Decluttering Vs. Organizing

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While many aspects of the New Minimalism decluttering process developed over time and through practice, there is one condition that we knew from the very inception of New Minimalism: we are not home organizers.

In our process we first and foremost declutter, and we will tell you why this distinction matters.

A home organizer will take all your worldly possessions and perfectly organize, color-code, and alphabetize them. At New Minimalism, however, we have you question whether those items should even be there in the first place. A perfectly organized space does not automatically mean you lead an effortless, clutter-free life. In fact, the need for a complicated organizational system is usually indicative of too much stuff to begin with.

A beautiful, easy-to-maintain, organized home is simply one of many positive by-products of a thoughtfully curated and decluttered life.

When in pursuit of restoring order to your home, look not to the big-box home organizing stores and magazines for answers. Their solutions beckon with promises of order and free time. But in reality, most of those multicolored stacking plastic drawers are where your things go to die. Once you finally haul those drawers home and neatly tuck away all your doodads, those items are now out of sight, out of mind, and pretty much guaranteed to never be engaged with again. How sad!

Effortful and intricate organization systems are entirely against the greater point of having your things work for you. Complicated systems require time and money to obtain, effort to install, and constant energy to keep up.

Be wary of any system that requires a significant amount of your time to maintain. Do you really want to spend an hour of your precious Saturday afternoon maintaining your recipe archives or your tool shed? All for a system that is supposedly making things easier for you? We didn’t think so. And as such we always default to the simplest, easiest systems possible.

If you were looking for the can opener in Cary’s kitchen, it would be in the one drawer designated for kitchen tools. That’s it. No labeled slot the can opener must be returned to. It’s just in the drawer with the six or so other tools she uses all the time. Similarly, Kyle corrals her pajamas in a small basket in her closet. Sometimes the clothes are folded; sometimes they are floating free.

But what allows this version of contained chaos to work is the fact that there are few items in the basket to begin with.

This excerpt was taken from our book, New Minimalism - Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living