Cleaning & Organization | Decluttering

Are You Organized or Just Hoarding Clutter?

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Organized or just having trouble ditching your clutter. Find out

There are people in the world who are totally legit organizers.  Then there are the rest of us (hand raised) who think we are organized people, but when we take a step back we realize that we just make our hoarding look pretty. Let’s get to the root of your de-cluttering habits and answer the question- Are you organized or just hoarding clutter?

1. Are you delaying dealing with your crap?

The moment that I get excited about going out and buying some new organization solutions is the moment I literally check out of the project.  It’s way more fun to jump in the car with my 15% off coupon and go waste 2 hours looking for my perfect storage solutions.  Then I come home exhausted from shopping.  Not only did I just bring more crap into my house, but I don’t even feel like dealing with anything so I put if off for another day…week or even month.

Get Organized Tip #1- Purge first, then organize what’s left into bins, baskets and file folders.

2. Are you paying extra money to hoard clutter?

Unless you’re shopping at the dollar store, organization solutions are pretty stinkin’ expensive. This past weekend I declutterd about 5 storage bins in my basement and ended up with 3 empty containers. Now when I need storage container for legit stuff like Christmas lights, I’ll have one without needing to buy one.

Get Organized Tip #2- Declutter your current storage bins before you run out and buy new ones.

3. What are you putting into the bins?

I don’t know about you but there are typically 10 things that go through my head when I’m de-cluttering.

  1. I use this regularly.
  2. I use this seasonally.
  3. This is special/sentimental and I like it.
  4. This makes me happy to look at.
  5. I don’t like this or I never wear this.
  6. This is trash.
  7. This is special/sentimental and I don’t want it but I have to keep it in case someone asks about it.
  8. Isn’t this broken?
  9. I got this for FREE!
  10. I don’t know what to with this.
  11. This might be worth something!

When organized people de-clutter, they only deal with thoughts 1-6.  What they put into bins is going to be a need or regular use item.  They don’t keep stuff for crazy reasons like numbers 7-11.  It’s pretty simple for them.

On the other hand, people like me are going through all 11 and so there will be a bin around for all 11 things.  We have a hard time getting rid of stuff and that is where the hoarding habits begin.  Instead of dealing with stuff we don’t know what to do with we shove it in a box, put a pretty label on it and call it organized.

Get Organized Tip #3- Don’t keep something just because you think it’s worth something. Find out if it’s worth something.  Check out Ebay and see how many there are, how much they are going for and if anyone’s even bidding on them.

4. Does your stuff have a home or is it living in an RV?

Real organizers are people who give their items a home.  Those bins and hangers will consist of items they need, items they use regularly/seasonally or items they actually like.  They typically create a home for each item and the stuff that lives there always goes back there.

On the other hand, the non-real organizers might do this for a few weeks and then their stuff wanders.  It just travels around the house like it’s living in an RV.  When you need to find that item you can’t because you never took it back to it’s house.  Then you waste minutes or even hours of your life trying to find it.  (If you can’t tell by this rant, I’m speaking from experience.)

Speaking of moving from place to place, beware of those items that never get used and just get moved around when they are in the way.  It’s probably time to send it on a permanent vacation.

Get Organized Tip #4- Give every item in your home a permanent home of its own.

Changing Your Ways

If after reading this you’ve come to the conclusion that what you thought was organization is borderline hoarding, it’s okay!  The first step is admitting that you actually aren’t as organized as you thought and getting after it!  Get your home down the basics and then become a gatekeeper.  Tell your husband not to bring home useless freebies from his recent work conference.

Put on your yoga pants and your old 5K t-shirt ladies, it’s time to show clutter who’s the boss.  The plan is simple- give it a home or kick it out.  If you can do those two things, you’ll be on your way to a more organized life in no time!

Are you organized or just hoarding clutter The fine line between being and organized person and a person hoarding junk

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49 Comments

  1. I am on the edge of being a horder , i have so many clothes, i don’t where, big, med, small
    Afraid to throw anything away. I may need it . I am on disability and money is tight. Now paperwork is all different. We have a business and have to save a lot for 7 years. I get so much mail and paper and magazines, i don’t know what to save. And what to shred. And what to keep. I need help!

    1. Rynda, when you are on a really tight budget it can feel like you do need to save everything all the time so I get where you are coming from. When it comes to clothes, I pretty much get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit because I’m just not going to wear it. Plus, I know if I did need clothing that fit, I could get them for around $2 at the thrift store. So clothing is one of those things where you just go through your closet, try stuff on, keep what you like and donate or sell the rest at a consignment store. As for the paper stuff, I only keep bills, receipts or stuff that actually documenting something I might need to present or use one day. If it’s an ad, it goes in trash before it ever gets on the counter. Maybe this article will help you:http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/how-long-to-keep-financial-records.aspx

  2. I love this post & your blog. I have spent the past two years working hard to “declutter” and organize our home and made great progress on the visual part and the big stuff.

