The 20/20 Rule for Decluttering: Simplifying Your Space and Life

The Cleaning Coach


The 20/20 Rule for Decluttering: Simplifying Your Space and Life

In the quest for a clutter-free home, various strategies and rules have emerged to help individuals tackle the often overwhelming task of decluttering. Among these, the 20/20 rule stands out as a practical, straightforward method designed to reduce hesitation and make the decluttering process more manageable. This rule is not just about organizing your space; it’s about changing your relationship with the things you own and making conscious decisions about what truly adds value to your life.

What is the 20/20 Rule for Decluttering?

The 20/20 rule for decluttering is simple in concept but powerful in application: if you’re hesitant to get rid of an item because you think you might need it in the future, ask yourself if it can be replaced for less than $20 and within 20 minutes from your location. If the answer is yes, you can safely let go of the item, knowing that it can be easily and affordably replaced should you need it again. This rule is particularly effective for those items that linger in our homes “just in case” but rarely, if ever, get used.

The beauty of the 20/20 rule lies in its ability to cut through the “what if” scenarios that often paralyze the decluttering process. It encourages us to trust in our ability to manage future needs without clinging to physical items out of fear or uncertainty. By applying this rule, we learn to live more in the present, keeping only what serves us now and lightening the load of possessions that we carry through life.

Applying the 20/20 Rule in Everyday Life

Implementing the 20/20 rule starts with identifying those items that you’re keeping “just in case.” These are often things like spare cables, outdated electronics, kitchen gadgets, or rarely used tools. Once identified, assess each item through the lens of the 20/20 rule. Can you realistically replace it for less than $20, and would it take less than 20 minutes to procure? If so, give yourself permission to let it go.

This process doesn’t just apply to physical objects. It can also be a valuable tool in decluttering digital spaces, such as your email inbox or files on your computer. If a document can be downloaded again or an email can be resent, consider whether it needs to take up space in your digital world.

The Benefits of the 20/20 Rule

Adopting the 20/20 rule in decluttering efforts brings several benefits that extend beyond a tidier home. Firstly, it reduces the mental burden of maintaining and organizing excess possessions, freeing up mental space for more important decisions and activities. It encourages a mindset of living more with less, fostering an appreciation for the items that truly matter and contribute positively to your life.

Moreover, the 20/20 rule promotes a more sustainable approach to consumption. By carefully considering what we keep, we become more mindful consumers, reducing waste and the environmental impact of constantly acquiring new items. This rule helps us build confidence in our ability to adapt and solve problems without relying on a stockpile of possessions.

Overcoming Challenges with the 20/20 Rule

While the 20/20 rule is a powerful tool, its application can sometimes be met with resistance. Emotional attachments, the fear of scarcity, or the belief that an item holds potential future value can make it difficult to let go. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings but also to recognize that the freedom and simplicity gained by decluttering often outweigh the temporary discomfort of parting with an item.

For those struggling with applying the rule, start small. Choose one area or category to focus on, applying the 20/20 rule to make decisions. As you experience the benefits of a decluttered space, the process will become easier, and the rule can be applied more broadly.


The 20/20 rule for decluttering offers a simple yet effective framework for making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. It encourages us to evaluate our possessions based on practicality and present value rather than fear or speculation about the future. By adopting this rule, we can create spaces that reflect our current needs, values, and aspirations, leading to a more organized, mindful, and fulfilling life.

Remember, decluttering is not just about removing things from your home; it’s about making room for what truly matters. With the 20/20 rule as your guide, you can navigate the decluttering process with confidence, creating a space that supports your well-being and lifestyle. So, take the first step today and discover the peace and clarity that comes with a decluttered space.

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The Cleaning Coach

The Cleaning Coach

The Cleaning Coach is a nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert dedicated to educating people on keeping their homes, schools and work areas GREEN.