Organization vs. Uncluttering

26 Jan

SIMPLICITY IS NOT about making things perfectly straight, or perfectly matched, or perfectly beautiful.

You can make your home (or your life) look like that.  Sure, you can buy a lot of pretty boxes and cabinets, and you can color code and label everything and people might be impressed… Hey, even YOU might be impressed!

But, let’s be honest:  if your tidy, beautiful, color coded, labeled home is full of things you don’t need, don’t want, and don’t like, will your life feel simple?  Will you be free?  Will you be happy? 

I don’t think so.

Simplicity is about feeling relaxed and free, and having Space For Your Life, and time to live it.

Only things we actually USE are allowed on the kitchen shelf.

It’s not about perfection.  You can have a little chaos!  It’s normal. 

If you remove the unnecessary clutter, the organization will take care of itself.

This kitchen shelf (mine) looks nice and neat, but only because there is nothing unnecessary on it.  If it were more full, it could be just as “organized” –all the bowls together, all the cookbooks together — but it would also be cluttered, and I would have more difficulty getting the materials I need.

If you don’t use it and you don’t love it, don’t let it get in your way!

The idea is to keep only the things that Fit your life, have a Function in your life, and/or give you a Feeling of joy.  You can read more about my “Three Fs” decluttering method in my post “Should it Stay or Should it Go?”.

A friend/client of mine (I’ve mentioned her before) is gaining momentum in her quest to simplify her life.  It’s all starting to click for her, and she has been writing about it here: The Difference Between Being Organized And Uncluttered | The Music Within Us.

In the spirit of simplicity, I will let her blog post speak for itself.


24 Responses to “Organization vs. Uncluttering”

  1. shortystylee January 26, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    “If you don’t use it and you don’t love it, don’t let it get in your way!”

    Exactly! If it is just taking up space for no reason, it’s 99% of the time someone we don’t need in our lives.


    • acleansurface January 26, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Jessica, I notice you said “someone we don’t need in our lives”. Ha. Maybe some of your clutter is human!

  2. drlisachu January 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Thanks for the link love, Rayme! And NICE kitchen shelf reorg.
    I did more reorganizing today, noticing that many of the things I had shoved inside drawers during our first office cleanup are totally unnecessary.
    For me, I have to remember to do a little bit each day, because there is such an overwhelming amount of stuff to go through – it seems everywhere I turn is something that needs to be addressed!
    Thanks again,

    • acleansurface January 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

      A little bit every day is a good idea, Lisa.

  3. jannatwrites January 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Love the clutter-free shelf! I have a tendency to hang on to stuff, but I’m working on getting better at parting with the unnecessary items. Slow process.

    • acleansurface January 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks, Janna! Keep working on it. It gets easier with practice.

  4. Magnificent Minimalist January 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I *so* agree. No matter how many objects I own, I’m still not great at maintaining them or organizing them. But when I have fewer objects it’s MUCH easier to corral them into some sort of order a few minutes before company shows. Plus, I don’t need to look at stuff that makes me feel guilty.

    • acleansurface January 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

      Your stuff should never make you feel guilty, MM, and if it does, it shouldn’t be your stuff. Yes, cleaning is definitely easier with fewer possessions.

  5. Jaclyn Rae January 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    I love this post! It inspired me to clean out my apartment 🙂

    • acleansurface January 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

      That’s great, Jaclyn! I want to inspire in that way.

  6. Frankie Ortiz January 30, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    Hi! Thanks for subscribing to! I wanted to check out what you had to say and so far I absolutely love it! I’m about to head into my office and start un-cluttering my space right now! Thanks again!

    • acleansurface January 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      I’m glad you like it, Frankie. As a business woman (and it sounds like you work long hours) you need to have an efficient life. Clutter is your enemy! =)
      I admire your dedication to your business, and your logo is perfect.

  7. somethingnewplease January 31, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I wish I could organize better. Instead, I sometimes become a tad manic and complete what I like to call Slash and Burn, getting rid of things. It’s likely unhealthy, but at the time it feels good, and we live in this instant gratification culture, or so they say, right?

    Great comparison between the two ideas.


  8. shumack February 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Oh man. Great post! I have such trouble getting rid of those things that I “don’t use and don’t love”. Definitely makes for a massive clutter. I have recently tried to Feng Shui, but I find I am attached to every article in my house!
    Your shelf looks great =)

  9. SherryGreens February 8, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    I need to let go of a lot of stuff to open up new space, physically and psychologically.

    Much of the clutter of my house relates to inhabitants other than me (husband and two small children). I am especially frustrated by all the toys. They are always everywhere, and although I devote considerable time to having them organized and put away by said little people, they always seem to be everywhere, all over the floors and other surfaces. It is driving me crazy. I would love to do a clean sweep but then my little ones would be so sad. I don’t really know how to handle it. I can get rid my own stuff. But how do you get rid of someone else’s? Especially if they are 5 years old and don’t understand… I need to cull, but don’t know how without hurting their feelings.

    • acleansurface February 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Sherry, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have had this problem, also. Perhaps I will do a post about it sometime…
      For now, try to keep an eye on what the children play with, and what they don’t. Try removing a few items you have not seen them use for a while. Keep them for a month, hidden, and see if the children notice they are missing. If they don’t miss the items in that time, they probably won’t ever miss them, so you can donate them.

  10. saranac2000 February 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    FANTASTIC!! I am on the “eternal” quest for simplicity, which goes against all I’ve learned from my upbringing, but I embrace every step forward! External clutter leads to internal clutter – let’s keep things easy to manage!!

    • acleansurface February 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

      Thanks, Saranac! Yes, external clutter leads to internal clutter — and the reverse is also true!
      I like to make things as simple and as easy as possible, that is my quest.

  11. redesigncoach February 20, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    This was such a great post! It makes so much sense. I am looking forward to putting these thoughts to good use!

    • acleansurface February 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Thanks, RedesignCoach! I hope things turn out just the way you want.

  12. I Don't Understand Art February 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    I’m such a junk collector. Growing up I used to collect key chains, erasers, pencils, etc, etc, etc, that I don’t remember.

    And I’m still a mess. My room is so eclectically chaotic, I love it! But I can’t seem to keep it tidy. Everytime I go out my closet explodes, my make up ends up in corners I didn’t know existed, and so on.

    That said, my perfect plan for Sundays is stay home, and tidy it up. Nothing like turning on the disney Channel to keep me company as I do so, and I don’t know, lying in bed at night looking at how neat and pretty it looks… only to make a mess of it Monday morning 🙂

    Maybe I’ll share some before and after pictures some day

    • acleansurface February 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, IDUA. Ha. Eclectic is good, not being able to find anything to wear is bad. But, if you keep organizing every week, it won’t get too out of hand. Whatever keeps you happy.

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