Tired of all the clutter in your home? Do you constantly feel like you are simply putting out fires instead of living and enjoying your family the way you want?
Many people are very excited to get their homes in order but sometimes there are little things along the way that trip them up. Below are some of the most common organizing mistakes that people make that make it hard to get and stay organized.
- NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START
When your house is full of clutter it is quite normal to feel lost. In these cases, I always suggest starting with the space you spend THE MOST time in, say a kitchen or a living room. Many people head straight to organize that messy basement or attic instead. They think the decisions will come easier to them because they do have a lot more junk there. This is often a mistake unless that’s the only area that is disorganized. You must begin as close to your “Center” as possible so that the whole family can reap those benefits immediately. Otherwise you end up using a lot of your limited organizing energy and motivation in a room that won’t make much of a difference in your day-to-day life.
- NOT PICKING the RIGHT SIZE PROJECT
You should start small if you have never been organized before. Pick a drawer or a closet and go from there. Or you could go for the kill if you have some organizing experience. Get to the bedroom perhaps because that is the first and last space that you see every day, or maybe tackle that garage so you can finally park your car inside. Feel good about your success and move on to the next planned space only AFTER you finish what you started.
- DEALING WITH THE “INVISIBLE CLUTTER” FIRST
That’s all the clutter that usually lurks behind closed doors, cabinets, drawers, boxes etc. If that is the only kind of clutter you are dealing with in your space, great. Start there. However if your whole house needs attention, if there is visible clutter anywhere you must attack that first. Clear those counters, walkways, tables, beds etc. Get some visual success, savor your progress and then tackle the closed spaces one at a time.
- BUYING STORAGE CONTAINERS BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Doesn’t almost everyone do this? You might think that more bins equal more organization. That is not always the case. Almost all of my clients already have some organizing products. The real challenge is not getting the right products or setting up a system that works for them. Professional organizers always suggest de-cluttering first. Then we analyze what and why you are keeping, how will you use it and what makes sense to buy based on the way you function, not because it looks great on Pinterest or that display at the beloved container store.
- NOT CATEGORIZING
In the organizing world things don’t like to be by themselves. They want to be with their herd. So create categories and put like with like. Assign everything a home so that things do not wander around the house. Have a central incoming mail station for incoming paper for example. Group things in the kitchen based on their function, such as spices, baking etc. Have a logical place where to keep items based on how they’re used.
- NOT LABELING
I believe one of the crucial steps in ensuring successful organizing is proper labeling. When you assign labels to your most used systems particularly kitchens, pantries, kids’ playrooms, clothes’ drawers, filing drawers etc, everyone is much more likely to keep using the system in the way it was intended. And no need to make it too specific! Keep the categories broad enough so they work for you for a long time.
- ZIG ZAG ORGANIZING
If this concept does not ring a bell right away I can assure you have done it at least once at some point. I know I have. Sometimes despite our best intentions when organizing we get interrupted and physically move ourselves into another room or area of the house. We find an object that belongs somewhere else and we decide to return it there, then something else takes us into another spot and so forth. We waste our time and energy by zigzagging through the whole house and get very little done. When I work with clients I suggest they put anything they find that does not belong in that room into a pile or basket to be returned at a later step. No more wandering off from the kitchen and finding yourself sorting your kids toys in the basement an hour later.
- FORGETTING MAINTENANCE
Just like every other system, organizing needs constant attention and adjustments. Maintenance is the hardest part for people sometimes. Many assume that after the organizing work is done, they should not have to lift a finger anymore, right? That would be amazing!! And it would totally work if you just STOPPED LIVING in your house!! In reality you must pick up and return things back to their original place at a somewhat regular interval, whatever works for your and your family. Some moms do it in the evenings, some use the mornings after everyone goes to school. Some others can only do it once a week, say a Saturday, when everyone is involved and can pitch in.
- KEEPING THINGS JUST IN CASE.
Need I say more? I get it. It is hard to let go. We all have those possible scenarios of “what if this happens”. What if I lose this baby weight and I can fit into those jeans again? Well, I am not saying you should disregard every “what if” but you can truly rationalize and put aside many of those.
- NOT HAVING A FILTER
Finally it really does not matter how much you declutter and organize if you or your family constantly keep overwhelming your systems with more things. So have a filter for what you choose to bring. Each time we should really ask ourselves a few questions such as: Do I really need this? Do I love it? Where will I store it? Use some simple tools that I am sure you have heard before like the “One in One out” rule. If you must absolutely bring that new pair of red stilettos home then try to make room by letting go of an older pair. Strive to keep that newly found equilibrium.