For Organizing Help

The One-Year Rule: When to Keep, When to Toss

Do things constantly pile up in your home, even though you never use them? Are you always telling yourself you will use them eventually? 

If so, the one-year rule may be the perfect decluttering system to keep your home looking great! 

Having a decluttered and organized home is essential for several reasons. Not only does it help with increased efficiency, but it also provides you with peace of mind as you can walk around your home without tripping over anything. 

What is the One-Year Rule?

The one-year rule refers to a home organization system where if you have not used something for the last year, get rid of it. 

Chances are, if you have not used that item in the last year, you will likely never use it in the future, though there are exceptions to this rule which we will go over below. 

By only keeping what you use, you remove all the unwanted items in your home that pile up, allowing you to enjoy what you use without having to look through the things you never use 

Besides the exceptions to this rule, you can implement the one-year rule the same way regardless of what items you organize and declutter.  

Examples of How to Use the One-Year Rule

So, what can you use the one-year rule on? Well, you can use this decluttering system on almost everything in your home to make decluttering easy and stress-free. 

Use the one-year rule on:

  • Clothing: You haven’t worn that shirt for the last year? Donate it to your local thrift store or give it to a friend or family member! If any of your clothing has holes or excess stains, you may want to consider tossing them.
  • Books and Media: Collecting books can be fun, but sometimes you get some you will never read. Instead of letting them collect dust and take up room, donate to someone in need so you can have room for the books you want. The same goes for movies, music, and games.
  • Decor and Home Furnishings: Everybody has some home decor or furnishings they got as a gift years ago that they have yet to use. Instead of letting it take up space in your home, use the one-year rule and get rid of it. This may include throw pillows, wall art, lamps, rugs, etc.
  • Kitchen and Household Items: If you have a kitchen appliance that you haven’t used in the past year, such as a bread maker or a juicer, you might consider getting rid of it. If you have household items that you haven’t used in the past year, such as extra towels, bed sheets, or cleaning supplies, you might consider getting rid of them. If you aren’t using it and it has no purpose, donate or trash it and clear up that space!
  • Personal Care and Beauty Products: While it can be easy to tell yourself you will use that two-year-old body wash one day, you probably won’t. So instead of holding onto it, get rid of it, and then get those personal care and beauty products when you need them. 

Exceptions to the One-Year Rule

While it can be easy to start getting rid of piles of items when you get going on your organizing project, there are some expectations to the one-year rule. 

If an item is sentimental to you or your family, even if you have not touched it in years, it is no need to get rid of it. However, you should ask yourself if it is essential to you so that you only use it on some things. 

Another exception to the rule is high-value items, whether a family heirloom, jewelry, technology, or anything else worth a large amount of money and could not be easily replaced. 

Finally, the one-year rule should not be used on seasonal items as you will be using them the next time that holiday or season rolls around. 

Tips for Implementing the One-Year Rule

Implementing any organizational system can be difficult, so here are some tips to help you start your journey and stick to it! 

  1. Set aside plenty of time to focus solely on decluttering and organizing, whether that be several hours a day, a half-hour, or even 15 minutes a day if you are a busy person. The consistent effort each day can make all the difference.
  2. Start with rooms and items that are easy to work with, and then work up to the more challenging parts of your home. Also, consider starting with spaces you most commonly use to make the most immediate difference in your daily routine.
  3. Take photographs or use other visual aids to help you decide whether to keep or eliminate different items.
  4. Ask a family member or friend for a second opinion when decluttering so you get rid of what you need to and don’t accidentally get rid of anything important. 

Final Thoughts

Following the one-year rule helps you stay on top of clutter and keeps your home organized and clean. While it can be challenging in the beginning, in the long term, you will be able to enjoy an organized home filled only with what you use. 
Here at My Professional Organizer Dallas, we believe in providing everyone with the tools they need to keep their home clean and organized. So, if you are ready to begin your organizing journey, contact us for help!