One Thing In, One Thing Out

When is the last time you peered into your bedroom closet and really looked at what’s in there?

Closets today are small rooms from yesteryear. I remember my Grandma’s closet – really not much more space than a small coat closet would have today. She hung her bathrobe on a hook over the door. And everything else fit neatly inside. She didn’t need row after row of options; she did just fine with a few daily outfits for chores, and a Sunday best dress for times when she went out. That’s it.

Now look into your closet. Rows of pants, skirts, shorts. Rows of blouses, shirts, jackets. Then there are shelves of accessories, jeans and sweaters. Box after box filled with shoes and boots. You head to the stores, buy something new, and it gets shoved in with all the rest.

Two years ago we went on a quest for simplification. One of the first places I started was with my bedroom closet. I went in with a trash bag and vowed I wouldn’t come out until it was filled. Three bags later I was off to donate my stash. And I’ve never looked back.

Today when I go shopping, I head out with the concept of replacement. Do I really need something new? And if so, what will I replace?

Because my new rule is “one thing in, one thing out”. Which means I can’t put something new in my closet without pulling something else out and giving it away. It makes me think more about what I have and what I need. It makes me look for quality to make sure it has the potential to be around a while.

Sounds easy enough, right? And really it is. With my first purge, it really allowed me to see what was necessary and what wasn’t. And grow from there.

And it hasn’t stopped with my bedroom closet. In fact, this concept can work on just about anything.

What if you have a great idea that you want to act on? What if you have a great idea you want to pursue and turn into a business?

The most common hold-back I hear in this situation is “I don’t have the time”. Which means you have to make time. And you can do that with the “one thing in, one thing out” method.

If you want your new idea to be a part of your life, it means you have to give up one thing that is old and doesn’t fit you anymore.

Look to the things that cause you pain.

Maybe you hate going to the book club you joined years ago. You don’t really fit in with the new members. And the books really don’t do much for you; they’re hard to get through. Yet you feel guilty because you are one of the founding members. Stop feeling guilty and quit. This could give you several hours to work on your new idea.

Or look for areas that aren’t adding value to your life.

Maybe you sit down and watch television a couple hours every night. What is that wasted two hours doing for you? Sure, you may say it’s your relaxing time. And I agree, everyone needs time to relax. But what if you gave up two of those nights each week for your new idea? That could be an extra four hours a week to work on something new.

The next time you find something you are excited about, an idea that just won’t disappear from your mind, put it to work. Make room for it in your life by finding one thing you’re willing to let go. It can be an hour or a day. Time doesn’t matter; the only thing that does matter is your ability to make room in your life for the something new.

One thing in, one thing out. A great rule to live by.