There are several organizing mistakes that I frequently see when working with my clients. The following is a list of the most common ones. Hopefully, this list will help you learn to recognize and avoid these common organizing pitfalls so that they don't bring your organizing efforts to a sudden halt.
1. Resist Shopping Before You Organize
It is best not to shop before you start a project but I see this one all of the time. For one thing, it is impossible to know exactly what, how much and what size products you need before you finish the sorting and purging part of your project. You may be surprised to find that by the time you get that far, you end up needing to buy much less than you anticipated. This happens because once you have sorted through all of your things, and have let go of what you no longer use, you likely will end up with some available empty containers that were once full. You will spend less money and purchase more functional products if you wait.
Another important benefit to shopping later rather than sooner is that you can use getting to this step as a motivational incentive to get the hard part of the project done first. In other words, put in the effort first, then you can reward yourself by shopping for products. Shopping is the easiest and most enjoyable part of the job, so if you shop first, you risk losing your interest and/or motivation to continue.
2. Don't Shuffle Clutter from Room to Room
If you catch yourself filling up a different room in your house each time you organize the one you are working in, you may be caught in the shuffling trap. Be careful not to make the mistake of moving things from room to room instead of letting go of or find a home for them. If you do this, you will never finish organizing! It is so easy to make this mistake because it is harder to make decisions about whether to let something go or where to store it than it is to just move it. It is tempting to push off decisions until later in order to get a room that has been driving you crazy cleaned out - especially if you are short on time. The problem is that if you are only postponing decisions, no real progress is being made.
Additionally, If you can’t find permanent homes for things because your storage spaces are already full, this may be a sign that it is time to go through your closets and cabinets and clean them out in order to make room for new things. Making some empty storage space so that you can put things away, will usually put a stop to the shuffling game.
3. Focus on Your Successes, Not Your Failures
If you are facing a big job, focus on what you have completed as you go, rather than on the sometimes-overwhelming amount of work that lies ahead. By staying focused on your progress, you will give yourself the motivation and determination to keep going. Be sure to take pictures before you start so that you can look back at where you started and clearly measure your progress. Relish in the progress you have made each step of the way and be careful not to let a small slip up or delay in your progress derail your effort to move forward.
Success comes by taking small steps forward and building on those successes. Nothing stops progress in its tracks like beating yourself up for not being perfect. Stay focused on your goal. With each small success you will gain more confidence in your own ability to change and overcome, and you will learn to trust yourself one victory at a time.
4. Don't Get Overwhelmed by Organizing Too Large of a Space at Once
Have you ever spent the day running around your house doing a little organizing here and there, in a haphazardly way, and by the end of the day, you are exhausted yet can’t see any tangible results? This can leave you feeling like your efforts have been futile. Instead, focus on one small space at a time and break up large rooms into small chunks. If you can get your kitchen island organized, you can get your pantry organized. If you can get your pantry organized, you can get your kitchen organized. If you can get your kitchen organized than you can get your whole house organized. Breaking a project into small manageable chunks not only prevents you from getting overwhelmed, but will help you to clearly see your results as you go. This is important because at the end of the day, if you can open your pantry or closet and see the fruit of your labor. This will provide you with the encouragement you need to keep going.
5. Don't Start Your Organizing Quest with a Difficult Category of Clutter
If you have several areas in your home that need attention, leave keepsakes, photos and paperwork until last. Tackle these categories later because they are the most emotionally challenging and can also be very time consuming. Both photos and keepsakes can take you for a walk down memory lane and the next thing you know you are out of time and not much progress has been made.
In the beginning, you will want to target a category that will enable you to make more rapid progress. A bedroom closet, a bathroom or perhaps a pantry are all easier places to start. Once you have gained momentum and have already completed most of your other organizing projects, you can then dive into these tougher categories of clutter.
6. Stop Making Excuses About Letting Go of Clutter
I often hear the same excuses for not letting go of things, such as “I might use this thing someday” or “I should sell this thing” or, “I don't use this thing, but I paid a lot for it, so I should keep it.” And my favorite; “This thing was a gift so would feel guilty if I got rid of it.” These excuses become the barriers that get in the way of our being able to free ourselves from this kind of clutter. Be firm about what stays in your home, and let go of the excuses that bind you to the things that you don’t use. If an excuse traps you into keeping something consider alternative choices. For example, in the case of “I should sell this thing,” If it is thing is truly worth the time and money it takes to sell it, then commit to selling it now rather than later.
7. Don't Postpone Decisions
Any given item usually has a whole set of strings attached to it…Should I keep it? Will I use it? Where shall I store it? Or perhaps...How should I get rid of it? Much of the clutter in our homes ultimately represents indecision, and it is tempting to put off all of those difficult decisions until tomorrow. But you will be doing yourself a great favor if you take a deep breath and face it now rather than put it off until later. Whether you are dealing with clutter from the storage room, laundry room or kitchen, deciding to decide now will prevent build up from accumulating as time goes by.
Written by Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.