The Difference Between Organizing and Decluttering

 
 

Did you know that there is a difference between "organizing" and decluttering"?  I have to admit that I didn't.  Not until about a few years ago at least, when I was first introduced to the minimalist movement.  It was during this time that I began to learn that organizing is more or less shifting items around in a space to: one, make the room more physically attractive; two, make room for more items and three, to properly categorize items.  Decluttering on the other hand involves removing items out of a space that are no longer needed, loved, or valued.  The focus isn't trying to make room for more but rather to make room to for what matters most.

Grasping the difference between organizing and decluttering blew my mind!  For years, I had been an organized pack-rat with a bedroom full of stuff.  Having been categorized into boxes and containers you could technically say that my room was "organized" but in all honesty, it was clear that I had too much stuff. When I did occasionally let pieces go, it was an item or two at at time; which as you can imagine, didn't make much of a dent in the clutter.  With no clear sense or purpose though for letting go of these items, what more could you really expect? 

In contrast, when I got married and our family began it's journey of simple living a few years back, there was a clear purpose: to shed what no longer served us in order to make room for peace.  We went through our home room by room over the span of a couple of years, letting go of items that we no longer loved, needed or used.  When going through each room we would look at the stuff in it and then look to our list of our family's values to see if the items aligned with them.  Having this clear sense of purpose allowed the decluttering process to be fairly simple and stress free.  By letting go of those items that no longer served us, we were able to make room in our home for what mattered most to us.

 

Having been categorized into boxes and containers you could technically say that my room was "organized" but in all honesty, there was too much stuff.

 

It's not just the contrast in purpose of organizing and decluttering that you will note a difference, where people begin in the process says a lot too.  For example, when it comes to organizing, most people assume that you start at the Container Store.  Now, I have nothing against the Container Store - in fact I could spend hours there however, I believe that the step of selecting storage units comes later in the process - not at the beginning!  In fact it comes much later because when it comes to decluttering, you are often encouraged to take some time to do some personal reflective work before even getting started.

In our Making Room for Peace decluttering sessions we send our client's a list of questions to reflect on and answer before we even meet and get to work.  Questions like: "how do you currently use this space?  How would you like to use this space?  How do you want to feel in this space?"  We also encourage our clients to imagine how making positive changes such as decluttering and creating a beautiful home would affect their mood, health and energy levels.  These are powerful questions and ones that need to be asked before getting started.  The questions coupled with the values exercise give us a clear vision and action plan for moving forward.

Between the purpose and the process, the acts of organizing and decluttering are quite different.  Whereas one is somewhat superficial, the other gets down to the nitty gritty.  Here at Making Room for Peace we are all about serving our clients.  Yes, we want to create beautiful spaces but even more so, we want those spaces to function well, to serve you and to be designed in such a way that you can sustain them over time.  We want to help you get rid of the physical possessions, the thoughts and behaviors that are no longer serving you in order to make room for peace.  

 
 

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