Friday, May 14, 2010

Organize or Declutter?

 Banana box full of magazines to give away.

This week I sorted out all of the magazines we'd accumulated over the last year or two. I got rid of all but several of the latest issues.

I'll admit that my first thought was to cut and decorate recycled cereal boxes into creative little magazine holders and organize them all on a shelf.

Fortunately that thought didn't stay long. It was quickly shooed away by " Are you crazy? Why organize something that you'd be better off decluttering?"

That second thought was dead-on. I know myself. Most likely, I'm not going to go back through those magazines often enough to justify keeping all of them. In my little home, space is at a premium. Stuff has to earn its keep.

This experience took me back a couple of years ago when I was organizing my fabric collection. Lamenting over my lack of storage space, I suddenly had an epiphany.

"Instead of cramming all I could into a space, in the name of great organization, why not keep only what I had room for?"


That single light bulb moment was all I needed. I began to purge that fabric into a manageable amount, keeping only what I loved and was certain I would use. Cookbooks were limited to a certain shelf. When it was full, no more.  Clothes had to fit in the closet or dresser drawers. Gift wrap and gift bags were pared down to only what I could reasonably use. Kitchen equipment had to be used and have an appropriate storage spot  (i.e. not the top of the washing machine) in order to stay.

Now, I am not an extreme minimalist. I am not against having stuff. I have a house full of stuff- some necessary and some not. Stuff is a part of life.

I'm also not against organization. In fact, I love to organize! Give me storage boxes and baskets and I take great joy in wrapping a room in labeled Rubbermaid.

There's a place for organizing one's belongings. Organization helps to bring order to a home. We all have necessary stuff- books, clothes, kids toys, kitchen equipment and paper that needs to be organized so it doesn't take over our homes and lives. Those of us with tiny homes and even smaller closets know the virtues of organizing even the basics into the most creative of configurations to get it all to fit.

But there also comes a time when I need to stop organizing and start decluttering. Keep what I need, love and use and pass the rest on for someone else to enjoy.

I don't want to spend all my time sorting, sifting and organizing my stuff. Instead, I'd like to enjoy what I have and experience something much more important, life itself.


DarcyLee said...

I'm always decluttering, it seems. New things seem to make their way into my home too much of the time whether it's junk mail or something that someone gives me. Right now I'm decluttering my sewing stuff and (gasp!) I actually got rid of some of it. Have a great weekend, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann said...

Me too, Darcy Lee!

Bevy said...

This is great!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could learn alot from your words here, and even pass it on to a few others in my life. (ha, ha)

gail said...

great post! love your line: stuff has to earn its keep to stay! i need to start looking at it like that.

Anonymous said...

"In my little home space is at a premium".

I can SO relate to that statement!

So did you just recycle your mags? One good idea, is to give an entire year of a certain magazine as a gift to someone who will love it. You could also bundle them for sale at a yard sale. I have seen the bundles of magazines for sale at antique stores.

Mary Ann said...


I donated them to the thrift store. I posted on Facebook that if anyone local wanted them to let me know and only one person was interested in one of the mags. I've bundled them for yard sales in the past and didn't have good success with selling them, so I decided not to bother this time around. The gift idea is a good one- some of these were gifts to me. :-)

Thanks for commenting!

Mary Ann said...

Gail and Bevy,

Glad you enjoyed the post. I'm definitely a work in progress in this area. Although sometimes I worry that I'm not sentimental enough. :-)

Anonymous said...

This is so my house! Especially the magazines and sewing stuff! Only my magazines are usually horse magazines, as I am an avid rider, so I gave all mine to a local Horse and Pony 4-H club. The kids were thrilled to get them. I also recently went through some "keepsake" items, only to find lots of well loved toys my young son can now play with. Some things got handed down to him, others to a friends daughter. And in the process I cleaned out 2 33gal Rubbermaid tubs! Woohoo!