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Decluttering vs. Organising

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Make a decision about where to start


Author & full credit: Lisa Pantling, Clutter Free Living

What is decluttering?!

Unfortunately chucking everything in the cupboard and shutting the door does not count as decluttering! - if only!


To really achieve and maintain decluttering success it needs to be a conscious and deliberate act

There are various different approaches, the most famous is probably that of Marie Kondo - where you sort everything in the house, 1 category at a time and get rid of everything that doesn't 'spark joy'

There is plenty of advice out there with lots of different suggestions, all of which 'guarantee' you decluttering success

My suggestion is that you do what works best for you and your family, if, like me, you have a young family, you cannot do everything as a one of event. Children change and grow, I regularly sort out their clothes, shoes, books and toys, coats, crafts etc...

The act of 'decluttering' certainly means getting rid of things: selling, donating, recycling or throwing away - and this does involve an important process...


This is where you make a decision about what works best for you - so you will need to decide where to start, either by room, category, general area or 'direction' - the reason I say direction is that one colleague said that when clients ask her where they should start? she always answers, 'on the left'!

once you have decided which approach you are using, it's time to get started! First check how much time you have so that you don't have to stop halfway through.

Have some boxes ready, label them with keep, donate, sell, recycle & rubbish

Let's say you have picked a bookshelf to start with, and you are decluttering by area rather than category

Empty the whole shelf, clean the shelf, including around, under, behind and above

Now start going through the books - for each book ask yourself a set of questions - these have to be pertinent to you and your feelings, as an example:

  • Did I enjoy this book?

  • Have I ever read it? - if not, am I going to?

  • Why did I keep it this long?

  • Will I read it again? - when?

Once you have decided what to keep - it's time for the next process.


What is Organising?

Staying on the theme of books - the decluttering stage is complete - let's get organised! Now think about how you would like to see the books - this is the organising part

You can do it by colour - starting with a dark colour to the left of each shelf, slowly blending to lighter on the right - this has a beautiful visual effect and is a lovely way to display your books.

How about alphabetically - if you have a lot of reference books or have collections by the same writers - this may be best for you so that you can easily locate what you are looking for. You could decide to go by subject matter or size - basically, whatever will make you happy and that you can maintain in the future.


Why is it important to declutter first? The main reasons that decluttering is so important are time and money!


Why on earth would you want to waste time organising something that you might then decide to get rid of?

Don't waste money buying complicated or expensive storage solutions that you might end up not needing.

I have worked with clients that have ended up with loads of empty baskets and storage tubs - as they purchased these while still thinking about all the stuff they currently had, rather than waiting to see what was left after decluttering.

So... the way to guarantee Organising success? - Declutter first!


Do you need help getting decluttering and getting organised? Get in touch with Lisa: lisa@clutterfl.co.uk

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