hey there, I'm Camille,Pro Organizer & Productivity Coach

As a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I know being organized is much more than just having a neat and tidy home… It's a key to unlocking your fullest potential. 

about me

join the email list to GET MY 5-MIN DAILY ORGANIZATION TIP

    The Difference Between Decluttering and Organizing

    June 29, 2021

    Declutter, Get Organized

    Decluttering and organizing are two separate steps in the process to getting your space settled. Find out how to get them done successfully.

    Isn’t It All Just “Cleaning Up”?

    Ever go into your bedroom with the intention to “clean things up” and 30 minutes later your bed is piled high with clothes, the floor is covered in shoes, and you’re almost ready to cry because you have no idea how to fit this neatly in the closet so you actually know where everything is? Plus, nothing in your room is actually clean. The only thing you feel you’ve accomplished is making a bigger mess. So you push the clothes to one side of the bed, grab your laptop, and start searching for closet organizing gadgets like space saving hangers so you can quadruple your space. In desperate need of a quick fix and some hope, you’ll buy anything that promises to solve all your problems with clutter.

    Does this sound familiar? I’ve been there. At one point, I even bought those hangers. While they helped for a time, they really didn’t solve the bigger issues I had going on. I had a LOT of stuff. Too much stuff for the space I called home. I needed to go through the entire process of getting organized.

    Here are the basic steps on the journey of getting organized.

    1. Declutter – You need to get rid of what you no longer need or want before you can decided what to do with everything you’re keeping.

    2. Sort – Next, go through all of the items you want to keep and put like items together.

    3. Contain – The third step is to find every item its own home within your home.

    4. Maintain – Work the system you have in place by putting things back where they belong.

    It looks pretty simple when written out, but we all know this is a large job. That’s why we all need support through the decluttering and organizing process.

    unsplash-image-oa7pqZmmhuA.jpg

    Separating Clutter from Keepers

    The biggest mistake most people make when trying to get organized is either skipping decluttering or cutting it short. Decluttering is vital and must be done completely before you can move on to the next steps. If you skip decluttering, you’re going to spend time, energy and money finding a way to keep things you no longer need or want. That’s the last thing you want to do.

    Here are the basics for successful decluttering:

    1. Have 3 labeled boxes ready as you begin to look through all your stuff. One should be labeled ”Trash”, another “Donate”, and the last “Maybe”. Try not to use the “Maybe” box unless you are really stuck on an item. If you are keeping an item, leave it where it is. People make the mistake of moving around the items you want to keep or placing them in a box. This just creates more work and mess. You’ll deal with the items you are keeping later.

    2. Work in small areas for short periods of time. Decluttering is not going to be a one day job. Also, it takes a lot of mental energy and may be emotionally draining. Let’s face it, you’re not going to be able to make quick decisions about emotionally charged items. Breaks are necessary and encouraged. I suggest scheduling specific areas at certain times to make sure you are constantly working towards the goal of banishing all of the clutter. For example, on Monday you might only have 15 minutes, so you’re going to look at the stuff in one kitchen cabinet. On Saturday, you might have an hour to go through one memorabilia box. Accomplishing these tasks will keep you motivated to do even more and within a few weeks, you and your home will be feeling much lighter.

    3. Once you have decided to discard an item, remove it from you space immediately. If you are going to donate it, bring it to your car so you can head to the donation center the next day. If something is trash or recycle, bring it to the proper bin outside of your home. This will prevent you from being tempted to rethink your decision to remove it in the first place.

    unsplash-image-0N0mbPb92gU.jpg

    A Place for Everything….

    Once you have removed everything you no longer want or need from your space, then it’s time to sort whatever is remaining. During the sorting process, it is common to realize you still have a lot of something. For example, let’s talk kitchen mugs. You may have removed quite a few already during the decluttering phase. Now, you’re considering creating a coffee bar and would like to have about 8 mugs on hand. As you sort the remaining mugs, you realize you have 10 mugs. There is really no reason you need 10 mugs just for you, so you decide to donate two which don’t really match your kitchen’s decor. The remaining mugs are placed in the new coffee bar and you smile.

