Stop organizing every last thing -- that's just hoarding

·3 min read

Jan. 23—Let's get our homes organized. It's a yearly resolution many make but few finish. The average American home contains around 300,000 items; there's no amount of organizing that can fix that much excess.

Rather than trying to organize every last little thing, a much better resolution would be to rid our homes of things that no longer add value to our lives. By letting go of meaningless items, our homes become more beautiful and our lives infinitely simpler. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

Ease into this new resolution by taking a baby steps. First, take out the trash. Then build on that small sense of accomplishment by letting it motivate you to toss out whatever is unrepairable or has missing pieces. Why do we keep broken stuff around anyway?

Are you retired? Pack up and donate your old business clothes. Keep only clothing you'll wear. Don't cop out and say, "Well, it really doesn't hurt to keep this old thing." Instead ask, "How's this old thing contributing to, or helping, my life now?" and, if it's not, "Would it help someone else?" If seeing or wearing a piece of clothing doesn't make you feel good, send it on its way. This method for culling clothes from closets works just as well in kitchens and carport, too.

Do you keep stuff you'll never use? You do, don't you? Admit it, we all have things like random spices and sauces, empty containers, uncomfortable shoes, old hobby items, a junk drawer's contents, knickknacks, old books and magazines we'll never read, and strange gifts we never liked that a friend or in-law gave us. Give yourself permission to discard them all.

Then there are the "But someday I might need this!" items. Look closer and you'll likely fine you are hoarding (oops, I meant to say "holding on to") hundreds of commonplace items that you'll never use again — items you could easily and cheaply replace if ever necessary. In fact you've may have already replaced several of them many times over. In my kitchen the coffee cups, child cups, measuring cups, and plastic souvenir cups multiply at a phenomenal rate. Why is that?

Speaking of kitchens, mine's being renovated. It now contains only 5 items — a refrigerator, a stove, a dishwasher, a trash can, and a temporary sink. That's it — no cabinets, no countertops, no walls — just 2x4 studs. Please don't ask how much expired food, out-of-date prescriptions, and duplicate items we threw out or gave away. Emptying the kitchen was an eye-opening experience. It reminded me of Marie Kondo's way of tidying; empty the entire space, then return to it only items that bring joy.

Recognize your annual resolve to organize is really a desire to live in beauty, without any clutter or excess around to spoil it. For your superfluous items, places like the Sanctuary Village Shoppe and Goodwill welcome donations. Use online sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to easily sell whatever's left that's still useable.

Live well — live in beauty!

STEPHEN THOMPSON has been creating tasteful interiors in north Mississippi since 1975. For consultations, comments, or questions, contact Designer Connection, P.O. Box 361, Tupelo, MS 38802 or