WHAT IS THE SIX MONTH RULE FOR DECLUTTERING?
I would rather deep clean my home 10 times over than declutter. The problem is, I get irrationally sentimental over things I own, and when it comes to throwing stuff away, I always find a way to convince myself I need whatever it is I'm about to donate. That's why the six month rule is my favorite decluttering tip: it's about tackling that 'what if?' mentality. 'At the core, the six month rule basically states that when you are organizing your space and decluttering, anything you haven’t used in the past six months can probably go,' explain Ben Soreff, a declutterer at House to Home Organizing. 'The rule allows for exceptions including holiday decorations and keepsakes.' According to Ben, the six month rule is all about quelling that fear of regret we often feel when throwing things away. Think about the stuff you've thrown away in the past - how much of it do you miss, or even remember? Probably not a lot...
WHERE IS THE SIX MONTH RULE BEST APPLIED?
While it can be applied anywhere in the home, as a maxim that targets practical items rather than decorative ones, the six month rule lends itself best to certain areas. 'It's especially effective in rooms like the kitchen, where clutter can quickly build up,' explains Phi Dang. director of home services company, Sidepost. 'That said, it can also be applied to rooms like the living room, where clutter might not be as obvious but can still create a feeling of chaos.' Start with the rooms in your home that have the most storage. This might be a living room with lots of shelving, or a kitchen with drawers so full they're jammed. I used it when unboxing my belongings while moving which was especially useful seeing as nothing I owned had a designated spot yet. When you start organizing a room with too much stuff in, with every item you pick up, ask yourself 'have I used it or found any value in it in the past six months?' If the answer is no, let go.
WHY IS THE SIX MONTH DECLUTTERING RULE SO EFFECTIVE?
I managed to throw out a whole load of clothes from my closet using this method as well as a box of kitchen items. When paired with the 20/20 decluttering rule, I found it was the most effective decluttering attempt I'd ever made. But don't just take it from me. According to Phi, there are a few reasons why the six month rule is so effective, the first one being preventative. 'It forces you to be more mindful of the things you bring into your home,' he explains. 'If you know you'll only keep something for six months, you're less likely to impulse buy or hold onto things you don't need.' He continues: 'Second, the rule helps you focus on the things you actually use and enjoy. When you declutter your home, you can surround yourself with the things that make you happy and that are truly useful to you.'
TIPS FOR USING THE SIX MONTH RULE
The most important thing to remember when using decluttering rules is to be kind. The six month rule should allow for exceptions. You don't 'use' the decorative objet on your shelves, but they contribute to your decor nonetheless. You don't 'use' the silver set, but it's a family heirloom. You don't have to get rid of things if they still hold value to you. It's important to stay realistic when applying this rule. 'Be honest with yourself,' says Phi. 'It can be tough to let go of things, even if we don't use them very often. But if you want to declutter your home effectively, it's important to be honest with yourself about what you really need and what you can live without.' Once you know the reason why you're holding on to something, it could make it easier to let go of it. 'Instead of focusing on not using something for six months instead ask yourself why you haven't used it,' says Ben. 'Perhaps you couldn't find it or perhaps someone else in the house put it away in the wrong place? Ask how expensive is it? How hard is it to replace? If you don't know what to do with an item, put it on probation and now you have a date on it. Just come back six months later.'