Are You a Micro or a Macro Organizer? Here’s How to Tell (and Why It Matters)

published Feb 5, 2022
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Organizing doesn’t look the same for everyone — an app or system that works for someone may not work for you. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel super-frustrating when something that’s all the rage on TikTok just isn’t clicking.

Allie Shaw, a professional organizer in the Toronto area, has an explanation.

In a recent TikTok, she explains that there are two kinds of organizers: people who take a macro approach, and those who prefer micro-organizing. Shaw’s genius insight is simple but once you apply it, you’ll notice a major difference in how your home functions and feels. Understanding which type you are is the key to keeping your home organized, and ultimately, the key to feeling good about yourself (which in turn helps you maintain your chosen system). 

How to Tell if You’re a Micro or a Macro Organizer

So what’s the difference between micro and macro organizers? Essentially, Shaw explains, micro organizers naturally prefer to break things down into specific categories, while macro organizers tend to focus more on the big picture. Either perspective will have directly impact organizing.

Take art supplies, for example. If you’re a micro-organizer, you might prefer to separate each tool by category in specific bins — all the markers in one, all the crayons in one, and the colored pencils in another. But if you’re a macro-organizer, you would simply corral all the things together in one place.

Now, you may be thinking, who wouldn’t appreciate a neatly organized art supply bin? While you may recognize the beauty of a Pinterest-worthy organization system, the true test is how you put things back. If you can maintain the super-detailed organization for the long haul — and if it would bother you not to — then you’re probably a micro-organizer. If, on the other hand, you’d end up throwing all the stuff back together in one bin anyway without a thought, then chances are high you are a macro organizer. 

Why Understanding Your Organizing Type Matters

Anyone can do something outside their nature for a while, but if you hold yourself to an impossible standard, you’ll only grow frustrated — and throw out the system altogether. “Although we may like a very detailed and pretty look for organizing things, we might not be able to keep up that habit,” Shaw explains. “Then the system just breaks down because it’s not sustainable.”

Instead, she suggests, think about how your brain works and develop a system for organizing that will work for you. If you’re a micro-organizer, it may feel good to break down items in categories or colors. If you tend to take a macro-approach, you may decide to corral your underwear and socks or all different types of cutlery together.

Keep in mind that if you don’t live alone, you’ll need to work out a system with the people you share space with. In common areas like kitchens and bathrooms, Shaw says you usually have to lean toward the macro people in your home, since they likely won’t be able to maintain a more detailed system.

And, she adds, be open to change. For example, your organization system might change when you get different roommates or your kids get older, and that’s OK — life is dynamic and always changing.