Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Difference between Decluttering and Tidying Up

(If you are a devotee of the Kon-Mari method, tidying up is decluttering in the sense I will make clear below. This is for everyone else.)

I came across something very strange in my inbox a while back.

It was so strange that I thought to write it down.

I think it captures a significant confusion. (I've been guilty of it too.)

The subject line was good. The subject line was engaging.

"Must Have Organization."

Yes, I must. I agreed. I opened the e-mail.

(By the by, one of the most disappointing magazines on the newstand I ever picked up was an organizing magazine. Instead of telling me how to organize, that is, how to work out what I need and how to store it and where, it was all about organizing products.)

And I was sort of expecting this e-mail to be like that magazine--and it was--but it also said this:

"storage to declutter every space."


say that again.

Storage. Yep, OK.  I know what storage is.

"to declutter every space."


What do they mean "to declutter every space?"
What do they mean by decluttering?

Surely they don't mean picking up the coat on the floor and hanging it up in the closet?

Or picking up the remote off the couch and putting it in that snazzy box on the coffee table you bought just for it--

No. I hope not. That's not decluttering. That's not organizing.

That's picking up.
That's putting things away.
That's tidying. (In the pre-Marie Kondo sense of tidying.)

And surely, they don't mean that you'll walk into your house with the mail in hand and sort it immediately --just because you now have a pretty mail sorter? Or that you'll take off your earrings and immediately hang them up on a cute jewellery tree?

Nope. Those are habits-- and habits need more than just containers for things.

Now, don't get me wrong. You have to have homes for things. If someone comes to visit for an extended period of time and doesn't have anywhere to put her knitting (say) except on the arm of your living room sofa and it bugs you-- then you need to find something she can put her knitting in.

But, decluttering, true and lasting decluttering needs only bags and boxes and hands and feet willing to trek it all out of the house.

If you are going to store it? You haven't decluttered it.

Linked to A Bowl Full of Lemons, January Projects.


MMarie said...

Amen! You truly are brilliant. I haven't jumped on the Kon-Marie method yet, though I have been inspired to declutter when I hear others who have read her book, but I have thought her use of the word "tidying up" didn't match up to my definition of that term.


Alana in Canada said...

MMarie,you are always so kind to me. Thank you so much. I think Ms Kondo had a rather unfortunate translator--that's all I can figure!

C a i t l i n said...

Your house looks great as the result of your efforts, this is a nice post for how dramatic the results can be. I too am in a constant state of de-cluttering. I love the peace that having less stuff brings but I do wrestle with emotions about feeling wasteful when getting rid of stuff (so it's not entirely joyous this purging thing). I think about all the waste of things being made, bought, shipped, etc. I wonder how I could have accumulated so much stuff because honestly I have not been in the mode to buy chotskies or knick-knacks for many years now. Then I feel badly about dropping all my "junk" off at goodwill for someone else to have to deal with! I think I'm way overthinking things! :/

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