Here’s the Secret Weapon for Decluttering Your Space

published Jan 4, 2018
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Sometimes the biggest obstacle standing between you and a cleaner, clutter-free home is an unwillingness to just let go of unneeded stuff. When faced with getting rid of things, we can all turn into a bunch of hoarders at heart (“but what if I need it someday?!”). Luckily, your best weapon against a chronic case of “keep it just in case”-itis is a simple thing we like to call the outbox.

It’s not too late to join!

If you’ve done the Cure before, you know what a guilt-free game-changer the outbox can be. In fact, the rules of the outbox go back all the way to 2006 with Maxwell Ryan’s original Apartment Therapy 8-Step Home Cure book:

Choose a space that is clearly defined. This area should be out of the way of daily activities and be a place you can comfortably allow to get messy and chaotic for a short while. A closet or guest room is perfect for this, but any small area or corner near your front door will do.

The outbox is not garbage, nor does it need to be an actual box. It is a halfway house where things sit while their fate is being decided. You should never be afraid to put something in the Outbox.

Once an item has sat in the outbox for some time, it releases its hold over the owner and becomes just an ordinary object that one can easily decide what to do with. One client compared it to the phenomenon children experience when they fall in love with a rock that is wet or under water. Later, when the rock has dried off and is no longer shiny, it becomes just a plain old rock again and the child’s attachment to is suddenly lessens.

Outbox Rules
1. Anything can go in the Outbox
2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
4. After that time you have several choices: Take anything back out, leave anything you are undecided about in the outbox for one more week, or dispose of the rest by moving to the garbage, recycling bin, or giveaway pile

Once you get used to separating first and disposing of later, you’ll find that clearing clutter gets easier and easier.

Now that we’ve had an outbox refresher, let’s jump in, shall we?

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Today’s Assignment:

Set up an outbox according to the rules above, and then find one thing in your home that fits the bill to put in it.

(If you set aside things to donate from your first assignment drawer declutter earlier in the week, pop those items in there too.)

Your outbox will be a staple of the month for you. It’s an out-of-the-way middle place where you can confidently get things out of your way without letting go of them completely. Like a decluttering purgatory, in a way.

We’ll be prompting you to put things in your outbox throughout the Cure, and later in the month, will give you an assignment to “empty” it. But there’s no need to worry about any of that yet.

Doesn’t it feel good to know you’re on your way to letting go of things you don’t need?

It’s not too late to join!

More Info:

  • The January Cure 2018 Main Page
  • Download the printable PDF calendar: January Cure 2018
  • Share your progress on Instagram: #thejanuarycure