    This is year I am working on the detail items-papers, organization, labels, purging even in more depth (minimizing) all while having a NO SPEND 2016 and Just Make DO January where we try to use up EVERYTHING we have on hand and buy nothing new.

    We may purchase it IF it is on our needs list and the amount is right. This is helping save towards our goal this year AND decrease the amount of clutter coming in. We have always been below poverty level until just a few years ago and I have improved so much on the “we might need that” idea but I am still fighting it.

    This year I decided to share my daily journey with my readers and stop calling it clutter because everyone tells me my house isn’t cluttered and began calling it “chaos” because it may seem organized but we are still in “chaos” looking for things and knowing they need to be organized.

    Thanks again for the great post.

    The RV thing was spot on! My hubby always says the house may be spotless but there is always that “one room” where we “stash” everything. (BTW he is a hoarder with electronic, legos and action figures so it gets interesting here).

    1. Hey Tina, Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your own adventures in life cleansing. I think it’s cool that you are committing to sharing daily with your readers on your own journey! Hope you achieve all your goals!

  3. I just went through my office stuff. I have 7, yes 7 staplers that I have collected from around the house. 7! Craft ones, regular ones, heavy duty ones. Man! I am so glad I am decluttering by category or I would have never known.
    Love your list that goes through your head when you declutter. 7-11 are now something I will think of. Oh and seeing if the thing is worth anything! You are a genius!
    I need to do that now because I am collecting things to sell. Perhaps I should see if they are even worth anything. Good will will always take clean stuff.

    Thanks for the article.

    1. Devery this is great! Thank you for sharing your decluttering story with us! Isn’t it amazing the things we have around and don’t ever realize? I’m so happy that you found some of these tips applicable and helpful! There are lots of things I’ve held onto over the years that were totally worthless or that I would not make time to sell. Those are the things I know can go! Thanks for commenting!

  4. I hate, hate, hate clutter! But clutter sure does love me! I feel like it follows me around. This article fits me perfectly. My parents keep EVERYTHING, so I grew up like that. Funny enough though, both of my sisters have homes that look magazine-ready, and when my brother visited last week, we were all laughing as he regaled us with stories of purging the attic every time his wife went out of town on business. Meanwhile, my own husband moved so much when he was little that he came into adulthood with nothing left of his childhood.. So he seems to hang onto everything too! But I’m going to beat the clutter this year. I spent all last weekend pulling every bucket out of our garage and going through them. That was very cleansing! (We have three elementary -aged kids and a 3500 sq.ft. house with no attic, no basement, and no other storage facilities like a shed. Just our garage. So it’s IMPERATIVE for me to get organized and beat the clutter!) Anyway, the post was motivational. Thanks for the kick in the pants I needed to continue my purge 🙂

    1. Alexis, I feel like we are kindred spirits with our hatred of clutter and yet it follows us around. It sounds like you have a great start. I’d love to hear about your progress so keep us posted. I’m so happy this post gave you some motivation toward your goals. You’ll get there….one bucket at a time!

  5. 😀 My dad was executor of his aunt’s estate. She was very thrifty and very organized, but her house was, well, cramped. She had labeled balls of used string that she had carefully segregated: more than 10 feet, 8-10 feet, etc. And one of these balls was labeled “too short to use.”

    1. Linda, WOW! Just WOW!!! Thanks for sharing that little bit of family history with us. I can’t imagine being that detailed. lol

  6. This article clicked for my brain! My parents were either born during or after the Great Depression and my dad lived through WW2 as a child in Europe so the mentality of keep everything just in case is deeply lodged in my brain. My husband is not like this and I have fought against my tendencies for as long as I can remember so our place isn’t too bad looking on the surface but I know it could be much better and less stressful. I loved your questions and explanation of 7-11 being unnecessary! We’ve moved into a larger space and funny enough the amount of “stuff” has increased as well. This is the year I’ve decided to really decrease the stuff.

    1. Kel, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post and share your own clutter struggles! You are not alone. Stuff can easily start to overtake life especially when you have spent your life without some things or have family who lived without things to influence you. I love that you said, “this year” you’ve decided to really decrease the stuff. That’s a realistic time frame for getting rid of some of your lifetime collection of stuff. You are in the right mindset and now all you have to do is start. Good luck and keep us up to date with your progress!

  7. I cleaned out one kitchen cabinet this week. That counts for something right?

    Four new bowls, with plastic lids) came into the house. Five mismatched bowls (with no lids) left the house. Plus the round casserole with glass lid that I had to recycle, casualty of the last earthquake. Don’t ask when the quake was, I’m just glad I know why it was broken.

