What is the 5-second rule for decluttering?

1 November 2023by cleanoodle.com

We’re gearing up for some serious spring cleaning this bank holiday.

Spending extended time at home has prompted us to realize that we possess numerous items we simply don’t require. Consequently, this Easter bank holiday appears to be the ideal occasion to embark on a comprehensive spring cleaning and decluttering mission. Ornaments, gadgets, equipment, and various odds and ends have amassed over the years, contributing significantly to the surplus of ‘stuff’ scattered throughout our homes.

We were undoubtedly well-intentioned at the time of purchase, believing each item served a specific purpose. However, as time has passed, many possessions no longer seem to fulfill their intended functions.

The challenge lies in distinguishing between what we use and need and what we don’t. This process can often feel arduous and exasperating.

Nonetheless, decluttering our homes is a worthwhile endeavor for several compelling reasons:

Firstly, decluttering creates mental space, a quietly profound transformation. Eliminating excess possessions makes organization and tidying up a far more manageable task.

Secondly, discarding items can be therapeutic, facilitating clearer thinking and better decision-making. This philosophy aligns with the core message of Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.”

Thirdly, with the household spending more time at home, the need for extra space has become increasingly apparent.

Lastly, clutter can overstimulate our brains, making us feel like we are never truly finished for the day. Constant reminders of tasks to be done can hinder relaxation.

Considering that we are currently navigating a period of heightened mental stimulation, it is advisable to minimize stress where possible.

Fortunately, a clever decluttering technique circulating on Pinterest is both simple and swift.

Image of a pile of colourful sweaters with a white cup of a hot drink

Silvia Cozzi/Getty Images

The 5-Second Decluttering Rule

The Five-Second Rule, as explained below, is a clever method to overcome indecision, and it’s refreshingly uncomplicated: if you can’t recall when you last used something within a five-second timeframe, it’s time to part with it.

You could also set strict time limits for decluttering specific areas (such as your closet or under your bed) to expedite the decision-making process.

The Five-Second Rule has been shared countless times as part of an infographic featuring eight decluttering tips and tricks.

Some other tips include asking yourself whether you possess duplicate items, determining which one you use most frequently, and setting time constraints to prevent the task from feeling never-ending and unrewarding.


What is the Enchanting Power of Decluttering?

Even when not in our conscious thoughts, clutter has the potential to disrupt our ability to complete tasks and maintain an organized lifestyle. Continually searching for needed items can consume valuable time better spent on more crucial activities. This, in turn, leads to daily stress and a pervasive negative energy.

What Should Be the First Items to Remove When Decluttering?

Commence by eliminating any rubbish.

Select a small area, like a drawer, to initiate the organization process.

Categorize your possessions into three groups: Keep, Donate, and Discard.

Assign a designated spot for everything you decide to keep—such as a hook for your keys.

What Does the 80/20 Rule Signify in the Context of Decluttering?

Research indicates that people utilize 20% of their possessions a staggering 80% of the time. The remainder occupies space, largely untouched. Reflect upon the belongings in your home, the clothing in your wardrobe, and even the items you pack for vacation.

What is the 20/20 Rule for Decluttering?

We adopted a minimalist approach during our recent book tour, ensuring we didn’t pack anything “just in case.” This led us to put our theory to the test: the 20/20 Rule. It means anything we eliminate but genuinely require can be replaced for less than £20 within 20 minutes from our present location.

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