Benefits of being Organized

Can you believe Al and I are in our sixth year of living in the RV full-time? I know, I can’t! I assure you, we have learned a lot during those six years of living a minimalist RV lifestyle. We’ve also learned the do’s and don’ts of downsizing and the importance of organization. Ah, to go back and be given a do over … hindsight is twenty-twenty!

Summer planning

With summer just a few short months away, Al and I are in full summer planning mode, and at the forefront of our plans is a stop in southern Colorado to visit our storage units, as in plural. Yes, two storage units … sigh! Remember that do over I’d like? Oh, to go back and whittle down all that crap stuff that we’ve hardly missed over the past years.

In our defense, at that time, Al and I weren’t committed to living in the RV full-time for much more than a year or two. Little did we know how addictive this RVing lifestyle can be. Sure, we’ve thought about buying another sticks and bricks home and have even put contracts in on houses during the past six years, but when negotiations would stall, Al and I were always flooded with a sense of relief.

The reality is, we’re not ready to return to a traditional home … just yet, anyway. We know eventually that day will come. Until then, it’s time for us to think about all that stuff we’ve been foolishly storing for the past six years. It’s time to regroup, tidy up, and organize. Where was Marie Kondo when I needed her?  But then again, would I have listened to her advice? Purging stuff is hard work!

What I’ve learned living in an RV

I’ve learned a lot about living a more minimalist lifestyle, but at the top of that list would be the realization that our living space and the items surrounding us can impact mental saguaro cactus at sunset Phoenix Arizonahealth immensely.

If our RV is cluttered or unorganized, I don’t feel my best. As a matter of fact, I feel unsettled, stressed, and less than energetic. Living in a small space requires organization.

Studies have shown that organization can have a positive impact on one’s mental health, and I can vouch for that.

I’ve also learned that I can live with fewer belongings … fewer purses, fewer shoes, fewer kitchen gadgets, fewer everything.

Do I really need six pairs of athletic shoes and eight pairs of sandals shoved in a small cabinet in the RV? Of Course, I do! Well, maybe! Okay, no I don’t! It’s all about that word need.

I haven’t even talked about clothing yet. Did you know, the average person only wears 50% of the clothes in their closet? I can’t believe Al and I have six wardrobe boxes full of clothing in storage. I’m embarrassed even typing this 🤦‍♀️ I’m sure most of those items are still in fashion (not) …. and fit!

How NOT to downsize!

When Al and I first moved in together (many, many moons ago), we lived in a small one bedroom condominium in the Chicago suburbs. Between the two of us, we barely had enough stuff to furnish that 700 square foot condo. My how times change.Thirty years, a couple of cross-country moves, and several houses later, we found ourselves downsizing from a fully furnished, every closet full, 4,600 square foot home.

It was overwhelming to say the least. Fortunately, we had a few months to sort, declutter, purge, and organize, but still, we did not get rid of nearly enough stuff. I think subconsciously, all that stuff represented a sense of success to me.

leaves floating in water

From 4,600 sq. ft., we moved into an 1,100 square foot rental. That’s when the first storage unit was rented. While living in the short-term rental, we built an 1,800 square foot home with another 1,800 square feet of unfinished basement. Can you say, “lots of storage space in that basement?” Yeah, most of that stuff in the storage unit, was once again moved and distributed throughout the new house, garage, and basement … only to be moved again two years later. Seriously, what were we thinking!

It was also during this time of multiple moves that we bought our 5th Wheel. She was purchased with the intent to travel in part-time, and was never intended for us to live in full-time. We went full-time RVing on a whim! And we did that downsize within thirty days.

Thirty (30) days to whittle down all our belongings and move into less than 300 square feet of a moving RV. Whatever were we thinking? (did I already say that 😆) Thus, two stuffed 10×10 storage units were rented. Our goal this year is to purge down to one unit. A lofty goal indeed.

junk in the trunk
This is not my stuff (thank goodness). My daughter and I went to a “Junk in the Trunk” event and fortunately walked out empty handed. And yeah, it was mostly junk!

