We’re heading into week two of my 32 Days of Declutter challenge, and this week I want to help you out by teaching you the container rule. This rule is going to help you with deciding what to keep. If you are anything like me, you start off strong with the best of intentions when it comes to decluttering, and then before too long… the decision fatigue sets in.
Fight decision fatigue:
Suddenly, what should be a simple decision—which of these five practically identical navy t-shirts should I keep and which ones should I get rid of—becomes an overwhelming, insurmountable obstacle. You feel irrationally attached to all five, even though one has stretched out and doesn’t fit quite right, one has a stain, and another is starting to unravel at the hem.
If you get to this point, first things first: take a break. Go grab a snack, take a walk, do something else for a while. Then, come back later armed with fresh energy—and the Container Rule.
Having a few rules to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of is crucial to minimizing the decision fatigue when you are decluttering.
The Container Rule:
Today I want to talk about The Container Rule. The rule is simple, though sticking to it can sometimes be a challenge.
Here’s the rule: I can keep as much of X as will fit in Y space.
If there is something you know you have too much of, whether it’s a collection of some sort, clothes spilling out of your closet, or more coffee mugs that will fit on your designated coffee mug shelf, the first step is to define the area you are willing to dedicate to that item. Coffee mugs get one shelf, t-shirts get one drawer, you get the idea. Then create your rule:
- I can only keep coffee mugs that will fit comfortably on this shelf.
- I will only keep the t-shirts that fit comfortably in this drawer.
- I will only keep the school mementos that fit in this box.
- I will only keep as many figurines as fit on this shelf of my bookcase.
Once you’ve made your rule, stick to it. Put your most treasured items in the space first and then move on to the ones that are less meaningful. Once you’ve run out of space, you’re done! Now it’s time to decide what to do with the items you’ve decided not to keep.
Read more in my decluttering series:
I Spent Good Money On That · What if I Need it Someday? · Getting Rid of Stuff: Emotional Attachments · 32 Days of Decluttering Kickoff · Clutter is a Thief · Clutter Makes it Hard to Find What You Need