The Difference Between Organizing and Decluttering

We’ve all encountered people with way too much stuff who think they will solve all of their problems by getting that stuff organized. They buy the bins, they come home, and they realize that it’s actually the stuff that’s the problem, not lack of storage. I’ve been there! I came to organizing because I felt like my house was too small and I needed a bigger one— naturally, one with more storage. Sound familiar? The phrase, “more storage” is to the organizing world what “open concept” is to every single show on HGTV (cry/laugh emoji). It turns out, storage isn’t the problem. The problem is too much stuff for the space. In this post, I’ll explain the difference between organizing and the decluttering.

What is decluttering?

80% of any organizing project! Decluttering is the process of eliminating anything you don’t use, and that doesn’t serve the goals of the space. You’d be surprised at how much stuff falls into that category. Most people have no idea what’s in their spaces until they really start digging into them. Case in point, I once found bubbles in my spice cabinet. Sad but true. You can read about it here: How To Organize A Small Kitchen

Before we begin decluttering any space, I always get clear on my client’s goals for the space and their values. This comes in handy when they get stuck on that fur coat their ex-boyfriend gave them one summer. (Sometimes, life is stranger than fiction.)

Here are three questions to ask when you get stuck while decluttering:

  1. Do you use the item in this space?
  2. Does it go with the aesthetic you want for this space?
  3. Does it support one of your top values?

If you answer yes to any of the above, then keep the item. If not, then the item goes to one of the 3 following places: donation, a more appropriate room, or recycling/trash.

{Check out my post last week on this topic: Decluttering defined: Why this term can be offensive, and what it actually means}

Okay, so what is organizing?

The remaining 20%! It’s the icing on the cake, really. You take everything that’s left, which you’ve sorted into categories and paired down, and you figure out how to create a system that works. It’s the part people like the most because it’s where the pretty bins and pretty arrangements come into play. Here are a few tips:

  1. Make most used items easy to access and put away.
  2. Consider safety—especially if you have kids. Tables, chairs, and shelves should not go under windows, for example. Scissors should be placed with care. Heavy objects shouldn’t go up high.
  3. Put things you love where you can see them.
  4. Put similar categories of items together so you don’t have to go running around.
  5. Label things so everyone knows where they go.

Enjoy your newly decluttered organized space!



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