    This scenario is very, very common. Keep your original decluttering boxes handy in this 2nd phase of organizing because you may find you still have more things than you need or want. It’s not wasteful to remove things from your life. Think of taking the things you don’t need and gifting them to someone you haven’t met yet. That’s what donating is exactly and that’s powerful. Give yourself permission to get rid of what is no longer helping you live the life you want and enjoy the items which make you feel happy, energetic, and empowered.

    Now, all of your items are sorted (and maybe a little more decluttering happened) and it’s time to give every item it’s own unique place to be. Here are the big things to consider before running out and buying a bunch of pretty organizers (I love them, too, but you need to do just a little more before shopping):

    1. Are you going to use this item often? If you are going to use it on a daily or weekly basis, then it needs to be kept in a place that is easy to access. If not, then you may be able to put the item in a place where you won’t mind having to move a few things to get to it. Let’s talk about a slow cooker as an example. If you are using it weekly, you may want to keep it in a kitchen cabinet where you can easily reach for it and set it on the counter. If you only use the slow cooker for holidays, then you might want to consider putting it on a shelf in a storage area (high shelf in a pantry or cabinet above the fridge) because it’s not a big deal to need a step stool to retrieve it only a few times a year.

    2. Measure the space where you are going to keep a specific set of items so you can purchase the most ideal container. Let’s talk about linens for this example. Maybe you have 5 or 6 hand towels you would like to fit in a basket in your linen closet. Measure the shelf where you want to place the basket. Make sure to be aware of the length, width, and depth of the space available.

    3. Start Shopping. (This is my favorite part of organizing.) I LOVE storage containers. There is nothing better than opening a closet and seeing beautiful, orderly bins and baskets instead of piles of stuff. Honestly, storage containers are a break for your brain. When you open a closet and see sheets, towels, blankets, placemats, and more, your brain automatically starts to access everything it sees. Instead, if you open the door to a dozen containers labeled with their contents, your brain doesn’t need to process much of anything. What a relief! Your mind will automatically cancel out the bins it does not need and focus on the one holding them items you are looking for.

    4. Ultimately, you want to give every item in your home a resting place for when it is not in use. Your bed, the kitchen counter, the bathroom vanity top, the dining room table, and the floor are not options. Ideally, you want all the flat surfaces in your home to be clear. Everything should be in a cabinet, a drawer, a closet, or a pantry. This way, you can come home and collapse on the couch without fear of sitting on the mail or yesterday’s dishes.

    unsplash-image-r2SxETsa5SA.jpg

    Organized: In Real Life

    Let’s be honest….there’s being organized on Instagram and then there is organization in real life. Any professional organizer will admit the pictures taken for social media, websites, and advertising are staged. They look amazing, but they really aren’t created as a system to be used every day.

    Cut yourself some slack. If you have some paperwork on the kitchen counter, left a throw blanket and pillow on the couch, and have some clean laundry in a basket in the bedroom, it’s okay. You can find some time to put these things away pretty quickly. Being organized is not about perfection. It’s a work in constant progress. Create a system of organization you enjoy using. This will keep you engaged in keeping things orderly and it will empower you to enjoy so many wonderful, new opportunities in life. Things you could not do because you were constantly managing clutter. Being organized brings freedom to your life and that is so much more amazing than any photo of a pantry filled with cute baskets on Instagram.

    Need some help or inspiration?

    Not quite sure where to start? Stuck in the middle of an organizing project? Maybe you need a little encouragement? I’m here to help. Let’s schedule a FREE 30 minute session to discuss where you are with organizing your home and how I can support you with achieving your goals.

    Add a comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    hey there, I'm Camille,Pro Organizer & Productivity Coach

    As a wife, mother, and entrepreneur, I know being organized is much more than just having a neat and tidy home… It's a key to unlocking your fullest potential. 

    about me

    join the email list to GET MY 5-MIN DAILY ORGANIZATION TIP

      Download our
      Clutter-Free Gift Guide

      Gift giving doesn’t need to be stressful, expensive or result in lots of post-holiday clutter. Get our list of some fabulous ideas to make you more popular than Santa this holiday season.