Get Organized Challenge Week 5: One In, One Out

Get Organized Challenge Week 5: One In, One Out
05 Feb 2014

Wow – time flies when you’re working on your organizing super powers! Over the last 4 weeks, we’ve practiced buying less stuff, making sure the stuff you have passes the test, making a home for everything in your home, and cleaning up as you go. We’ve also reminded ourselves that it’s not about being perfect but about practicing new skills that we can keep coming back to when we fall off our organized path.

This week, we will add our last but not least organizing skill to the list – following the “one in, one out” rule. Simply put, if you get something new, you need to get rid of something old in order to keep your organizing equilibrium.

I will admit that for many people, myself included, this is the hardest of our organizing skills to actually carry out. This is because it often involves getting rid of “perfectly good” stuff. But it is SO important – if you think about it, unless you have lots of extra space to fill (I don’t know anyone who does) or you have lots of things you NEED to get, following the one in, one out rule is the only way to prevent having too much stuff in your space. It’s just simple physics. And remember, when you get new things, you usually start using them, so older items just sit around collecting dust. If you at least donated them, then someone else could be making better use of them.

Here are three ways to make this easier to stick to:

  1. Think long and hard before you buy (or otherwise acquire) something – does this sound like week 1, anybody? Do I really need this and am I ready to part with something I already own to make room for this? In general, it’s a good idea to wait before you buy – if you have an impulse to buy something, walk away and write it down. Hitting the pause button will give you a chance to really decide whether you need something and what you will part with if you do go ahead and get it.
  2. Make sure you are really ready to ditch the old version before you get a replacement. This is another good reason to hit the pause button, rather than buying something the first time it comes to mind. I recently got new sneakers (which I’d been thinking about doing for at least a month) and though I’ve loved them, I promptly put the old ones in the donation bin and didn’t look back. In my past, I might’ve convinced myself that I should keep the extra pair for some random sneaker emergency. But the truth is, I don’t have random sneaker emergencies, and if I did, I already have a pair of yard work sneakers that I could call on for help. Have I missed them? No! They’re just sneakers…and well-worn ones at that.
  3. Get in the donation habit. While it’s a good idea to literally practice (at least most of the time) the one in, one out rule and part with something for every new item that comes in your house, we know that this isn’t going to happen all the time. Just like doing a clean sweep at the end of the day if you haven’t quite been able to clean up as you go, getting in the habit of routinely donating items is a great safety net strategy to help you play catch up when you haven’t been following “one in, one out” religiously. Just build in regular reviews of your stuff, monthly or at least seasonally, during which you walk around with a donation box or bag and weed, picking out stuff that you no longer need, use or love. It’s also a great idea to keep a donation bin/bag at the ready in your house. That way, when you stumble across something that needs to go, you can just toss it in and take the whole pile with your monthly or seasonal donations.

Ok, that’s enough about that…let’s keep it up…we’re in the home stretch!

The Challenge – Week 5: Follow the one in, one out rule. Think long and hard about letting new stuff into your home, but when you do, make sure to toss or donate something old.


Sarah Buckwalter