10 Minimalist Rules That Changed My Life

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Not to be dramatic, but minimalism changed my life. 

This is why I want to share with you, 10 minimalist rules that I have started following and that have simply changed the game for me. 

I’m going to start with the simplest ones, and right at the end, I’m going to share with you the one that’s been a big eye-opener for me. 

10 Minimalist Rules That Changed My Life

Feel free to watch the video or keep reading below:

1. The 15-minute rule

Whatever you may want to declutter around your home, set a 15-minute timer on your phone. This is something I learned from the ‘Minimalista’ book

The funny thing is, I never set out to be a minimalist. 

I got this book over a year ago, thinking I needed a bit of help to better manage things in my home. 

I was heavily pregnant, about to have my second baby, and I was overwhelmed by clutter. So I thought this book might help me declutter a bit. 

Little did I know it was going to turn me into pretty much a minimalist myself or just on the way to becoming a minimalist. It simply changed me.

In the book, Shira Gill recommends doing small declutters rather than a huge one. 

Of course, if you have the time and energy, you can do a big declutter to have a really big impact in a short amount of time. 

For many of us though, myself included (I’m a mum of two and quite busy), having the time to actually do a massive declutter might be unrealistic.

Even on weekends, I always have the kids with me. Even though my husband and I team up and do things here and there, having a massive declutter is just not realistic for us. 

This is why I started doing small declutters here and there. 

You will be amazed at how much progress you can make with such a small amount of time every day or every week.

My strategy was to use whatever time I had to declutter, be it 10 or 15 minutes before the school run, the last stretch of my baby’s nap, or whenever I found a little time. I would use it and think to myself, ‘Okay, what little cupboard or category can I tackle now?’

And you can do this too. It can be one drawer, the jeans, or the T-shirts, just anything you can pick, just a small category or a small area in your home. 

Set that timer for 15 minutes and tackle that.

If you were to give yourself a big task that feels overwhelming, like a big mountain you have to climb, you might end up procrastinating. But if it’s a small timer on your phone, you’re going to get it done with greater ease. 

Having such a small, focused activity really helps with not getting overwhelmed and accomplishing a lot more than you would otherwise. 

2. The ‘One in, one out’ rule

You can apply this rule to anything in your life, whether that’s toys, clothes, or kitchen items. 

The rule works like this: if you buy a new T-shirt, look through your old ones and see if there’s one that you don’t really love or use anymore, and get rid of it (donate it, sell it, or recycle it).

This can also be a good thing to do with your children to practice decluttering with them. 

If they are getting a new toy car, can they look through their cars and see if there are any that they don’t want anymore, that they don’t play with anymore? 

Of course, your children’s age plays a factor in whether they can help you declutter or not. If they’re too young, they might not be there yet.

But if they’re a bit older, they can definitely get involved in this.

The ‘One in, one out’ rule helps with decluttering because of what I like to call the ‘decluttering maths’. 

If you think about how many items you bring into your home each week and how many get out of your home each week – if it’s not an equal balance, then your home will get overstuffed with things. 

This can easily lead to you getting more and more overwhelmed. 

The ‘One in, one out’ rule is magic in keeping things in check.

3. The 80/20 rule

This one comes from Pareto’s Principle, which is usually used in time management. It states that 80% of results come from 20% of our efforts or actions. 

This principle can be applied to various areas of our lives, whether that’s decluttering, time management, or building a business. 

80% of your results, for example, making money in your business, is likely to come from just 20% of your efforts or 20% of the actions that you take daily.

When it comes to clutter, it is said that we generally use, 80% of the time, just 20% of our items. 

This means that the rest of our items are things we keep ‘just in case’, items we rarely use and that we very likely could get rid of and would not miss. 

In my case, this was absolutely true for my wardrobe. 

I had lots and lots of items that I never wore. I was finding them cute and I was keeping them thinking, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll have this specific event that my future self might go to.’ 

