One of the most characteristic things about decluttering methods such as Marie Kondo’s concept is cleaning up in categories. And it makes sense. To take out all the things you have makes them visible. However, there are some reasons for not following this advice.
Reasons not to declutter in categories
First of all, it does not always work well. If you have a big house, you will for example probably have cleaning utensils in more than one room. And there is a reason why you don’t want to go upstairs and get the one cleaner you have, from the bathroom, to clean the kitchen floor. That is why you might aswell clean up in what I call subcategories.
That can be like in this example: bathroom/cleaning and kitchen/cleaning. And you can always of course merge categories if it makes sense to you. But if it is meaningful already, how this is organized in your home now, you do not have to commit to some cleaning codex just to start decluttering.
Another reason to not do it this way is that the cleaning up in categories method is very messy. The bigger your home is, the messier. So it might actually prolong your cleaning process unneccessarily. I only recommend cleaning up in categories for small apartments (1 story, 1-3 rooms). For everyone else, cleaning up in rooms and subcategories might be more useful.
How you still need categories though
If you declutter your belongings room by room, you will find that it is still useful to partially do so in categories, but, as explained above, nested under each room. However, remember what order really means.
If things are in order,
- everything has their place.
- things are easily accessible.
- there is a certain logical structure.
- there are little to no redundancies in function and use.
- they have a clean structure that brings calm and ease to a room.
So, if you want to get there, you need to find a structure that makes you calm and happy, and puts all of your things in fixed easy-to-reach places. That’s about it.
However, if you declutter room-by-room and not by category, you will notice (and I am sure, we all have made this experience at some point) that some things just don’t belong. Therefore, here comes reason number three, why categories don’t make sense: There are always things that don’t match the category you are just looking at. Simply, because you do not have order yet.
And the solution to that is basically using boxes, or, if you have space, areas to put and pile those things in until you are done with your clean-up. I recommend piles instead of boxes, because boxes look way to nice and it has to pain you a little bit, you know?
Now, each time you stumble upon something that does not belong in that room, you put it on the matching category or subcategory pile. If there isn’t one yet, make a new one. Give them names, write the names on letter paper and put them on the pile if it helps.
When you are done with that room, you should move on to the next one and start decluttering it. – Preferably the room relating best to the biggest “This did not belong here” pile.
I have personally found this method very useful and I prefer it over Marie Kondo’s cleaning up in categories. As I explained, you will still need some sort of categories, but those depend on the room you’re just in. Mostly, this will make sense, but of course you should be mindful and try to see if there are inefficiencies. When you find that something really doesn’t match the purpose of a room, just think of the definition of order and find it a good new place.
Finally, I want to leave you with a book review by Emma from Words and Peace Blog. The coincidence that there is already a book called Minimalism Room by Room leads me to believe that this is in fact an interesting approach and I encourage you all to try it.