The First Secret to Organizing Success

I used to own several overflowing bins of home décor.

Assorted picture frames, vases, candleholders, even decorative balls (because everyone needs a few mossy orbs on their shelf, right?!).

These containers of treasures moved with me into two different homes…okay, so that’s not completely accurate. They never actually made it inside. Instead, my sizable collection took up valuable real estate in the garage.

But I couldn’t get rid of that stuff! Who knew when I might need to frame a new photo and wedge it into my bookcase gallery? Could I bear the pain of owning a candle with nothing to display it on? What if I donated that metal wall art, only to decide I want it back, and then Hobby Lobby stops selling metal wall thingies? Oh, the horror!

As I pulled into the garage one day, those big, ugly, plastic bins stared accusingly at me from their dusty shelf. And I glared right back. That’s when it hit me…what exactly was in those boxes? I hadn’t opened them in months. I could name a couple of items, but everything else had blurred into a vague, home décor blob.

Why was I holding onto these boxes of burden? The stuff wasn’t sentimental. It wasn’t useful. It wasn’t even worth much money. I loaded the junk into my car and hauled it to Goodwill without a second glance.

As I pulled back into my garage and saw those empty shelves, I somehow felt lighter. This might sound overly dramatic, but I had been carrying that stuff with me. That junk had been weighing me down.

Now, I had more space to breath.

I had less stuff to worry about, and…

Less stuff means less to clean.

Okay, stay with me. I know what you might be thinking: “Yeah, less stuff sounds great, but where do I even begin?” The mere thought of wading through that overstuffed guest room closet makes you want to collapse into a heap.

The path to organization begins before you grab the garbage bags and dive into the abyss. It begins with the right mindset. You need to be armed with a simple, but powerful, maxim: It’s just stuff.

It’s. Just. Stuff. The first secret to organizing success. Things break. Things fade. Things go out of style. Nothing on this earth is made to last. Once you look at everything through the lens of eternity, temporal possessions lose their power.

Sure, our belongings are blessings from God, but a blessing isn’t something that sits in a closet because we can’t let it go. In fact, that’s the opposite of a blessing. That is a burden.

Those pre-pregnancy pants that shoot laser beams of guilt from the top shelf of your closet? Those are burdens.

That ugly, ceramic dog your great aunt gave you after she decluttered her own house? That is a burden.

Notes from old boyfriends, paperwork from past careers, all that emotional baggage? Those are burdens.

All the “I might need it one day” or “I’d feel guilty if I tossed it” items? Those are most definitely burdens.

I’m not telling you to KonMari your entire house and throw away anything that doesn’t spark joy, including your arthritic, incontinent dog. I’m not telling you to live like a minimalist and own only toilet paper and Saltines. I am telling you to let go of the burdens (Let it go, let it go! Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Anyway…this first step doesn’t require any external action on your part. It’s all internal. Don’t start any project until you’ve prepared your heart and mind.  Lean on God for help. Ask Him to keep you focused on the task ahead. Ask Him to remind you to hold everything with an open hand. Ask Him to show you items that could bless someone else. Ask Him for strength, encouragement, and guidance.

Don’t be discouraged if you find this first step difficult. Change won’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s a continuous process. I still catch myself clinging to something I don’t need or making an idol out of some possession, but God is always there to redirect me.

Since I love lists (big surprise, right?), I’ll leave you with a bulleted summary. This list is intended to be used BEFORE you begin, but keep it handy throughout the process. If you reach a roadblock (i.e. a “I might need it one day” or “I’d feel guilty if I tossed it”), refer back to these reminders.

Step One: Change Your Mindset, Prepare Your Heart

Use the following as the framework of every organizing project:

  1. Less stuff means less to clean.
  2. It’s just stuff.
  3. Let go of the burdens.
  4. Lean on God for help.

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” -1 Timothy 6:7, ESV

“Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.” -Proverbs 15:16, ESV

What are some things you can’t seem to let go? Do you have any tips for rewriting that internal monologue? 

Stay tuned for the next post when we will put this new mindset to action!

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