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How to combat de-cluttering and organizing fatigue

Much like debt repayment fatigue, people who have started to embark on the ambitious project of organizing and decluttering their lives tend to hit a point where they are exhausted and think:

What’s the point of all these stupid piles?

Why don’t I just give up and put it all back to where I found it?


Don’t give in to the satanic temptation of sweeping all that junk back under the proverbial rug.

You have already done the hard part, and that’s sorting it into piles, now you just have to put the finishing touch on it all and GET RID OF IT.

What I found that has worked the best for me is the One-Touch Rule.


  1. Be totally zen and without distractions (don’t have something boiling on the stove while doing this)
  2. Set up 3 boxes: KEEP, TOSS, DONATE
  3. Sit in front of a pile of junk that you cleaned out (do one a weekend, or as many as you can handle)
  4. Every time you touch something in the pile, decide what to do with it: Keep, Toss, or Donate
  5. Throw the item in the pile
  6. Box up the DONATE and TOSS piles (tape those suckers real good) and then get rid of them
  7. Once your KEEP box is full, move it aside, and give yourself a break
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 again until you are satisfied with your KEEP pile

Trust me, you will not miss what is in those boxes if you have not touched or seen anything in them for at least a year.

(I know from experience… and I also know this from secretly decluttering my parents’ house — they never notice that things are gone.)

..and that’s it.

This works like a charm for me each time, although I have gotten so ruthless / good at purging that I don’t even need to be zen to do it. I turn on some music or let a video play on my laptop and open up 2 garbage bags to get going.


I am skeptical this actually happens but I’ll concede that it could.. once in a blue moon…. in a faraway land.

In that case, keep the Donate and Toss piles totally taped up, write the date on them that they should be donated or tossed (6 months from now is a good rule, but make it a year if you’re paranoid).

Stick those boxes out of the way somewhere, and when that date comes and you haven’t even missed what was in those boxes, then go ahead and toss or donate them.

In the meantime, enjoy your newly decluttered space.


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