Macro or Micro Organization: What's the Difference?

Macro or Micro Organizing?

What’s the Difference? Which Type of Organizer are You?

About a year ago, I was listening to the ClutterBug podcast, (she’s AMAZING, you guys!) and she was breaking down the difference between micro and macro organizing. I realized that I am a MACRO organizer, and I felt a huge sense of relief. I had been comparing myself to the images that I had seen on Pinterest and on Netflix, which are largely organization on a micro level. This had made me feel “less than” and like maybe I wasn’t cut out for this whole organization thing. But after learning that I am indeed a MACRO organizer, it helped me to stop the comparison game and get to organizing!  So, if you are like me, and haven’t ever heard of the concept of macro or micro organizing, let me break it down for you.

Macro: The Big Picture

Macro organizing is “Big Picture” Organization. In the home, macro organization would look like this: everything has a home or a zone, but these things may not be completely separated by category, or uniquely labeled, or precisely folded. My favorite example of this is our clothes drawers. All of our clothes have a home or a drawer (sometimes bins) and that is where they live. However, I. DO. NOT. FILE. FOLD. I do not have time. If it works for you, wonderful, awesome, go with your bad self. But for me, I don’t do it. The clothes are folded in a drawer, and I’m sure someone could judge me, but I DO NOT CARE! Ha! I can find my clothes, they are not spilling out of the drawer, and the system is working for me.

Micro: The Little Details

Micro organizing is more detailed organization. Things are broken down into smaller, more specific categories. An area where micro-organizing can be really helpful is with art or craft supplies. In our own home, my daughter has her art supplies separated by different categories. We bought this awesome organizing drawer unit, and she went to town! She has a compartment for googly eyes, a compartment for rhinestones, a compartment for beads, etc. A more macro-organizing approach (a.k.a Mommy’s approach) was a giant box where all the art supplies lived. My daughter didn’t like this system because it took her too much time to find what she needed. A micro approach was the correct system for her space.  

Micro vs Macro in the Digital Organization space

When it comes to digital organization, I am again more of a macro-organizer.  If I have too many folders on my computer, I will forget where I put something. If I file my emails into too many places I won’t remember what I needed to take care of. For my digital life,  I tend to make broad categories so that I can quickly and easily file things away and reversely, locate them again. However, if you love lots of folders and that helps your brain to locate things, then by all means that is the system that you should choose! To read more about how I organize digitally check out my 7 day digital declutter challenge!

Which one are you?

So which one are you? Are you a micro or macro organizer? Does it change according to the space in your home? If you would like to watch my Instagram LIVE (my first one! 😅) you can view it here: Instagram LIVE: Macro or Micro Organizing. Please let me know what type of organizer you are? Do you live for the details? Or are you ok to move on if the system is working? If you would like to join the conversation, head on over to the Facebook Group: Organization Tips and Tricks for The Organized Military Life.

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9 Responses

  1. It’s always important to lean into who you are, what works for you, and not compare to others. So bravo to you for finding a comfortable place between mostly macro, but sometimes micro organizing. I’m a combo organizer too. While I appreciate looking at consistently folded piles of clothes and labeled drawers, I recognize that it’s a personal choice and lifestyle decision. Whatever works IS the best way. So if the sock drawer without compartments works best, go for it. If folding them and lining them up in neat rows makes it easier, then do it. No right or wrong…just a matter of preferences, which may vary depending upon which areas or items are being organized.

    1. Completely agree! You have to find the system that works for you. And, if that means file folding so that you can see all of your things all at once, then do that. I just find that would be a system that neither I nor my family can keep up with. I love helping my own kids think through the things that aren’t working and help them find a solution.

  2. I definitely have a hybrid approach. I am a micro organizer on my computer or in my closet. And my bookshelves are alphabetical by author within topic categories! On the other hand, my cleaning supplies and toiletries and random things are more generally organized. And I am with you, file folding is just too much work. Then again, I hang almost everything other than foundation garments and bulky sweaters!

    1. Julie, same. I, too, hang most of my clothes so the things in the drawers are mostly pajamas and athletic gear- same for the kids. I think I would drive myself and the family crazy if everything was in hyper-order all the time. As long as everyone generally can keep up with a space I am happy.

  3. I downsized from 2,700 sq. ft. to 400 sq. ft., recently.
    I went from a macro to a micro overnight. I have no space so I rearrange things and categorize. A friend just gave me a curio cabinet yesterday. I panicked for a second because I have so much space.

  4. I love that a lot of these comments agree about hybridizing organization styles. Flexibility and situational awareness are key to making your organization system work for you and your family. Depending on the area of the house, its contents, and how much time you (realistically!) have, it could go macro or micro.

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Jana Arevalo- Declutter Coach, The Organized Military Life

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 17 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with Share-a-Sale and List & File, Military Life Binders. I receive a small commission (at no cost to you!) if you purchase through my links. Thank you! 

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