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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Organizing Is Often Well-Planned Hoarding

Bowl on JFM's table

We need to start thinking of organizing as a dirty word. It is, in fact, a sneaky little profanity who keeps us from simplifying our lives.

Our televisions would have us believe that there’s a battle being fought on the consumption continuum, a battle between the organizers and the hoarders. And from our couches it’s hard to see who’s winning.

We’d like to posit to you, however, that these two sides are working together, colluding to achieve the same thing: the accumulation of more stuff. One side—the hoarders—does so overtly, leaving everything out in the open, making them easy targets to sneer at. But the other side—the sneaky organizers—are more covert, more systematic, more devious when it comes to the accumulation of stuff. Ultimately, though, organizing is nothing more than well-planned hoarding.

Sure, both sides go about their hoarding differently, but the end result is not appreciably different. Whether our homes are strewn with wall-to-wall material possessions or we have a complex ordinal item-dispersal system, color-coded and alphabetized, we’re still not dealing with the real problem.

No matter how organized we are, we must continue to care for the stuff we organize, cleaning and sorting our methodically structured belongings. When we get rid of the superfluous stuff, however, we can focus on life’s more important aspects. Said another way: We can spend the day focusing on our health, on our relationships, on pursuing what we’re passionate about. Or we could, of course, reorganize our basement again.

Once the excess stuff is out of the way, staying organized is much easier anyway.