Why Simplifying Is More Powerful than Organizing | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Why Simplifying Is More Powerful than Organizing

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why Simplifying Is More Powerful than Organizing

I mentioned a few weeks ago that May and early June are going to be really busy for me with my hubby away, a "limited screen-time" family vacation, and preparing for the Trained Professional Organizer exam.  

I asked a few of my fellow organizing bloggers to guest post so I won't be completely overwhelmed and you can still benefit from some great organizing tips!  I'm so happy to be able to introduce these friends of mine to you.  Please make them feel welcome here :)

Here's a guest post from my friend Leslie!

I realize that the title of this article is kind of shocking,

especially when Hilda's is an organizing blog, and so is mine, 
and she and I are both professional organizers.

This article is not going to give you instructions on how to organize anything.
Rather, I hope to encourage and empower you to think differently about your space.
Your largest storage box.
Your home.

As I and others I have taught have learned to let go of more and more clutter,
 we have all found ourselves becoming more and more organized.

After 15 years of "organizing" families, offices, churches, storage units, etc., 
I have learned this phenomenal truth:

Stuff that is unused, yet kept, requires space and management.
And time.
Lots of time.
Time moving it around. 
Time cleaning it. 
Time working around it. 
More time moving it around.

Do I even need to mention the money wasted on buying "organizers" to store this unneeded stuff?
If you think you're disorganized, you'll likely go out and start buying baskets, containers and hooks. 
You'll come home and try to use them, and they’re not the right type or size, 
because you didn't sort through your stuff first
Isn't that silly?
All of those new containers just end up adding to your clutter.

What's funny is that you can think you're organized if it's labeled or containerized or colorized.
But don't we ever get tired of "putting it all away somewhere,"
into containers, baskets, bags, closets, bins, and  cupboards,
until the next time we open these organizational gadgets to discover
we still don't use these things?
Organization is often synonymous with simplifying. 

It's not.
Organization is the by-product of simplifying.

Organizing is making space for the things that we love and use the most.

Simplifying is letting go of those things that we don't love and will rarely or never use.

By simply labeling or containerizing our things (that we may or may not be using),

we are delaying decisions to rid ourselves of stuff we neither need nor use.

Storage is not a solution—it’s just a way to hide your stuff until you must deal with it later.
Instead, declutter, declutter, and declutter some more!

Clutter isn't always about mess and disorder (some "clutter" is considered "cozy").

My definition of clutter is be too much stuff that is carefully and cleverly arranged.

Sometimes order camouflages excess.

My challenge to you is to work towards simplifying, not organizing.

It's very simple, and consists of two parts:

First, if you don't use or need something, get it out of your life.

Second, stop bringing things into your house that will get stored instead of used.

Here's what happens.

As you let go of stuff, the less you have to organize.

As you let go of stuff, the more confidence you gain 

to consistently, without regret, emancipate your time and the spaces in your home.

As you let go of stuff, the more power and control 

you have over the choices of what you acquire.

As you let go of stuff, the less distractions you have.

As you let go of stuff, the less overwhelmed and anxious you feel.

As you let go of stuff, you experience freedom.

To hear more about simplicity and decluttering,

hear my spot on Blog Talk Radio where I talk about 10 Causes and Cures for Clutter HERE.

Thank you, Hilda, for letting me stop by your place!

You are an inspiration to me!


Check out Leslie's blog Goodbye, House! Hello, Home! 

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thanks so much for guest posting Leslie!  I love what you shared here today.  Simplifying is so much more important than organizing and you have been my inspiration for simplifying for the last few years!

If you're inspired to start simplifying, then join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook Group!  You will find encouragement, motivation, ideas, and all around cheerleading from other people who are simplifying, just like you!


You can read all about the 365 Items in 365 Days Challenge here and then just jump in!

Happy organizing simplifying!

I link up at these great parties - Check them out!


  1. So true. We all have so much STUFF.

    1. Definitely Annette! But we CAN purge and control it if we work at it :)

  2. I've been trying to downsize and simplify. We do have a ton of stuff and really could do with less. I think I need a swift kick in the butt honestly!

    1. Consider this your butt kicking Stacey :) You can do it!

  3. Awesome, Leslie! Great advice!! I am trying to do better at this, it's hard for unorganized, cluttery people like me. :)

    1. It's hard for all of us Kate! But it's worth it :) Good luck!

  4. That sounds fabulous! I will have to check out your podcast. This is such a huge problem for me. Both my husband and I come from big families that kept lots of clutter, and being in students our whole married life hasn't helped, since we feel like we can't get rid of anything because we "might need it" and can't afford to buy new things all the time. Aack! I've been trying to declutter recently, though. It is definitely a process!

    1. Jillian maybe you can think about things you could borrow or rent if you need them, rather than keeping them just in case? Decluttering is a long process... it takes years to build up the clutter so it's not going away overnight :) But if you make an effort to do a little every day or every week you'll get there! Good luck!

  5. This is excellent advice. . .now I just need to follow it. And get my husband the packrat to follow it.

    1. You can do it! And then your hubby can see the difference it makes for you and will jump in too :)

  6. Leslie is a friend and a great inspiration to me, also. Her emphasis on simplifying by letting go of things that we don't need or use is akin to the philosophy of Don Aslett, who also writes great books on decluttering to simplify and reclaim our lives. This approach is so much better than the plethora of magazine articles re: how to 'hide your stuff in plain view' (e.g., an ottoman with storage space, draping a long cloth over an end table & hiding stuff underneath it, and so on). You know the stuff is still where you've stashed it, you know that you still feel the stress of it, b/c it will need to be moved to dust & vacuum, or even moved to a different location.

    This is definitely an ongoing process, but practice makes perfect...so, we continue to take steps to achieve the life and lifestyle that we truly want, letting go of one unused or unneeded item at a time. I also recommend Hilda's Face Book group, 365 Items in 365 Days group. It's a great group for ideas and encouragement, and the approach to decluttering is sane and not overwhelming. :)

    Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk, member of the 365 Items group. :)


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