Why organization is key

  • Once you declutter and organize your things, you’ll be more efficient in your day-to-day activities. You might even notice, you actually know where things are placed. Now where’d I put those car keys?
  • Organize your stuff, and your life will be more organized.
  • When it’s time to clean, it isn’t as difficult to tidy up because things are already organized and in their proper place.
  • Purging and decluttering is freeing. It’s like a weight or responsibility is lifted from your shoulders. Less stuff, more freedom!
  • When you work in a tidy and organized space, chances are, you’ll be more productive. Organization helps you think more clearly.
  • There’s a sense of satisfaction when you step back and look at your organized, clean, tidy and decluttered living space.
  • Having an organized home can lead to an organized mind which leads to improved mental health.
  • Keeping your home organized, tidy, and decluttered, will make any future move much easier. Trust me on this one! Can I have a do over, please?

Minimize, simplify, organize

Regardless of the size of home you live in, keeping your space organized and tidy will have a positive impact on all aspects of your life and those surrounding you. And when the time comes for you to move to a new home, the battle is half done. You’ll be ready!

Learn the benefits of organization, why keeping a tidy home is important

 

(affiliate links)

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Collapsible Storage Bins – Foldable Storage Box Containers
Simple Houseware Closet Underwear Organizer

59 thoughts on “Benefits of being Organized

  1. I’m with you all the way Ingrid. Cluttered place means cluttered life. Wish I get Paul on board though. He has inherited the ‘keep it just in case’ mentality from his parents. It’s our one bone of contention. I live by the 20/20/20 rule. If it can be replaced for less than $20, withoutdriving more than 20 kms, and a replacement can be found in less than 20mins – then out it goes. I’ve tried to challenge him to 50 day challenge, day 1 – 1 thing gets thrown. Day 2 -2 things get thrown, right up to 50. He looks at me like I’ve got two heads. I’d even settle for a ten day Challenge!

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  2. It’s incredible how few belongings one needs to be happy and sufficient. I never really lived in a house as an adult, except my first two years out of college (well, after a year of backpacking), during which I never collected anything. So, it’s been quite easy for us/me to move into campers and boats. Moving from a sailboat to a camper was always the hardest as that is a massive space decrease as well. When we sold our last sailboat, we flew back to the US with two suitcases and carry-ons each. That had to do.

    I totally agree with your organization comments, Ingrid. I LOVE tidying up and finding spots for everything. So, grocery shopping and then storing everything is a highlight for me. Love the challenge. 🙂 And, at the same time, finishing up all the food and creating more room (as I LOVE to get rid of stuff) is equally as satisfying. And then, the cycle starts again. I couldn’t live anywhere cluttered, whether it is a big space (what’s that? :-)) or a small space. To be honest, I don’t even know how many square feet our 19ft camper is.

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    1. There was a time we owned two fully furnished homes. 4500 sq.ft. that we lived in and a 3000 sq.ft. model home for business. Although, we used our personal home for business as well. That was a lot of furniture and ‘stuff’ to unload. I’m getting a headache just reminiscing. Agh, a fair amount of that stuff is still in storage. I’m getting closer to just tossing it all 😀
      You still plan on being in the Phx valley?

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      1. Right now, we’re thinking we might swing by Phoenix sometime the first week of March. I’ll keep you posted! Next week, the weather is finally about to change into nice and warm and then we can finally start exploring some. 🙂

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    1. I’m not sure how I’d handle living in 19 sq.ft. 300 is small enough for me. Although, if it were merely a few months, I think it would be fine, but organization would be key.

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  3. Good day Ingrid! It’s a blast-from-the-past =-) Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl =-)
    I’m going by Holly now, giving my own biz a go & blogging again.
    Wow! 6 years already! I feel like it was about that long when I started blogging / following you (2013ish).
    I’ll have to come back here and stalk your blog for more great info. Every year goes by faster, bringing hubby & I closer to getting out there. I have upgraded a few things since we’ve last had contact… A diesel truck and we’re picking up our new 5th wheel toy hauler in 3 weeks 😯 We weren’t planning on upgrading this fast, however our current trailer is a bit of a lemon & my feet have gotten problematic….Yadda, Yadda… Want to get out there now, B4 we’re too decrepit to do it!!!
    See you in the Reader!!

