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Today we are inundated with advice on the best things to buy to help us organize our lives. It used to be things like those 10-pound “day-timer” monstrosities. Years ago, I bought into all that. I thought if I wrote it all down, it would be organized and I could get it done. I made more lists than I care to admit. I even did the digital version of the same insanity (and just finished wading through 20+ years of digital clutter).
I have a thing for boxes and shelves and trunks and all things “organizy” — and always have. Places like the container shop get me all excited. It’s pathetic, really.
In recent months, as I continue to strip my home of the unnecessary bits of stuff, I’ve discovered something interesting…
Minimizing Means Less Organizing
As I get rid of things, I need fewer items to organize stuff. Shelves tend to organize themselves when they aren’t overly full. Ditto for cabinets and closets. I currently have an embarrassingly hefty stack of boxes and purses and bags and storage devices in one corner of the media room.
They are there because I can’t bring myself to dispose of them until I’ve finished sorting through the house. I want to be sure I don’t need them for organizing what’s left. But I will admit that in the last three weeks, I’ve not retrieved one single thing from that stack to help me organize the stuff I’m keeping.
“Decorations” Are Abundant
I also started a stack of cool “decorative” items that I have. Those are in a couple totes by the front door, slouching there accusingly every time I enter or exit my cabin. There are wall shelves, framed pictures, wall sconces/lights, fancy planters, mirrors, and the like. They are staying there until I strip the house too — so I don’t finish up and decide that what this wall really needs is a mirror — you know, just like the one I took to Goodwill last month. This is my version of “baby steps” for the really DEEP minimizing journey I’m on.
My Favorite Tools for Minimizing
The most interesting thing is, the storage “tools” I use most are a garbage bag, a donation box, and a tote to take things to the antique booth to sell.
If I had started by trying to buy the organizational stuff I needed for every closet, if I had purchased the wall of shelves I want in the media room, or a unit for the laundry room or the bathroom, I would have focused on arranging things to fit the cool new organizational stuff I bought, instead of focusing on tossing everything I don’t need and living for awhile with what’s left.
Instead of deciding that my makeup and beauty products should be minimal, I may have retained too many and displayed them all organized and cool inside that new bathroom cabinet.
Minimize First, Organize Later
So, before you buy ANYTHING to help you organize, go through and toss what you don’t need. If you don’t use it often, determine if you really need it and toss it if you don’t. Chances are that you will have plenty of room for the things that are left when you dramatically minimize your life… so long as you don’t have boxes and trunks and bags and shelves that need to be filled.
Once your tossing is done, if you DO need some of these types of things, you may already own them. If not, you will know exactly what things you need to organize, what size they need to be, and where/how they will be used.
Resist the urge to buy before you purge. It will save you money, time, and may prevent you from battling the clutter all over again in a few months!