Typically, decluttering only happens during the springtime—or that one time a year when you’ve finally had enough of looking at your complete lack of closet space. But the benefits of decluttering are myriad, even if you do it outside of its usual designated time frame. In fact, once per quarter, I set a calendar alert and pick a room to go through for five or so hours on a Saturday morning. That makes any annual cleanouts less ambitious.
Ahead, five rules of decluttering that you can apply ASAP.
Break Up The WorkIt can seem cumbersome and intimidating to set out to go through every item in your home, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead of choosing to go through every single thing, pick a subcategory, like clothing, or beauty products, then go through every one of those—literally.
If you pick a subcategory like clothing, we recommend you go room by room for your sanity—start in your bedroom with everything you wear often, then move to satellite rooms that also house clothes, like the basement or under a guest room. Just make sure you truly look at everything: Take it out of the drawer, off the hanger, or otherwise hold it up in front of your face before you decide to keep or toss it. If it has to be dry-cleaned before you can wear it again, toss that in a separate pile—but first, be sure that you’ll actually wear it again.
Get Rid Of Duplicates—Or Anything You Haven’t Touched In Two YearsI’m guilty of buying my favorite T-shirts in duplicates to prepare for the inevitable: Either I stain them beyond belief, or they begin to unravel at the seams. Unless that item is something that’s regularly in rotation, you shouldn’t have more than one of them. That can apply more broadly, too: Do you really need two dark-wash denim jackets? Isn’t one pair of snakeskin leather pants enough?
Similarly, if you haven’t touched something in two years, toss it. This goes against the conventional advice of one year, but sometimes, it doesn’t snow frequently enough to break out your sleeping bag puffer coat, or you weren’t able to make it to last year’s annual family tennis tournament. If it’s been two years since you thought about it, get rid of it.
Buy Storage After You DeclutterAfter all, you can’t figure out an organization system until you know exactly how much you need to organize. Once you have a set amount of items that need to go back, be sure you have the right amount of hangers, containers, or other storage units to house them. And try not to buy more space than you’ll need, lest you feel compelled to fill it.
Put Everything AwayBefore you hustle to get it all back into your new organization system, make sure you actually clean your storage units. Wipe your closet floors and shelves; take a microfiber cloth to your drawers, and take your leather cleaner to anything that needs a good shine. Then, put stuff where you look for it—not where you think it *should* go.
Finish by spritzing some Room & Linen Spray in every room you finish.
Donate ASAPIgnore that little voice in your head that says, “I’ve worked hard decluttering! I can wait until next week to drop off everything at the charity center!” Nope—throw everything you’re donating into your trunk, and make a point to get it out of there by the time the sun goes down.
Et voila! Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of rules on decluttering, but a few helpful ones that’ll help you while you’re between spring cleanings.