Declutter BEFORE you Organize?

3 min read
21 Feb

The Top 6 Reasons To Declutter Before You Organize

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Do you love to stalk The Container Store and Ikea looking for the perfect bin, basket, or sleek storage system to organize your stuff once and for all? Or maybe you spend hours on Pinterest drooling over thousands of perfectly organized kitchens and closets? Before you spend money on custom organizational systems, ask yourself this one question.  Have you decluttered yet? Put down that new catalog that promises to help you with all of your organizing needs. Stop yourself from putting that cute little wicker basket in your shopping cart. Just. walk. away. Trying to organize before you declutter is like putting the cart before the horse. Instead, you need to declutter before you organize.

Here are six good reasons why you should always declutter before you organize.

 1 | Containers only hide stuff. They don’t help you deal with your clutter. 

The main reason you should declutter before you organize is that “organizing” is effectively moving stuff around. Sure, you could take a storage bin, throw a bunch of items inside and shove it in a closet. Your space would appear decluttered, but you’d still have clutter in your home, lurking in the closet.

If your ultimate goal is to have less stuff in your home, you simply must declutter your space before you can effectively organize it.

2 | You waste time and money on containers that you don’t need.

You will have more time to dedicate to the decluttering process if you aren’t browsing catalogs, stores, and websites. In addition, you will have more money if you wait until you are finished decluttering before you purchase storage systems. Why? Because you’ll have less stuff to organize. Your true organizing needs will not be apparent until you have reduced your clutter.

You may discover you don’t need to purchase quite so many bins or that you already have some (newly) empty ones at home.

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”-Victoria Moran

3 | You will be tempted to fill those expensive containers with stuff you don’t even want.

By purchasing storage systems before you have reduced your clutter, you may be inclined to fill them unnecessarily. This may cause you to keep items you would have otherwise discarded, simply because you now have somewhere to put them.

Most people (myself included) are not happy with empty storage containers. They feel the need to fill them. If you can’t find enough stuff around your house to fill them, you may be tempted to (gasp) purchase more stuff to put in the empty space. Save yourself the trouble and purchase storage solutions after you’ve decluttered and know for sure which items you will be keeping.

4 | Organizing systems do not ‘make’ you an organized person.

Much like buying a scale does not cause you to lose weight. {I know, I’ve tried it.} Organizing systems do not magically turn you into an organized person.  Eventually, you’ll have to put in the work needed to declutter your home.

I love to organize. I love it so much, I once organized my sons’ Legos by color! They didn’t have a small collection, either. We’re talking, thousands of Legos, which they had collected for over a decade. Instead of paring down their collection, I thought it would be a great idea to spend hours sorting each lego according to color into one of ten containers. {This was at the height of my clutter-driven insanity.} Eventually, I reduced their Lego collection to two containers which fit neatly under their bed. Everyone was happy; the boys got to keep some (a lot of) Legos, and I got my organizing ‘fix’.  

A couple more reasons why it’s important to declutter before you organize

5 | Decluttering and Organizing are ongoing processes.

Chances are, you will not be able to declutter and organize your entire home in one go. I know in my home, it’s an ongoing process. Stuff is constantly coming in and going out. There’s no way you can know your future organizational needs until you know both the space and the amount of stuff you have to deal with.

Before we purchased our home, I started buying furniture, décor and organizing systems for it. Once we moved in, I realized nothing fit the way I wanted it to. I had miscalculated the space we would have in our home and also the amount of stuff we actually had. As a result, I ended up getting rid of almost everything I had purchased and replacing it with the correct stuff over time. Now, we have just a fraction of what we started with and everything fits like it’s supposed to.

6 | Marie Kondo recommends it. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. Marie Kondo, tidying expert and bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, says so. In her book, Marie says you should always declutter before you organize. 

She takes it a step further and suggests you save any boxes, containers and organizational items until the end of your decluttering ‘marathon’ so you can shop your own home for storage solutions. I have done this. In fact, I have organized my bathroom cabinets with boxes I had lying around; and have eliminated the need to purchase more storage bins.

“Store items from the same category in one spot. If you are living with a family, sort by person first, then by category, and finally by type of material. If you follow this order, storage will be much simpler.” 
  ― Marie Kondō, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up