There’s nothing quite as lovely as an organized home. Type A people love it, and if we’re honest, non-type A people love it as well. I don’t know too many people that prefer chaos and mess over tidy and orderly. The difference is that some of us have an easier time of maintaining an organized home than others. I fall somewhere in the middle of super organized and a complete hot mess. I can be either, or some varying degree of either, on any given day. Nonetheless, I prefer a clutter-free home to an organized home. The two are not the same and one does not always equal the other. I mentioned this in my last DIY post. Check it out for some great tips to start decluttering without buying a single thing.
There’s this flawed notion that we must create more space within our home to store all of our stuff. Organization has it’s time and place but I believe most of us do it in the wrong order. When we buy a thing to put another thing into, we don’t always solve the problem of properly storing the thing we had before we bought the other thing. If you buy several totes and labels to put crafts supplies into, but don’t take inventory of your crafts before you place them in the totes, will you really know where the roll of blue polka dot washi tape is when you need it or will you just know that it’s somewhere in one of those totes? And how did you know how many totes to buy anyway? Was it a guess or did it just feel like the craft closet would function better with stacked totes, because anything has to be better than bags and boxes thrown in the floor. Are totes even the right solution, or would drawers have worked better? Perhaps a peg board system would make sense?
There’s a lot of questions to consider, but the biggest one may be, “How much of this stuff do I already use or need to keep?” Decluttering should always precede organizing. Once decluttering has taken place, then it’s easy to see what needs to be organized. Often times, much less can be bought to organize the remaining things. Sometimes nothing needs to be bought and what’s left can be properly stored in the space it was meant to be held in.
For example, let’s say a woman has 50 pairs of shoes. She’s always had about 50 pairs of shoes and never gave thought to why she had them even though she only wears 10 pair. Some of the extra are every-now-and-then shoes, some were given to her, some are old and out of style. She looks at these shoes and buys an organizational system to store 50 pairs of shoes in her closet. Shoes take up a lot of space and now she has a 50 cubby hole organizer in her closet. As she is tucking her shoes away into the cubbies, she realizes that there are at least 10 pair she hates and throws them out. There are 10-20 more that she is iffy about but she doesn’t want the cubbies to look empty so she keeps those anyway to fill the spaces. There’s not much else she can properly store in a shoe hole so she doesn’t want to feel like she wasted her time and efforts putting together the storage unit. She has now kept several pairs of shoes that she will still never wear.
But let’s say that instead, she looks at those shoes before she buys anything to organize them and considers the ones she really can do without. Some are trash and some are donatable. Now she has 25 pairs of shoes and the system she buys costs half as much because it’s half as big. She spends half as long putting together the unit and her closet properly stores 25 pairs of shoes. She’ll be able to find the ones she loves faster and will probably wear the every-now-and-then pairs more because they’ll be easier to find with less shoe options than before. The smaller unit also leaves room to organize other parts of her wardrobe, like purses and pants.
I mentioned in my DIY post that I wasn’t a big fan of tiny baskets for drawers and it’s for this very reason. They are a super cheap and rarely line up in a drawer snugly. They get tossed around, flip over and become quickly overfilled. But for 3/$1 it’s fun to buy the illusion that they are a good solution for organizing a drawer, and that’s where I always end up throwing away tiny baskets after I’ve gotten more than my $1s worth of frustration from dealing with them.
So next time you get the urge to run out and buy something for organizing before decluttering remember, “Make the Plan and Then Find the Product, not Find the Product and Then Make the Plan.” This is something I have to remind myself with my hobbies. I have a habit of buying with good intentions only to never bring my intentions to fruition. My one-day projects become clutter because I didn’t buy the items with a specific plan. It’s no different when we organize. Buying stuff to organize before decluttering comes with good intention but can lead to poor execution. Flip the process and you might just save a lot of time, headache, and money in the end.