A Modified Rule For Minimizing Clutter: Remove/Replace

I keep a cord basket on my desk and as I dug into the basket to retrieve a cord this weekend, I was reminded of the Remove/Replace policy that I have worked to enforce in our home. It’s quite simple, really. If you’ve read about organization even a little bit, you’ve probably heard of the “One in, One out” rule when making purchases. It’s used to help maintain the number of belongings you keep. Before you buy something new, you must decide to let go of something old.


Ok, so the “Remove/Replace” rule is pretty much the same but I see it as applicable whether you follow the “one in, one out” rule or not. Personally, I don’t really adhere to the “One in, One out” rule. We just have other ways to filter what comes into our home. IMO the Remove/Replace policy feels like less pressure to uphold and more of a helpful tool and one that simply limits.

I was introduced to the “Remove/Replace” rule when I began using the FreedomFiler Home Filing System. There is a section in the system dedicated to “Remove/Replace” files. It applies to things like insurance policies, credit history report, service contracts, employment benefits packages, etc. When the new policy arrives, you file it in the appropriate folder and remove/shred the expired policy, etc.

This rule also works especially well for laptops and other digital devices, warranty paperwork and manuals, or pretty much anything that you need to replace. Whenever we replace a small or large appliance, computer, camera, etc. and unpack the new item, we gather manuals, cords and accessories together to either sell, donate or toss along with the old item. Any time I add a new item to the cord basket on my desk, I use it as an opportunity to double-check if there is anything in there that we can let go of.

I also try to do this with my preschooler’s toys, art supplies and clothing. I say try because the shelf-life of his belongings is much shorter than most. It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with it.

Some examples of where you can apply it include:

Art supplies- When the kids get a new package of markers, pens or crayons, involve them in the exercise of going through the old and tossing those that don’t have caps, are dried out or broken, etc.

Mobile Phone- When you purchase a new phone, gather up the a/c and auto charging cables, phone cases, manual and box, if you have it. Donate, sell or recycle everything at once.

Schedules and Rosters- When you get a new roster or schedule, toss the old one. If there are numbers you need, take a few minutes to enter them into your phone. If you feel that is too tedious, many smartphones have a method for you to do so from your desktop computer. Or just have your tech-savvy kid enter the info for you (you may want to double-check for errors.)

Children’s Shoes/Clothing- Often times, you will find yourself buying a new pair of shoes or piece of clothing to replace something they’ve outgrown. Make sure to remove it from the closet- either by having a donate or hand-me-down bin nearby or tossing it if it’s in poor condition. Which reminds me, the little man has some shoes he’s outgrown left on his shoe rack that I’m going to deal with right now…

Ok, I’m back. Following the “Remove/Replace” rule means we don’t have outdated manuals, old charging cables, or a rat’s nest of cords cluttering up our office and home. And, we are rarely left wondering whether some spare part or cord belongs to something we still own or not. It’s a small and simple habit to start and adds up to make a significant impact over time.

I hope you find this rule helpful and find small but effective ways to use it around your home. In the meantime, if you’re looking for help organizing that unruly pile or binder of product manuals and warranty information, here’s a post about the simple system that works for us.

Ciao for now!






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