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The Illusion of Organizing

Mar 17, 2024

Read time: 3 minutes

Most people decluttering focus entirely too much on organizing.

  • How can I better organize my home?
  • How can I live an organized life?
  • How can I be more organized?

While I understand these questions, they aren’t the best for most people decluttering their lives—despite the common narrative you can find online.

Reflecting on these questions, I’ve come to an interesting realization:

You cannot supplement decluttering with organizing and expect a clutter-free environment.

This is because decluttering and organizing are entirely different actions, and we should treat them as such.

The Problem

What often happens when we start decluttering is we attempt to declutter and organize at the same time.

The problem with this is that it creates unnecessary friction and frustration during the decluttering process.

Suddenly, organizing becomes the problem we are trying to solve rather than the clutter itself.

As a result, we tend to search for organizing hacks and creative storage solutions to help us quickly clean up the visual mess.

This leads us to believe that we are creating a clutter-free environment for ourselves because things are well-organized and neatly packed away.

But is that truly the case?

The Challenge

We live in a society where appearance is often more valued than functionality.

This is evident in how we dress, the cars we drive, the technology we use, and how we design our homes.

This belief presents a significant challenge for those who want to declutter, as it overemphasizes the importance of organization and how things are organized.

This creates the false impression that being organized equates to being clutter-free, which is not always true.

A clutter-free environment should not depend on how organized your possessions are.

Organizing is simply a preference for how you want to store your things, and it does not necessarily translate to a clutter-free environment.


The Solution


Like any problem and the challenges that come with it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The quicker you realize that decluttering and organizing are two independent actions, the easier it will be to avoid the illusion of organizing and produce actual clutter-free results.

While finding creative storage solutions can be helpful, it doesn’t necessarily address the underlying clutter issue.

Similarly, using closed storage can be a great way to hide unattractive household items, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem of too much stuff.

If you find yourself struggling with clutter, it’s necessary to avoid the illusion of organizing. Instead, focus on decluttering and reducing the amount of stuff you have. From there, you have two paths you can take:

Path 1: Organize slow

If you’re nervous about creating a big mess when decluttering and are worried that may discourage you from continuing this journey. Then, organize slowly.

This means that after completely decluttering an area, you should lightly organize the items you kept but not obsess over the details.

Repeat this pattern for every area you successfully declutter.

  • Declutter area 1
  • Lightly organize that area
  • Declutter area 2
  • Lightly organize that area
  • Repeat

Following this path will help you see the effects of your decluttering efforts from start to finish, calm your nerves, and develop confidence for the next project.

Path 2: Organize last

If you want to make a change quickly and are not concerned with organizing right away, then the answer is to organize last.

Declutter your entire environment and live with the items you choose to keep as they are. These items should have a dedicated home, but they are not organized.

Following this path will allow you to develop a routine within your newly clutter-free environment before organizing your possessions.

When you’re ready to organize, do so one area at a time, approaching it the same way you approached decluttering.

Regardless of which path you take, the overall goal is the same:

Organize for preference, not as a solution to your clutter, because it’s not one.

That’s it.

Keep making progress on your decluttering journey, my friend.

I’ll see you next week.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

 The Decluttering Starter Kit: Skip the overwhelm and jumpstart your decluttering journey. This comprehensive course will teach and guide you through my multi-step action plan for decluttering with less overwhelm and more progress each week. Get access here.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help:

1. The Declutter Kit: The most straightforward way to approach decluttering. I share 8+ years of expertise, proven methods, and actionable strategies. This course will help you save time, conquer your clutter, and prioritize your values.

2. Get my Core Values Worksheet: Step-by-step guide to help you identify your values (free).

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