Why Organizing Doesn't Work (For Us)

>> Friday, April 29, 2016

Here's a long-overdue spring purge post about why simple organizing just doesn't work to spiff up our spaces. I mean, we're still learning as we go along. I can't believe how many times we've set out to have "this clean" be the "final clean" -- but something was actually different about this time around. Versus organizing the crap we had around the house, we actually got rid of most everything we deemed nonessential.

Getting rid of a large portion of your belongings can be overwhelming. There's this tendency, at least for me, to feel like I'm foolish getting rid of something I might need in the future. I would stow things away for someday, thinking of all the many scenarios where I'd need five different winter coats or all those old issues of Runner's World or six thousand serving spoons. I'd feel guilty getting rid of anything we were given as gifts even if they were broken or just didn't fit out lifestyle.

Here are the three main reasons organizing doesn't work (for us). File this post under opinions. Food for thought. It's not how YOU should approach life or your home. It's just how we've started seeing things, and it's been quite life-changing.

You still have all that stuff. 

Even if you go through, categorize, and put everything away in clearly marked boxes -- you still have things literally hanging over your head in the attic. Or it's in countless bins in the garage or basement. We had over 20 bins of things . . . and when we really took the time to go through the items one by one, we realized that likely most of those things would never make it back into the house.

It took several moves and tries, but finally letting go enabled us to see how foolish we were for schlepping that stuff around. How much energy we spent moving those bins from our old house to the new house. Or moving them from the attic to the basement, etc. How much mental energy we spent on, well, things that we didn't really need anyway.

In my humble opinion, even if your stuff is out and away, it's still stuff. Heck -- we considered getting a storage unit at one time. Why bother?! This is stuff that you might not need for years . . . or, truly, EVER AGAIN.

So, why bother giving it any more of your energy, time, or money?

You're wasting money.

At least we did. I can't even begin to tell you the dollars we have spent on cube organizers, shelving, and other tools to wrangle our crap into better order. It's shameful, really. In the end, it always gets messed up again. We still accumulate too much. It was, for us, a losing battle. The more stuff we got, the more things we needed to store it in. The more places we needed for storage, the smaller we felt our house was, etc.

I feel like so many people think they need these gigantic houses because they need places to hold all their stuff. When I watch HGTV, closet space is like one of the top concerns. The host always jokes that the woman needs that gigantic walk-in closet. Our old house was 1,200 square feet. To be honest, we mostly lived in 1,000 square feet of it because one room was usually storage. Now? We have around 1,900 (1,600 above ground). I love our new house and neighborhood, but I can confidently tell you that living with two kids back at the old place would be totally fine.

Plus, you don't need big closets if your wardrobe is pared down to 50 or fewer items. You can get dressed much more quickly, too. Our old house was really lacking for closets. Somehow when we moved, we filled all these large closets that we didn't used to need. Weird, right?

I also discovered that we were wasting our money because with so much stuff, we always felt like we needed more -- well -- stuff. We were in this really bad cycle of consumption. Perhaps out of all this cleaning up, the biggest lesson we learned is that we needed to stop shopping for mindless entertainment. We needed to examine our priorities. And we needed to stop bringing so much crap home with us. It was draining our wallets and moving us farther from our core values.

You're wasting time.

When Stephen and I sat down together and examined our goals in life, the one that stuck out the most was that we wanted to have more time with one another. You know, time that isn't spent cleaning up toys or wading through excess. Or feeling stressed about money, etc. We just want to be with our little family and live a simple life, whatever that means at this stage.

You'd think organization would make cleanup easier, right? We have two 9-cube toy organizers in our basement, for example. And this is one of the few remaining problem areas of the house. You'd think organizing toys into separate boxes would make spaces clean. Nope. Instead, we filled the boxes. All of the boxes. Family bought gifts that filled all the boxes. All the boxes were overflowing. And with a 4-year-old, unless we spend time each day or week going through them, everything is out of place. A toy-plosion, if you will.

Not only we were wasting time trying to put toys away. Ada, too, was wasting time being overwhelmed by options. When I was younger, I would spend hours just . . . coloring. Or playing with one doll. Somehow, along the way -- toy options have gotten out of control. Kids seem to need everything and . . . they get it from well-meaning parents, relatives, and friends. But it's part of what's fueling the whole over-stimulation thing and, again, that over-consumption.

There's just too much!

More thoughts:

I'm sure you can see how this applies to most every area in your home. If you step into a Bed, Bed, and Beyond -- there are entire walls dedicated to useless kitchen gadgets. When you buy electronics, their lives seem to be ever-shortened, creating a whole junk drawer full of outdated cameras, phones, etc. Life didn't used to be this way.

So, I guess you could say we're rebelling. It's hard. The temptation is strong to go into a Target and walk out with a cart FULL of amazing things. Now that we're gotten rid of a good deal of the bins, the maintenance is our main effort. All it takes is saying NO. Walking away. Waiting to make purchases. Unlinking PayPal from online shopping accounts, etc.

In my next post, I'll do an updated house tour and highlight some problem areas we were able to kick into gear by purging. And as I wrote that last part, I think the how NOT to buy is another good area to write something about. I'm still learning the best methods. 

Is there anything more you'd like to hear about our big spring cleanup? Let me know in the comments!

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