Two Organizing Quotes that Kind of Irk Me & Why

So this week I’ve been pondering a couple of quotes that I kind of have a problem with for a variety of reasons.  As I’ve been thinking about the participants of the 31 day organizational challenge (it’s not to late to join us), it came to me that there are some well intentioned organizing quotes out there that can lead you a little astray.

Take this quote for example:

Declutter the unimportant to make room for the important

While it is a perfectly nice quote, what irks me about it is that many people end up in the cluttered situation that they are in because they deem it ALL to be important so a quote like that isn’t very helpful to them.  Now of course it doesn’t apply to everyone as some get into the situation simply due to lack of time but I’m specifically talking to those that hang on to everything simply because to them every single thing they own is important for one reason or another.

Similarly another quote that is very popular in organizing circles drives me crazy!

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.   William Morris

Again it’s a great idea in theory but what I’ve seen time and time again is that people get stuck on the fact that they use everything and everything is beautiful.  Even if it’s only used once in a blue moon they can’t possibly part with it because they might need it again one day.

But here’s where I think we need to really focus our attention and where both of these quotes are lacking in explanation.  Those who have read here for any length of time know that I add a small little phrase to the end of that last quote.

This is how I think it should read:

Have nothing in your house that you do not use or love OR have the room to store.


That’s what it comes down to.

Whether it’s important or unimportant, loved or unloved, beautiful or ugly, if you don’t have the room to store it, you can’t keep it.


See how that changes everything.  No matter how much you love or use something, if you have no where to put it, you have some tough decisions to make.  It’s easy to prioritize the unimportant and unloved, it’s much harder to prioritized the opposite.

Tough but possible.

When I moved from BC to Alberta three years ago I went from a 3000 square foot three level home to a much smaller two level home.  I purged all the unimportant stuff that I didn’t love or use before I moved but once I arrived here I realized that I was still going to have to purge more because this house just had that much less space.  This meant that I now had to focus on the important, loved and beautiful stuff.

Simply because I didn’t have the room to store it.


*and no I don’t recommend purchasing a storage unit to house the excess but that’s a whole other post*

If I didn’t make these very tough decisions I was going to end up with piles of stuff everywhere.  I suppose I could have shoved it into drawers and closets or piled it up on the floor.  But the floor is not a shelf and crammed closets and drawers lead to frustration and stress.

So another round of purging happened and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy.  But what I can tell you is this…it was absolutely worth it.

I don’t miss any of it.

You adjust and adapt.

You make do.

It isn’t the end of the world.

Last week we faced the facts on our stuff, today we face the facts on what we have the room to store.  Let’s not beat ourselves up about it.  Just accept that it is what it is and carry on.

You can do this!!

Tell me something that you can part with today that is tough but necessary because you don’t have the room to store it?

Related posts:

How to use declutter questions to make purging decisions

Purge Until It Fits

Filed under: Clutter Control, Organizational Challenge, Organizing Basics, Purging


26 Responses to Two Organizing Quotes that Kind of Irk Me & Why

  1. 1
    jasi says

    exactly.. you wouldn’t put 30 muffins in a pyrex that can only comfortably hold 10, why overstuff your house? if it can only comfortably hold “this” much stuff- that’s your reality. make the best of it or readjust your values. for sure. good post.

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      That is a great analogy, love it!!

  2. 2
    Laura @ Laura's Crafty Life says

    This is really a great point. I am pretty good about purging, but there are some things I do love or find important that we just don’t have room for. I try to ask myself (especially when it comes to keepsakes and those types of items) – “Will this be important to me in 5 years?” A lot of times the answer is “no”. And if I am still having trouble with things I tend to have too many of is – “What is the worst that could happen if I got rid of this?” Usually it is not really that big of a deal and I could just go buy another. For the really irreplaceable items, I just have to get rid of some things that are less important to make room for the most important ones.

  3. 3
    Kristen says

    Books. I have a huge library, and it’s incredibly hard to let any of them go. But, right now, I have books piled on the floor that deserve shelf space and books of the shelves that need to move on.

    I would like to condense the collection so that I can get rid of one of the bookshelves altogether. I’m realizing I’d like a little more wall space in the living room for photos.

  4. 4
    Kari says

    Stuff people give my kids. It’s hard to get rid of it because I think “Oh, so and so gave them that for (enter occasion here) ” But if they aren’t important to my kids anymore I need to just get over it and chuck it!!

  5. 5
    Molly Smith says

    You always make perfect sense, Laura. I am trying to learn to let of of my parents’ things. I know what to do, but have a list of excuses like you wouldn’t believe! I know why I am doing it and getting a little better with your help.

    Have a great evening! 🙂

  6. 6
    April says

    UGH … I’ve purged, and purged … and now I am realizing that I need to purge some more … not because I don’t have room to store it … but because I don’t need to store it … I need to still have room for tomorrows memories. I’m getting used to having “extra” space … it is harder than I thought! But, I am so happy with my progress that I am not stopping with this one room … It looks so great … just have to figure out how to harness (and keep) this motivation!

