Are You Using the One-In One-Out Rule?

There is probably no time better than the gift giving season to follow the one-in, one-out rule. In case you are not familiar with this rule, the directive is that when one thing comes into your house, another goes out. We get into clutter trouble when the number of things that enter our homes exceed the number that leave; a common situation this time of year. The two best things about following the rule are:

  1. If you assign a defined amount of space for every type of item and you don’t already have too much stuff for a given space, you never will.
  2. It helps you make decisions. If you have room on the shelf for 50 books and you have 51, you only have to decide which one book is not preferred over ANY other book.

So how do you follow the rule with kids? You seize the valuable opportunity to teach them that space is finite and life is full of hard choices. They get x amount of space for toys. You get to decide what “x” is. It could be a room, a closet, a toy box, or a shoebox. Then the kid gets to decide what stays and what goes. If they have a toy box, for example, they can keep all the toys they want as long as they fit inside and the lid can close. You can learn a lot about kids from this! Do they try to fit as much as possible inside regardless of what is preferred? Do they prioritize their toys and let the space determine what the cut-off is between staying and going? Do they spend time trying to change the rule?

Even though this is a “rule” you can modify it to meet your needs. If your closets and drawers are bursting, you can start by reducing the amount you have to fit the space and then follow the rule. Or you can ease into it with a one-in two-out or three-out rule. Are you using this rule? If not, how can you be creative and make it work for you?



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