Today’s post is all about organizing clutter: what it means, how it happens, why it won’t solve your clutter problems and what to do instead.
Too much stuff
Organizing clutter happens when you try to organize too much stuff instead of decluttering first. Instead of getting rid of what you don’t use, need or love, you try to organize it better.
And maybe it does make your home and life easier to manage for a short while. But when you’re organizing clutter, the ease won’t last.
The problem is you have too much stuff, to begin with. Too much for you to comfortably manage and take care of. Instead, when you’re organizing clutter, you’re setting your future self up for failure and more stress.
That might sound dramatic, but it’s true. Clutter adds work, sucks up your time and adds stress to your life. Even organized clutter! And eventually, all that organized clutter will make its way out of its organized spot, continuing to cause clutter and stress in your home.
When you’re organizing clutter, you’re not addressing the root of the problem – that you simply have too much stuff to easily manage and take care of. It’s like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. No matter how much you organize, you still have too much stuff to manage and take care of.
Organizing clutter makes it difficult to easily maintain your home. Simply because there’s too much stuff to manage and take care of.
Declutter first, then organize
Organization can be a helpful way to make your home easy to manage. But only if you get rid of the clutter first.
Stop trying to organize what you don’t use, need or love and get rid of it instead. Not only will your home be easier to get organized. But it will also be easier to keep organized moving forward when you’re not organizing clutter.
Signs you’re organizing clutter
Sometimes when you’re in the thick of things, it can be hard to identify if you’re organizing clutter or not. It becomes easy to shift into organizing mode and forget to get rid of the clutter first.
If this happens to you, you’re not alone. The best thing to do is take a step back and really reassess what you’re keeping and why. To make it easier, here are 6 signs you’re organizing clutter and need to declutter before you focus on getting organized.
1. Your organizing system isn’t functioning well
Whenever you notice your organizing system isn’t functioning well, the first thing to check for is clutter.
Clutter has a way of creeping in and building up. And if your system is full of clutter, it likely won’t function well.
Sometimes you need to tweak the organizing system itself. But first, always see if you can simplify and remove any clutter from the system before making changes.
Some indications that your system isn’t functioning well:
- Stuff is piling up instead of going into your system. Piles are often a strong indicator of clutter.
- It’s not easy to get things out of your system or put them away. Likely there’s too much stuff in the way.
- You notice you’re starting to shove stuff into your system or other spaces to clean it up quickly when needed. Just like piles, shoving stuff in any space available is a good indication of clutter.
2. You’re losing things often
Losing things or not being able to find things when you need them is another sign that you might be organizing clutter.
Ideally, everything in your home should have a specific place to keep it. And it makes sense that the less stuff you have, the easier it is to find places to keep your stuff.
But if you have too much to manage and keep track of, not only is it harder to find homes for each item. But items are also more likely to get lost amongst the clutter in your home.
Maybe you have so much stuff, not everything has a home. Or because there’s a lot of stuff, it’s hard to put things away in their homes. Or things aren’t getting put away in their spots because you’ve gotten out of the habit.
Whatever the reason, clutter can make putting things away harder and make it more likely that you’ll misplace items. If you find yourself misplacing items often, it’s a good sign it’s time to declutter so you have less to manage and keep track of.
3. Messes happen more frequently & are more work to clean up
You live in your home, using and enjoying the spaces, so messes are a part of life. When you declutter and simplify, there’s less stuff to contribute to the messes, making them easier to clean up when you’re done.
But when you have too much stuff, putting away and cleaning up messes is more challenging. It takes more time, work and effort to clean up the messes. Keeping up with your home and the normal messes of life becomes more of a challenge.
You might either give up and stop cleaning up the messes regularly, which can be a stressful way to live. Or spend more time than you want cleaning up. Feeling like you’re always cleaning up. Which can also be a stressful way to live!
Feeling overwhelmed with mess is a good indication that you have too much stuff and need to declutter and get organized.
4. Your system is too complicated to maintain
Sometimes you organize with the best of intentions. Putting together an intricate organizational system hoping it will solve your problems and make your home easier to manage.
But when you have a lot of stuff in a very intricate organizational system, sometimes it becomes too much to maintain. Then you need to decide if you have too much stuff in your system, too intricate of a system or a little bit of both!
Simple is usually best when it comes to organizing because it’s easier to maintain moving forward. Simple in terms of both how much stuff you have and how complicated your organization system is.
Get rid of the clutter so you have less to organize and keep organized. You might not even need a complicated organizational system when there’s less stuff to organize!
5. Managing your home feels frustrating or stressful
Sometimes the biggest indication that you’re organizing clutter is simply that your home feels frustrating or stressful to manage, maintain and take care of.
Stress and frustration are good indicators that you’re over your clutter threshold or what you can comfortably manage and take care of.
If you notice everyday life at home is starting to feel stressful or overwhelming, try simplifying. Clear the clutter and give yourself less to manage and take care of.
6. You don’t have any organizational systems in place
Sometimes instead of organizing clutter, you have no organizational system at all and clutter just builds up and stays.
In this case, you may notice piles or messes happening on a regular basis, with nowhere for the stuff to go when you try to put it away.
The first step is always getting rid of the clutter you don’t use, need or want. But next, spend some time re-evaluating how you want each space to work. Then start putting that system into place for yourself.
What to do instead of organizing clutter
Now that you’ve spotted when you’re organizing clutter or your organizational systems aren’t working well for you, let’s talk about what to do instead!
Whenever you want to get organized, the first step is always to ruthlessly declutter. Remember, the more clutter you can get rid of, the less you’ll have to organize and keep organized.
Next, try to keep things where you will use them. This makes it easier to find things when you need them and easier to put things away after using them.
When you’re getting organized, focus on using simple systems. Systems that are easy to use and maintain. The simpler they are, the more likely they will stay functioning well moving forward.
Try tackling small spaces at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed or bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things when it comes to organizing to see what will work best for you.
And finally, maintain your organizational systems often. Maintenance is important to get rid of any clutter that’s found its way in. As well as tidy up your system to keep it functioning effectively. The good news is, it gets faster and easier to maintain your organizational systems the more often you do it!
Organizing clutter & what to do instead
I hope today’s post will help you identify when you’re organizing clutter and give you some ideas of what to do instead.
Organizing can be a really effective way to make your home efficient, function well and run smoothly. Just be careful that you’re only organizing what you truly use, need and love, not clutter!
Have you ever caught yourself organizing clutter? I know I sure have! Leave a comment below if you’ve been there too!
Monday 17th of April 2023
This is so relatable! I used to organize clutter until one day I couldn't find my daughters doll, and I snapped. We've been minimalists now for 6 years since that doll incident, which ended up being found on the kitchen island of all places.
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 17th of April 2023
I was the same - I reached a point where it all became too much and started decluttering like crazy. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!