These are the 5 Best Decluttering Tips We Learned This Year that Promise a More Streamlined Space in 2024

Start your 2024 off on the right foot by harnessing these expert-approved decluttering tips

minimalist lighting living room
(Image credit: Michael K. Chen Architecture)

The start of a new year brings renewed intentions to keep the house more organized, but that's always easier said than done. Decluttering and organizing without a plan of action can be seriously overwhelming, especially after the chaos of the festive season.

Sometimes the easiest way to start decluttering is to rely on a rule, principle, or specific trick. But with so many conflicting ideas out there, how should you ever know which to use?

Fortunately, I've spent the last year keeping track of the best decluttering tips I have learned, so you don't have to. Here you will find five of my favorite tips and how to use them, with insightful advice from renowned organizing experts. Happy new year, and happy organizing!

1. The One Minute Rule

minimalist lighting living room

(Image credit: Balzar Arquitectos)

As the name suggests, this task is a quick technique to add to your decluttering repertoire. If you struggle to know where to start, this one is for you. It's a super easy decluttering tip to follow that can be incorporated into your daily routine, and you'll barely notice you're doing it until you see the transformation it has caused. 

'The one-minute rule says that if an action or task takes less than a minute to accomplish, just do it,' says professional organizer at House to Home Organizing, Ben Soreff. Instead of putting it on to-do list or putting it off for another time, you just do it. It might sound rudimentary, but by adopting this ethos, you'll be shocked at how much more productive you will become.

2. Swedish Death Cleaning

Don't worry, Swedish death cleaning isn't as morbid as it sounds. It's actually an intense decluttering technique that's already widespread in Scandinavia. 'It's essentially the practice of tidying one's belongings now so that others don't have to do it for us after our death,' says professional organizer Amelie Saint-Jacques.

Although the origins of this technique suggest it should be completed later in life, this isn't the case. It should be utilized as a way of making everyday life more manageable, and your future self will thank you for it. 'Anytime is a good time for an adult to take stock of one's belongings and declutter,’ Amelie says. When the clutter gets too much, incorporating this principle into your life will have a transformational effect on your space.

3. Tidy Toss

Stackable wicker storage boxes.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Organizing can sometimes feel so formal and rigid. It becomes unattainable and impractical to have everything perfectly ordered and, unless you are a dedicated minimalist, it just isn't realistic. 

That's why we love the tidy toss trick. As the name suggests, the tidy toss trick is all about tossing a category of stuff into some kind of repository without worrying about an order or how it looks, and it's perfect for closet organization especially. The key to an organized home is finding a technique that works for you and one that you can maintain, and finding a space that's hidden away to quickly act as a place to put items that would typically clutter your table or floor is a great idea for many of us. A wicker basket, like this one from Target, is the ideal solution.

4. 5 Things a Day Rule

This simple decluttering habit will help to keep you on track with your organizing. 'The “five things a day” rule is really quick and easy,' explains professional organizer Jane Lee, owner of Jane Lee Interiors. 'Simply pick up five items during the day that don’t have a home and find a good place for them to live - it can be more or less than five, just pick a number that feels right for you.'

This trick is perfect for anyone who doesn't have the time to spend a whole day organizing as it fits into your life at a time that suits you. No need to designate time, simply do it throughout the day. It might not sound like a lot but you'll quickly notice how much space these items were taking up and how cluttered they made your home feel.

5. 3 Second Rule

Light-filled kitchen

(Image credit: Tim Lenz. Design: J. PATRYCE DESIGN)

If you are someone who struggles with decision fatigue when decluttering, the 3-second rule is for you. It's the quickest and most effective way to declutter that I have come across, and it helps encourage you to make fast decisions on your feet. 

The rule is, when decluttering a space, you look at each item and make a quick decision - either yes, you keep, or no, it goes. This decision must be made within three seconds using your gut reaction to judge what you really want and need in your home. If you're faced with a big decluttering project, or you're just someone who tends to deliberate for a long time, setting this arbitrary timer will help you get the job done fast. 

6. The 12-12-12 rule

One way to boss your decluttering in 2024 is to turn it into a game of achievable objectives. The 12-12-12 decluttering method makes this process much more manageable and rewards you for decluttering. The rule is, that you declutter 12 items, donate 12, and rehome 12. It forces you to focus on the essentials and be discerning in your choices. 

If you're prone to shy away from big decluttering jobs, this challenge can also help you deal with overwhelm. 'This rule is best for people who need a strategy or basic plan to get started,' notes Macie Kreutzer, professional organizer and owner of For the Love of Simple. 'It's also helpful for busy households who want to keep their home tidy and clutter-free and can apply the 12-12-12 rule on a regular basis.' If 12 feels too many, or you are only organizing a small space, try turning it into the 3-3-3 rule. It will have the same effect, just on a smaller scale.

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.