This Decluttering Pro’s 10-Percent Method Will Help You Pare Down Guiltlessly

published Dec 1, 2017
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(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

Here’s the thing about stuff—even when we don’t need it, it’s easy to become attached to it, assign meaning to it or feel guilt about getting rid of it. Gifts from loved ones or an expensive purchase you regret but can’t return can weigh you and your home down.

So, what do you do when you feel like you can’t part with anything you own—even when you have multiples that you don’t need? According to Ann Lightfoot, co-founder of mother-daughter decluttering business Done & Done Home, when her clients are struggling to get rid of things that are alike, she has them follow what we’ll call the 10 percent method.

The 10 Percent Method

The first part of the 10 percent method? Put it all out there—no, really. If you have multiples of something, it’s time to lay them all out on the floor so you can look at everything all at once.

“We always say ‘like with like,’ and get everything out there together,” Lightfoot said, giving the example of multiple pairs of sneakers. “So when you see all your sneakers together, then we say, ‘if you were to reduce this by 10 percent, which ones would go?’ You pull two pairs out and you’re like, ‘actually there’s no way I’m ever going to wear these, I don’t even like them that much.'”

Putting all of the things you own that are alike together allows you to see and assess what really matters to you, Lightfoot, who specializes in emotional decluttering, explains.

Why it Works

Lightfoot’s 10 percent method works because it lets you think about decluttering in small increments—and the freedom of getting rid of a little bit of stuff can lead to you feeling increasingly more comfortable with getting rid of more unnecessary items, even if you feel attached to them.

“When you see the things you’re really crazy about—and it’s the same with books, it’s the same with clothes, it’s the same with cosmetics and stuff in your bathroom, and 10 percent is enough to start to shift the energy—it starts to feel better,” Lightfoot says. “Things feel better when you put them back into place, and once you’ve gotten rid of them you’re like, ‘actually those two also, those can go too.'”

So the next time you’re struggling to get rid of things you don’t know how to part with, put it all out there and find the 10 percent you’d get rid of if you had to—you’ll probably find that the process gets easier and easier as you go.