Virginia Wells Pregnant and decluttering
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Virginia Wells

Should I Declutter By Category Or Room By Room?

When decluttering, something that’s worth considering is if you will declutter by category or room by room. By category means sorting all books at once, then clothes and so on. Or you can tackle the house room by room.

Everyone has an opinion on which method is better, including Marie Kondo – Author of The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up.  She believes that you should tidy by category not by place. She thinks you’d declutter the same space repeatedly if you went room by room.

I think there are pros and cons to each. Let’s look at each, in turn, to help you decide whether to declutter by category or room by room.

Tidying by Category

Tidying by category is good in theory but it’s unachievable for most.  If you have everything in its home already (for example, all your books on a bookshelf) then this works a treat. If on the other hand, you have books all over your house, I would say, work room by room and place things in their home as you go. As you come across other (books), you can then relocate them to their new home (or purge them as you go).

Although Kondo thinks working room by room means you’ll repeat a space, I’d disagree. Working room by room means you actually declutter your whole house. You don’t have to redo your books again, you just bring books you find onto your decluttered shelf with awareness. More importantly, working room by room means you will touch and assess every object in your home. Nothing will be left unturned. If you are forced to look at everything in the one room, you know the room is completed. You then, with awareness, bring items into this completed space as you find them. Placing them in their home.

If, on the other hand, you were to sort and declutter by category, you may miss whole sections of your house. This could happen because you didn’t note down to sort paperclips or that “drawer of stuff”.

If on the other hand, you’re already fairly organised, decluttering by category will work for you. You have a shelf of books, you look through them… done!

Sorting Room by Room

When working with my clients, I always go room by room. It means we’re sure we’ve completed everything in that room before moving onto the next space. It’s clear to both of us what you own, and where you have and haven’t decluttered. Newly located things, that belong in the room you’ve sorted, will enter that space with awareness. Sure, sometimes a category will need to be reviewed because it no longer fits its home. For instance as you’ve decluttered the rest of the house, you’ve unearthed more books that you couldn’t get your hands on in the first sweep. As these new books enter the shelves you’ve already sorted, you realise you have more than what will fit on the shelf. Now you cull further to fit them on the shelf. I think these secondary culls are a necessary evil to ensure it’s done right.

The fact is, most of us can’t get our hands on (for example) all of our craft items this minute to declutter and sort. It’s spread throughout the house and we don’t know what we have until we’ve looked in every drawer, cupboard and corner.  That’s why I work room to room and then reassess particular areas once the house is decluttered and sorted.

Do What Works for You

In saying that, sorting by category can work well for those that already have a home for everything in their house. It also works well if you have a pocket of time (say five minutes) and you want to achieve something. You can cull your stationery drawer and move on. I do give ‘category’ challenges on my Facebook page and in my Decluttering Card Deck. It’s an easy way to get something done. It doesn’t account for you not being able to get your hands on every book you own to do the book decluttering challenge. It just means, work with the books you can find and deal with the others you come across another day.

Most importantly, do what works for you.

How do you like to work? Do you declutter by category or room by room? Or a bit of both? Share your method in the WellSorted Facebook group.

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