The Epic Battle! Organizing vs. Minimalism

The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for. – Laura Ingalls Wilder

There’s a reason why this blog is about “Changing the way we think through minimalism” instead of “Changing the way we think through organizing.”

It’s because organizing and minimalism are two distinct entities.

The former involves shuffling around everything you own to make it appear neater, allow ease of reference when finding things (i.e., categorizing), and to make your stuff fit whatever alloted space, closet, or drawer you have for it. Think The Container Store. I like that store, for its aesthetic appeal of beautiful and simple storage containers to contain literally every facet of your life. But does it get to the root of the problem (if you even think of your mess/clutter as a problem)?

By organizing, this act alone does not rid yourself of excess things, things which you no longer need, use, remember you even have, love, or like.

Organizing would cease to exist (along with the bountiful professional organizers out there) if you didn’t have anything in the first place!

This is where minimalism steps in, with dark sunglasses on a straight face while dramatic background music plays. He’s here and he doesn’t mess around.

I’ve always enjoyed organizing, ever since I was young. I remember as an only child (until my little brother came along when I was 15) playing by myself many days where I would arrange and rearrange all my objects, supplies, toys, and things. Yeah, it was probably because I was bored to tears (one could only watch so many episodes of Power Rangers and The Three Stooges before going a little ninja and nutty, which I’ve already become!). But it was also because I enjoyed a neat space and desk. I didn’t know back then that I wouldn’t ever use my broken clock ever again (it was broken, after all, by my karate kid moves) so I just kept it and organized around it. But now? Whole different story.

Organizing would be unnecessary if we minimized our belongings.

That’s why I choose the minimalist way. Being minimalist is simply more efficient than having to organize a bursting closet filled with clothes I didn’t even know I owned, purses or tote bags that I couldn’t ever find what I needed, and cars packed to the max like I lived in them.

When you minimize your stuff by clearing out the non-essentials, you free yourself of the time it would take you to organize everything. It just works out that way. Pretty spectacular! I’m down with that.

So why isn’t everyone a minimalist then?

Because it’s hard. It’s not easy to say no to our over-active consumerist selves. It’s much easier to give in and buy whatever we think will make us happy or fill an emptiness we feel deep within ourselves. As a result, we have too much stuff and then only realize we’re still unhappy and still have that unsettling feeling of emptiness. Now you have all this crap (literally) to deal with and it may get kind of difficult to get out of a funk when you’re drowning in all of your junk.

So, get out of your funk by ridding your junk! (Yeah, I’m a nerd and totally digging the rhyming here.)  :D


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View Comments

  1. tokyin says:

    Right! Keep organizing and organizing would not solve the problem of having too much stuff.

    And surely it won’t solve the core/root cause of the problem – have too much desire for things; try to have a fulfilling life by having more stuff; and too much pride.

    It’s like:
    Managing stress, or should we try to eliminate stress.

    Beating up Goldar hundreds of time, or eliminating Rita and Zedd once and for all…?

    Managing to live with a husband who’s having an affair, or eliminate him (or part of him =P)?

    And yeah!
    Get out of a funk by ridding some junk;
    Give ‘em to a punk, give ‘em to a monk;
    Give ‘em to a nun, but don’t give to mom;
    Battle can be won, son, this can be done!
    You don’t need a ton; you can freely run;
    Life has so much fun, son, when you wear none…!!!


  2. Fanny says:

    What I like most about minimalism is that it doesn’t tell you to buy things to make life “simpler.” There are so many products out there marketed to help people “simplify” and “organize” their life. It’s much easier to just buy one of those products in hopes of achieving simplicity instead of taking the time to go through everything and truly minimize.

    Your posts are so motivating, Nina! I’m so glad you write as often as you do!

    • Thank you for reading, Fanny! Always inspiring for me to see that what I write is resonating with others. :)

      What a wonderful point you’ve highlighted regarding one of the essential components of minimalism. It helps us to take root of our clutter and mess to find out the source of why we have all this stuff. It’s much more psychological and emotional when one hangs onto a possession for the sake of sentimentality or the fear of letting go. Yes, the person may have a lot of clutter but there’s a deeper issue here. Minimalism seeks to find out that issue where organizing may not probe as deeply.

  3. Angelina says:

    I've found your blog from Miss Minimalist. I have been reading about minimalist blogs for about 6 Months now. I am very much interested and going forward with the idea of less stuff. My DH does not like the idea but I still have hopes that he might changed his mind. I have two kids and don't really know how to deal with their amount of toys. I got rid of 50% of their toys believe or not but more and more comes in from Family and Friends. Do you think you might have a chance to write about kids toys and how to deal with them? Please help! I love your blog, please keep writing.

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