Decluttering My Life, One Step at a Time

Don’t Let Your Clutter Grow: Live By the One In, One Out Rule

Since I’m always aware of my weight, it makes sense for me to apply the same principals that I’ve used to control my weight to control my clutter.  For example, several years ago when I reached my highest weight, I decided that I would do whatever it took to never gain more weight.  Back then, I felt miserable, my clothes were too tight and I didn’t want to feel worse.   I now have the same determination with my household clutter.  I don’t want to add more as my goal is to lose the clutter.  I now make the effort to live by the One In, One Out Rule.

One In, One Out Rule: For every item that comes into your home, one item must go.

For instance, if you buy a new shirt, donate a shirt from your closet.  If you buy a book, give one away.

Of course, there are exceptions.  You don’t need to do this with food or items that will be eliminated after they’re used (napkins, toilet tissue).  I’m referring more to the items that you keep around – clothes, dishes, electronics, furniture and home-decor items.  I’m sure you get the idea.

Though the concept behind the One In, One Out Rule is simple, it does take discipline to follow it.  It’s very easy to walk in the door with a new item and begin setting it up, trying it on or finding a place for it.  It is fun getting new things and rarely are you thinking about discarding something old at this point.  I’m not saying you have to find an item to get rid of the second you walk in the door, but it should at least be that same day.  My household struggles with this as it’s very hard for us to part with items, no matter how silly it is for us to keep them.  We are improving and at least now we immediately dispose of items that are broken and are not worth fixing.

Real Life Example
For Christmas, I asked for a NutriBullet because the drink mixer that I was using wasn’t strong enough to liquify vegetables and most frozen foods.  As happy as I was when I received it, I was also a little concerned because I didn’t know where to put it.  The NutriBullet comes with several pieces and our kitchen shelves are jammed packed.  When I started whining that I didn’t have any kitchen storage space for it, my husband wisely went to the shelf where my drink mixer was stored and told me to get rid of it.  He asked me why do I need it when the NutriBullet could do the same?  I panicked for a minute, thought he was crazy, but it made sense.  There wasn’t any logical reason to hold on to it.   We continued going through every item on that shelf and realized that we don’t use any of the odd smoothie cups and shakers that I was storing.  All got donated and I’m happy that I have an uncluttered shelf that provides easy access to my NutriBullet.


Also, don’t feel that the items that are coming in and going out need to be in the same category.  For example, my husband just bought me some toy crabs because I’ve been crabby lately.  Since I don’t own many stuffed animals and I’m not about to part with my childhood Pooh Bear, I elected to eliminate items from different categories: 2 purses, a Vicks vaporizer and an old 3.5 inch floppy disk drive container.


To Lose the Clutter Faster, Remove 2 Items Instead of One
Maintaining the number of items in your home is great because then your household clutter doesn’t grow.  But the real secret to decluttering the home is to lose more than you gain.  So, to reach your decluttering goals quicker, it’s sometimes good to remove two or more items each time a new one comes in.  You can change it to a One In, Two Out Rule or go even higher.  But don’t make your “Out Number” so high that you feel overwhelmed or pressured each time something new comes into your home.

Remember, no one gains or loses 20 pounds over night.  Likewise, unless you have the time and energy for a major purge, it will take time to declutter your home.  Just work on a few items or a small area at a time, but work on it consistently.  Over time, you will see results.  Just think, if you removed one item from your home everyday for a year, you would have 365 less items in your home 12 months from now!

Happy Decluttering,


p.s.  For more tips on decluttering your home, check out the book, The One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple: 500 Tips for Getting Your Life in Order.  That is where I read about the One In, One Out tip.

Photo Credits:
Featured Image: Woman with a full closet: © caraman –
Images in Blog Content: Diana Poisson

An Article By -

I work full time in retail sales. I'm married, have a pet cockatiel and my mom lives with us. When I'm not working, I spend most of my spare time on my websites. For exercise, I'm training to do 100 push ups! I love to eat good food, but am watching my weight. For my chocolate fix, I turn to Quest Bars as they taste like desert. Big Walking Dead fan!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Dave May 25, 2014, 11:03 am

    I kind of like the one in, one out rule. I can see how it can help us to move things out. I’m thinking for now, that yes, I would not care if things are in the same category. I wouldn’t get rid of the pooh bear either.

    • Diana May 25, 2014, 11:02 pm

      Hi Dave, I believe it’s ok if the things aren’t in the same category, but maybe they should be the same size. I received some larger-sized birthday presents (lighting kits) and even though I removed a few items, they were all small in size. So, even though I applied the one in, one out rule, the house looks more cluttered because my newer items are large. I need to get rid of a few more smaller sized items to maintain the balance.


Leave a Comment

Next Post:

Previous Post:

About Me!

I'm Diana and this where I share my progress, tips and everything I learn while I progress towards my goal of a simpler life!

I want less distractions, less stress and more time to focus on what matters to me. I believe that decluttering my home and my mind are the first steps in achieving that.

Find Me on Google+