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Organized Clutter

Updated: Mar 13

“The point is, you need to distinguish between what honestly moves you and what the world is telling you should melt your heart. If something does not reach you on a personal level, let it go. It’s hard enough dealing with everything that does.” Judi Culbertson, The Clutter Cure: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space, & Creating the Home of Your Dreams

It may sound funny but there is a difference between organizing clutter and organized clutter. Which category do you occupy most of the time and can you do better?

Our possessions are representations of pieces of us as we have lived a life along the way of living a life. We are legacy keepers, we are builders, we are dreamers, we are place holders, we are always accumulating new ways of thinking, feeling, owning. To a great degree we attach assumption to all of our things and assume that if we open that box or empty that closet too much emotional baggage will come flooding into us and we won’t be able to deal with the past being history, the present being too heavy and the future too precarious and delicate. I say, the first step toward better organized clutter, if that is your place, or organizing your clutter better is to allow the emotion but then set it free. Shake it off. Untangle the stranglehold. Change the narrative. Reinvent the wheel. Honor without dishonor.

“Clutter may rob us of the life we imagined or prevent us from creating a new vision for our future.” Lisa J. Shultz, Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize. Simplify.

To understand which category of clutter you belong to it is important to understand what each category represents and looks like.

Organized Clutter – Everything in a place. Read that how you will.

“I don't like to brag or anything--but I really am exceptionally gifted when it comes to the "Stuff" department. If I had a title, it might be "Her Royal Highness, the Queen of Crap." I could look snootily down from high atop my pile of ancient magazines, holding a scepter of dried bridesmaid bouquets, bedecked with a crown made entirely of those extra button packs that helpfully accompany sweater purchases, proclaiming "SAVE IT!" in an emphatic yet regal tone.” Eve O. Schaub, Year of No Clutter

Drop anywhere and go - D.A.W.G.

Constantly making messy piles look neat

Not eliminating any item from the messy piles or spaces

Organizing items by category. Example: Garden supplies, baking supplies, coffee mugs, dish towels but never eliminating from the categories

Using up every available open space in your home/office/garage/attic, etc.

Re-arranging closets/cabinets/drawers but not emptying or thinning them out

Holding on to items for those “you never know” moments

Not liking the fact that you are holding on to things, but feeling helpless to change the habit

Not going into a space in more than 6 months and forgetting what you have stored away

Finding/Making space for your past, present and future to include E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Paying for storage space for an undetermined amount of time, off home property, and never going to see the stuff you have stored away.

Organizing Clutter – the establishment of effective authority relationships among selected work, person, and space in order to work more efficiently. Establishing sections and/or departments. In other words:


“You don't have to face every skeleton in your closet before you can make some room in there!” Carmen Klassen, Love Your Clutter Away: A step-by-step guide to gently letting clutter go for good

Organizing clutter is a mindset of choosing to get the excess out, not forcing yourself to do it.

Clutter is not your enemy, habits of accumulating the clutter is the enemy.

One in, one out rule

Writing down what you want to accomplish for each room or space/Create a room plan. You can go so far as to redesign a room and make sure decluttering is part of that redesign.

Creating an inventory list of each space, cabinet, drawer

Going through all visible surfaces for immediate elimination or storage of items

Creating the trifecta: Donate, sell, trash to establish an easy habit of keeping things organized.

Create a clothes bin for your closet for items you are thinking about getting rid of. Wait 3 months and go through that bin. Do you still want to let that clothing item go? If so, take the whole bin to your donation station of choice.

Working through the hard items

Being kind to yourself

Finding an everyday purpose or repurpose or display to the items you want to keep.

Sticking to the numbers per person: towels, sheets, shoes, clothes, table settings, etc.

Eliminating duplicates/triplicates, etc.

Looking at the past with the present and the future in mind

Organizing by category and checking in each category every 6 months for content and purpose

Purposely creating breathing space throughout your home/office. Breathing space is like white space, nothing lives in the white space because the space itself is serving a purpose.

Maybe you are not yet at the Organized Clutter category, you just have clutter. Practice on one area for at least one month to challenge yourself and see if you can create organized clutter from chaos clutter. Then, when you feel confident that you have created a good habit of putting things in the right piles consistently, go the next step and challenge yourself to become someone who is good at organizing the organized clutter. When you are ready to start organizing the clutter you are ready to let some clutter go for good and create a new lifelong habit of limited acquisition. If you want to take this one step further, you can become a minimalist either in whole or in categories. The key is to build habits you can stay accountable to, step by step.

Getting to a place of organizing clutter does not have to be scary or intimidating. Choosing to streamline things, choosing to not burden yourself or your space or your head with so much stuff around you is choosing to live a healthier life. Maybe you would like to start with your books or music or shoes. Do one thing, organize that one thing until you can feel the difference and the uplift. Sit with that change for a little while. Then tackle the next thing. It could take a year, or it could take an entire month, or it could take the rest of your life. The point is you are opening, you are allowing space to be space and yourself to be yourself.

Ways to successfully organize clutter:

  1. To get momentum toward organizing or decluttering, start by collecting trash from around the house. This can mean collecting trash to be taken by the trash guy or items left out like empty wrappers, crumpled napkins, crumbs from dessert you served while watching T.V., used cleaning cloths that you have been saving for whatever reason. Be present:

What did you notice while collecting your trash? Any particular area that could use a re-location or an upgrade? Anything that could be consolidated with something else for better storage?

2. Finding new places to use for storage is a great way to make more room someplace else. Under bed storage is prime real estate for hidden storage for bedroom items like out of season clothes or shoes.

3. Creating storage space inside of drawers is another great way to organize small items such as rubber bands, paper clips, pens/pencils, batteries, etc. It not only makes opening the drawer a pleasure, but it also organizes the drawer contents to make it easier to find what you are looking for.

4. Hooks, hangers, shoe organizers are another great way to organize without using floor space. Hanging items on the back of a bedroom or closet door. Using the shoe organizer for under kitchen or bathroom sinks gives you more space under the sinks for storage of linens perhaps or medical supplies or hand towels or tools.

5. If there are sentimental items that you are ready to let go of but feel too guilty to do it, take a picture of the items and allow the item to live with a new family to make new memories. A digital photo album of once cherished treasures allows you the "keep" the item alive while honoring who you were and who you are now.

For more information on the best rules to follow for a great declutter experience please click here.

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