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Have You Tried the 20/10 Home Organizing Method?

Home organizing methods always get my attention. This was true when we lived in a large apartment, and it was even more true once we bought a 900-square-foot cottage in Venice. I’m a fan of editing and decluttering. But ultimately, organizing our home in a way that makes sense for day-to-day life while removing clutter is the ultimate dream.

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What is the 20/10 Home Organizing Method?

Created by Rachel Hoffman, best known for her fantastic book, Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess, the organizing approach is winning raves for being focused, doable, and time-limited. 

This decluttering approach requires only a 20-minute commitment before you are able to take a break, grab some delicious ice cream, and ponder your next steps. Actually, you can do anything you want to during that break. Is a lovely white wine chilled and ready for you? That sounds like the perfect decluttering break to me – but, again, YMMV. 

Why am I Tempted by this Organizing Method?

It feels so manageable. Not that there aren’t days when I want to dump everything out of my closets and desk drawers or box everything up and start over. There are plenty of those days, even when I’m not faced with much clutter. But boxing up, moving things, or dumping them out means I’m often exhausted and slightly demoralized before the project is finished. It’s just too much overwhelm some weeks. 

The 20/10 approach not only has built-in rewards, but it doesn’t advocate massive projects. Plus, I don’t know about you, but if you give me a deadline (like 20 minutes), I accomplish things. When the days or weeks stretch out before me, getting motivated to start is harder. 

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Credit: Natalia Kostikova/Shutterstock

Do I Need to Buy Bins?

Here’s the good news: You do not need to buy bins, under-bed storage containers, rolling carts, or whatever your organization apparatus of choice is right away. In fact, I would suggest not buying anything until after your initial declutter. I made that mistake, and when we moved, I donated almost all of them. Why? They didn’t fit my needs, the new space, the size of our shelves, etc. 

The same is true for slim, matching, and velvet hangers. You get the idea. A month ago, I very nearly hit the “buy” button for some matching slim hangers when I felt like my summer clothing (and the closet generally) was getting squished. Instead of buying, I decluttered first. I sold things I’ve never or rarely worn on Poshmark. And voila! The closet wasn’t squished, and I didn’t have to buy anything.

The best thing? It took less than 20 minutes to pinpoint items that could be sold or donated.

What Do We Need to Get Started?

  • A timer is your best friend. 
    I used my phone, but kitchen timers work, too. 
  • Garbage bags to rid your home of truly unusable/un-donatable items. 
  • A donation Box
    Commit to immediately moving the box out of your space, even if that means putting it into the trunk of your car or the storage on your cargo bike.
  • Collection/Relocation Box
    This is a box to collect items that should be in other rooms, not hidden in your office, your closet, or hanging out in your living room looking for the right location.

I’ve Had My Break. Now what?

The 20/10 home organizing method doesn’t require you to go back in after your relaxing reward break. But you may also be rejuvenated and ready to tackle more decluttering. That’s awesome! Do it! Once I get moving, I’m frequently looking for the next project so I get it. But it’s also okay if you have accomplished what you wanted for the day. And, yes, if you know now that you need some amazingly colorful, playful, useful fabric bins or cubes to make your space feel complete and organized, go for it!

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