I like rules or guidelines because good ones enhance your life, make you more creative and push you to achieve more than you would have without them. There’s a great rule for minimalists that Janet Luhrs describes in her book The Simple Living Guide. She dubs it the one-year rule.
One-Year Rule: If you haven’t used something for a year, throw it out.
It seems obvious at first, but in practice it’s harder to do. Take the one suit I own. I got it in college and have worn it only to job interviews my entire adult career. It looks good on me, but I don’t wear it to other formal events, it’s not high quality, and I haven’t worn it in four years. I didn’t even wear it to my last job interview. Each time I clean out my closet, I naturally leave it in place because I think, “I’ll probably need this for my next interview”.
The other day I asked myself: what am I waiting for? I wear jeans every single day of the week (I do love working at Opower)! I hope this doesn’t happen, but if I ever end up in an industry that requires nice clothing, that suit needs to be updated anyway. Plus, there are plenty of new women’s start-ups for renting nice clothing.
One-Year Rule with a Box
One way to get around your natural inclination to think, “but I might need that someday!” is to place your ill-used items in a box, tape it shut, and label it with the date. After one year, if the box remains taped shut, donate it (without looking)! Chances are you’ve forgotten what’s in there and the date proves it’s not worth the space it’s taking up in your life.