Is Organizing or Minimizing the Better Solution for Clutter?

Is it better to organize or minimize? This is a question that many of us ponder when faced with clutter in our lives. In a video by The Minimalists, they address the topic of clutter, both physical and emotional, and how people often turn to organizing as a solution. However, they argue that organizing might actually worsen the problem, as it simply hides the clutter in boxes and bins. Instead, they suggest that minimizing and letting go of excess possessions can be a more effective approach to decluttering.

When it comes to physical clutter, many individuals attempt to address it by purchasing containers and organizing tools from stores like The Container Store, Walmart, or Target. They pack their clutter into boxes and bins, believing that they have successfully dealt with the issue. But according to The Minimalists, this approach only hides the clutter instead of truly eliminating it. The same can be said for emotional clutter, where we often try to organize our emotions in order to avoid dealing with them. However, by organizing our emotional baggage, we are actually just avoiding facing the emotions that we are experiencing.

Is Organizing or Minimizing the Better Solution for Clutter?

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When it comes to dealing with clutter, the question often arises: is it better to organize or minimize? Clutter can exist in both physical and emotional forms, and finding the right approach to address it can greatly impact our well-being and daily lives. In this article, we will explore the concept of clutter, the drawbacks of organizing, the benefits of minimizing, different methods of organizing and minimizing, the importance of finding the right balance, and the long-term effects of these practices. By understanding the factors at play, you can make informed decisions on how to best tackle clutter in your own life. Let’s dive in!

What is clutter?

Physical clutter

Physical clutter refers to the accumulation of material possessions that take up space in our homes, offices, or other environments. This can include items that are unused, outdated, or no longer serve a purpose. Physical clutter can range from stacks of paper and overflowing closets to piles of clothes and shelves filled with various belongings.

Emotional clutter

Emotional clutter, on the other hand, is the accumulation of unresolved emotions, negative thought patterns, and mental burdens that weigh us down. This can involve feelings of guilt, resentment, anxiety, or stress that can clutter our minds and impact our daily lives. Emotional clutter may stem from past experiences, relationships, or internal struggles that we have yet to address or process.

Connection between physical and emotional clutter

Interestingly, physical and emotional clutter are often interconnected. As mentioned by the Minimalists in their video, there is a parallel between how we handle physical clutter by organizing it and how we deal with emotional clutter. Instead of addressing the root causes or facing the emotions head-on, we often choose to hide them away, just as we store physical clutter in boxes and bins. However, this approach merely masks the problem, making it worse in the long run. It is essential to recognize that both physical and emotional clutter can have a significant impact on our overall well-being.

The drawbacks of organizing

Hiding the clutter

When we organize physical clutter, be it by using boxes, bins, or storage solutions, we essentially hide the excess belongings rather than addressing their necessity or value. It may temporarily create an appearance of an organized space, but the core issue remains unresolved. The clutter is still present, just concealed and waiting to resurface.

Delayed decision-making

Organizing clutter often involves making decisions about what to keep, what to discard, and how to categorize items. However, this process can be mentally exhausting and time-consuming. When we continuously delay these decisions by organizing, we may inadvertently prolong our clutter and postpone confronting our relationship with material possessions or emotional baggage.

Creating a false sense of control

Organizing clutter can give us a false sense of control and accomplishment. By arranging our belongings meticulously, we may feel as though we have taken charge of our surroundings. However, this control is merely superficial, as the clutter itself still exists. It is important to recognize that true control lies in addressing the root causes and reducing the clutter itself.

The benefits of minimizing

Creating more physical space

Minimizing, as opposed to organizing, involves intentionally reducing the amount of physical clutter in our lives. By letting go of unnecessary possessions, we create more physical space in our homes or workspaces. This increased space can bring a sense of calm, freedom, and improved functionality to our environments.

Reducing stress and anxiety

Physical and emotional clutter can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. However, by actively minimizing our possessions and addressing emotional clutter head-on, we can alleviate these burdens. The act of decluttering can provide a sense of relief and reduce the mental load, resulting in increased overall well-being.

Increased focus and productivity

Clutter can be a distraction that hinders our ability to focus and be productive. By minimizing physical and emotional clutter, we remove unnecessary stimuli and mental noise. This allows us to focus our attention and energy on what truly matters, enhancing our ability to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.

Is Organizing or Minimizing the Better Solution for Clutter?

Methods of organizing

Boxing and labeling

One common method of organizing is to store items in boxes and label them accordingly. This approach provides a visual structure and makes it easier to locate specific belongings when needed. By grouping similar items together and clearly marking their respective boxes, you can create a sense of order and ease when it comes to managing your possessions.

Using storage solutions

Utilizing storage solutions, such as shelves, bins, and baskets, can help in organizing clutter. These solutions provide designated spaces for different types of items, reducing visual clutter and creating a more organized appearance. By selecting storage options that align with your specific needs and preferences, you can optimize your storage capabilities and maintain a tidy environment.