All those items were cluttering up my closet and I felt like I didn’t have enough space.

The truth is, I was wearing probably less than 20% of those clothes daily. Getting rid of those 80% of the items that I wasn’t using made a huge difference in how spacious, airy and calm my wardrobe feels now when I open it.

4. Quality over quantity

This hit home with me. 

I used to prefer going to a very cheap shop and buying, for example, four T-shirts in different colours. They were cheap and I used to think I needed lots of options. 

In reality, I wasn’t wearing all of them in the end. 

What I found now is that buying fewer items, but ones that are of higher quality and that really make me feel good is so much better. 

Quality doesn’t necessarily have to mean super expensive, it depends on the item. 

But sometimes it’s better to pay just a little bit more to have something that’s of a better quality. 

That will serve you for a longer time and make you feel really good when you wear it or when you use it. 

So I have stopped feeling that I need to have more things but rather to have fewer things of good quality.

Another plus is that quality items also have a pretty good resale value, for when you’re ready to declutter them and sell them on.

5. Experiences over things

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I never buy things anymore, of course I do. 

We still need things and we still want them. 

I don’t think we need to suck the joy out of everything and not buy any item ever again because we’re minimalists or because we want to get rid of clutter. 

What I’m saying is that we have shifted our focus from buying lots of things to rather spending our money on experiences, such as days out with the family. 

Or when we give a gift to somebody, we think, ‘Is there any sort of experience that we can give them rather than a material thing?’

There’s nothing wrong with giving material things that are thoughtful, it’s just something we personally have tried to shift from. 

One example is getting a membership to the National Trust Parks for somebody so that they can enjoy lots of days out throughout the year with their family. 

And every time they go to one of those National Trust places, they can maybe think of you. 

This is something we have tried to focus a bit more on, rather than buying physical items.

6. Digital over physical

This cannot apply to every little thing, and there are physical things I still prefer having, like having a physical book instead of an ebook or audiobook. 

Sometimes I love that feeling of having the book in my hands, and sitting down to read it. 

It’s a nice and relaxing experience.

Having said that though, I have found myself listening to a lot more books digitally, on Audible for example, or podcast books. 

It’s just easier and more convenient for me as a busy mum. 

I can put my earphones in and do chores around the house while also listening to a book. 

This also means I can go through more books without needing to have lots and lots of bookcases around my house. 

I do still love keeping physical copies of some books, especially ones that I want to reference back. 

But for the majority of the physical books I read, once I’m done with them, I will usually pass them on to somebody else, or return them to the library.

Another example of this is the paperwork. 

We used to have so much more paperwork, but we have pared it down a lot. 

Now we have one folder that we use for our family, and then we have a separate one with documents for the house, the mortgage, the car, and other things like that. 

There are very few papers that we need to keep. 

Most things we can either get a digital copy of, we can take a picture on our phone, or we can scan it and save it somewhere for future reference. 

I highly recommend this, as it can save you so much space in your house.

7. The 50% rule

There’s a rule that many minimalists like to follow. 

It says to keep your storage areas – cabinets, drawers, or whatever storage areas you have, 50% full. 

This way, you have more space available when you do need it and it feels more airy. 

Depending on the storage area, I don’t feel like 50% is realistic for us. 

Our house is not massive, it’s a decent size and it’s perfect for us. I’m not complaining at all.

And I’ve mentioned the size of our house before and people have been really surprised. 

They had thought it was much bigger, and I guess it might look like that on video. 

But our house is around 1,000 square ft (about 100 square metres), so it’s a good size but it’s not huge. 

So for example, in our kitchen, I don’t keep the cabinets necessarily 50% full because I do need the extra storage. 

They are more like 75% full or 80% full, but still not stuffed. 

And that’s my goal: to not have everything stuffed in there. I want to have breathing room around my things.

This way, I have extra storage which comes in handy when it’s a special occasion and I need to buy a few extra things to host people or a party. I don’t need to have them spread out on the counters or just randomly thrown around my kitchen. 

