“I just need to get organized” is code for: I have way too much stuff and it’s overwhelming me to a place of paralysis, in 10 years I could legit be on hoarders.

Research sited all the way back in 2014 stated the average U.S. household has 300,000 items within it. (Yes, Woah. And also, I can’t imagine that number has gone down in 3 years of amazon prime deliveries.)

I have good news and bad news.

You don’t need to get organized.

A trip to The Container Store is not going to solve all of your problems.

Buying the perfect shelving system from IKEA is not going to bring universal order.

Those great new cloths-hangers will not actually change the square footage of your closet.

You have too much stuff.

Another addition, be it from The Container Store, IKEA, Amazon or those Dove promises from Target is not going to solve to this problem.

What you need more of: is less.

You’ve had two reactions to this news.

One, there’s relief, you don’t have to buy anything!

Two, you have no idea how to do it.

Before you go out and buy Marie Kondo’s book and end up closing the door on your guest room for a month which is now “temporarily” holding every book in your possession until you find the time to hold each one close to your chest and decide it’s joy-rating, I want to suggest another way.

Subtraction Project is a little something I started 8 years ago because I too thought that all that was missing in my life could be found out in the world in stores. The right set of throw-pillows from Target was really going to bring everything together.

Spoiler alert: They didn’t.

It was in the midst of life crumbling around me that I realized that I didn’t need a single thing, what I needed in spades was a whole lot less. Less stuff. Less noise. Less clutter. Less demands. Less.

But, a minimalist, I am not. I’m a Mom, I have more things in my handbag than minimalists permit in their entire lives. This is not even hyperbole!

So, I had to make another way and in the process I started to share it with other people because it felt good to be able to say “Hey, you can give those pens you hate writing with to the waitress at your favorite diner and NEVER grab the pen you hate again!”

Other people were happy to hear this news! They too were tired of grabbing the pen that doesn’t work.

Then we started to try different strategies:

What if we decided on a Monday that we were going to remove 5 things that weren’t working from our life? We’d have 5 less things to work around! That felt easy!

What if we turned on our favorite song and cleaned out the jar next to the stove that is literally STUFFED with utensils that we use two times a year. Wouldn’t that make putting away the 5 spoons and 2 spatulas and the tongs so much easier? YES! YES, it would!

What if we set minimum acceptable standards to our underwear! Underwear, you’ve got to not ride up, you’ve got to not be an embarrassment should a hot emt need to cut off my clothing and you’ve got to be invisible when I reach down to tie my shoes. If you fair these minimum acceptable standards I’m sorry, you’ve got to go. Buh-bye.

These strategies based on sound psychological advice (creating boundaries, time limits and standards) are the keys to success in getting to LESS.

Do I want your stuff to spark joy? SURE!

AND I want the process of getting to less to FEEL good because that feeling of all your clothing on your bed, stuck in a rut of chaos, unsure of how to proceed does not feel good. Even if it is on the supposed path of joy.

At Subtraction Project we do projects and we’re doing one in March (you can sign up for free here), you can 100% take all the stuff I mentioned above and just create your own Subtraction Project or you can join us for the daily fun.

Originally published at medium.com