As we start decluttering our homes, workspaces, computers, schedules … it will be useful to have some guiding principles.

These aren’t rock-solid rules but things that I’ve found to be really useful over the years, and that have helped me in many different types of decluttering.

I hope you find them useful.

  1. Identify the important: What’s most important to you in each area? You can’t declutter if you don’t know what’s important. Once you’ve figured it out, decisions become much easier.
  2. Ruthlessly eliminate the rest: If you know what’s important, now get rid of the unimportant! This is the decluttering process of course.
  3. Simplify before organize: It’s no use organizing too much stuff — you’re just rearranging a mess! Instead, declutter, then organization of the little that’s left is a breeze.
  4. You only think you need it: Often we don’t get rid of things because we think we need them — just in case, for sentimental reasons, etc. But those are false needs. We’ll work on this during this module.
  5. Everything has a home: Have a designated place for everything. Once you’ve decluttered, this becomes much easier. If something doesn’t have a place, give it one. Make this a habit. Then put things where they belong.
  6. Put space between things: When possible, leave space. Too many people cram as many things as possible in the space they have. Instead, leave space, on shelves, countertops, floors, closets … and especially in your schedule.
  7. Form maintenance habits for the long term: Once things are relatively decluttered, the danger is that the clutter creeps back. You have to form some small habits to keep the clutter away for the long term.
  8. Constantly refine: Once you get your clutter down a bit, you can keep decluttering. I got to one level after my first round, and it was huge progress … but then I found there were still things I could get rid of, and got to a new level … and that repeated itself for years. I probably could keep refining, but at this point I’m pretty happy with where things are.