Tips From a Minimalist: How to Declutter Your Kitchen

Kitchens help run our lives by helping get our days started, our meals prepared, and keeping family members connected. Sometimes however, life’s messes seem to gravitate towards our kitchens and we find ourselves with a real mess. Maybe that new slow cooker is still sitting on the counter, maybe the weeks mail is piled up on the island or maybe your coutertop is littered with poorly organized kitchen appliances. Taking back control of your kitchen can be simple; all you need do is learn where to start!

Cutting Down on Kitchen Clutter

The areas of our hosues that we spend the most time in tend to take the most effort to maintain order in. This makes perfect since considering we are there to make a mess more often than any other room. Kitchens are designed for cooking, but when one finds the majority of their time being spent there other activities begin to blur the lines. Maybe you’re kids are doing homework, maybe you’re paying bills, watching tv, or doing some science project with your middle-schooler—all these can add tremendous clutter to your kitchen. If all this peripheral clutter weren’t enough, you’ve got the messes associated with actually cooking to contend with! To get a better idea of how to minimize the mess you make in your kitchen, thus reducing the effort expended to maintain order, you can greatly increase the efficiency of your cooking. To get a better idea of how to approach this kind of decluttering, consider the perspective of minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Ricodemus:

Quick Tip

It’s amazing to me how quickly my kitchen gets cluttered. Even though I tend to use the same things every day — the same pots and pans, same dishes, same glasses — my cabinets are totally full. Part of it is that we love to entertain, so in addition to the everyday stuff, we need the party stuff, like the big salad bowl, and the serving tray, and the cool brass-plated silverware I found on eBay that lives in its own special, enormous box. Part of it is the kids’ stuff. And the backup kid stuff, that I hold on to just in case other, younger kids come over and we need different kinds of age-appropriate sippy cups. Add in all the tools and gadgets and kitchen linens and birthday candles, and it’s a slippery slope.

It’s daunting to think about weeding through it all, though. I don’t have any desire to touch all those things to see if they spark joy. I need a rule that’ll make it easy to make a quick-and-dirty decision over what stays and what goes to keep this space streamlined.

Enter Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as the Minimalists. These guys have come up with the 90/90 rule to help people like me plow through their stuff and figure out what they really need. It’s simple! You look at an object and ask yourself the following question:

Have I used this item in the last 90 days? If not, will I use it in the next 90?

No? Then it’s time to let it go.

Now Millburn and Nicodemus emphasize that it doesn’t have to be exactly 90 days — maybe for you it’s 120 days or six months. The actual amount of time doesn’t matter; what matters is that you make a rule and stick to it, because once you have a rule, it’s easier to make a decision.

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