The Only Phrase You Need to Use When Decluttering

In the words of a wise woman,"You can't organize clutter." Decluttering is absolutely necessary if you want to be organized. If you find that you can't organize your items, you probably need to get rid of some. No magical organizational tool or container will make your space bigger; you have to do that on your own by getting rid of things. And you can! I promise!


So here you are. You’ve decided to tackle that one space - your guest closet, attic, basement, or box of memorabilia that just needs to be organized. You set aside an hour to fully focus on this task, have your chosen beverage nearby, favorite playlist going, and get to work pulling items out. (First step of organizing a space is to pull everything out, remember?). As you pull items out and sort into what to keep, toss, or donate, you’re left with a group of items that has yet to be decided on. "But HOW do you decide, Reba? It's so hard!" Don't worry, I got you. It's always simpler than you think.


Enter my favorite organizing phrase: Best, Favorite, Necessary. As you go through your items, only keep what is:

  • The best version of the item. Keep only what's intact, usable, and practical. A mug that's chipped and broken? Toss. Pants that need a new button? Toss. Need to combine items from multiple containers into one? Do it!

  • Your favorite version of the item. When you look at the pile, does one or two of the similar item stand out to you? Do you have 10 shirts but really only wear 3 because the others have various faults: doesn't fit well, gets wrinkled easy, and on and on? Donate. Now you can look in your closet or on your shelf and only see what makes you happy!

  • The most necessary item. What is needed and what is extra? Do you have 15 coffee mugs but only use 3 on a regular basis? Keep 6 in case you have company over, and donate the rest. Haven't used your potato masher in years? Donate. The bread maker that you used once but now is taking up way too much space in your cabinet? Donate. This is not minimalism, this is simply living with what you need.

It's amazing how this simple phrase and these three questions can help you focus on what you really need and what you don't. If you ever get stuck or discouraged, just take a look at your donation or toss pile and see all the work you've already done!


"Best, Favorite, Necessary" was coined by one of my favorite small business owners, Emily Ley. She is the founder of Simplified, whose mission is to inspire and empower women with the tools they need to simplify their lives. Their signature product, The Simplified Planner, is my absolute favorite organizational tool - it documents my time and keeps my sanity without any distracting frills a lot of paper planners have. Much of my journey on the road of simplifying my life has come from her company's resources and thoughtful curation of community. Go check them out!




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