This Bobby Berk-Approved Decluttering Method Keeps you Focused on the Task Without the Risk of Overwhelm

The 10-10-100 rule is a great trick to add to your decluttering arsenal to help you stay motivated

A kitchen with a blue tiles backsplash, a terracotta tiled floor, and rattan stools at a white island
(Image credit: Design: Daniel House Club / Photography: Kelley Kish)

Warmer weather and longer days can mean only one thing — time to commit to a declutter. No more making excuses due to overcast weather or your winter hibernation, it's time to cut the clutter and restore some order to your home before your guests come a-knocking.

Knowing when to start decluttering is one thing, but finding the motivation to keep going is another. Many of us go in with fierce determination only for our enthusiasm to dwindle as the job drags on (and on... and on). Sometimes we need a little helping hand - a quota to stick to, for example, or a time limit to keep you focussed. Well, how about a technique that combines the two?

This decluttering method comes courtesy of designer Bobby Berk. The Queer Eye star may not be returning to the show for its ninth season, but he's still willing to share his wealth of tips and tricks for curating your dream home over on his Instagram account, including this decluttering technique known as the 10-10-100 rule. Here's what you need to know, alongside some expert advice on how to apply it to your home.

What is the 10-10-100 rule?

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(Image credit: Shapeless Studio)

Setting yourself a time constraint is one of the best ways to stay focused while decluttering. It's the principal goal with methods like the three-second decluttering rule or - unsurprisingly - the five-second rule, and if you're the type of person who's easily distracted while sorting through your stuff, it's by far the best way to stay on track. If you prefer to take your time, other techniques involve setting a target to meet when parting with stuff; committing to throwing out 10 items from each room, for example.

Well, this method combines both ideas to reap maximum effects. Stick to it, and you'll have parted with 100 items in just over an hour and a half. 'The 10-10-100 rule is a straightforward idea to help reduce clutter and bring order to your home,' says Di Ter Avest, professional organizer and owner of Di is Organized. 'The rule is as follows: dedicate 10 minutes to decluttering a space. During those 10 minutes, identify and remove 10 items you no longer need, use, or love.'

'Where does the 100 figure come from?', we hear you ask. The idea is that you repeat the process above until you reach 100. With that in mind, after an hour and 40 minutes, you'll have bagged up 100 items for donating or recycling and be left with a much tidier and more organized home.

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Di Ter Avest

Di Ter Avest is a professional home and lifestyle organizer and the owner of Di is Organized, in Baltimore, MD (USA). She's the author of the book, Organize Yourself Healthy, and her expertise has been featured on Forbes, Today, ApartmentTherapy, Real Homes, Home & Gardens, and Kitchn.

How Effective is the 10-10-100 rule?

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(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Emerson)

In his Instagram video, Bobby praises this challenge for breaking a decluttering task into smaller, more manageable chunks, making the process easier and tricking the brain to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Theoretically, it's a really effective technique as it makes overcoming such a huge decluttering task seem far more doable. It's like looking 10 steps ahead, instead of the entire way up the mountains.

'I see this decluttering rule working well with people who have a hard time focusing on a task for a long period and those who want to maintain their homes clutter-free,' says Di. Of course, if you don't have an hour and 40 minutes to spare, you can spread the task over time, too.

'You can gradually transform your living spaces into the home of your dreams by consistently dedicating a small amount of time each day to decluttering and purging unnecessary items,' Di explains. 'The constant decluttering method of just 10 minutes ensures that decluttering becomes a regular habit rather than an overwhelming chore.'

However, like all decluttering tips, there are some instances when the 10-10-100 rule won't be so useful. 'As Bobby Berk says, he uses this rule to "manage spaces that clutter easily in my home". You wouldn't see a big transformation in a small amount of time if you followed this rule, but it is great for those hot areas that seem to accumulate stuff,' notes Di.

Califonia-based organizer, Melissa Gugni, also says setting yourself such a specific target could be more of a hindrance than a help. 'I like the idea of breaking goals into smaller, less overwhelming parts sometimes, but picking a number like 10 is arbitrary,' she says. If you're decluttering drawers or smaller areas of the home, throwing out ten items might not be reasonable.

How to adapt the 10-10-100

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A photo posted by bobby on

With that in mind, you could always adjust the 10-10-100 rule to suit your needs. The beauty of decluttering methods like these is that you can bend the principles to work in your favor depending on the circumstances. For example, you could make this the 5-5--50 rule if parting with 100 items feels a bit too many. Or, you could make it the 10-20-100, allowing yourself more time to decide on what to declutter.

'On the other hand, if you're looking to declutter your home ruthlessly, the rule could be modified to target a higher number of items each day or extend the duration of decluttering sessions,' Di says. 'You can also pair the rule with the move out method - where you pack all your stuff into boxes - for a more streamlined decluttering experience. By combining the 10-10-100 rule with the moving method, you can amplify the decluttering efforts, ensuring that every item earns its place in your space.'

To really simplify things, however, Melissa stands by the effectiveness of a trusty 10-minute timer. 'I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and cleaning out your junk drawer, kitchen counter, or wherever you're working and getting rid of what you want and need to get rid of,' she says. 'This might be nothing but trash, or more likely it might mean just returning random things back to where they live.'

However you decide to approach this Bobby Berk-approved trick, remember that decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay committed to your goal and reap the benefits that come with a tidier, newly organized space. Now you're ready to invite your guests over without shamefully hiding your clutter away!

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.