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This article is all about the best minimalist rules to live by!

I have always been a firm believer that there is not one definition of minimalism.

We can all live a minimalist lifestyle the way we want to without following any rules.

However, I also think that sometimes, following rules can help us go in the right direction and guide us.

They remind us of what we should do to achieve our goals. 

If you’re striving to live with less and practice minimalism, you might find it easier to follow some rules that will help you clear the clutter and minimize the excess. 

Here are 14 life-changing minimalist rules to live by if you want to live minimally in a clutter-free home!

Why you need minimalist rules to live by

First of all, know that you can create your own rules.

Decide what would make the most sense in your life and choose the rules you’d like to set for yourself. 

But if you have no idea, you’ve come to the right place! 

In this article, I share minimalist rules to live by that will guide you toward your goal of living minimally.

You will find them particularly helpful if you don’t know how to start decluttering or if you’re struggling with making decisions.

They will also give you a direction to follow whenever you don’t know how to apply minimalism to your life.  

These rules will help you make progress and will make decision-making a lot easier and less overwhelming. 

However, keep in mind that not all these rules might be applicable to your life.

So choose the ones you want to follow and forget about the rest. 

Read more: 19 easy tips to become a minimalist

In this blog post, you'll find 14 life-changing minimalist rules to live by.

14 life-changing minimalist rules to live by

1. Use it or lose it 

One of the most impactful minimalist rules to live by is the “use it or lose it” rule.

If you decide to follow it, you commit to only keeping what you’re using during this phase of your life.

If you don’t currently use some of the items, you let them go. 

I personally like to see whether I’ve used them in the last 12 months and if I see myself using them in the next 12 months.

If I don’t, I can confidently declutter the items because I know they’re unnecessary to have. 

2. One in, one out

If you want to buy something, you need to declutter another item in your home.

Ideally, try to get rid of something from the same category so you don’t accumulate too much stuff in one area of your life. 

For instance, if you want to purchase a new winter coat, declutter one of your old ones. 

Doing this will help you determine whether the new item is really worth purchasing.

If you feel reluctant to let something else go to get it, it means you don’t actually want it that much. 

What’s more, the “one in, one out” rule can encourage you to use things up before buying them again.

Not only is it more sustainable, but it will also save you a lot of money

3. Declutter first, organize afterward 

Many of us fall into the trap of buying all kinds of organizational tools and bins to keep our homes clutter-free and tidy. 

While this might be a quick fix, it will not solve the problem we have.

When we own too many things, we struggle to keep our spaces neat all the time.

Things are everywhere and there’s a lot of visual clutter

We also waste a lot of time managing all this inventory and cleaning our homes is way more difficult. 

So it’s crucial to first get rid of the excess, and only when it’s done, get to organizing.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that organizing is very important!

But we need to do it only after we’ve decluttered all the items we don’t want anymore. 

Read more: 8 common mistakes to avoid when decluttering

Decluttering first before organizing is one of the best minimalist rules to live by.

4. Wait before buying non-essentials

If you find yourself tempted to buy non-essential items, wait for at least a week before buying them.

This is particularly helpful if the item is expensive or takes up a lot of space. 

In the meantime, do some research online to determine whether it’s really worth purchasing.

Also, ask yourself critical questions such as:

  • How long do I see myself using it?
  • Where will I store it in my home?
  •  Do I already own something similar? 

Of course, if you still want the item after a week, go and get it.

But more often than not, you’ll find that you’ll have forgotten about it or changed your mind. 

Read more:

5. Don’t keep things that bring up negative memories

One of my favorite minimalist rules to live by is to not keep things that make me feel sad, angry, or any other type of negative emotion. 

If it reminds me of something I’d prefer to forget about, I make sure to declutter it.

I don’t want to keep things from the past that don’t contribute to my happiness and well-being. 

Sometimes, we feel obligated to keep some items for sentimental reasons.

But believe me, you won’t regret letting them go if they bring up negative memories all the time. 

Read more: 10 minimalist hacks to live a simple life

6. Declutter your entire home at the end of each season

To maintain minimalism in your home, remember to take a few hours at the end of each season to go through your entire home.

Reassess everything you own and get rid of things you no longer want. 

I like to do it every three months because it allows me to remember what I’ve used in the past season.

Even better, it allows me to start the new season fresh with a clean slate.

There’s nothing more refreshing than this! 

Also, the more you do those regular decluttering sessions, the easier and quicker they get.

You’ll have less and less clutter and you become less attached to your things, so doing it should take less time and effort over time. 

Read more: 27 powerful minimalist habits that will change your life

One of my favorite minimalist rules to live by is to declutter my home at the end of each season.

7. Shop with a list and stick to it

If you want to have a minimalist home, decluttering is key.

