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Organizing 101: Applying the 365 Rule to decluttering

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

It's getting to be that time of year again when seasonal or annual items such as holiday decorations are pulled out of the dark corners of basements and garages, and the summer patio furniture is stored until next year.

It is easy for us as homeowners, and consumers, to want to purchase new items each season or forget we already have something stored away before purchasing it again. This is where the '365 rule' can become your new BFF!

This tiny trick comes with huge rewards, both on accumulating more stuff and saving money on seasonal/single-use items.

So what is the 365 rule exactly? Well, it's more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule but is something Professional Organizers like myself use with clients to help make decisions during the decluttering process. This rule basically states that if you have not used an item in the last year it is safe to be considered for donation.

This rule, of course, does not apply to everything in your home, Mementos/treasures are a good example of what could be excluded. The important thing to remember is to not put everything in this category while decluttering or nothing will be removed!

Implementing the 365 rule on items you use frequently (i.e. clothes, shoes, books) can really help you identify the items you use a lot, and make decisions on what you like v. don't care for. Making the distinction will allow you to de-clutter your space without second-guessing or feeling guilty about the items you decide to part with.

Another great use for the 365 rule is with seasonal items. This might be holiday decorations, outdoor furniture, or even kitchenware that is only used once or twice a year. Consider these steps as part of your decluttering process for these items:

  1. Go through all the boxes/containers of these items before you purchase new items.

    1. Completing this step before buying new will allow you the opportunity to take stock of what you already have (no overbuying) and identify what needs to be replaced (conscious consumer!)

  2. Consider donating any items that have not been used within the last year and/or items that no longer fit the aesthetic or vibe you want to create in your home.

  3. Throw away any items that may have been damaged or broken since the last time the box/container has been opened.

  4. When putting the items away for the season/after the holiday, avoid packing items that were intended for single use (i.e. party decorations). If they are still in good shape, donate them. Leave space for the reusable items you wish to store.

  5. Repeat this same pairing down exercise each season/holiday every year so that you fine-tune the items down to functional/sentimental pieces only.

    1. Over time, this will save you A LOT of money & regain precious space in your home.


Now that you have a better sense of what the '365 rule' is, I encourage you to try to implement it in your decluttering process,

🤞🏻 Remember, organizing is a process. Learning new routines and strategies takes time, however, the more you repeat those processes the more likely it is that you will see long-lasting results!

When you’re ready to work on organizing your home, keep in mind that it is possible to control the chaos - and when you need help, we’re here for you!


Ready to get started?

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About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.


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