What Is The 90/90 Rule That Can Help You Declutter Your Space?

Did you know that too much clutter could be creating more housework for you? According to the American Cleaning Institute, most adults spend six hours every week cleaning their homes, but the chore list doesn't end there. Before breaking out your duster and broom, you have to tidy up all the clutter from floors and surfaces. Tidying requires an immense amount of mental energy and focus on putting everything where it belongs. It makes us feel more stressed when things don't fit nicely into drawers or when an avalanche in the closet prevents us from getting to what we need.

Nobody likes dealing with clutter and the messes it creates, but it can be hard to avoid hanging on to some things. Melissa Russel, the founder of Simple Lionheart Life, explains that keeping items "just in case" is one of the biggest pitfalls when decluttering. While it may seem smart to keep some items just in case you need them later, they take up valuable real estate in your home and your mind. Luckily, the 90/90 rule is here to help you determine what you should actually keep — and what you'll probably never miss.

Think 90 days past and 90 days ahead

The 90/90 rule is a decluttering method pioneered by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, two men also known as The Minimalists. Their 90/90 rule is pretty simple, and you don't have to embrace a whole new minimalist lifestyle to use it. As you're sorting through items in your home, ask yourself: "Have I needed this item in the last 90 days? Do I anticipate needing it within the next 90 days?" If your answer is "no" to both of these questions, it's probably not an item you need to keep. 

Following the 90/90 rule is a really easy way to determine which items are actually useful and helpful in your life. For example, you may cook with an air fryer once weekly, so that's an item worth keeping. On the other hand, you may only use your pasta machine once per year, so that's not an item you need to keep. The same goes for items you haven't even touched or thought about in the last 90 days: Old formal dresses, clutter in the attic, unread books on the bookshelves, etc. 

Use other clues to help you decide

What if you've used an item in the last 90 days, but you don't think you'll use it very often in the future? What if you wear something out of necessity, but you hate the material or color? If you're really stuck on an item, it may help to consider some other common minimalist rules. Try asking yourself: Is this item serving a purpose right now? Does it have sentimental value? Would it be relatively cheap to replace? Or, as the famous Marie Kondo says, "Does it spark joy?" 

These questions should especially help you eliminate what author Karen Kingston calls aspirational clutter. Aspirational clutter refers to items that you hope to use someday for some future version of yourself. It could be clothes in the wrong size, crafting supplies that take up space, or fitness equipment you don't enjoy using. Of course, other items like holiday décor and seasonal clothing can be notoriously hard to declutter. You shouldn't get rid of your best winter coat just because the frosty season is over. Some items are worth storing away and out of sight, but try to minimize as much invisible clutter as possible. Out of house, out of mind!