The rule of three applies to many concepts in life. It states that things seem more funny, more appealing, and more easy to remember when you group them in threes. It creates a pattern that stems back to our childhood, with stories like The Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Phrases with 3 parts are often used in advertising, especially when they rhyme. You can find songs, mottoes, and slogans with 3 parts - I know Stop, Drop, and Roll is forever ingrained into my head. In art, there is even a rule of thirds that divides up the composition of a piece to determine where you should place the most important parts.
In interior design there are also suggested rules to follow about using 3 colors in a room to create a pleasing palette. Composing a vignette of 3 items on a surface is also suggested so that your collection is not too busy, but not too plain - one is such a lonely number. But what does this have to do with clutter?
People often have large collections of items and, because they love them so much, they've got to get a new unicorn, tea cup, or doll each time they see one. Pretty soon, their collections are so big that the individual items get lost among the group and what makes each so special is not so easy to pinpoint any more.
I'm not suggesting that you get rid of any of your items by any means. However if you utilize the rule of three when you display them, your treasures will come alive again with less surrounding them. This rule of three can be used anywhere in your home - like your kitchen counter. If you find your kitchen overwhelming to look at, just clear enough off the surfaces so that you are highlighting 3 items only. It'll feel better to your eye, allow you to actually use/appreciate those items fully, and give you a threshold for how much is allowed to live there.
Try the rule of three out on your nightstand. When you wake up in the morning, see if it makes you feel more relaxed and less stressed instead of instantly overwhelmed with clutter. Try it out on your To Do list. Rather than try to accomplish 10 things (and only achieve 1), shoot for a goal of just 3 and hit that goal daily. Try it out with your kids. Ask them to accomplish 3 things in the morning before school like breakfast, teeth, and clothes. Keep it simple and keep repeating your list out loud to them instead of adding, "did you do X yet? I told you to do it 5 minutes ago. Why aren't you listening to me?" Short and sweet keeps it easy for them and you to remember and leaves less room for interpretation or questions or angry phrases inserted in.
So what's your new plan? The rule of three. Simplify your life so you can see the beauty in it again. Have less to clean, less to say, and less to get in trouble over. You can do it!