The "20-Minute-or-Less Rule" Might Be the Biggest Clue It's Time to Declutter, Says This Professional Organizer

According to the experts, this is a great rule of thumb to clue you in on your need for a deep declutter

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A deep declutter and cleaning session can do wonders for your home but we understand that it can be a taxing task to commence. You might not know where to begin or you might even be wondering if you really even need to declutter at this time. Most homes have one too many unused items tucked away and sitting forgotten in dusty corners, but out of sight is only out of mind for so long before your home - which is meant to be a zone of comfort - starts to become a dumping ground in disarray.

It may seem like a cumbersome chore at the moment but you'll feel heaps better once you're house is in tip-top shape. If you're biggest struggle with how to declutter your home is when is time to start, we came across a helpful trick to discern whether your home is in need, and the best part is it's backed up by the experts. So if you've been unsure about it being the right time to channel your inner Marie Kondo, test out this clever rule and let it put your doubts to rest.

How do you know when to declutter?

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We've found ourselves confused about what, where, and how to declutter room by room but recently, the question of if we need to declutter has begun to rear its head and the timing couldn't be better. A recent Instagram post, courtesy of professional organizer Tracy McCubbin of dClutterfly (@tracy_mccubbin), gave us all the guidance we needed to answer the probing question. According to the post, Tracy's rule of thumb is that if it takes you more than 20 minutes to tidy up a room, it's probably time for you to declutter.

Curious to know more, we spoke to Tracy about the rule and it's not just a random quotable post but rather an actual technique that she uses in her personal day-to-day life. 'After over years of being a professional declutterer and organizer, I’ve found that the best test to see if clutter has gotten the upper hand in any room in your house is if you can't return the room to the way you like it in 20 minutes or less,' she notes. Tracy goes on to clarify that this rule doesn't apply to post-event clean-ups like after a holiday, a party, or a big meal. Instead, this rule is meant to be used for everyday living.

When it comes to having a clutter-free home, Tracy tells us that the easiest room to tidy up should always be the kitchen since everything in this zone usually has a storage spot of its own. On the other hand, she points out that kids' rooms are notoriously difficult to manage due to the surplus of toys and the unfortunately overlooked aspect of organization. However, no matter the room you're tackling, Tracy recommends administering this rule so that you can efficiently plan forward depending on whether your home is in need of a spring clean or not.

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Professional organizer Di Ter Avest praises Tracy's decluttering tip, telling us that this is a brilliant concept to go off of when you find yourself spending far too much time tidying up each week. 'The results of tidying up a room are very subjective since people have different lifestyles, goals, and standards of what looks tidy,' she says. 'However, Tracy's 20-minute rule offers a practical guideline for getting started when clutter is excessive.'

Di points out that if it consistently takes you longer than 20 minutes to tidy a room, it's likely an indication that there's too much stuff in that area. She recommends making a game out of it to beat the timer but also suggests admitting defeat if the situation calls for it and taking it as a clear sign that it's time to rid your home of clutter.

While 20 minutes may seem like a tight timeslot to clean up a space, Di tells us that tidying up a room within this time is not an unrealistic goal. So if you've been wondering if your home is due for a decluttering session, time yourself at your next clean-up and see for yourself. Doing so will help you optimize your living space while also reducing the time you spend tidying up. It's a win-win technique that'll put you right at the peak of your clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle.

A post shared by Tracy McCubbin

A photo posted by tracy_mccubbin on

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News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.