How To Be More Intentional When Organizing & Getting Rid Of Things

What does it mean to be more intentional with your things?

woman lying down with phone and laptop getty

What does "being intentional" mean when it comes to organization and decluttering?

At a recent virtual conference, I overhead the phrase, "keeping with intention," and it gave me a total lightbulb moment.

There was so much to unpack in this one simple phrase. It's particularly relevant now, with all the gift-giving holidays just behind us.

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What is the key to being intentional when organizing, keeping, getting rid of things?

I pride myself in never being one to try to talk my clients into throwing things away. Anyone who has hired me can attest to that.

I do ask hard questions, which often lead to the removal of many items. But I never come into a client's situation with the intention of getting rid of their things.

That’s not what my industry is about, and it’s definitely not what I’m about.

I often get a look of surprise from clients, in fact, when after asking the hard questions I say, “It sounds like you should keep it.”


My job, as I see it, is to guide my clients to a place where they’re living peacefully with whatever they choose to keep, be it old family heirlooms or a box of screws.

Organizing with intention.

Intentionality is the key in today’s insane world, whether we’re talking about it in terms of before or during the pandemic.

This is something that I preach to anyone who’s willing to listen — clients, friends, or my poor guinea pigs: My husband and children.

Intentionality is the reality-check on whether we’ve taken in — or on — too much.

To relate intentionality to the pre-pandemic world, then we can talk about the hustle-bustle — going everywhere, doing everything, and accumulating all of the stuff that goes along with it all.


If we’re relating intentionality to our life during the pandemic, then we’re usually talking about how much we can reasonably get done and how much stuff we can reasonably live with as this disaster pounds us, both physically and emotionally.

The goal with intentionality, regardless of when we’re practicing it, is to be able to participate fully in whatever activity we’re choosing to do, along with the stuff that comes along with it.

Intentionality can be in relation to working toward a promotion, falling asleep, or playing tennis. It’s about being fully present and handling the stuff that goes along with the present.

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Intentionality is the art of remaining fully present in making home organization decisions.

To tie these two concepts together, we are led to an exploration of how to be fully present when we’re making the "keep or not keep" decisions.

This can also apply to time and after we’ve made these decisions. For example, living with the items activities we’ve chosen to keep in our lives.

There's an infinite number of ways to be intentional and creative with your things — and Pinterest is there to tell us all about it.

I’ve seen throw pillows made out of old flannel shirts, framed quilts made out of old baseball t-shirts, and home décor created out of old aprons — and that was just one client!


But, what about the rest of us running the rat race, avoiding Pinterest, just trying to keep up?

How to keep things with intention.

Over the years, I've kept bins in my storage area that are labeled "kids décor," "frames and frameable," and "misc décor," along with memoirs bins for each of my kids (by grade) and for my husband and I (combined).

I also have a bin labeled "photos" for those pics that I can’t throw away, but know I won’t put into frames.

Each of these bins has a distinct purpose, and I arrive at putting things in each using a distinct mental process.

Keeping things with intentionality equals peace.

As for determining what activities I want in my calendar, firstly, I overestimate how long most activities will take, be it client appointments or kids’ activities.


That’s a start and a great way to limit how much I can cram into one single day.

I also do regular audits of my needs and values, a process that's a combination of my "Coach Approach" training and Julie Morgenstern’s book, Time Management from the Inside Out.

Both of these help me keep top of mind what’s really important to me, so that if an opportunity arises, I know if I can add it to my calendar, cancel something to accommodate it, or not do it at all.


Keeping commitments with intentionality also equals peace.

Keeping things with intention is such a broad, individual concept and there is an infinite number of ways to define it.

The key, dear readers, is to check in with yourselves from time to time.

Then, allow your things, activities, and values to reflect upon each other.

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Aubrei Krummert is a Certified Professional Organizer in Athens, Ohio, who helps well-intended, yet chronically disorganized individuals live more peaceful and productive lives. She specializes in Home Productivity and works with clients across the United States, doing on-site and virtual sessions. Connect with her via her Facebook page or her website.