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    1. Oh my Holly, your ears must have been ringing. A couple of weeks ago, I went into my Reader and started cleaning it up … in the process, I was looking for you and wandering where you’ve been. I’ll be sure and head over to your site to follow. BTW, we are planning on being in WI this summer. Al’s sister lives in Hayward. Maybe we can RV rendezvous some place in WI in August. Great hearing from you and congrats on the new equipment 😃

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  4. I “Marie Kondo’d” my closet a few weeks ago! Always feels so good when you complete this kind of exercise. Although I am generally pretty good at organizing, I would have a ways to go to get down to living in an RV. So many great tips you shared Ingrid.

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    1. It does feel good to “Marie Kondo” our home. I worked through my bedroom drawers last week, and this week it’ll be the closet. We need to lighten the RV before hitting the road this summer. Amazing how much we can accumulate!

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  5. Minimize, simplify, and organize take some disciplines. I tried to work on one area at a time, then do a major task once a year. Thank you, Ingrid for sharing the tips and keys.

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  6. May I recommend a book called “Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go” by Marni Jameson and Mark Brunetz for anyone who could use a little hand holding or a step by step guide to downsizing? I thought the book, in general, was excellent and one point in particular made a deep impression: We often hold onto objects not because the object itself is useful or important to us, but due to the memories that are associated with it. That perspective rang true for me and made a huge difference in my approach to decluttering and purging.

    As for the RV, it’s a place where my minor obsessive-compulsive tendencies are particularly useful! Good luck with your storage units, Ingrid!

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  7. Having cleaned out a storage unit in the last six months. I understand what you will be going through. “Why on earth did we keep such and such”, was muttered on more than one occasion 🙂 I love living a minimalistic lifestyle, and luckily I am not a hoarder, though having said that I do now own more “stuff” than we did when we were nomads and previous to that full-time motorhomers!!

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  8. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Storage units are full of decisions that haven’t been made.” Although our house is pretty organized and we don’t have a storage unit, our garage has a few more unmade decisions that we’d like (we can fit two cars in it, though!). Good luck with the combining of your two units into one!

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    1. Love that quote and answers a few of my questions. I know when we did that last downsize, it was done in a rush and I had trouble making decisions. Hopefully, I won’t have the same problem this June.

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  9. I agree in everything you say, especially where you say it’s like some weight is lifted from your shoulders. love creating space and discarding stuff that we don’t use anymore at home, once every week. And it feels so liberating. 🙂

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  10. Dave used to be so disorganized, then we moved in together. I’ve always been a believer of organization and less clutter, which didn’t necessarily mean less stuff. Our 5×10 storage unit is only half full, one day if we ever get a stationary place I’ll enjoy going through the treasures, but for now, they only cost $200/year and we check on the place when we visit my folks. In the RV I know where everything is but the basement, Dave supposedly knows where everything is. Congrats on 6 years, our 6 year anniversary is 5/1. Where did the time go?

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    1. Al is not the most organized, but I’m trying to help remedy that (at least temporarily). We’re working our way through the RV … every cupboard, drawer, closet, etc. and lightening the load for our trip this summer. We’ll see how well that goes 😏

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  11. Awesome article. We are going with a 5×5 or 5×10 storage unit. And hopefully staying on the road 6 years or more. If it was up to me we would have no storage unit and I’d just leave a single tote of stuff at a relatives. But Karen has a couple collections she wants to keep and there are those family things of value she wants to keep for now. You have to ask yourself when you pick something up “does this give me pleasure/happiness” and if not throw it out. I’ll compromise. It’s all junk in the end. I’d rather have the memories.

    When I was single everything had it’s place and I agree there is a feeling of less stress because of it. Regarding storage in the RV, that one is simple. I look for something for 10 minutes and then ask Karen where she moved it.

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    1. You and Karen are downsizing the right way, but then again, you’ve had more time. I did my last downsize from the house into the RV in 30 days. It was overwhelming. Given more time, would I have purged more? I’m not sure, but like you said, “It’s all junk in the end”. I’ll remind myself of that quote when I’m face to face with those storage units 🤪

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  12. In 5 years on the road I’ve learned that downsizing and organizing is an on going process. lol I’m down to one small storage space. I’m checking on it on May.

