6 Minimalism Terms for Less Clutter & More Control

If you’re a regular around here, you’re probably familiar with some of the lingo that we often throw around when we’re talking about simplifying and minimalism.

But if you’ve joined us recently, you may be confused by words like quarantine bins, Sunday baskets and frog projects.

Understanding and applying these concepts can actually be truly life-changing! They can make it easier for you to declutter your house AND help you get on top of your to-do list.

So let’s revisit some of these minimalism-related terms and clarify what they all mean.

1. Quarantine Bin

In one of my very first YouTube videos, I talked about simplifying kids’ toys, and I showed the method where you box everything up and pack it away for a while. If the kids miss anything, you can still go back and pull it out. Whatever is left after a few months is safe to donate because nobody noticed it was gone.

One person commented on that video that it’s kind of like you’re quarantining your stuff.

This was several years ago before quaranting had a negative connotation, so since then I’ve call them quarantine bins.

So basically when you’re decluttering, you just take a cardboard box or plastic tote that you’re okay with getting rid of, and pack away anything that you’re just not sure about to see if anyone misses it or not.

quarantine bin with clothes

Garbage is a no-brainer to declutter, so it’s easy to get rid of right away.

But when you really don’t know if you’re going to miss something, then the quarantine bin can be a great tool.

Don’t be tempted to use it for everything, though!! The quarantine bin is just for the things that you really aren’t sure about. If you’re undecided on whether to quarantine it or not, I encourage you to let it go now.

If you haven’t used something in the last year and don’t know when you would use it again, you’re not going to miss it. Donate it and move on!

Quarantine bins work best for kitchen items, toys and clothes. Beyond that I think we just need to make the tough decision to get rid of the stuff.

cardboard quarantine bin with donation date

Once you’ve got your things in your quarantine bin, close it up and put a donation date on it so you don’t have to look in it again.

Whatever you haven’t pulled out by that date goes to the donation center… Don’t look in the box or you’ll second guess your decisions!! More than likely, you’ll find that you never think about it again!

2. Frog Projects

The idea of Frog Projects come from the book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy.

The premise of the book is that if eating a frog were on your task list, you would want to put it at the top of your list and get it done right away so you can get it over with.

This concept can apply to any task, but most of us tend to put off the things we don’t want to do ALL DAY. Often we don’t even get to it that day at all. So it continues to hang over our head throughout the whole week (or many weeks, months… sometimes years!!).

to-do list

Examples of Frog Projects: doing our taxes, calling the accountant, making an appointment, doing returns… A lot of times our Frog Projects involve phone calls!

Now when I make my task list, I put the Frog Projects right at the top.

It’s so tempting to start with the easy stuff! The problem is easy stuff doesn’t actually give us momentum.

What gives you a boost of momentum first thing in the morning? Completing a Frog Project!

When you complete something hard that you’ve been putting off, you feel so good about yourself! And most of the time it takes a lot less time than expected.

The best part is that it’s DONE!! It’s not hanging over your head anymore.

Loading the dishwasher or emptying the washing machine don’t give you momentum because they’re really not that big of a deal or hanging over your head.

But these Frog Projects get bigger and uglier the longer we put them off. It actually makes us feel bad about about ourselves to always have these things hanging over our head.

By training ourselves to do Frog Projects FIRST, we build confidence and improve our quality of life.

>> For more about Frog Projects and creating a super planner, check out this video.

3. Sunday Basket

Most of us hate paper clutter! One of the main problems is that we don’t have a sustainable system for dealing with it.

The term Sunday Basket is coined by Lisa from Organize365. We could also call it a Weekly Planning Basket or Paper Clutter Station or Paper Central. — Basically, it’s a system to make sure that all the paper that comes into your house has a place to go.

paper planning center

Of course, you want to sort out the trash and recycling right away. But the rest can go straight into your Sunday Basket with folders for to-do items, bills to pay, receipts — anything that you need to take action on!

The reason Lisa called it a Sunday Basket is because she would go through hers every Sunday. The idea is that you plan one time a week to go through all the action items, but you can choose whatever day of the week works best for you!

If you do this on a regular basis, you can probably stay on top of it in just 10 to 15 minutes a week.

Time Will Tell Bin

Some of the paper that comes into your house doesn’t necessarily require action. Things like catalogs or coupons may be useful, but you might not know yet.

This is where a Time Will Tell Bin comes in handy! Instead of cluttering up your Sunday Basket, toss that random paper in here. If you need to pull something out, you know where to find it, and if not, toss it out after a little while.

