Don’t Just Organize: Stop Owning So Much!

Source: alborzshaun on Flickr.

Before I knew what Minimalism was, I studied various organization tactics – I downloaded organization apps, read chapters here and there in organization books I found at Barnes and Noble, and scoured the Internet for ideas.

The Shortcoming of Organization Skills

My goal was to simplify my life without sacrificing the things and activities that I loved. I knew that good organization meant extra time – time I could use to strengthen my relationship with my wife, to help people, to build my business; time I could spend pursuing habits and activities that would make my life more meaningful, and less stressful.

As I pursued this new lifestyle of organization, I began to realize the shortcomings of simply organizing:

1. It didn’t make as much room as I hoped: Interestingly, the more space I made the more I tried to fill that space. Because my mindset was “organize” not “simplify”, it made sense to add more and more things to my collection because my organizational skills allowed for it. This of course only made things worse: The more things I had, the more time it took to organize, which meant less time spent on meaningful living, and more time spent on frustrating, tedious, and stressful organization.

2. It didn’t help my finances: This isn’t entirely true. Organizing my budget did pinpoint many “leaks” in my finances, which led me to fix those leaks. However, it wasn’t the organization that helped me minimize my expenses, it was the process of minimalism; simplifying my budget and cutting out unnecessary expenditures.

3. It took too much time: The thing I didn’t understand was that organization had to be a constant habit to be effective. I couldn’t just organize my closet and expect it to stay that way for the next month. It had to be kept up on a regular basis, which meant spending even more time managing my stuff. Not what I had planned. And as I mentioned before, the more space I made, the more I filled it with more stuff. The more things I had, the more time I spent organizing, and the less time I had for better things.

The Power of Organization and Minimalism Combined


Organization had failed me.

But it wasn’t because organization was ineffective. I had taken the wrong approach. I expected good organization to be my answer; my key to prioritization, decluttering, and extra time fishing on the lake.

Organizing things is a great habit, and I don’t want to take away from the benefits you can get from a little organization and structure. But it’s not enough.

The only way organization can be truly effective is if you’re willing to stop owning so many things.

When I began to throw out the things I never used, and resisted the urge to buy something to replace it, I started to notice my time grow. It’s a simple concept that I felt dumb for looking over – the less stuff I had to organize, the less time I spent organizing.

This is when I began to notice how beneficial organization skills could be. When I owned less, there was more of a balance of time: I spent only a few minutes each day organizing (mostly simple chores and clean up), but the results were more than worth it. I knew where everything was, I had room to breath, and I even started to enjoy working on my budget! I saw less and less expenses, which resulted in more and more cash on hand. All thanks to the combination of organization and simplification.

So in the end, organization turned out to be an amazing thing for me, but not until I learned the importance of simplifying and owning less.