These rules for decluttering aren’t rules about which room to start with or how long to declutter each day. The rules don’t include specific decluttering methods, or tell you what you should or shouldn’t own. Instead, these rules of decluttering are here to …
- help you let go
- encourage you feel good about decluttering
- help you create space
- inspire you keep going when it feels like stuff is winning
From duplicates, keepsakes, unwanted gifts, folders of paperwork and baskets, bins or storage containers, you may be feeling like you have too much stuff. The decision-making required when it comes to what to save, trash or bring to a donation center can be overwhelming.
Keep simplifying the process and check in on how you are feeling. Don’t feel pressure to declutter your entire home. You might start with a drawer or kitchen counter instead.
10 rules for decluttering to help you live with less stuff
Choose the three rules you need the most right now and use them as reminders that you want so much more than piles of stuff … in your home and in your life.
1. Why is more important than how.
This first decluttering rule makes all the difference. We all know how to declutter (and if you aren’t sure, here’s a list of articles to help), but knowing why will make it stick. Why do you want to live with less? Why are you making space — what are you making room for in your life? When you shift your mindset, the actions and habits will follow.
2. One thing at a time.
You didn’t clutter up your home overnight and you aren’t going to become clutter free overnight. This decluttering process is a step by step, inch by inch, scarf by book by measuring cup process. If you place 5 things, one thing at a time in a box each day to donate, by the end of a month you’ll be 150 items lighter and by the end of a year, 1825 things lighter. Your one thing at a time efforts will lead to a clutter-free life.
3. This is not a race.
Slow and steady change will be more sustainable than the fast and furious version you’ve attempted before. (Here are 10 slow and steady strategies.) There’s no benefit in comparing either. Just because you read about someone who decluttered their life or embraced minimalism over night doesn’t mean that pace is right for you. You have to consider your home, your family, and your heart. Drop the competing and comparing and make this an adventure, not a race. Curiosity and consistency will serve you better than stress and speed.
4. If everything matters, nothing matters.
In some stages of decluttering you may feel like all the stuff is important, that it all has meaning and that each thing matters. Remind yourself that if everything matters, nothing matters. It can’t all have your love and attention. When you let go of what doesn’t matter you can give more of yourself to what does.
5. Keep your eyes on your own stuff.
If you’re worried about how you will live a life with less stuff when your spouse is a hoarder, or you have children, come back to your own stuff. That will probably keep you occupied for a while. Demonstrate your desire to live with less stuff by living with less of your own stuff first.
6. Small progress is still progress.
Celebrate your tiny steps and small wins instead of waiting until the end.
7. Less is not nothing.
No one said you had to get rid of it all. You decide what you want in your life. Keep things that add value to your life and the stuff you enjoy. When it doesn’t add value anymore, or you stop enjoying it, let it go.
8. Just in case means never.
The just in case excuse for holding on is a messy combination of fear and procrastination. We hold on because we aren’t quite ready to let go but we rarely use or enjoy the just in case stuff we keep. Take a look in the back of your closet, in the junk drawer, under the sink or in boxes in the garage or attic and it’s clear that just in case means never.
9. Holding on is harder than letting go.
You may be struggling with guilt from an emotional attachment to your stuff. Letting go of stuff may feel hard, but holding on is harder. You have to hold on to your stuff every single day. You hold on by paying for items with your money, time, attention, and emotion. You only have to let go once.
10. This is love.
This is the most important rule. When you begin to declutter and live with less for reasons that matter to you, you understand that this isn’t about organized sock drawers or clean counters. Simplicity is the way back to love. It’s the way back to people you love, work you love, and a life you love.
Use these simple rules to help you create momentum to declutter and a clutter-free home.