Moving to a new apartment is an exciting milestone that offers an opportunity for a fresh start. However, the process of packing and unpacking can be overwhelming, especially if you're bringing along years of accumulated belongings. To ensure a smooth transition and create a mess-free living space, decluttering becomes a vital step.
It should be as easy as throwing all your things in a couple labeled bins, right? Well apparently not according to the online organization community.
There seems to be some serious debate about what’s the best way to declutter your space. Let’s discuss 7 popular methods and you can decide for yourself which is the best method for you.
You may have heard of Marie Kondo from her hit Netflix series Tidying Up. She became a viral sensation overnight by touting her unique decluttering secret: only keep items that “spark joy.” She recommends decluttering by category (starting with clothing, moving to books, etc.) rather than by room. Kondo's KonMari method also emphasizes a display of gratitude – even saying it aloud – for each item to promote mindfulness. This method may be best for the sentimental at heart or for people that have a difficult time throwing things away. If you ensure that your possessions have a purpose and bring happiness, you may have a happier apartment.
The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, suggests that we only use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time. If we apply this principle to decluttering, you begin this method by identifying the vital 20% of your things that have the most value. This can mean items you use regularly like your favorite pair of shoes, items you need in an absolute emergency like a flashlight, or sentimental items like a photo album. Now, “What are you supposed to do with the remaining 80% of your items?” you may ask. The answer is cut and dry: let them go (supposedly emotionally but definitely physically). This method may be harsh for some, but can be extremely effective for people that need to downsize.
The Three-Box Method is as simple as it sounds. Separate your items into three categories: Keep, Donate/Sell, and Trash. As you go through each room, have a labeled box or bag handy to easily separate your things. This method forces you to be decisive and go with your gut reaction as you pick up each item. At the end of the day, place the donate box in your car, the trash bag on the curb, and reorganize your keep pile back to their rightful place. Disclaimer: It’s up to you if you remember to take the box to Goodwill or if it will sit in your car for a month, but that’s better than having junk clutter your living space.
This simple method requires a critical eye and a keen use of foresight. The 90/90 rule states that if you haven’t used an item in the past 90 days and don’t think you’ll use it in the next 90 days, then you should get rid of it. You may have also heard of this decluttering method as the 60/60 rule or the 20/20 rule, but it just depends how strict you want to be with yourself. Any way you slice it, it’s a practical way to assess the usefulness of items and may be helpful for those who always keep those random things “just in case”. I promise you don’t need to keep the box your iPhone 6s came in… it’s time to let it go.
The "Rule of 5" is a decluttering strategy made with the procrastinators and the anxious in mind. The goal is to remove only 5 items each day from your living space, whether that’s through donating, gifting, or discarding them. This method is a manageable way to have consistent progress without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also flexible enough for those with busy schedules who don’t have an afternoon to sit and organize their place from top to bottom. The secret benefit of this decluttering method is that it will help establish a healthy new habit!
This method sounds morbid, but stick with me for a minute. Swedish Death Cleaning, or "döstädning," involves gradually downsizing as we age. The goal is to be mindful of the legacy we leave behind and the burden we may leave our loved ones with when they inherit a life’s worth of items. You may think you’re too young to use this method no matter your age, but there’s no harm in being proactive. You can still hold onto your cherished possessions all while eliminating clutter.
The last method on our list is a clutter-management tactic. The 1 in 1 out rule is straightforward but requires some serious self-control: for every new item you bring into your home, one item must be removed or donated. This prevents the unnecessary accumulation of your possessions in the hopes that your home can remain manageable. This is any shopaholic’s worst nightmare, but for those becoming more aware of their over-consumption habits, this may be an excellent place to start your decluttering journey.
Discovering your preferred method of decluttering might take some trial and error, but the overarching themes are the same for each theory: keep what you need, keep it organized, and the more closely you stick to a routine the more manageable your space will be.
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