The Power of Owning Just One || How to Declutter Duplicates

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Want to declutter fast? Get started by ditching the duplicate items in your home and you’ll create instant space. There is surprising power in owning just one!

There’s a damaging message we’ve bought into that’s affecting us deeply. We see an average of 5,000 advertisements a day. New shopping centers pop up every day. Stores put on enticing sales that draw us in to see their newest stock and snatch it up as quickly as possible.

More is better. 

But is it really?

decluttering duplicates in your home

Consumerism Will Always Demand More

When the world is literally screaming at us about all the things we need to add to our lives, it’s difficult to shut off the noise and live with less. But, once you start letting go, you’ll feel the difference and the freedom is incredible. 

Instead of feeling like you’re always missing out on the latest and greatest, you’ll feel peaceful, content, and fulfilled in the open space you intentionally created. Instead of stress and panic that you can’t find anything you need in clutter and chaos, you’ll know where things are and make effective use of everything you own.

That’s a concept consumerism doesn’t support. The consuming cycle means that stuff is purchased and ditched within a few weeks or months. Maybe it broke, or didn’t work, or just didn’t end up fulfilling the hole in our heart that the advertisements promised it would.

Those advertisements are lies. Convincing lies, but still lies.

box of duplicate shoes

The Nature of Duplicates

Our homes are filled with duplicate items. Things we buy multiples of. Items we’ve been gifted. Things we picked up at garage sales or on bargain/free sites. It’s all fueled by the thought that if one is good, then more must be great!

Only, it’s not.

Think about areas in your home that may be overrun with duplicates:

  • Kitchen Utensils: mugs, spatulas, whisks, spoons, cutting boards, rolling pins, storage containers
  • Junk Drawers: pens, pencils, notepads, bag clips, take out menus, odds and ends
  • Closets & Dressers: purses, shoes, jackets, t-shirt collections
  • Office Drawers/Desks: piles of post-it notes, pens, paper clips, rubber bands, scissors
  • Linens: bath and hand towels, beach towels, washcloths, sheet sets, blankets
  • Shoes: sandals, flip-flops, heels, boots, sneakers in various conditions
  • Kitchen Accessories: items that do the same thing–rice cooker, slow cooker, and instapot
  • Children’s Toys: puzzles, balls, sets of blocks, books
  • Hobby materials and sports equipment

Of course, some of these duplicates do serve a purpose, and the size of your family will determine exactly what is the right amount of each item to keep. What works for my family may not work for yours.

The purpose here is to open your mind to thinking about places where you naturally collect excess. I’ve had organizing clients who liked to collect small items like highlighters or post-its to the point where they have entire drawers overflowing with brand new items.

That’s excess–and it’s important to identify if you have any problem areas like that.

simple living minimalist kitchen

The Power of Owning Just One

How many jackets can you wear at a time? One. How many spatulas do you use at a time? One. How many pairs of flip-flops do you wear at a time? One.

What if you owned just one of everything?

I think it’s fair to say that if we all got rid of ALL the duplicates in our home, we could easily and quickly reduce 50% (or more) of the clutter in our homes. That’s probably not realistic for most families, but it’s an eye-opening thought!

What if you owned just one stapler? One scissors? One nail clippers?

If you owned just one of these items, it would be simple to assign a home for the item and have each family member use it and return it to the proper place.

What if you personally owned just one purse? One pair of summer sandals? One pair of heels?

Or think about this…

One bookshelf. One small closet rod. One drawer or small box for makeup.

One doesn’t always mean “one” physical item–it can also apply to simplifying a group of items.

As I entered my third year of decluttering, I tackled my small pile of purses and realized that I only used two bags. One purse, one backpack. I chose to also keep one extra small backpack purse in seasonal storage as I tend to pull that one out in summer more often. So technically I have 3 purses/backpacks, but I only keep 2 in rotation at a time.

When I decluttered my shoes, I used similar logic. I kept one pair of black boots. One pair of black pump heels. One pair of black dress sandals. One pair of flip flops. One pair of sneakers.

By picking an iconic clothing style and color palette, you can downsize your wardrobe, reduce the stress of daily decision fatigue and use your brainpower for more important things. I’m still working on my iconic style–it’s a journey too–but I’m making progress and it makes daily life so much simpler and more enjoyable!

There is, of course, no solid rule that you have to stick with only one, but it’s something you should be considering as you declutter.

The less stuff you have, the easier it is to keep things in order. That’s how you organize and maintain a peaceful, minimalist home.

What If One Isn’t Enough?

There are many factors that play into how many items you should keep, and it will vary over the years. I know people who keep one set of sheets per bed. They wash and dry and return to the bed on laundry day. While that’s feasible for some families, our family chooses to line dry laundry, so that won’t work for us. So we keep 2 sets of sheets per bed.

Towels are similar. We each have two bath towels due to our laundry routine, but one beach towel each is plenty. I have a few extra hand towels, washcloths and dish towels (we also don’t have a dishwasher) as well since I only do laundry 2-3 times a week. But there is not a lot of excess. We go through all our towels.

Think about your shoes, purses, and accessories. It’s likely you have certain ones that only go with specific outfits. Are those your favorite? Are they necessary? Do they bring you a great deal of joy?

I found that by identifying my style and colors, I was able to eliminate a lot of “extra” outfits that only went with certain pieces, and also didn’t look the greatest on me.

If you rarely wear or use them, consider letting go.

Keeping one, or just a few favorites, in each category will dramatically declutter your home.

What About Stocking Up?

There are some cases where I keep a small box of extra office supplies or other consumables. If you shop in bulk and use the items, find an out of the way place to store extras and don’t stress about it.

If you have bought bulk items, and don’t use them, consider donating to a local shelter or family in need. The ultimate goal here is to declutter the excess.

pile of clothing to declutter

How to Declutter the Duplicates

Go through each drawer, cabinet, and shelf one by one. Take your time as you work through the areas and don’t try to do it all at once! If you know you own duplicate items, pull them all out from their various homes and evaluate the total number you have and how many you really need to keep.

Four staplers? Pick the one that works the best and find an accessible place to keep it where all family members can find it.

Six spatulas in the kitchen drawer? If they are multiple types, pick one of each type and let go of the rest. For instance, I have one bamboo spatula and one stainless steel one.

Multiple appliances that have overlapping powers that you never use? Let go of the single-use appliances that collect dust and learn how to fully use the multi-purpose ones. You’ll get more joy from learning how to use all the functions of the one appliance than storing multiple ones.

Drawers of pens and pencils? Test them to see which ones still work. Toss broken ones. Select ten or less of your favorites to store in a common location, and store or donate the extras.

Ask yourself what you actually use. Push back the fearful thoughts that you might need an item someday. Free yourself from the trap that having more is better and discover the freedom of simplicity!

Final Thoughts on the Power of One

Reduce your stress and let go of the excess by decluttering duplicates. It’s a quick and easy way to simplify your spaces, clear out drawers and clean off surfaces. Identify how many of each item your family realistically needs, and bless others by donating the extras.

Embrace the simple life of less with the quick results brought by deleting duplicates! What can you get rid of today?

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The Power of Owning Just One || How to Declutter Duplicates

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  1. I’ve always wandered about those ridiculously specialized kitchen gadgets I see in stores (I was in a Kohls store last week and they had what looked like an entire Single Use Kitchen Gadget Department). Margarita machines, hot dog cookers, Smores makers, quesadilla grills …. Really? Who buys those things?

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