I'm not doing major goals or wild resolutions this year. Come February, they'll just be a laughable distant memory. Instead, my focus for the next 365 days and beyond is creating a sense of peace and serenity in my home.
Decluttering just so happens to fall under this, and the "boundary method" tiptoed my way to help—although, I was skeptical at first. It appealed to me because it feels fit for modern lives—you don't have to buy fancy baskets or new shelving units if you don't want to.
Before trying it on my overflowing closet, I spoke with Erica Lucas, an organization expert, blogger, and vlogger. Her video of the boundary method and breakdown of how to do it made me feel far less alone when it comes to living in an apartment that tends to feel cluttered more often than not.
Meet the Expert
Erica Lucas is an organization and decluttering expert. After a messy home began to affect her life, mental, health, and relationships, she set out to make cleaner and simpler living possible for herself and her thousands of subscribers and followers.
It's taken me quite a few years to accept that I'm not a super tidy person. Clutter seems to follow me wherever I live, and it is a difficult thing for me to admit, especially when I work in the home industry. Organizational trends come and go, and nothing has stuck.
Many organization methodologies feel extreme or don't fit into my busy schedule. As much as I'd love to sit down and declutter for a day, it's hard to take the time to do it once, much less weekly or daily.
What Is the "Boundary" Organizing Method?
If you're hesitant about adding yet another organization methodology to your vocabulary, I understand. Also known as the "container" method, the boundary method isn't difficult to understand or implement, fortunately.
Lucas says the boundary method forces you to limit the number of items you keep in a specific category. She notes that all it requires is defining a boundary, and this could be a shelf, drawer, or basket.
"In doing so, the physical boundaries of a space in your home set the boundaries for organization," she says.
Putting it into practice could look like: cleaning up a bookshelf surrounded by piles of books and limiting your reads to only those specified shelves (difficult, I know). It could be cleaning out a stuffed sock drawer and only refilling it with garments you wear that are free of holes.
How Is the Boundary Method Different?
The boundary method differs from other decluttering methods because it forces physical limitations, Lucas explains.
"Some decluttering methods guide your decisions to keep or donate based on use, such as the 90/90 rule of decluttering," she says. "Another method, the Marie Kondo method, encourages you to find joy in items or to release them from your home."
This option is simplified and only requires a physical boundary and determining what does and doesn't fit—easy. It may not work in spaces where you have far too many items. In these instances, Lucas suggests changing the boundary or getting rid of excess.
How to Declutter with the Boundary Method
Lucas says that this method can work almost anywhere, but works exceptionally well for toys, board games, books, video games, and kitchen utensils
I didn't have the heart to tackle my overflowing bookshelves just yet. So, I decided to try it in my pants drawer. I have an antique dresser with fairly shallow drawers, and getting dressed each morning ends with it overflowing and completely disorganized.
Step 1: Choose your Boundary and Take All Items Out
Remove everything from the drawer, shelf, basket, or organizational cube that you've designated as the boundary. This is the physical vessel that your remaining items must fit into. In doing this, I found that I had a sweater in my pants drawer—whoops.
Step 2: Separate Items Into Three Categories
Create a donate pile and a keep pile. You can create a third pile for any objects that shouldn't be within this boundary (like an errant sock, sweatshirt, or T-shirt). I had jeans I hadn't worn in years, pants that didn't fit me, and even pairs with the tags still on that never worked with my size or style to begin with.
Step 3: Neatly Fold or Arrange Your Items and Place Them Back
Rather than shoving items into the drawer, neatly arrange or fold them so they fit. Only fill the boundary to a comfortable limit—you shouldn't be shoving the drawer closed or worried about a shelf spilling over.
"In a closet, the boundary method helps limit the number of items kept in each category," Lucas explains. Therefore, if you have five sweaters or pairs of pants but only room for three, two must go.
"To own less, you have to want less," she says. "The boundary method helps you decide which items are your favorites to keep."
Step 4: Find a New Home for Items That Don't Fit Within This Boundary
Return objects, clothes, and other items you found that don't belong in this boundary. Anything that doesn't fit but you no longer want can be set aside to donate, sell, or give to friends.
The Result? A Method I'll Continue to Implement
Mentally and physically having a boundary prevents clutter from invading down the road, plus, it makes it easier to visualize as you put it into practice. I felt like I achieved this in the time it took to clean my dresser drawer, thanks to the boundary method. This is actually something that will become common practice for me—you should try it, too.
Read the original article on The Spruce.