    I’m just trying to make my hoarding look pretty. Dang it. crafts and books take up a lot of space but if I can’t find what I’m looking for it is clutter. Someone tattoo that on the back of my eyelids.

    1. Gina, that totally counts. I’m super crafty too. Anytime I get to where I can’t find something I know it’s time to do a cleanse of all my crafts because I’ve just got too much stuff. I waste more time looking for something than actually working on the projects I enjoy. It takes time to change the way you see your stuff and simplify your life. You’ll get to where you feel better each time you clean out.

  8. Kim – Thank you…one of the very few “realistic” and “call it what it really is” post, which is why it grabbed my attention. I like Kathy saw it in my Pinterest feed. I am printing it out and referring it to often. Its this thought process that works for me in helping me declutter! Thank you again so much! I get tired of the generic “how-tos”. I know how to organize all the things that are easy for me to organize…I have a “home”, I can throw it away, I can put it away, but with the stuff that I struggle with what to do with it, this angle of questioning has helped me to look at those hard things and take action!

    1. Also…I belong to a group Queens of Distraction. Its a Group for women with ADHD run by Terry Matlen on FB and I am going to share your link. I am sure all of them would love this article.

    2. Shelly, I’m so happy you found this post helpful for you and that you took the time to let me know. It helps me know that I can write more like this in future that will help people think about things in a new way without offending them. I guilty too so it’s how I work my way through my own stuff as well!

  9. Kim, I love your post!! Stumbled upon this in my Pinterest feed. I am also a borderline hoarder. A bad habit learned from my parents that I am trying to conquer. I began getting serious about purging right after the holidays. The areas I’ve tackled look and feel fabulous. I am still a work in progress but the process has started and it is very freeing on the mind and spirit. The area that needs my attention the most, the one that gives me heart palpitations, is the kitchen. I am the cookware/gadget queen. I even have shelves in my basement with cookware, bakeware, small appliances and utensils. What a project!!! I thought my compulsion for books, and the removal of my beloved books, was going to be the hardest part of my purging. Instead, it’s the kitchen that has me running in the opposite direction. I want my countertops cleared of clutter. I want the table cleared of “stuff”. It needs to be functional and inviting. I’m baby stepping my way through the drawers, pantry and cupboards but this project will take me some time to master. I’m looking forward to the end result.

    1. That’s great Kathy! I think for people who have spend years gathering stuff, purging takes a little time. I’m tackling my office today. It’s one of the last spaces in my house that hasn’t been totally purged so it will be hard but I know I’ll be able to work much more effectively! Thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m happy liked the post and let me know!

  10. Really brilliant article. I can honestly say that I thought I was an organized person then I reali recently that I was a good sorter and tidier. I was good at putting like things together in a box and labelling it!
    Since New Year’s I’ve been trialling your approach plus one more step at the start – what do I need in this room and where should it be. For example in the study do I really need 4 shoes boxes of pens, textas and White board markers? Don’t I just need a nice glass or cup with my favourite pens in?
    Love your blog, keep up the great work!

    1. Tara, thanks so much for sharing you own organization ideas. That’s one thing I love about blogging. Is putting something out there and then having other smart and creative people find more ideas and then share them! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and I appreciate your encouragement!

  11. Omygoodnessssss….yes I am a borderline hoarder…..but that is going to change! Starting today…I made a note of your list and will begin there….the whole first paragraph was me to a “T” but now I have hope….thank you!

    1. Carla! It’s totally okay! There are probably very few truly organized compared to the number of people who like to hold on to their stuff! I have a few really organized friends and the rest are kind of like me, holding on to stuff, storing stuff and having a hard time deciding what to keep around and what to let go. Good luck in your quest to clear your clutter! Thanks for the comment!

  12. Wow. I am a hoarder. And possibly an “organization solution junkie”. I feel like you were talking directly to me. I know we need to purge, especially after reading your list and almost all of my things I think need organizing fall into categories 7-10! Thanks for your honesty, now I hope I still have one of those 5K shirts that still fits…Otherwise I’ll need to go and get one first!

    1. Danielle, first of all I literally laughed out loud at your 5k comment. Second, everyone I know has at least tried to run a 5K once and they have to hold onto that shirt as living proof. Third, I wouldn’t jump to labeling yourself as a hoarder. It’s really just about thinking about what you are storing and organizing. I’m guilty so the post was a kick in the pants for myself. Numbers 7-10 are hard for a lot of people. Especially when we start facing stuff other people have given us that holds sentimental value for them but not for us. I have a few of those crammed up on the top shelf of my closet and that’s okay. It’s when those kinds of items take up half your attic that it’s time to start facing the music! Good luck and take it slow! You can get rid of stuff and free your life of stress a little at a time! Thanks for your genuine comment!