  7. 7
    Michaela says

    I have been struggling to part with furniture. I have been continually decluttering boxes, drawers, closets, all the easy small spaces. But furniture . . . it all has some history which makes it harder to get rid of. For example, I went through a phase where I decided I was only keeping dark wood (which looks better in my house). So explain to me why I struggle to get rid of the 6 foot tall oak shelf (that I built in high school, like 20 years ago) that has never worked in my house at any given time (and is a light stained wood). Its to the point now where I am about to put it on the curb out front, and hopefully someone will come by and just take it. And I HATE the fact that I have an entire (antique!) bedroom set in my basement. I know I could sell it for something, but at the same time if someone said they would take it RIGHT NOW – I would totally let it go for free. I want it all out of here, I just struggle with the logistics of moving something huge.

    Luckily over the holidays I did manage to sell some furniture on Craigslist, and I have not missed one single item. Hopefully over this spring/summer I can make a goal to get some more of this furniture out of here. Or at least drag it to the curb and watch a stranger take it home LOL.

    • 7.1
      Helen B says

      Why don’t you stain the shelves to match the dark wood or keep them in a shed or attic where you can use them but they don’t have to match?

  8. 8
    Terra says

    Thanks for sharing this simple change in perspective. I have decided to part with some very large pieces of Tupperware (like the cake taker and cupcake taker). They simply are too big to continue storing when I don’t even use them once yearly!

  9. 9
    Melissa says

    Another perspective is that those things we feel are important can cause resentment. I found that the things I was keeping because x person gave it to me or the kids..I become resentful of those things and a little bit towards those people. As if they’re forcing me to clutter my home because of their gift, which is ridiculous. So I look at some things that way as well, in order to make it easier to part with them. I don’t want to dislike the thing or gift giver just because I’m unable to part with something, it helps a little for me.

  10. 10
    Jenny says

    This week I made a special box of art and writing supplies as well as some beautiful photo albums I had intended to use, to give to my sister in law and nephews. While I had plans for some of these supplies I realize that we have far too many. Giving them away to my family and friends makes me feel good.

    Another thing we did this week was to get rid of some home goods that were crowding around the house. We had envisioned that we would use them when we bought them but then we realized we don’t need them, we don’t use them and we don’t have space for them. Fortunately the store took them back for nearly full refund (Thanks Bed, Bath and Beyond!) and we made over $50!

  11. 11
    leah says

    Tonight I am consigning a LOT of my children’s toys. We have way, way too many and they were cluttering up our useful space in our home and our storage space in our basement. It was ridiculous for me to keep hoping they would play with something. There were a lot of things that I had a hard time parting with but I will hopefully make some $ and I know I won’t even really remember what it was I got rid of in another few months.

  12. 12
    Sarah says

    Sometimes I just miss you!!! I am going to purge my tool turn about and my daughters craft/ junk /store what she hides from me cupboard. Thanks for the post its a gooder!

  13. 13
    Barb says

    What a great post. (I love the picture of the mountains, too. My sister lived in Calgary for 3 yrs. and I visited her each year, all the way from Rochester, NY. Is that the 3 Sisters range?)

    My mother-in-law is trying to downsize now and she is a PACKRAT!!!! She has saved things that should have been thrown out years ago, like school papers of my brother-in-law who is now 55 or so. My siblings and I are also going through my mom’s things and getting rid of stuff. That’s exactly what a lot of it is…just stuff. My house does not have a lot of storage space so if I can’t store it, I can’t have it.

  14. 14
    Lauren says

    I am in the process of purging my house in the efforts to get ready for a big move coming up. My hobby is photography and I have this amazing vintage stroller that I’m trying to get in the mind set of letting go. It’s an awesome prop; it’s just not storage/space friendly.

  15. 15
    pam says

    Another question I often ask myself when buying something new, is “will this end up in next year’s garage sale?” I find the “little things” is what clutters things up in our house … do I really need another dollar store spoon when the other (nicer) ones are doing just fine?

  16. 16
    hchybinski says

    My conference bag set-up is pretty similar! I love to use my iPad to keep up on Twitter and FB. . .but prefer a notepad and pen/pencil for notes. Last year at Type-A, I used a Martha Stewart notebook, with some of her sticky divider tabs to separate it by topic. VERY useful. LOVE her line of stuff and the new items look just great!


  17. 17
    Corey says

    I used to be a “clearance junkie,” buying anything that was an “exceptional deal,” and loving the thrill of the hunt. After learning that this strategy isn’t practical, I now use three criteria when shopping bargains: I not only consider the price, but does it have a purpose and a place? (Will I actually USE it? And can I mentally picture where I will put it when I bring it in the door? If not, then it stays on the shelf/rack. The best way to de-clutter is to prevent it in the first place by not bringing it i the door.

  18. 18
    Chelsie says

    Great point! Now convince hubby of this…LOL

  19. 19
    Chelsie says

    (I meant MY hubby…not yours…lol…I’m making all kinds of typos today. Maybe it’s time to get off the computer!)

  20. 20
    Haphazard Serendipity says

    I am a shocking hoarder and to stop the clutter getting worse I have to avoid all the places where the useful and beautiful things are so I am not tempted to bring them home. I am afraid it is the only way for me.

  21. 21
    Christa says

    Great advice. Having room to store it is the key.

  22. 22
    Caroline says

    I’m having trouble with my tiny closet that has to fit the clothes of my husband, three children, and I. So now when I hang clean clothes up, if there’s not an empty hanger, I force myself to choose one thing to get rid of., working so far.

  23. 23
    HopelessHoader says

    I never was a hoader before now being around my husband and his mom she was always giving me things I just never was in the county before I married my husband. I do have help now with some friends.


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