You are still feeling cluttered.
It might be a stack of books or a pared down shoe collection, or your kitchen items. Whatever it is, you’ve reached your limit for what you think you can comfortably get rid of. Yet, you still feel cluttered and maybe even overwhelmed with your physical space.
If you are still feeling a sense of clutter in your living space, one of two things might be happening.
1) You haven’t really hit your paring down plateau.
If you’ve thought to yourself “I think I’ve finally reached the right number of things for me,” you’ve probably only reached your ‘comfort zone’. Here’s the thing: minimalism isn’t supposed to be comfortable, and it isn’t supposed to be easy. It is supposed to make you take a long, hard look at what is in your life and what you actually need to be there.
So, if you’re feeling cluttered and think you have reached the peak of your purging, I would challenge you to take another look. Take another pass through everything you own and be incredibly honest about what it is you do and do not need in your life. You might be surprised at the answer.
This is not a challenge to live with the smallest amount of things possible. I don’t think that is a useful application of minimalism. This is simply to challenge you to be more honest with yourself to determine if you absolutely need to live with everything you’ve kept up until this point.
Think about it another way – every person’s capacity for living with clutter is different. Therefore, if you are feeling cluttered by your remaining possessions, it stands to reason that there is probably still room for you to pare back.
2) Your possessions are not the problem.
If you have genuinely reached your peak for what you can live without and are still feeling cluttered and disorganized, it might be a more mental state than a physical one. What I mean is, something other than your possessions is making you feel cluttered. It might be a relationship, something at work or some other issue. Whatever it is, organizing your possessions over and over again isn’t going to solve it.
I know this sounds like crazy, new age bull****, but I really don’t think it is. Stay with me on this.
My journey into minimalism started after I ended a long term relationship a couple of years ago. I started purging in earnest after the breakup. I had accumulated so much stuff over the course of the relationship that was actually a mask for my discontent. Once the relationship was over, I was able to realize I no longer needed to fill my life with stuff. Maybe your journey into minimalism had similar beginnings.
If you find yourself having a disorganized or cluttered day, don’t try and fix it by organizing, decluttering or purging a possession. That will never work (trust me, I’ve tried). The best course of action is to take a step back and ask yourself what is really bothering you. Because I promise it isn’t your shoe/book/clothing collection.
Bringing Order to Your Internal/External Clutter
There is obviously something to be said for having your space clean and organized in a way that makes sense to you – but that logic only goes so far. I do genuinely understand the impulse to bring order to your external world when something feels out of control in your life. But eventually, you have to start working on your internal world as well. There are only so many times you can reorganize your clothes, spices, etc. before it becomes clear that your stuff is not the issue.
So, this probably isn’t the organizing advice post you were hoping for. I wish I could tell you my tips for keeping myself organized (as if I actually have those!). But it really only boils down to one thing – if you’re still feeling cluttered after doing a fair amount of minimizing, it might be worthwhile to take a step back and ask yourself what is really going on.