So now when paper comes into our home, it goes to one of these three places:

  • If it’s obviously trash –> garbage or recycling
  • If it’s something that we have to do, like a bill –> Sunday Basket
  • If it’s one of those just things that we just don’t know yet –> Time Will Tell Bin

Even if you’re not sure that you would stick with this kind of system, I encourage you to give it a try! At least you’ll know where to find your important papers, and they won’t be floating around your house in random piles.

I used to be super messy and never organized with paper, but this really is a game changer!

>> Check out Tom’s newest Sunday basket (seen above) on Amazon.

>> Learn more about setting up a Sunday basket.

4. Memory Bin

If anyone in your household struggles with letting go of sentimental or special things, having a memory bin makes it so much easier!

maggie's memory bin

A memory bin is a curated collection of your most treasured possessions. And because you have a designated spot for the special stuff, you’re limited to keep only what fits within those boundaries. It helps you prioritize what’s really important!

Each of our kids have a memory bin, and Tom and I share one. We use these Sterilite totes from Walmart, but you can use just about any size as long as they fit easily where you want to store them.

Even if you don’t think you’re very sentimental, or think you have way too much stuff, just try it! I think you’ll be so glad that you did!!

>> Learn more about our Memory Bins & Baby Scrap Boxes!

The Container Concept

Similar to the idea of the Memory Bin, we also talk about the Container Concept.

This term comes from Dana from A Slob Comes Clean. She talks about the Container Concept as a way to declutter without using emotion or math.

potholder drawer

Take my potholder drawer, for example. I could hem and haw or how many potholders to keep. Or I could just keep how many comfortably fit in there.

You can simplify your whole house using the Container Concept.

Figure out how much space you have to work with and whatever you keep needs to fit in there comfortably. If it doesn’t, pare it down by putting in your favorites first and get rid of the rest.

Your house is only so big. Your cupboards are only so big. Only keep what fits within those boundaries and you’ll declutter your house quickly!

>> Check out Dana’s video about the Container Concept!

5. Inventory

Do you ever forget about the food in the back of the fridge or cupboards, and then end up having to throw it out?

Just like a grocery store has inventory that they have to manage, food in your home is inventory that you have to manage, too.

store inventory

The idea of inventory first occurred to me in the kitchen regarding managing grocery inventory, but I quickly realized that it actually applies to every single area of our house!

minimalist pantry

How much clothing inventory can I manage effectively? How many toys can my kids manage without them feeling like a burden?

I’ve realized that I can manage way less inventory than I would have originally thought.
I would forgot it was there or buy things again because I didn’t know I had them.

dawn decluttering in living room

If you’re overwhelmed by the stuff in your house, you need to reduce your inventory. Get it down to a manageable amount.

Our home is so much more enjoyable now because it’s easy to keep clean and doesn’t overwhelm me anymore. And most importantly, I have more brain space and emotional energy for the things that actually matter!

>> Learn more about inventory and meal planning

6. Clutterbug

The last term that we talk about a lot is Clutterbug. This comes from Cas from Clutterbug, and it’s a really useful tool to understand your organizing style.

I used to hate the idea of organizing, but now that I know my Clutterbug style (I’m a Ladybug!) and how to organize for that, it has made such a huge difference in our home!

boys' clothing storage bins

Now it is super easy to keep our house organized because I’m working with how I organize and not trying to organize like other people. It has really restored my confidence in my ability to organize our home.

>> Want to find out what your Clutterbug style is? Take the free quiz!

>> Learning about our Clutterbug styles has really help me and Tom understand each other better! We talk about that here!

Just keep going!

I’m excited for you, because as you continue to simplify and declutter your house, it just keeps getting better and better and better!

Maybe the Messy Middle is a term that I should add to the list — it’s when you get into the middle of your decluttering journey and you feel like you’re never going to get it done and you’re overwhelmed by your stuff.

But keep plowing through. It does get easier! You’re going to get to the other side and look back and realize that is one of the most worthwhile things you’ve ever done!

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Other resources to help you declutter your home:

>> Kitchen Declutter & Decorate (Thrift store finds & favorite tips!)

Dawn holding blue casserole dish

>> How to DECIDE ONCE when Decluttering! (with printable guide!)

>> How to Declutter WITHOUT Making a Bigger Mess

The minimal mom holding donation box next to a trash bag while decluttering

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