​Will This 3-Word Decluttering Mantra Be the One that Finally Works for You?

​Will This 3-Word Decluttering Mantra Be the One that Finally Works for You?

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Shifrah Combiths
Jun 11, 2018

I'm expecting a baby in late August and I'm in major nesting mode. It's a wave I really like to ride to get things cleared out and in order in our home before we welcome a new baby. Lately, as I've been combing through cupboards, closets, and boxes of things I was sure I'd want to keep (but now just want to toss wholesale), I've been remembering a three-word phrase that's become an extremely helpful decluttering mantra.

In her beginning-of-the-year Ruthless Decluttering Challenge, Emily Ley, author and creator of the Simplified Planner (which is the only paper planner I still use), reminded her followers repeatedly to keep only "the best, the favorite, and the necessary."

A post shared by Emily Ley (@emilyley) on

I'm a huge KonMari method fan (Marie Kondo counsels us to keep what "sparks joy"), and I find that the best, favorite, necessary criterion fits in with it nicely. The goal is creating a space, and therefore a life, in which we're surrounded by a drastically edited collection that is filled only with what brings us pleasure (even if it's utilitarian) and nothing that drains us of our energy.

Here are some ways I've been putting my new mantra into practice:

Paring down my collection of empty containers after our epic garage clean-up.

Our garage was hoarding many baskets and boxes that are no longer needed (they've been emptied) and rather than getting hung up on maybe using them one day, the "best and favorite" rule has helped me shed the green and red plastic baskets that are far from being either.

Cleaning out my kitchen drawers and cupboards.

I was able to quickly parse the contents from our kitchen cleanout into one of the three categories. Holding on to only the necessary helped me put duplicate tools in the donate box; looking for the best helped me decide which duplicate to keep; and only keeping the favorites allowed me to see which items I no longer needed to hang on to just because they were given to me, etc. (I got rid of some ramekins that were not anything I would have ever picked and that I never used, for example.)

Going through my kids' school papers and artwork.

Test results and report cards fall into the necessary category (and I store these records digitally in Evernote as well as physically). In addition, when I have the papers from the entire school year to look over all together (at the end of the academic year), I can easily pick out the best and the favorite. Everything else gets recycled, guilt free.

What de-cluttering sticking points could best-favorite-necessary help you address?

(Image credit: Gina Zeidler)
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