Hit a Wall with Your Decluttering Efforts? Try the “One Week” Rule.

published Aug 10, 2021
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cardboard box with clothes on coffee table

Decluttering is hard. Facing the mess you want to thin out is a mental mountain you have to climb before you even begin the labor of sorting and deciding what to get rid of and what to keep. Depending on what it is, you may have memories and emotions to contend with as you’re decluttering.

And then there are all the steps involved in actually getting the clutter out of your house. The simplest is when you can just toss or recycle, but oftentimes you need to bag things up, donate them, give them away, or try to sell them. Each of these involves several tasks. It can get overwhelming, and it’s really tempting to just fizzle out before you’re finished.

Stalling out when decluttering is a common problem. But there’s a way you can set expectations on the hardest part of the job: The “one week” rule.

How to Use the “One Week” Rule to Finish Your Decluttering

Maybe you have a box in your closet full of clothes you’ve decided to pass on, but still need to be photographed and posted on a resale site. Maybe your old baby gear has been sitting in the garage, waiting for a day when you can take out the back seat of the van and make the trek to the consignment store. You might have a mudroom cubby full of returns you have to make. Or maybe you have boxes or laundry baskets full of items you know you could get good money for if you offered it to your neighbors on a community group.

But here’s the fact all the well-intentioned re-sellers have to face sooner or later (and I’m among them): If it’s still in your house, it’s not potential money — it’s the same clutter it’s always been, and it’s weighing you down, possibly even more than it did when it was just crowding your closets or cabinets.

To break this cycle, give yourself a rule bound by time. Something like, “I have one week to sell what’s in this box, and if I don’t, it goes to donation.” Perhaps a deadline will give you the push you need to make the decluttering pay off (in the literal sense). If not, give yourself permission to see your newly-gained space and freedom as a valuable return in itself — and simply let those things go.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Stalled Out With Your Decluttering? Try the “One Week” Rule