It’s an easy trap to fall into.

Societally-speaking, “being organized” is the thing that’s valued, so that’s what we prioritize. As long as our stuff can fit into the containers we have, on the shelves we have, in the storage spaces we have, we figure we’re “all good” in the decluttering department.

After all, it all fits – so it can’t be too much….right?

In some sense that’s true. If it all fits without being an eyesore, you don’t have “too much for your space”. You’re doing better than somebody who has stuff piled from floor to ceiling everywhere. But that’s not the most important question. The most important question when you’re decluttering is, “do you have any clutter?”

Think through this with me.

You might have your sewing scissors organized by color, shape, and size. You might have a whole drawer full of them. Everything might be meticulously organized. But if you only ever use three of them, that means you have a whole drawer full of clutter!

Dishes are another example. I used to have the mindset of “more is better” when it came to my kitchen dishes, and I owned all the stuff that you’re “supposed to have”. But I quickly realized that 12 place settings instead of 4, combined with a habit of getting behind on dishes, quickly yielded 3 times the mess before I was forced to do something about it.

For me, 12 place settings worth of dishes contributed to a clutter problem – even though there was plenty of room in my cupboards.

Just because it’s well-organized or fits in a cabinet doesn’t mean it’s not clutter!

Consider Questioning Your Stored Stuff

Take a look at the stuff you have in boxes, bins, etc., and ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I actually use this stuff for anything?
  • If this stuff got lost, would I buy all of it again? Some of it? Any of it?
  • If I weren’t already using the space for these items, what else could I do with it?

The key here is to question the default assumption that “stuff that’s organized can’t be clutter”. I’ve talked a few times about how I used to own 72 shelf-feet of books. Now I own 3 shelf-feet, total, because 69 of those shelf-feet of books were just well-organized clutter.

What about you? Do you have anything hiding in bins or boxes that might be well-organized clutter?