3 Organizing Rules I Want You to Break

Organizing Rules to Break - A Side of Fabulous Blog

It’s the beginning of the year and that means one thing – TONS of information on how to get organized. I’m not about to knock this. I’ve written some of those pieces myself. If ditching your clutter and getting organized is a goal, I whole-heartedly support you.

I don’t, however, support all the information flying around out there.

Some so-called advice will actually be sales pitches. (I’m looking at you beautiful home goods catalog that shall go un-named!) Others will offer solid advice. Then there will be the “rules” that are so restrictive that they become oppressive.

In organizing, we have universal truths that apply to everyone:

  • Keep only what you need, use and love.

  • Every single item in your home has a place where it “lives.”

  • Put things back when you’re done.

These basic tenets apply regardless of the size of your home, whether you rent or own, and whether you put Payless or Prada on your freshly pedicured tootsies.

Then there are the “rules” that are so rigid and unrealistic that you’d rather give in to the hot, buttery mess of clutter.

You may have heard them before:

  • One in, one out.
  • Touch it once.
  • If you haven’t worn/used it in “X” months then it goes away.

Today I encourage you to break these rules. From here on out, can we can agree that they don’t exist?

It can be our conspiratorial agreement.

In their place, I’ll show you a realistic way.

Rule to break #1: One in, one out. 

This one makes me crazy. It says that for every item you buy, you must get rid of something. This doesn’t actually address the clutter. You may need to toss two, five, or twenty things for each new item. Perhaps it’s best to stop shopping all together.

The organized home contains only what is needed, used and absolutely j’adored. Each item has a place where it lives. By this token, what’s purchased is needed, used, j’adored and has a place where it will go. Therefore it’s ridiculous to arbitrarily toss something just because a rule told you to.

What to do instead: spend 5-15 minutes every day removing things you don’t need. Pick an area, set a timer and go. When the clutter is gone, spend that time putting things back where they belong. Through the process you may find that you already have what you need and don’t have to purchase something after all.

Rule to Break #2: Touch it Once

This “rule” says to only ever touch something once. When you touch something, take whatever action is needed immediately. What I see most often happens as a result of this “rule” is that you hurriedly, messily shove things in their place instead of waiting to take five minutes at the end of the day to do it neatly. Or you bounce around tasks instead of grouping like tasks together which is much more efficient.

What to do instead: when you come across something that needs action taken, line it up with like tasks in your schedule and properly attend to it then...just make sure you actually tend to it instead of putting it off forever.

Rule to Break #3: If you haven’t worn/used it in X months then get rid of it.

I see this one everywhere. Since everything in our house is something we need, use and love – it is right? – there isn’t need for time limits. You may have a little black dress that fits and looks fabulous but isn’t often worn. I would never ask you to toss a fabulous LBD just because you haven’t had the occasion in however many months.  A not-so-fabulous LBD? Absolutely! But never a fabulous one.

What to do instead: look to the future. Ask yourself if you will use this item again. If so, when? Specifically. If you can’t answer that question then you can let the item go. Alternatively, give items you’re unsure of a deadline. Mark them with an expiration date. If it hasn’t been used/worn by the expiration then you can toss it guilt free.


Pro tip: unsure on which clothes can take up valuable real estate in your closet? These guidelines will help.


Ridiculously rigid organizing “rules” put too much pressure on us. We then get overwhelmed, pull back, and do nothing.

That sure as hell won’t help you reach your organizing goals.

Instead, think of organizing as a daily habit to cultivate just like eating healthy and working out. A little bit every day will soon result in real progress. Slow and steady wins this race!

What organizing rules do you live by? Which ones stress you out? I'd love to hear more in the comments!

Originally published on She Owns It.

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