Why Organize At All? Benefits To Organizing And Having Less

by Vanessa Hayes

in Organizing

Did you know, the average home in the United States has doubled since the 1950’s? Did you also know the number of household members has decreased? Yet, 1 in 11 households has to rent a storage unit. So basically…houses have gotten bigger, families have gotten smaller, yet we still don’t have enough space for all of our stuff and have to find additional storage elsewhere…yikes!!! Here’s another staggering statistic…it’s been said that the average 3 bedroom home has 300,000 items in it. What?  Really?!!!! That just seems insane, doesn’t it?  And that’s a heck of a lot of stuff to manage and take care of.

In my last post, Why We Can’t Let Go Of Our Clutter, I discussed some of the sociological and psychological reasons why we have so much stuff. In this post, I’m going to suggest we combat those urges to have more stuff and offer you some benefits to organizing and having less.  Are you interested?  Ok…here we go:

You’ll save money! It’s pretty simple: less stuff = less money you’ll have to spend…especially on off-site storage rentals! Also, knowing what you have and where things are located you’ll save money because you’re not rushing out to the store to buy duplicate items of things you have but weren’t able to find. You’ll also save money on going out to eat if your kitchen is organized and you’ve planned your meals in advance. And how about this? You’ll save money on late fees and intrest rates if you have a good system of tracking and managing your bills.

You’ll have more usable space. By having less stuff you’ll be able to properly utilize desktops, counterspace and your dinner table. You can have adequate space for your children to play and do homework instead of having to search and clear a space for them to use.

You’ll help avoid “analysis paralysis.” When you have too much stuff, sometimes it’s difficult to make decisions. Take clothes for example. When you’ve got too many clothes sometimes you waste time figuring out what to wear. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about don’t you? Yes, I’m stereotyping but I know some of you have spent 1-2 hours planning for a trip because you couldn’t decide what to wear and pack in your suitcase. Am I right?  Hey…I’ve been there too. And what about your kids? Give them a hundred options of what to play with and they’ll be frozen trying to decide. Give them only 3 and the choice is pretty simple.

There’s less to clean! I used to have a lot of knick knacks and a lot of plants. Those extra things used to cost me time and energy having to clean, dust and maintain them. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of dusting. Yes…it’s necessary, but I don’t enjoy doing it. So the less I have to dust the quicker I can get on with cleaning and the quicker I can finish!

You can invite guests over without hesitation. Most of us love spending time with friends and family. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have them over to your welcoming and comfortable home without feeling embarrassed or in a rush to clean it up? Well, you can have that. By getting your home organized and by setting up simple systems and routines to maintain your organized home, you can easily have guests over without breaking a sweat!

You’ll be more productive. By having systems in place like a weekly schedule of chores, a dinner plan, allotted time to run errands, a combined family calendar, and clutter cleanup routines, you’ll know what times are reserved for specific tasks and what times you’ll have to work on other priorities in your life. Sporadically running errands and doing chores makes it very difficult to manage your time. Instead, if you have a firm grasp on your time, you’ll be a heck of a lot more productive.

You’ll  have better concentration. I would say for most people, clutter can be very frustrating and very distracting. That’s probably because those piles of papers, heaps of laundry and sink full of dishes are haunting you and reminding you of all the stuff you still have to do. Personally, I cannot concentrate on work when my office is a mess.  In college, I vividly remember my sister and I cleaning our apartment before we studied for exams because we couldn’t concentrate. Clutter is a concentration killer!

You’ll save time. They say the average person wastes about 55 minutes per day searching for things…keys, files, tools, clothes, etc. That’s a lot of time over the course of a year! One of the key components to being organized is having “a place for everything and everything in its place.” By knowing exactly where things go you won’t waste time searching for items.

You’ll have a sense of control.  Control = Confidence = Nicer You! Professional organizer, Elizabeth Hagen has a book and gives speeches about how to, “Organize With Confidence.” She tells a story about how disorganized she was at one point in her life and how that disorganization really affected her self-esteem and her relationships. She admits she wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around. But once she started to get organized, she noticed she had more confidence and was a lot more pleasing to be around.

You’ll have a feeling of calm and peace of mind. In one of my graduate courses, the professor asked all of the students to introduce themselves and tell everyone where their favorite place in the world was. Folks rattled off places like the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Swiss Alps, Ireland, Japan and so on. When it was my turn I simply said, “my home.”  No matter where I lived…an apartment, a dorm room or a a house…I’ve always been able to make it a beautiful, comfortable and relaxing place to be. My home has always been my sanctuary…my escape from the hectic jobs and life I lived outside of it. The last thing I wanted after a 10-15 hour day at work was to come home to a place that caused me more stress and anxiety. So I made it a place of peace and calm…that’s what having an organized home is all about.

So there you have it.  At least 10 reasons and benefits to organizing.  And if that isn’t enough, here’s one more reason:

It’s better than sex!!!  According to a New York Times article in 2001, IKEA did a survey of customers in which 31% reported they were more satisfied after clearing out their closets than they were after sex. Hmm….I’m surprised there aren’t more clutter-free closets out there!!!!

photo credit

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz September 23, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Hi Vanessa and Dan,
I’ve been meaning to write to let you know how much I enjoy your podcast. You motivate me to keep trying…as Churchill said, “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”
As you see my blogspot/tumblr blog name, it’s a challenge. I do my best…well, probably not my best…or I’d have figured it out by now.
Maybe it’s best to say that I keep trying.
We are truly blessed to live in a happy home (mostly happy, but we do have teenagers), my husband and I are still in love after 20 years of marriage…when he asked my mom’s permission to marry me, she said,”If you think you can handle her!”.
I’m sure she meant that in THE most loving way! When things get crazy around here, he says, your mom warned me!
It’s a constant challenge for me/us to simplify and organize.
I’m a serious donation diva. I am forever sorting, cleaning, tossing and donating. STILL, it’s all too much. I’m proud to say, we have an empty attic. I’ve been slowly and steadily working on clearing out the basement STUFF for months. Our garage is the catchall…the stuff goes out and remains in a holding pattern until I figure out where it should go.
Yesterday, I gathered all of my extra art/ craft supplies (in neat bins!) and gave them to the mom next door for her kids to use for school projects.. It delights me to know things will be used AND the kids next door love the surprises that come their way.

This is a long overdue thank you!
Forever working on it….
Liz Neighbors (it’s a name, not an address!)

Vanessa Hayes September 30, 2013 at 8:55 AM


Thank you soooo much for listening and sharing your story! I’m so glad we are able to help motivate and inspire you. But it sounds like you’ve got a loving and supportive family which helps immensely! You know, we don’t have a lot of clutter…but sometimes I still feel like we have too much too. So I/we continue in our efforts to edit, eliminate and downsize our possessions. It’s hard sometimes, but I just mark a date on the calendar…get Dan to “buy-in” (wink)…and we tackle our projects. We have round #2 in the garage that we plan on hitting in November. Then we need to hit our papers again. Notice I said “again”….getting and staying organized is a process and a continuous cycle….but so worthwhile! Again, thanks for sharing and sending your kind words!

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