Try this simple decluttering strategy in your home

decluttering family organising free advice quick tips Jun 07, 2022
A white chest of drawers cannot shut because pretty underwear is overflowing out of both drawers.

Something that I see often with my clients is things overflowing from a designated space into other areas of the home. Think - towels overflowing from the jam-packed linen cupboard to take up space in the spare room's wardrobe; cans of peaches that don't fit in the pantry being tucked into the garage; and of course clothes that don't fit in the wardrobe taking up space in the laundry, the spare room and the kids' bedrooms. (OK, I confess - I'm guilty of that last one as well! Our shared wardrobe is tiny!)

One simple way to combat this for most* categories in your home is to introduce a simple rule: one in, one out. Keep it in the back of your mind next time you bring something new to your place - before putting the new item away, make sure you pull out something from the same category to be re-homed, recycled or disposed of. 

The reason this simple strategy is effective is because it retrains our existing habit of adding new things rather than replacing them. For example, we buy fluffy new towels then simply stuff them into the linen closet on top of the old ones. The old ones won't get used again; they just sit in the cupboard taking up space and occasionally causing our new ones to fall over and annoy us. They'd be much better off being donated to the local charity shop, or if they're stained and/or hole-y, being donated to the SPCA. 

Some great categories to start your new one in, one out habit with are:

  • Towels
  • Underwear and socks
  • Cookbooks

I recommend you put this strategy into practise with these categories first because they are less likely to have an emotional hold on you. Hard to get misty-eyed about a stiff old towel or some undies with the elastic missing, don't you think? Cookbooks might be a little trickier, especially if you're a foodie, so be sure to start somewhere that doesn't make you feel sentimental. 

*Now I say this strategy works with most categories. Toys are a bit harder, if you're thinking of implementing it with your kids - that's because you're relying on your children to be able to release their things easily. And clothes are tricky for us adults, especially if you're a bit of a clothes horse and love having a variety of things to wear, depending on your mood. For those trickier categories, I recommend regular, focused decluttering sessions - for the easier categories, the one in, one out strategy is a great habit to develop that will help you keep on top of things taking up space in your home. 

If you're starting out on your decluttering journey and want a simple approach that you can actually follow, check out my online course: Intro To Decluttering. It's practical, realistic and will set you up for long-term decluttering success. 

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