  13. This is so true! I have a habit of keeping things WAY longer than I should! Organizing is one of my goals this month, so I’ll definitely be using these tips. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Chelsey, good luck as you go and take your time. It takes time to accumulate all that stuff so it will take time to get rid of it too.

  14. I absolutely LOVE this post Kim! Especially the RV part – that is totally us right now! I used to be the real organized type of person, then I had kids, and the crap multiplied so fast that I couldn’t keep up. I need to take this advice and make it work! 🙂 Thank you!

  15. Great tips! As I was putting back our Christmas decorations, I found some items we didn’t use this year (maybe didn’t even use last year?) and pulled them for the donation box. My husband & I set a limit on holiday decoration boxes early in our marriage (mainly to combat his love of Halloween! 😉 ) and that has at least helped reduce the clutter there. Still plenty to go, but I notice as I get a space tidy & organized, it has me so much more relaxed and I’m able to keep it that way much easier.

    1. Sarah, I’m totally on board with that. I limited my decorations as well. The point you made about it making you relaxed is important. Less clutter in our lives is less to clean, less to repair and more time in life to just relax or pursue things that are important.

  16. i have to ask myself if I haven’t used it recently will I use it soon and can I afford to buy another if needed because I am a hoarder. Being poor without so much for so long made me this way. 🙁

    1. Diana, I think you just made a really really important point. Some people have these tendencies because they have experience having nothing, loosing something or have lived in poverty. In my case I struggle with it because my grandmother lived with my family for 8 years while I was growing up. She saved everything after living through the depression and raising 3 kids as a single mom. She used to wash out used zip lock bags and then turn them over to dry on the sink. She didn’t waste anything. It really rubbed off on me. I also grew up with this weird compulsion to prepare for stuff way before it happened. Like when I first got married, I used to buy baby clothes from garage sales and store them in bins in my house before we were even considering having a kid! When I started High School my sister got me a “hope chest” which is what you use to collect items that you hope to use when you get married. Once I knew I was getting married, my hope chest turned into a hope room. It was ridiculous the stuff that I collected before even getting where I was going. My husband and I decided that we would get rid of something if we didn’t use it in 1 years time or if we have it and can afford to replace it. Totally get where you are coming from.

    1. Jennifer, I’m the same way so that’s why I wrote about it. It’s been about a 3 year process but year by year I’m cutting stuff down and avoiding bringing stuff in my house. You can do it!

  17. I am the queen of clutter. I can totally claim moving clutter from place to place and not having a “home” for things. 🙂

  18. Very convicting! We lived in a 650 sq ft condo and moved to a townhouse 3 times the size and still having spacial/organizing challenges. One of my January goals (because I’ll be laid up from surgery next month) is to get through the rest of these boxes and find homes (here or elsewhere) for everything. I haven’t even started on the kids rooms because I want to be settled before bringing in anything else. Hopefully their not ready to leave for college before I get them situation. LOL!

    1. Toni, I’ll be praying for you that your surgery goes well and that you recovery quickly. Kids rooms are so hard. I made the mistake this summer of donating all his 2T pants only to find that he’s not quit ready for 3T stuff and now I’m going back and buying them again. Some stuff is totally reasonable to keep, but some stuff we just need to purge because we actually don’t need it.

  19. You’re so right! I think one exception is with children’s clothes and baby gear. I store hand-me-downs faithfully so that I never have to shell out the big dough for more clothes and items for future kids. But my rule has become that I only save the clothes that I absolutely love. Everything else gets given away because it’s not going to suddenly become in style again.

    1. I do the same thing! I only saved the items from my child that are too expensive to buy new or that I love and just can’t replace. I buy most of my baby/kids clothes from thrift stores, consignment sales and garage sales so it’s not a problem for me to donate them until the kid comes around. I used to save everything until I realized that I don’t even know what I’m going to have next time around. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Love this! I’m getting ready to move and purging the “hoard” of clutter is absolutely necessary before packing!

  21. I love how you list 7-11 under item #3!! I think a lot of people get stuck there and that’s when they stop decluttering. I have a hard time with business papers. Thank God I switched most things to online billing. I actually have a shredder and have been slowly but surely shredding my way through my house. It’s a great feeling to get rid of unnecessary stuff.

    1. Michelle, my shredder recently bit the dust and I had to get another one. I have a hard time sometimes going through items and I bring in an outside person to help. Like this summer my mom came down and she went through a few piles in minutes that would have taken me hours to go through dealing with numbers 7-11!

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