Day 25: Decluttering And Organizing Are Not The Same Thing

2,500 things gone, only 7,500 to go

I got a little carried away today.

You would think that I’d have learned by now not to mix my decluttering with organizing.

But no, I decided to clear a shelf in the storage room to make room for the items I have listed on craigslist.

This led to a complicated exercise of shifting stuff from one shelf to another that seemed relevant at the time but three hours later made absolutely no sense to me – or to the other me who I was talking to by then.

I cleared out 100 things alright, but I was exhausted, confused and the storage room looked like it had been looted.

Most people think decluttering and organizing are pretty much the same thing but for me they are worlds apart.

Decluttering is getting rid of things you don’t want or need.  It’s fairly simple – you pick something up and ask yourself if you want or need it.  If the answer is no, you decide which bag it goes in: toss/donate/recycle.  If the answer is yes, you put it back exactly where it was.  If you want it or need it, you will find it and it will find a natural home.

Now add organizing to the mix and the process goes something like this.  You pick something up and ask yourself if you want or need it.  If the answer is no, bag it as above.  If the answer is yes, you start thinking about where such an item belongs.  Should you group it with the other figurines, or does it go with the Christmas stuff because it’s an angel.  Should you put it on the high shelf because it’s fragile, or at eye level so you don’t accidentally knock it over when you’re getting the suitcase down.  Then you remember there are more angels in the hall closet.  You go to retrieve them but on the way you remember that you donated them the last time you cleaned out the closet.  You go back to the storage room and look at the angel with fresh eyes.  You should probably donate it.

That’s where I stood yesterday – three hours in and no further ahead when it dawned on me that I just have to treat my clutter like a river.

Things like this will get carried in.

And, thankfully, things like this will get carried out.  100 things at a time.  The trick is to keep it flowing in the right direction without getting hung up on the details.

As I’ve said before, if you’re not bringing 100 things into the house every day – you are making progress.  100 things a day seems to be the number that I can handle without double handling.  Any more than that and I find myself talking to myself about stuff.  And that’s not a conversation you want to have too often.

I think it was Maya Angelou who said:  When someone shows you who they are, believe them – the first time.  I think it follows that when you figure out who you are, believe yourself – the first time.

I’m a declutterer, not an organizer.

Have a great weekend.

What I tossed today:  50 toys (I paid the kids $1 for every 10 toys they gathered to donate – worked great but maybe not the best parenting move), 40 items of clothing from my own closet (donated), 1 old carpet, 4 pillow inserts, 1 white board, and a funny little cabinet I never did understand (all thanks to my amazing neighbour Mike who graciously loaded them into his truck and drove them to the transfer station.)


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