How do you unclutter your home, your business or your life? The secret is to use the declutter 20-20 rule. If you’re not familiar with it, you’ll love how much easier the 20-20 rule makes uncluttering decisions. And if you are familiar with it, we all need a reminder of the power of this organizing tip.
No matter how much you have, there’s always something that needs to be decluttered. Making the decisions on what to keep and what to let go can be difficult. Using this unclutter 20-20 rule is a big help when you deal with those what-if-I-might-need-it-someday items.
Often people want to jump straight to organizing and putting items away. It’s not useful to just shuffle clutter around and look for ways to organize it. You’re not truly organizing, you’re just moving clutter around and placing it in new bins or locations.
What does unclutter mean?
Unclutter means to remove clutter, to distinguish the necessary and valued items you want to keep as opposed to the items you don’t need.
Many people use the terms unclutter and declutter interchangeably.
Other people feel strongly that there is a difference between the two terms, explaining that declutter is to remove items and unclutter is to straighten or tidy up items.
Declutter has become more popular in recent years, but both are commonly used.
Unclutter with the 20-20 Rule
There are many different categories of items that people find challenging to declutter.
What is the 20-20 rule for organizing?
Many people have trouble holding onto items “just in case I might need it.” They keep imagining situations when an item might be needed in the future. You know, just in case I might need it sometime in the future for something I can’t identify, but… I might need it.
The guidelines for the unclutter 20-20 rule is that if you can replace an item in 20 minutes or for $20 or less, you can let that item go.
- Can you replace the item in less than 20 minutes?
- Can you replace the item for less than $20?
The 20-20 decluttering rule is a big help in deciding what to keep and what to let go for all the what-if items.
How to use the 20-20 rule
To start decluttering, be sure to check out this intro and free decluttering checklist.
- Separate items into categorizes of like items
- Evaluate every category to decide if you need and want to keep the group of items.
- Evaluate every item within a category to decide if you need or want each item.
- When struggling to decide whether to keep those what-if-I-might need it-someday items, use the 20-20 rule.
- Can you replace the item for $20 or less?
- Can you replace the item in 20 minutes or less?
- If you answered yes to both questions, then unclutter the item and let it go because you could easily replace it if you do need to in the future.
- If you answer yes to one of the questions, think long and hard about whether you really need to keep the item for a just-in-case situation.
I’ve worked with many clients where this unclutter 20-20 trick is the light bulb moment for them. When they are staring indecisively at an item trying to decide if they might ever need it in the future, we simple ask the 2 20-20 organizing trick questions and most often the answer whether to keep or let the item go is suddenly easy to see for them.
More Uncluttering Tips
- Sign up for the 30 Day Declutter Challenge
- 31 Day Declutter Challenge in 10-minutes a day
- A Year of Decluttering Motivation
- Organized Home Challenge – 5 Rooms in 5 Weeks
- Disorganized? – 5 Steps to Make Space
- Work with me in a Virtual Organizing Session
- Clear Clutter – Getting Started
More Organizing Tips You May Not Have Heard Of
- Square Rules Organizing
- Color Coded Organizing
- Clothes Spending Freeze Tips and Challenge
- Create a Healthy Morning Routine
Pin now so that you can always find these unclutter with the 20-20 rules tips when you need them or want to share them. Have you ever tried this organizing tip and did it work for you?
Find all my decluttering tips, printables and challenges in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.