But what is probably even more important is to stop bringing in so many things in the first place.

So be careful when accepting free things and don’t buy things all the time.

Avoid impulse buying as much as you can and be mindful of your purchases.  

The best way to shop more intentionally is to make shopping lists for the things you need and stick to them.

If you see items you want to buy that are not on your list, don’t get them. 

And remember that just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it.

If you don’t need it, you’re still wasting money

8. The 50% rule

When you follow the 50% rule, you try to keep your storage areas only around 50% full.

This means that you don’t fill your closets and drawers to the brim.

You intentionally leave space so that you can put things back and find things more easily. 

I first found this rule in this article, and I immediately thought it was genius! 

When we commit to having storage areas only half full, we get to understand that we initially have way too much stuff.

We all tend to fill our storage spaces to their full capacity, don’t we?

When we begin to downsize everything, we start reaping all the benefits of minimalism.

That’s an awesome feeling! 

9. If it’s not a “hell yes”, it’s a “no”

This is one of those minimalist rules to live by that you can apply to every area of your life. 

Whenever you have to make a decision, if you don’t immediately feel excited about it, it usually means you don’t actually want to do it. 

For instance, if someone invites you to an event but you don’t feel like saying “hell yes!”, you might not want to attend.

When decluttering, if an item doesn’t immediately spark joy for you, it means you don’t really like it. 

If you feel as if you should be doing a certain activity, but you don’t actually look forward to it, then don’t do it. 

Life is too short to do things we don’t enjoy or get value from.

Read more:

Looking for minimalist rules to live by? Follow this: if it's not a "hell yes", it's a "no".

10. Don’t keep duplicates

Society makes us think that we should own different versions of a certain item.

We’re taught to believe that variety is always better than having only one option. 

While for certain things it’s true, it’s not always the case!

Sometimes, one is enough. 

Sometimes, one is better.

There is no need to have multiple versions of something unless you have a specific use for them.

So declutter all the duplicate or triplicate items in your home, except if they bring value to you. 

For instance, I chose to only have one single outfit for special events.

It’s very versatile and I can wear it on multiple occasions.

I don’t feel the need to have multiple options in that category. 

11. Give everything a home

To keep your home minimalist and clutter-free, make sure to designate a home for every item in your space.

When things don’t have a home, we tend to leave them on flat surfaces where they shouldn’t be.

And they sit there indefinitely. 

So I highly recommend that you follow this rule.

Give everything a home and if it’s not worth doing it for certain items, consider decluttering them right now

They will only get in the way, so it’s not worth keeping them!  

12. Only keep things you love 

Over the last few years, I’ve realized that sometimes we keep things out of habit.

We’re used to owning them, and we don’t question why we do. 

And the funny thing is that we maybe don’t actually like them that much.

So what’s the point of keeping them? 

Yes, some items are purely functional and we don’t necessarily LOVE them.

But at least, they bring us value. 

However, I truly believe we shouldn’t keep things we dislike.

If we’re neutral about them, that’s okay.

But we shouldn’t be around things in our homes that we don’t like at all. 

Only keep things you love and declutter any you dislike.

13. If it can be digitized, don’t keep the physical copy

While technology and being connected come with certain drawbacks and challenges, using it can have great benefits too.

One of them is that we can scan or take pictures of documents. 

Consider doing it for papers you still need to reference but don’t need to keep the physical copy of.

You will probably still need to keep some paperwork, but doing this should minimize the overall volume of papers you’re keeping! 

If you want, you can also apply this rule to photos, cards, and other paper mementos.

I’ve also decluttered some sentimental items after having taken a photo of them.

This made letting go so much easier! 

Read more: 

14. The 20/20 rule

This is one of the best minimalist rules to live by!

Created by The Minimalists, the 20/20 rule states that if you can replace an item for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes, you can safely declutter the item you’re unsure about. 

If $20 is too high for you, you might want to lower the limit and set it at $10 or even $5.

The whole point is to help us realize that if something is cheap to replace and it wouldn’t take too long to go and get it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we made a mistake decluttering it. 

So if we feel tempted to get rid of it, we shouldn’t worry too much about regretting it.

Read more: 50 helpful questions to ask yourself when decluttering your home 

Final thoughts on these minimalist rules to live by

I hope this article about minimalist rules to live by has helped you simplify your life and home! 

Sometimes, when we don’t know where to start or how to make progress, we need rules to guide us in the direction we want. 

But don’t feel compelled to follow all these rules.

Pick the ones you want to apply to your life and leave the others. 

If you liked this article, you might be interested in the following ones too:

What are your favorite minimalist rules to live by? 

Please share them in the comments!

Don’t forget to share this blog post with your friends to help them incorporate minimalism into their lives too. 

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