Look for minimalist tips on organizing and you’ll see a lot of, “the best way to organize is to minimize” or “having less stuff is better than organizing what you have.”
I agree with those points. We embrace minimalism.
We do our best to downsize all the time.
But recently, while we were quarantined (for the umpteenth time), we organized our garage… and we didn’t minimize all of our stuff.
We had the donation box handy and we made a carload of stuff, but I took the pressure off myself to feel like I had to get rid of everything we may possibly not need.
I realized I have went in the opposite direction. I used to always want to keep everything I owned and now my first instinct is to get rid of everything I own. While I am fully onboard with downsizing, you don’t have to be in one ditch or the other.
There’s a middleground.
It’s unhealthy to hoard things. It’s also unhealthy to feel like you shouldn’t own anything.
If you’re a young nomad—traveling the world with nothing but a backpack—go for it! But for the rest of us, it’s ok to have some things.
I’ll say a thousand times that experiences are better than things, but that doesn’t mean things are always bad.
So I took this thought process into the garage and we started organizing.
Organizing + Minimizing
We got rid of many things in our garage, but I allowed myself the freedom to keep things if I felt like it.
We kept quite a bit. Mostly future clothes that we’ve got for all of our five kids. This is a great way we save money by buying clothes when they’re on substantial clearance (like 90% or more off usually). Or future hand-me-downs from other kids as they grow out of them.
We also have some tubs full of holiday accessories and decorations we use every year since we typically host Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house for all the servicemembers overseas with us.
Other than that, we don’t really keep many extra or “just in case” things. I do think it’s important to let go of the things you keep because you “think you may need them one day.”
Allowing myself the freedom to keep things—while also decluttering and downsizing—was nice.
Now that I’ve explained the “why” in the things we’ve kept. I’ll explain a quick “how” that I find super helpful.
A Great Way to Organize
As we organized the remaining things that we plan to keep, but don’t use every day, we sorted the items into tubs. Instead of writing the contents on the outside of the tub, we numbered the tubs and saved a note in our phones.
Now we can add to or remove things from each tub and just update the note instead of having to make a new label each time.
This is how it turned out:
I like the system and it limits us to these 16 containers at most. With seven people in our home, I think 16 total containers (other than my wife’s canning containers on the second shelf) is reasonable since this is all of the storage we have in our entire home.
We feel perfectly fine having these organized containers, especially since we know exactly what’s in each container.
Since we’re in the military and we live overseas, there are some other things we have to store and this is a way to allow for the storage… with a cap on it.
My entire point here is this: don’t idolize minimalism.
Appreciate minimalism. Embrace it.
But don’t let it make you feel like you can’t own things.
Minimalism has so much more to do with how you think than with how many items you own.
Minimalism should add value to your life, not subtract from your life. Do it your way.
Below are two books that go into more detail about this type of intentional minimalism, as opposed to just getting rid of everything you own.