I’m a professional declutterer, not a professional organizer. The reason I make the distinction is because I focus almost all my time working with clients on getting rid of things rather than organizing them. I find that most people need to declutter more, not organize more.
Why you need to declutter more, not organize more
I know it is more tempting to go buy pretty containers at The Container Store than it is to sort through the clutter that may cause you to deal with thoughts or feelings you may rather not address.
Decluttering may not be as glamorous or as fun. But here is why you need to declutter more, not organize more.
1. Fewer is better
When you have fewer things, they are easier to organize. I know it seems so simple because it is. Usually, the challenge people are facing in their homes isn’t finding just the right storage solution.
The problem is having too many things to try and keep organized.
Once you’ve gone past your clutter threshold, no amount of organizing will fix the fact that you have too much stuff. No system will solve that. Only getting rid of some of it will.
When you focus on decluttering as your priority, you will find that the secondary part of organizing becomes much easier. You now have a manageable amount of things to organize.
2. Organizing is cyclical
Have you ever taken the time or organize a space well to find that it ends right back in the same state of disarray as when you started? The act of organizing has not fixed the problem. It’s a bandaid. A temporary solution to a bigger problem.
It’s frustrating to put your time and money into something that doesn’t make it better. Decluttering is the solution that is sustainable as long as you also change your habits so that the clutter doesn’t keep coming back.
Don’t keep fighting the same fight over and over again. Declutter and find the freedom in letting go.
3. Decluttering gives you additional benefits
When you declutter more, not organize more you will also discover the many benefits to decluttering. These are a few of them:
Organizing solutions can look appealing and make it easier to find items. Decluttering makes your home more beautiful by taking away distractions. It helps you focus on what is most important.
While organizing tends to hide things away, decluttering takes them out of the equation completely. I know I find it hard to focus when there are too many things in my home. Decluttering helps solve that.
Organizing may save you some time if it helps you to be more efficient. Decluttering has a greater impact on time savings. When you decide to let go of things you no longer have to fix, maintain, clean, organize or reorganize them.
If you make further strides in choosing to live more simply, you will also save time that you may have spent shopping previously.
I know I don’t want to spend my time continually organizing and cleaning. Decluttering helps relieve those burdens. It frees up your time to spend on things you care about more or even to simply relax.
The process of decluttering doesn’t cost you any money. In fact, you can even make money if you opt to sell some of your clutter.
People can get caught up on how much money they spent on the items that have become clutter. If you don’t go through the process of decluttering, you don’t have to face past mistakes. And if we don’t face past mistakes we can’t learn from them so that we do better going forward.
Organizing costs you money when you are buying new bins, baskets, or other containers.
4. Organizing can cause additional clutter
Have you ever spent money on what some people claimed was the best storage solution only to find that it didn’t work for you at all?
I think of this sometimes when people take all of their food out of the packaging and put them in clear plastic or glass containers. Some people may maintain that, but for others, the additional hassle would mean it wasn’t sustainable for them.
In cases like that, you’ve now purchased containers that are adding to your problem of too much stuff. And you are back to square one with the addition of a bunch of containers that didn’t work for you.
So can you hire a professional organizer to come to your home and work their organizational magic? Yes, you can. But will it solve the challenges you have? Perhaps not.
If you are thinking about hiring someone to come help you, there are things to take into consideration. You can have someone make everything look nice without you being there, but does that make it sustainable?
The reason I will not work in a client’s home without them there is because I think it wastes their money and my time. I can’t create an organizational system I know will work for someone without them being there to discuss it.
I can’t go declutter other peoples things without their say because I don’t know what matters to them and what doesn’t. Even if I did, if you want lasting change to the problem, you need to be the one to work through it.
Going through the process of decluttering yourself can be hard at times, but that is how you learn. You change your behaviors and choices because you have seen and felt the impact of where your previous choices landed you.
Finding the balance
Don’t get me wrong. I do love organizing and I do think it is important. I am all for creating an organizational system that works for you and your home. But I see too many people wanting to jump to that step or think that is the solution to their stuff problem. The amount of stuff IS the problem.
No amount of organizing or fun new containers will fix that. That’s why I always recommend decluttering before organizing. Every single time. On big projects, on small projects, and whether or not you’ve already decluttered it before.
Ready to declutter?
So have I convinced you yet that you need to declutter more, not organize more? If I have, here are some helpful links to help you through the process.
If you haven’t started decluttering and are overwhelmed, check out this post with 7 steps to get started.
Read this post if you want to learn about various methods for decluttering your entire home.
Want to check out some books on decluttering? Here are my 12 favorite decluttering books.
Get your decluttering process kickstarted by getting rid of these 77 easy items to declutter from your home.
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