- The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker on Amazon
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Amazon
Useful links on 6 Effective Rules of Home Decluttering
- more in the section “Life”
- read My Minimalist “Good Habits List” For a Daily Dose of Decluttering
- more under the topic “Decluttering”
- read 10 Things I Stopped Buying as a Minimalist
- read How to Declutter Your Home and Your Life in The Process
Don’t miss a beat!
Jack Krier is a writer, photographer, and full-time globetrotter. Thanks to minimalism, he built his ideal lifestyle around travel and online entrepreneurship, becoming a digital nomad in the process. On Minimalist Focus, he shares his ideas on minimalism and lifestyle design, helping thousands of readers improve their lives by focusing on the essentials.