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June 26, 2017

Top Three Tips to Cut Clutter

Summer break is a great time to evaluate your current strategies for coping with clutter. But what is clutter?

Clutter is anything you don’t need, use, or enjoy on a regular basis.

It’s the tchotchkes, knickknacks, and overstock in your home that never find a true purpose. You have them, but do you really need to keep them? Probably not.

Top 3 Tips to Cut Clutter IMAGE

Letting go can be difficult, so here are my top 3 strategies for editing your belongings.

#1 Pareto’s Principle.

While you might not be able to pronounce his name properly, this turn of the century Italian economist developed what we commonly refer to today as the 80:20 rule. Vilfredo Pareto determined that what we invest versus the return we get is unbalanced. Applied to our homes, it would appear that 80% of our things are used only 20% of the time. In simpler terms, this means that out of all of your t-shirts in your dresser drawers, over half of them (80%) are only worn less than half (20%) of the time. The flip side of that equation is that you’re wearing a very small percentage (20%) of your t-shirts the majority (80%) of the time. Sounds like it’s time to declutter some of those unworn shirts!

#2 One-In-One-Out Rule.

To avoid unnecessary overstock, you’ve got to have a plan to subtract whenever you add. We’re great with toilet paper – we buy lots, but we use lots, so the toilet paper supply never gets out of hand. However, when we’re buying things that aren’t consumable, those items tend to pile up. Consider purses. Although you might love purses (and bags of all sorts), it’s unnecessary to have ALL the bags. So, when buying a new bag, you must let go of an old one. Using the one-in-one-out principle helps us to establish healthy buying habits, which in turn reduces the potential for clutter. If you’ve got an excessive amount, then multiply this rule to read One-In-Three-Out until you can get your stash down to an appropriate level.

#3 Expiration Date.

As you continue on your decluttering journey, you’ll stumble upon items you think you might need one day. While this mindset has proven useful in past decades, it has followed Pareto’s Principle more than we’d like to admit: of the 80-100% of the things we keep for a delayed and unknown need, only 0-20% might ever get used. The replacement light bulbs that come with every strand of holiday lights, or extra buttons that come with your new cardigan. The dull hack saw you salvaged from a garage sale or the door knobs that came out of your renovated property. Maybe it’s the fancy table linens for the parties you never throw or extra sets of glass punch cups. You’re keeping these things because you THINK you’ll use them, but so far you haven’t. In fact, instead of using the old things, you actually just pick up what you need for less than $25 when you need it. Be honest with yourself. It’s time to let these things go. But if you don’t believe me, then place these items in a box with an expiration date clearly marked on the side. Once that date arrives, you’ll have no regrets donating those items because you KNOW you never actually needed them.

What are your favorite strategies for cutting the clutter? Share them below in the comments!

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