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Decluttering vs Organizing

Do you have a dream, but have trouble getting started?

Clutter can hold you back even if you don’t realize it. But first you need to know the difference between decluttering and organizing.

I’ve read that most people with ADHA have issues with clutter. ADD & OCD may play a roll too. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was in 1st or 2nd grade and was a bit obsessed with decluttering and organizing. It was and still is an ongoing way of being for me. Please know that your home is not a project that has a beginning and an end, so don’t treat it as one.

Organizing and decluttering are two separate things. Decluttering gets rid of what you don’t need or want. After the decluttering comes organizing. Many people who try to declutter have this backwards.

Is problem solving those colorful bins and boxes looking pretty? Some can handle the stuff, others can not. Can you control the amount of stuff in your home.

The test is knowing if you’re just disorganized or need to declutter. The feeling of overwhelm and recognizing your clutter threshold is key. If you are overwhelmed, you need to declutter.

This doesn’t mean you will always have everything in its place, of course not. I certainly don’t and I can also be messy. I often let things pile up until it begins to look like clutter, especially with my desk. I reach a point, my clutter threshold, then I clean it up. When I do get to this point, I always end up throwing out most and then putting the rest away where it belongs.

Remember, the less stuff your have, the less you have to put away. Sounds simple and obvious, but for some, it’s a nightmare.

A good place to start is in a visible place, such as your front or back entryway. DO NOT start with the closet or dresser. When you see the space you’ve decluttered, it inspires you to do more. You could also start with a small space that you see often, such as a kitchen drawer or your own dresser drawer.

But first you start with a larger space...yes, that's right!

Step 1: Get rid of all trash. (recyclables too, but put them in them in your recycling bin.) This could be a room or even your whole house, depending on your time. You’re going to get a large garbage bag (a black or dark bag) and go through the house just picking up the trash. Don’t stop and think about it, just do it quickly. No donating or recycling items, just trash. Then tie up the bag and put it out into the garbage can immediately. Done!

garbage bag
Use a black garbage bag.

Why a dark bag you ask? So you CAN’T SEE what’s inside. Once it’s in the bag, it stays in the bag. Doing this first step alone can change your mind set for the better because your home is looking better already.

The How To:

Step 2: Get a donation container. It’s best to be a box or grocery bag, not some other container because the box/bag will go out of the house along with its contents.

Step 3: Pick up what you can hold that already has an established space and put it away now. There’s no time frame yet. With this step I recommend just going through one room. Pick what’s easiest if you think this could be overwhelming. Keep in mind that your decision making is you real power.

thinking and deciding
Thinking and deciding.

Step 4: ask yourself...if I needed this item, where would I look for it first. This is an instinct question, your instinct only. Don’t spend time thinking about it. Then put it there NOW, not later when you have a pile. No piles because this makes a bigger mess. Try this, it works. If you are concerned about time because of other obligations you can set a timer for how long you have. Later when you have the time, you can continue at your pace.

Helpful Advice

Making so many decisions can be exhausting when it comes to bringing your stuff into some kind order in your home. So keep it simple and ask yourself, where and is there a space for this item in that place. If when you put the thing away, take note of how many you have of that item. Do you really need that many? If not, toss it or put it in the donate box ASAP. Put the box in the garage or other place near your door or in the car out of sight. Do Not go back to that box and go through it. Your first split second decision was the right one.

Remember....No drama! Stop making it hard and follow the process. Ask yourself first, if I needed this item, where would I automatically look for it? Then, put it in that place. This is a reality check in the moment.

alternate reality
Are you living in an alternate reality?

The real issue could be that you're not understanding the “container concept”. This can be and usually is the hardest thing for those with clutter issues to understand. We know that containers are for putting things in, right. To “contain” is to keep things within a boundary. For example, you can’t put more milk into a cup than the size of the cup or else it would spill over, very simple.

container concept
The Container Concept

The same thing is true with things: clothes, crayons, cookware, furniture, etc. For example, you can’t put more crayons in a container than the container can hold. You could get another container, but then you can’t have more containers on a shelf than the shelf can hold. Add another shelf, but then you run out of space in the room for more shelves.

Every room in your home is a container. Your home is a container. You only have so much room within that container.

Get it? At some point you have to stop and get rid of some of those crayons.

Get started with this process:

Start with one room or area in a room with the timer set for 5 or 15 minutes. Whatever time frame works for you. Then start the process of picking up one thing in that room that’s been left out. Where would I look for this object when I need it? Put it there immediately. You might need to ask yourself, does it have space in my home?

Hint: Putting like things together can help you see what you have and if you have space for it. At some point you will reach your clutter threshold. Everyone has a clutter threshold. The key is finding yours, which can be different for everyone in your family.

When it comes to my husband’s space, I’ve had to shut door. I will vacuum the floor, but that’s it. It’s impossible to dust with every flat space taken up with stuff. Having a space that belongs to each family member is the container concept at work. Let the container be the bad guy. When it comes to your kids, you can teach them this concept. Your partner, well...that may be a different story.

everything is energy
Everything is Energy

To me this clutter threshold is all about energy. After all, everything is made of energy and that energy effects each of us differently. I’m very sensitive to the flow of energy. I’m especially sensitive to crowds of people. (I am NOT a city person) But, I’m also uncomfortable in a room with too much furniture and/or how it’s arranged. This conflict can be difficult when those you live with have a different container threshold than you. You can’t change others or they will hold on tighter to their way. Getting to your lowest common threshold in common spaces is a way that it can work.

declutter before organizing
Declutter before organizing.

After you’ve gotten into a regular routine of dealing with your family’s common areas and have a good understanding of your clutter threshold, then you can dive into the deep end of decluttering. Getting to the point of being able to step away from the emotional side and all the excuses that pop up, will help you as well. More on in this in next month's blog post.

In the meantime, check out my past blog post: Clutter & How It Affects You...lets get your ducks in a row, energetically speaking.



PS I invite you to follow my Instagram posts where I post daily in stories and regular posts three times a week. Some of these posts become mini blogs. Plus fun and helpful things and any events that are coming up. I always welcome your comments.

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