As we prepare to move (yet again), we’re faced with the same question we always ask: what should we do with all our stuff? Despite paring down each time we move, we as human beings (or maybe more so as Americans) just tend to accumulate stuff. It comes in through your mailbox, in grocery and shopping bags, and via all those many packages from Amazon (hey, free shipping!).

I recently took an airplane-ride-skim of a little book called 30 Days to a Simpler Life. It’s about ten years old, but the advice was largely still relevant. One of my favorite takeaways was to

Simplify before you organize

It makes perfect sense when you read it, but it’s easy to work quite differently. Whether you’re looking at too many shoes in your closet, projects scattered around the office table, or even todos that are rolling around in your head, the tendency might be to think “okay, I need to put all this in a nicely structured system, and then I can decide what to do with it all.”

wrong.

Instead, whip through whatever mess you have and mercilessly delete things. Delete might mean throwing it in the garbage, recycling it, giving it away, or crossing it off your mental list before it ever sees the light of your GTD app. In the end you’ll spend less time organizing, and you’ll buy less stuff to organize with.