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The 90 90 Decluttering Rule: Useful Tips and Tricks

The 90 90 Decluttering Rule

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The 90 90 rule for decluttering encourages evaluating items based on their use in the last 90 days and potential use in the next 90 days. It suggests discarding items not used in this timeframe and can be adapted for sentimental or seasonal items to maintain a clutter-free space.

Want to know more about what is the 90 90 rule for decluttering? Read our guide below.

Understanding the 90 90 Decluttering Rule

The 90/90 rule was developed by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, also known as The Minimalists. This decluttering strategy encourages you to look at your belongings and decide their worth based on their use over a 90-day period. 

Essentially, you should consider two important questions: “Did I use this in the last 90 days?” and “Will I use it in the next 90 days?” If your answer is “no” to both, it might be a good idea to consider getting rid of that item.

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Clearing Clutter and Making Choices Simpler

Using the 90/90 rule helps significantly reduce clutter. It encourages clear-cut choices about what to keep and what to let go of. It helps you cut through the indecision that often makes decluttering so challenging. 

By focusing on the practical use of items rather than their sentimental value, this rule aids in maintaining a tidier and more manageable living environment.

Origin and Flexibility of the 90/90 Rule

The 90/90 rule is rooted in the philosophy of leading a simpler, more meaningful life through minimalism. This approach is about freeing up physical space. It also aims to enhance mental clarity and ensure you surround yourself with items that genuinely add value to your life.

The rule is also flexible. It allows adjustments to fit personal needs or specific situations. For example, you might extend the 90-day period for items that are seasonal or have sentimental value. This adaptability makes the 90/90 rule a practical tool for managing your possessions in a way that best suits your lifestyle.

Applying the 90/90 Rule Across Your Home

Simplifying Your Closet: Clothes and Accessories

Using the 90/90 rule in your closet means taking a simple yet disciplined approach to sorting your clothes and accessories. If an item hasn’t been used within the 90-day timeframe and you don’t see yourself using it soon, it may be time to donate, sell, or recycle it.

  • Routine Checks: Regularly go through each item in your closet. If it hasn’t been worn in the last three months and you don’t plan to wear it in the coming three months, it’s probably time to part with it.
  • Adjust for Seasonal Items: Adapt the rule for seasonal clothes like winter gear that you wouldn’t wear in summer. Instead of discarding them, simply store them away.
  • Visual Aids: Use tricks like flipping the hanger once you wear an item. This helps you see at a glance which items are being used and which aren’t. This will make your next clear-out easier.
  • Personalize the Rule: Tailor the 90-day timeframe to fit your lifestyle. If 90 days feels too short, try extending it to 120 days, especially for items that aren’t used often but are still valuable.

Decluttering the Kitchen: Utensils and Appliances

In the kitchen, the 90/90 rule helps you assess which utensils and appliances are essential. Items not used within the 90-day period might need to go. This will ensure that your kitchen remains clutter-free and functional.

  • Usage Assessment: Start by evaluating each kitchen item’s necessity over the past three months and its likely use in the next three months.
  • Consider Seasonal and Rare Use: Keep items that are used infrequently or seasonally, like holiday-specific gadgets, if they’re used at least once a year.
  • Optimize Space: Use creative storage solutions to organize efficiently. Place everyday items like utensils in easy-to-reach spots and less-used items further away.
  • Categorization: Group items by how often you use them to make the most-used tools easily accessible and less-used ones neatly stored away.

Organizing the Garage: Tools and Equipment

In the garage, applying the 90/90 rule can greatly reduce clutter and improve the functionality of your garage space.

  • Designate Storage Zones: Assign specific areas for different types of items like automotive tools, gardening supplies, and sports equipment. This helps in maintaining organization.
  • Use Vertical Space: Install pegboards or shelves to maximize vertical space. For tools you use often, consider hooks or magnetic strips for easy access.
  • Organize Small Items: Store small items like screws and nails in clear containers or divided drawers to keep them sorted. Label these containers for quick identification.
  • Maintain Regularly: Keep up a routine of cleaning and reorganizing your garage. This prevents clutter from building up and ensures everything stays in its place.

