Organizing Versus Decluttering

There seems to be a constant debate on organizing versus decluttering. Which one is more important? Should I organize, declutter, or both? This is my experience with organizing and decluttering.

I used to spend hours every week watching organizing videos. I would be amazed and so satisfied watching people organize the contents of their closet or storage cabinets into neat, clear plastic tubs, complete with lids and cute labels. Watching these videos would make me so motivated to go get my own organizing tubs and move all of my belongings into clearly labeled containers, where everything has it’s place.

Organized Versus Decluttered

The idea of organizing all of my stuff seemed like so much fun, and I started to use my coupons (I was also into couponing) to buy organizing bins and drawer sets for my cabinets. I organized all of my bulk toothpaste, extra deodorants, and even put all of the clothes I hardly wear in a cute box to put up in the attic. I organized a box of scarves, a box of spare shoes, and I even organized all of my books from college into a box with a label to put in the garage.

I soon realized the problem with my organizing spree. I was simply organizing all of the stuff I wasn’t using. I didn’t need fifty tubs of toothpaste or thirty Bath and Body Works shower gels. I didn’t need that box of clothes that I never wore, or my books from college.

Soon after my organizing spree, I found minimalism. At this point, I turned my focus from organizing to decluttering. I stopped with the couponing madness, and I stopped buying more stuff. I started working my way through the stuff that I had, and gave some of it away. Eventually, the storage and organizing containers became useless. I didn’t have stuff to fill them anymore, so they got donated along with a lot of the stuff in them.

This experience taught me that decluttering should always come before organizing. For the majority of my organizing phase, organizing was just tidying up the stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t need to begin with. Though organizing can feel productive and look pretty, now I much prefer the minimalist look of clean, clear homes with only the essentials and nothing more.

Organized Versus Decluttered

Living this way has opened my mind and schedule, so that I have the time to be doing things that really light me up and make me feel alive. I have time for all of my many hobbies and goals. And I can tell you, organizing isn’t one of those hobbies anymore.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer organizing or decluttering?
  1. I am a 100% declutterer (although I am a minimalist as well). I used to have a great time when I was motivated to organise my home, but now I realise how my time I wasted organising what was essentially clutter! These days, the idea of having a cupboard with nothing in it is my goal (although in my tiny 1 bedroom apt I already have minimal storage space so it will be tough to achieve!).

  2. Decluttering! The more stuff I have the more time I waste (what Carla said) organizing. I have two spaces, a condo in the city and a tiny house in the country. When I got the condo, I found it was too big for me with two bedrooms so I’m restructuring one room and in the process of decluttering so that I can live in one bedroom completely (bathroom and kitchen excluded) and use the other for roommates or Air B&B. While organizing is still super important, the less you own the less time you have to spend organizing. So I declutter then organize what’s left.

  3. I am starting the minimalist thing…We moved into our brand new house 4 years ago. We have boxes that haven’t been unloaded, moved around a bunch, but never unloaded. As much as I want to get organized, I feel I have to get rid of a lot of junk first! I’m wanting to get a good handle on being a minimalist so I can enjoy the things I have, and not miss what I don’t, and build a tiny house! I’m over 10hr days at work, and not having the time to enjoy what I want to do. Great article that gives great insight on how to move forward and in the right direction!!Thanks!

  4. Definitely decluttering. And then organizing. Because I still like my books to look tidy…even if there are only a dozen of them.

  5. I am a collage and assemblage artist. It requires lots of scraps of paper and found objects. How can I be a minimalist? I realize I can go minimalist in other areas of my life, but not in ART.

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