How To Maintain A Decluttered Home? (One In, One Out Rule). The chaos that comes from clutter can impact your mind and body. Cabinets brimming with things, cupboards bursting with clothes, and a desk littered with paper are more than just an eyesore.
The mayhem can send your stress levels soaring. Plus, your brain is bound to have difficulty focusing with so much stuff around. And if that’s not enough, a cluttered home is hardly one people want to visit. Fewer friends and family visiting can lead to a feeling of isolation. And that can impact every facet of your life.
Fortunately, for decluttering your living space, all you have to do is diligently follow one rule. The best part is that this simple principle is just as effective in maintaining a decluttered home. So, read on – How To Maintain A Decluttered Home? (One In, One Out Rule)
The “One In, One Out” rule for cleaning your home
The name must have given you a gist of what this one means. Yes, you will have to give out one old thing for every new thing you get into your home. You might feel that this deals with the problem one drop at a time. Hence, it may take forever to get to the decluttering effect you want.
Undoubtedly, this is a marathon and not a sprint. But it helps in 3 ways:
1-You attack the problem at its root:
When you start cleaning your home, it’s all about the things that must be thrown out. However, you won’t achieve much if you bring in two or more items for one that you give away. With this method, you nip this problem in the bud.
2-You control the emotional aspect of it all:
For many, giving away too much too soon or even at once can hurt. And, no, this is not just about financial hurt. Frequently, everything stored in racks and boxes is more about emotions than materialism.
The emotional attachment to the small brickbats often compels people to hold on to them. Hence, you give yourself time for both a material and emotional cleanse by going slow.
3-You actually inculcate a habit:
Because this is a gradual process, it helps you to turn minimalism into a habit. And that can go a long way in maintaining a decluttered home. Finally, the one thing to understand about this rule is that it isn’t rigid. Of course, you will have to follow it with utmost discipline. But you can modify it to suit your requirements.
Three ways to use the “One In, One Out” Rule for a decluttered home
1. An old for a new:
This is a classic way to use this approach. To incorporate this version of the rule, decide what you intend to give up before you get the new thing. You should keep a giveaway box handy. Put the something you intend to give away into the box and store it in your car’s trunk or backseat. So, you are reminded that this needs to go out. This way, you are not lured into holding on to the old and the new.
2. Don’t get unless you are ready to give:
A more disciplined way to implement this rule is to consciously decide that you will not get anything new unless it is time to give up something old. For example, you will not buy that new shirt unless you have a shirt that is past its prime.
3. To keep one, let one go:
Some of you may start with a situation that seems out of control. To restore the balance in this case, use a more stringent method.
So, for everything you keep, you must let one or more things go. And, put yourself on a buying fast. No matter what, don’t get anything new unless it is an existential crisis. But how many times are we likely to encounter that one?
What if one in, one out is not enough?
The answer is simple- You do two or three for one. So, for each new thing that gets in, 2 or 3 go out. Similarly, for every one thing that you decide to hold on to, you give up 2 or 3 similar items.
How far you take this rule and how mercilessly you curate your belongings and life depends on the results you want to achieve. For instance, one person may be happy with 2 or 4 pairs of shoes, but even a dozen is not enough for another.
The important thing here is to be realistic. Sure, it would be great to have a celebrity-like closet filled with dozens of handbags, clothes, and shoes. The question is, do you have such a closet?
If you find yourself constantly struggling to accommodate things, that’s a tell-tale sign that a change is needed. And that realization should be your starting point!
How would you know where to start?
If the chaos in your house is such that things are spilling out of place, you know it’s time for decluttering. For instance:
- Your clothes are not just in the closet or the laundry area but also your living room or bed.
- You have so many things on your desk that finding your keys or even a pen feels like embarking on a little treasure hunt.
- Your kids have so many toys that they are all over the house.
Do you see the point? Now, if cleaning your way through all that stuff seems overwhelming, here is what you can do.
- Make a list of all areas of the house where things are in absolute disarray.
- Pick out the top three messiest areas from this list.
- Get to the number one trouble spot by choosing the space you use or spend the most time in.
Space budgeting can come to your rescue.
You may find yourself struggling with how much is too much. This is a common issue when decluttering. A simple way to deal with it is through space budgeting.
Carefully think about how much space you intend to devote to specific items. For instance, you may have set aside 3 shelves in the closet for particular clothing items or accessories.
Yes, this will take some thinking back, but do it because it will help. Once you know where you started, check where you stand now. Instead of the three shelves you had designated in the beginning, are those accessories taking up 4 or 6?
The more space items take up; the more disciplined you will have to be. If you are at the double- mark, you will need to give out one for every 2 that you keep, plus put yourself on a strict no-buying-fast.
The bumps you are likely to encounter along the way
While change is needed, it does not come easy. Our brains and personalities are built to resist it. Rest assured that you will encounter resistance to your decision to declutter your home as well. So, here is a fair warning about what you are likely to encounter:
1-Of memories and emotions:
Many people who end up in a cluttered living area don’t start as hoarders. But, somehow, they land themselves in the trap where every little knick knack connects to a memory.
You, too, may find yourself holding on to something just because of the memories it brings back. And as expected, the stronger the association, the harder it is to give up that thing. But here is what you need to tell yourself- The memory won’t go away just because you give away the object!
However, if you do find yourself struggling, start journaling your memories. And when you feel you cannot give away a thing, go back and read your journal. This way, you tell yourself that the memories will live no matter what.
2-The considerable money debate:
Some of us are reluctant to give up on things because of how much we spend buying them. But think about the present value of that thing. Is it that much today? Unless it is precious jewelry, the object will likely lose 80% of its value. Now ask yourself, do you still want to keep it?
If your mind counters you with the objection, you may not be able to repurchase it. Ask yourself, do you need to repurchase it?
3-The fear of what-if:
One last hurdle you may face is your fear of what you need for a specific item. You can counter this by considering how many pieces of a particular object type you have. Sure, you may need that black shirt one day, but will you need all 3 black shirts?
Also, ask yourself if you see yourself requiring that specific item shortly. If the answer is “no,” it’s time to give it up.
How to stick to the one-in, one-out regimen?
Maintaining a decluttered home with the one-in-one-out rule takes constant work and discipline. So, do what’s required to develop any habit that needs such input.
Do today what you have put off for tomorrow:
Like with all positive changes, it’s better to take action now than later. This way, you don’t give your mind the time to talk yourself out of it. For instance, don’t buy something first and then try to find something that you need to give up for it. Instead, get the thing that needs to go out first.
Take this one step further by discarding it in whatever way you choose. If you intend to sell it, do it now. If you have decided to donate it, take it to the organization that will get it out of your hands now. And once that thing is out of your place, you go ahead and get the new item to replace it.
Nothing works like positive reinforcement:
Another way to motivate yourself to stick to decluttering is to incentivize it. What you don’t need, sell it. But don’t use that money to buy something new. Instead, treat yourself to a pleasing experience such as a foot massage, a good meal, or even a weekend getaway.
The idea here is to associate the act of giving up something you don’t need with the experience of feeling good. This is a powerful psychological method to develop a habit.
If a few bucks don’t matter to you, get your feel-good factor from giving that object to someone who needs it. Doing something nice for someone for no reason leads to a surge of happy chemicals in your brain.
How To Maintain A Decluttered Home? – Conclusion
And, after all that, you should have no problem cleaning your home and keeping it that way. Yes, getting to the point where you have a truly decluttered home may take some time. But, as long as you diligently follow the one-in-one-out approach, you can get there.