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    1. Maybe you’ll find yourself down to zero storage units. Wouldn’t that be nice? We have a lot of stuff stored for our kids, but now they’re thinking they don’t want some of that stuff. Sure wish they would’ve said that 6 years ago 😖

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  13. I was impressed with how you had your RV arranged and organized, Ingrid. Hans’ first travel trailer was a mess (he lived in it before we met), and I vowed with our new one, to keep it all simple. All of us have too much stuff and Marie K is helping me, Lol! We are working on purging our junk…I have this horrible picture in my head of my daughters having to sift through all our stuff if we died suddenly! You are so right about how living in clutter clouds our minds and causes anxiety! Enjoy your summer planning!

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    1. Thanks Terri… And I’m always purging and reorganizing in the RV. I’m a little OCD and can’t handle too much clutter which is difficult in 300 sq.ft. Let’s hope I find myself unloading half that crap in storage and feeling lighter for it. Fingers crossed!

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  14. Your photos are so pretty. It does feel good to get rid of things. I am in the process of doing this now. I am so bad about sentimental items but I am getting better. My son had a bunch of Star Wars figures and I told him to keep his favorites. I put them in a huge shadow box frame and now it hangs on his wall. We have donated a lot of items and it feels good and does make our lives better. Great post, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! That’s a great idea with the shadow box. My biggest problem purging will be the sentimental items, but really, how many child craft projects should I really keep? And my kids aren’t even interested in them. So I see garbage bags in my future 😎

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  15. We purge and then we purge and then we add more……….lol!

    Here in AZ with no basement we have to be well organized. We get creative at times.
    😊

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  16. We got rid of an amazing amount of stuff when we went FT. But we knew in a year or 2 we would be in a house again PT and had 3 storage units to empty last June. Yes, we still have stuff we could get rid of. But we use the majority of what’s left. When we are in the rv we are very efficient. Everything has a place. The nice thing is, being PT we don’t bring as much stuff with us. And we plan to keep the house uncluttered this time!

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    1. When we do our trip back to the Midwest this summer, we intend to lighten up the load in the RV first (thanks to our son’s garage). When traveling PT, there’s so much stuff that isn’t necessary to bring along. We were only supposed to be FT less than 2 years which is why I kept as much as I did. But …. now it’s time to unload some of that stuff!

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  17. Oh my! This couldn’t have come at a better time! We are decluttering to prepare for our house to sell this spring/summer and purchase our 5th wheel for FT RVing. I am not having as much trouble letting go of stuff as my hubby is! He wants the storage unit, I firmly disagree. We can pack 4-6 totes and leave them at our family cabin. I think I’ve realized I don’t want to deal with all my junk even once we go back to sticks and bricks… your post has confirmed my thoughts on this matter. Best of luck with downsizing the storage units! Yikes. (I may be there one day too!)

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    1. Thanks … totally agree with your idea of totes at the family cabin. Those storage places raise their prices every year and it starts to add up. Good luck and you’re smart to give yourself the time to downsize the right way.

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  18. I have been downsizing for the past two years! Every week, something gets mailed to an Ebay buyer or a consignment shop finds a buyer for me. My motivation is the expectation of moving into a 900 square foot “forever” retirement home hopefully within 3 years. A constant reminder is a look at my 90-ish parents in an assisted care facility, living with only 2 chairs, one bed and one wardrobe. Someday, you and I will be there . . . yet sadly I see many folks in their 70s denying the reality of having to downsize. I suppose their kids will toss it all . . . and that’s another problem, the landfills for all this crap.

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    1. Nice to hear from you Terri. Yep, you are right about us “being there” one day. I’ll be confronting those storage units with a whole new perspective this go around. Good for you – planning and preparing the right way. I should take note!

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  19. If we are in one spot for more than 2 weeks, stuff starts to pile up. It’s a good thing we have to fold up and go dump every 2 to 2 1/2 weeks. But ya, I have tidy too. Clutter in a small space is no fun. We moved into the RV so fast we shoved stuff in storage at Al’s shop in Utah. This past fall I got tired of being overwhelmed by it all and got rid of a ton of stuff.

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    1. I hear ya Mary. We too moved into the RV rather quickly and stuff got shoved into boxes and then storage. I’m hoping to look at things with a fresher mindset. Should be interesting!

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