Want To Be More Organised And Less Stressed? Try The 80/20 Rule

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Confession: I am addicted to shows and podcasts about how to be more organised. In fact, you could say I am obsessed with clean-fluencers. My social media feeds are filled with videos about organising, decluttering, and cleaning your home. When it comes to gathering tips and ideas for how to be more organised, I truly can’t get enough.

Call it a mental massage; call it psychological relief. There’s simply nothing more soothing to me than seeing a space organised just so. In my rabbit hole of clean-fluencer content, I have learnt many things: the perfect way to fold a T-shirt; the best system for hanging clothes; the ideal system for purging your old clothes. But the rule that has helped me the most – not only in terms of maintaining order, but also in finding mental peace – is the 80/20 rule.

For pro-organisers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of the Netflix series The Home Edit – which you better believe I’m also addicted to – the 80/20 rule is the golden gospel for putting order into a home. On the podcast Lipstick on the Rim with actress Molly Sims, the duo fervently recommend applying it to homes large and small, explaining that it’s all about filling your space 80 per cent at most and leaving the remaining 20 per cent empty to “take a break”. This free space provides plenty of visual relief and allows new objects to enter your home without clutter piling up – although, of course, you must perform the occasional mini-purge in order to stay within the 80/20 rule.

My favourite thing about this rule is that it can be applied to all types of space – closets, pantries, rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, halls – and, I can assure you that complying with it offers both peace and relief in equal measures to my home and mind.

Intrigued? Read on for tips on how to be more organised using the game-changing 80/20 rule.

Never get full

“We don’t like having closets full,” explain The Home Edit experts, who compare tidying up with practising meditation. They’re not far off – the 80/20 rule is pretty similar to a Japanese concept called hara hachi bu, which refers to never letting your stomach get fuller than 80 per cent in order to allow for healthy digestion and space for pleasurable whims. It’s a concept that can be replicated in almost any other aspect of your life – including leaving extra space in your home to “breathe” and for unforeseen events and objects. It’s a form of self-care! In the case of home organisation, the 80/20 rule really does help avoid the stress. One, because you always know where your things are, and two, because you’re less likely to get into an argument about who put what where.

Categories and containers

Devotees of this method insist that one of the advantages of 80/20 organising is to avoid the stress of not being able to find things. In addition, they say it is super easy to maintain if you follow other rules such as editing and categorising what you own. Like: using hangers and containers for closets, cabinets, pantries, and drawers.

Of course, it is important to check all of your storage spaces from time to time to get rid of what hasn’t been used for long periods and ensure that 20 per cent of those spaces are still clutter-free. To that end, experts recommend organising little by little each day and dedicating each day to just one category. (For example: on Tuesday, you could just do your sock drawer; not your whole closet.)

Keeping 20 per cent of your spaces clear is great for mental health, as psychologist Laura Palomares explains: “The fact that the space is more open and has fewer stimuli brings calm and concentration. Letting go and getting rid of what we don’t need ends up being liberating and generates a feeling of control and mental order.”

I can attest. Leaving a margin of free space has brought much-needed serenity and order to my life – and to my brain.

This article was originally published on British Vogue.

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