I do have space for those. 

This rule helps us realise that just because we have the space doesn’t mean we need to fill it to the brim. 

How often do we see an empty shelf and think, ‘Oh, I have a lot of space now. I can go ahead and buy more things or decorations to put on there because I just have the space for it.’ 

That was me too. So keeping this rule in mind can be helpful.

8. The 90/90 rule

This is something I learned from the show “The Minimalists” on Netflix. 

They say that if you haven’t used something in the past 90 days and you don’t plan on using it in the next 90 days, then that’s something you can get rid of. 

I would change this to a bit longer though because I think it depends on the seasons, or if you have children and you want to pass things on from one to another. 

I think the time frame can be a bit longer. 

You can switch this to the 6-month rule, for example: if you haven’t used it in the past 6 months and you don’t plan on using it in the next 6 months, then you can get rid of it.

So I sometimes adjust this rule to my needs. 

There are obvious seasonal items that I will keep because we are going to use them next winter, for example. 

But having a rule like this will make you realise that you probably have items that you haven’t used for a whole year or even more, and it’s very likely that you will not use them in the next year. 

Those are items that you can absolutely get rid of.

9. The 20/20 rule

This is also something I learned from other minimalists on YouTube that has really shifted my perspective. 

I would try to declutter an area in my home, like a kitchen drawer, and I would get hung up on some little item or gadget. 

I hadn’t used it maybe in years and I wasn’t planning on using it in the future. 

But for some reason, I was keeping it, thinking, ‘Well, why don’t I keep it just in case? What if I get rid of it and then I realise, two months down the line, that I actually needed it?’ 

The truth was, I hadn’t needed it up until then, so chances were, I wouldn’t have needed it in the future either.

And the 20/20 rule says that if you can replace something within 20-ish minutes for less than £20, then you can get rid of it. 

This is not meant in a wasteful way, it doesn’t mean we just throw things away and then buy them again. 

It’s just to make us realise that most likely the thing we’re getting hung up on might be something that can be easily replaced if need be. 

We can even buy it secondhand or get it from somebody else, it doesn’t need to be new. 

The idea is that if a few months down the line we realise that we needed an item we decluttered, we can always go and buy it again.

I have been decluttering for over a year now, and I can honestly say I don’t miss one thing that I’ve gotten rid of. 

Maybe further down the line, I’ll realise, ‘Oh, I needed that extra spatula that I decluttered.’ I can always go ahead and buy another one, and it will be quite cheap. 

Oftentimes, the things we get hung up on are of very little value and can be easily replaced. So you have permission to let that stuff go.

10. The ‘mould rule’

This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. 

We used to keep a lot of items stored in our garage. We used to just pop them in there as it was such an easy place to put things out of sight, out of mind, but still keep, ‘just in case’.

One spring, after a long winter, we realised that it had been quite damp in there. 

Luckily, a lot of things were stored in plastic storage boxes. 

But a lot of the things that weren’t, that we had just thrown in there to keep ‘just in case’, had gotten mouldy. 

We had to throw them away, there was no way we could have salvaged them.

This incident made me realise what a waste that had been. 

I could have passed those items on to somebody else who could have used them, but I just kept them in my garage and they were now ruined. 

What I also realised is that I hadn’t missed or needed a lot of those items in my garage. This has been such a big eye-opener for me.

Nowadays, I think honestly about an item if I really, really want to keep it or if I could pass it on to somebody else. 

If I ever need it again, I can always repurchase it.

And this is the ‘mould rule’ question: If you had this item that you’re trying to declutter but you’re not sure of, and it got mouldy in your garage or storage area, would you miss it? 

Would you go out and replace it by buying it again? 

If not, then that’s an item you can easily get rid of.

Are you on a similar minimalist or decluttering journey? 

Are you just starting or are you a few months in? 

Let me know in the comments below where you are in progress and if you found these 10 minimalist rules helpful. I would love to hear from you.

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