De-cluttering Rules

When Jill and I were packing up the house in Minneapolis we were amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated.  In the course of packing, we got rid of 6 car/truck loads of stuff.  We resolved to pair down more and more over time – and defined these three rules for doing so:

1. Out by default. 

When packing, imagine that everything is automatically out and that you are selecting a subset of your stuff to include.  This rule served us well during the move, particularly when we were packing our books.  Rather than think:  I need to find room for all this stuff.  Think: which of these things do I want to keep.  This doesn’t sound like much but it really did help us carve out the 6 loads of stuff mentioned above.  If we couldn’t think of a reason we wanted to have something, it was out by default.  This also led to some comical moments like:  “Hey Jill what about this broken immersion blender in the kitchen?  Should we get rid of it :)”  

2. One for one.

If we buy something new we need to get rid of something else of a comparable size/value. Theoretically, this rule should ward off the gradual accumulation of more and more stuff.  Got this one from some book that my brother told me about once.  Can remember the name of it, but was about some kid who only had a dozen things or so.  

3. One room per month.

Each month we will select a room in the house and take everything out of it – like when we were packing.  This event will provide an opportunity to reorganize, clean corners, and hopefully apply the out by default rule.  

So that was the plan when we moved…  big talk, I know.  But… thus far we’ve held our ground pretty well.  The first month or so of living in our new house was chaotic from a stuff perspective, but now that we’re getting settled, we’ve begun to apply the rules.  For example:

Rule 2, applied:  Today Jill, Jaye and I went on a small shopping spree to Sports Authority.  I had some gift cards and we had some running stuff we wanted to get.
For my part, I got a fuel/water belt, a new shirt, and a running hat.  That means, according to rule two, that I needed to get rid of three comparable sized/priced things.  Here’s a picture of the trade off.  To make up for my new running things I’ll be jettisoning my current running hat (sorry Dave) an old pair of running shoes, and an adidas tee shirt.  Jill got some new shoes and is getting rid of an old pair.  

Rule 3, applied:  In July, Jill took everything out of the bathroom and cleaned/organized it.  This month I’ll tackle either our bedroom or the study.  So far so good on rule 3.  

When we needed motivation during the move we watched this TED talk.  Also, hopefully putting this blog post out there will keep us honest and moving forward with our de-cluttering goals.   


  1. Found you via Jelli’s link-up! This is good stuff. I try hard to live by that “One for one” rule–I am not always successful, but I try and I think it’s a great one! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Hopped over here from Jellibean Journal. We recently moved and were also amazed at all the stuff with had accumulated in (gulp) only a year in that apartment. Definitely need to more de-cluttering, but are now working with a bigger house, which means more room for junk and cutter to collect. Thanks for some motivation and good ideas!

  3. Love it!!!

  4. I love rummaging through things and donating stuff we never use. It’s one of my favorite “hobbies” that drives my husband mad. In fact, I’ll also be blogging about it this week. Thanks so much for linking up with Monday Mom Musings this week,