By implementing these strategies, you can apply the 90/90 rule effectively across different areas of your home. This can lead to a more organized and clutter-free environment.

declutter home

Combining the 90/90 Rule with Other Methods

Blending Joy and Utility with the KonMari Method

Combining the 90/90 rule with Marie Kondo’s KonMari method brings together the practical and joyful aspects of decluttering. The 90/90 rule makes you consider whether you’ve used items recently or will use them soon. 

KonMari, on the other hand, asks if those items bring you joy. Using both methods helps ensure that everything in your home is both pleasing and useful, especially in living areas where comfort and function are key.

Simplifying Sorting with the Four-Box Method

Using the Four-Box Method alongside the 90/90 rule streamlines how you sort through belongings. Label four boxes as Keep, Donate, Sell, and Throw Away. 

As you assess each item with the 90/90 rule, place it in the corresponding box. This approach speeds up the decision-making process while organizing your items for immediate action.

Making Seasonal Adjustments to the Rule

You can tweak the 90/90 rule to fit different seasons, which is vital for things like holiday decor, sports gear, or gardening tools. 

Adjusting the rule’s timeframe for seasonally used items means that even things not used in the past 90 days can be kept if they’re important for specific times of the year. This flexibility helps maintain a practical balance in what you store.

Managing Emotional and Practical Challenges in Decluttering

Handling Sentimental Items

Dealing with items that have emotional value can be tough when decluttering. It’s crucial to find a balance between honoring their sentimental value and making practical decisions about their necessity in your home.

  • Guiding Questions: When sorting through sentimental items, consider whether each item still brings joy, represents a memory well, or might be better cherished by someone else. This helps you decide whether to keep it, donate it, or let it go.
  • Setting Limits: It’s helpful to set clear limits on how many sentimental items you keep, such as sticking to a certain number of pieces or limiting them to one box. This stops sentimental clutter from taking over your space.
  • Emotional Processing: For items you find hard to part with, try journaling about the memories they hold. Writing can preserve these memories in another way. It will make it easier to let go of the physical item while keeping the sentiment.
  • Practical Use: Check if sentimental items can be displayed or used in your daily life. If they can’t be integrated, think about letting them go. Sometimes, taking a photo before parting with these items can make the process easier.

Overcoming Procrastination in Decluttering

Starting to declutter can be delayed by procrastination. Here’s how to motivate yourself to start and keep going:

  • Clear Goals: Set small, clear goals, like decluttering one area at a time. This makes the task feel less overwhelming and more achievable.
  • Regular Routine: Schedule regular times for decluttering by treating it like a fixed appointment. Whether daily or weekly, consistency helps form a habit.
  • Visualize the Outcome: Imagine how good your space will look and feel after decluttering. Keeping these positive images in mind can boost your motivation.
  • Address Emotions: Recognize any negative feelings you have about decluttering, such as anxiety or fear of loss. Understanding these feelings can help you move past them.
  • Small Steps: Break the task into small parts to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Completing these smaller goals can build momentum and help you keep going.

Maintaining a Clutter-Free Space Long-Term

More than being one big clean-up, keeping your space decluttered is about creating habits that help you maintain order over time.

  • Routine Maintenance: Set a weekly schedule to tidy different areas of your home. Regular checks prevent clutter from building up.
  • Smart Storage: Use strategic storage solutions to keep things organized. Think about using furniture with storage, clear bins, and maximizing vertical space with shelves.
  • Decisive Rules: Improve your decision-making about what stays and what goes. Implement a rule like “one in, one out” to keep your belongings in check.
  • Daily Habits: Adopt routines that support ongoing cleanliness, such as cleaning up immediately after meals or doing a quick nightly tidy-up. These habits help keep clutter at bay and make cleaning easier.

By integrating these strategies, you can tackle the emotional and practical challenges of decluttering, and maintain a clean, organized space that enhances your daily life and well-being.


Make Room for More!

Applying the 90 90 decluttering rule encourages a minimalistic approach. It guides you in the decision of what stays and what goes. 

As you apply this rule and discover items that no longer serve your needs, remember that EZ CleanUp is just a call away. We specialize in efficiently removing unwanted items. We offer you peace of mind and a clutter-free home. 

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