Creating designated areas

Creating designated areas within your space can assist in keeping items organized and easily accessible. This can involve assigning specific shelves, drawers, or cabinets for different categories of belongings. By establishing designated areas for items such as books, kitchenware, or office supplies, you eliminate the need to search for or clutter up spaces with these items, leading to a more streamlined and efficient system.

Methods of minimizing


Decluttering is the process of intentionally removing unnecessary or unused items from our living or working spaces. It involves evaluating each item’s value, purpose, and contribution to our lives. By systematically going through our possessions and letting go of what no longer serves us, we can create a more curated and meaningful environment.

Adopting a minimalist mindset

Adopting a minimalist mindset involves embracing the philosophy of living with less and being intentional about what we bring into our lives. Minimalism encourages us to focus on what truly adds value and joy, rather than mindlessly accumulating possessions. By embracing this mindset, we can make more mindful choices about our purchases, reduce unnecessary clutter, and cultivate a more meaningful lifestyle.

Practicing mindful consumption

Part of minimizing involves practicing mindful consumption. This means being aware of our purchasing habits, questioning whether we truly need an item before bringing it into our lives, and considering its long-term impact. By being mindful of our consumption patterns, we can avoid accumulating unnecessary possessions and reduce the potential for future clutter.

Is Organizing or Minimizing the Better Solution for Clutter?

Finding the right balance

Assessing individual needs and preferences

Everyone’s approach to clutter will be unique, as it depends on individual needs and preferences. It is essential to assess your specific circumstances, lifestyle, and goals to determine the balance between organizing and minimizing that works best for you. Some individuals may prefer a more curated and minimalist environment, while others may value the functionality and aesthetic of a well-organized space. It’s about finding the right balance that aligns with your values and promotes a sense of well-being.

Combining organizing and minimizing techniques

Organizing and minimizing are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, they can work hand in hand to create a comprehensive approach to clutter management. While organizing can help maintain order and make items more accessible, minimizing ensures that the possessions we keep are intentional and necessary. By combining these techniques, we can strike a balance that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of clutter.

Prioritizing what truly matters

Ultimately, the key to finding the right balance between organizing and minimizing lies in prioritizing what truly matters to you. By focusing on the items and experiences that bring joy, value, and purpose to your life, you can make informed decisions about what to keep and how to manage your belongings. It’s about aligning your physical and emotional spaces with your core values, allowing you to create a harmonious and clutter-free environment.

Long-term effects of organizing

Maintenance and sustainability

When organizing, it is crucial to consider the long-term maintenance and sustainability of the systems you implement. Simply arranging items in an orderly fashion is not enough; regular maintenance and upkeep are necessary to prevent the resurgence of clutter. By being proactive in maintaining your organized spaces, you can ensure the long-term efficacy of your efforts and promote sustainable clutter management.

Potential for relapse into clutter

Organizing clutter without addressing the underlying causes may result in a relapse into clutter over time. When the root issues are not confronted, the clutter may slowly accumulate once again, requiring repeated organizing efforts. To avoid relapse, it is essential to address the emotional and psychological aspects of clutter in conjunction with physical organization.

Emotional impact

While organizing may create a visually pleasing environment, it may not fully address the emotional impact of clutter on our well-being. Emotional clutter can still linger beneath the surface, affecting our mental and emotional state. It is important to recognize that organizing alone may not provide the emotional release and relief that minimizing can offer.

Long-term effects of minimizing

Creating lasting habits

Minimizing promotes the development of lasting habits that prevent the accumulation of unnecessary clutter. By consciously choosing to let go of what no longer serves us, we cultivate a mindset of intentional living and consumption. Over time, these habits become ingrained, and the potential for clutter relapse diminishes significantly.

Improved well-being and satisfaction

Minimizing has a positive impact on our overall well-being and satisfaction. By reducing physical and emotional clutter, we create a space that supports our mental and emotional health. The act of letting go of unnecessary possessions and emotional baggage can bring a sense of liberation, clarity, and contentment.

Positive ripple effects

Embracing minimalism and minimizing not only benefits us individually but also creates positive ripple effects in our communities and the environment. By reducing our consumption and waste, we contribute to a more sustainable society. Additionally, as we prioritize experiences and relationships over material possessions, we cultivate a sense of gratitude, compassion, and connection with others.


In the ongoing debate of organizing versus minimizing, it is essential to recognize that both approaches have their merits and drawbacks. While organizing may provide temporary order and a visually pleasing environment, it often conceals the underlying issues and fails to address the emotional impact of clutter. On the other hand, minimizing focuses on intentional living, creating more physical and emotional space, and cultivating lasting habits that lead to improved well-being and satisfaction. By finding the right balance between organizing and minimizing, and prioritizing what truly matters, you can create a clutter-free environment that supports your lifestyle and promotes a sense of harmony and fulfillment. So, whether you choose to organize, minimize, or a combination of both, remember that the ultimate goal is to create a space that aligns with your values and allows you to thrive.