Tip of the Month: Nine Organizing Mistakes to Avoid
Are you trying to de-clutter and get more organized? If so, here are some traps to watch out for.
1. Organizing before de-cluttering.
There's no point in buying nice containers and making pretty labels for stuff that doesn't really add any value to your life. And if you have more stuff than will fit in the available space, no organizing strategywill ever be all that good. De-clutter first, and then figure out what you need to buy (if anything) to store it better.
2. Becoming overwhelmed and doing nothing.
De-cluttering and organizing take time, but plugging away at it will get you results. Here are some strategies to help you get going:
Start somewhere; it doesn't really matter where. (Here are some suggestions.) Stay focused on this area - don't keep jumping up to put things away in another part of the house. You can have a "goes elsewhere" bin that you put those things into, and then clear the bin out at the end of your organizing time.
Start by working for 15 minutes a day - or, alternatively, see if you can block off a good bit of a day to get yourself started.
Get an organizing buddy to work with you and keep you going.
3. Getting advice and coaching from the wrong person.
If you are arguing about clutter with your partner or spouse, that person is not who you want as your organizing buddy! Get someone who will question you when you want to keep the shoes that hurt your feet, the slacks that do indeed make you look fat, or the shirt with a stain that's not coming out - but who will understand when you want to keep the slightly-stained handkerchief that was your grandmother's favorite.
4. Trying to use someone else's system, rather than one that's right for you.
Some people like all their papers filed away and out of sight; some need to have certain papers out and visible. Some like color-coding; others find it to be a burden. Some people like to keep information on the computer; others prefer paper. There are many different ways to be organized; determine what works for your needs and fits your preferences. Look at places where things currently do work well for you; this will give you clues as to what else might work.
5. Making it too complicated.
Look for the simplest answer that works, and you'll be more likely to keep things up. And don't fight your natural tendencies. If you always plop the mail down on the first horizontal surface that you come to when walking in the door, then maybe you need a container for the mail right there.
6. Being too hard on yourself; looking for perfection instead of "good enough."
Organizing is not a goal unto itself - it's a way to make your life work more easily. If you can find things when you need them, you aren't tripping over things as you move around your house or office, and you feel good when you are in that space, you are probably organized enough.
7. Ignoring maintenance.
You might get things all organized - but mail comes in, the kids pull the toys out of the bins, the laundry gets done and needs to be put away. Plan for time to deal with all of this, on whatever schedule works for you. One organizer recently said that she does her laundry once every two weeks - it takes a lot of time on that day, but the other days she is free from worrying about it. That's not going to be the solution most people want, but it shows that many different approaches to maintenance can work.
8. Expecting your new system to be exactly right, the first time.
If you've made some significant changes - set up a new filing system, reorganized the kitchen, defined a new approach to maintenance, etc. - expect that you might need to make some tweaks. We set up what we think will work, we try it out - and find out where we need to make adjustments. That's normal.
9. Expecting today's organizing answers to work for the next 20 years.
Our lives change, and how we organize ourselves will change, too. Changes in work, family, pets, interests, and heath can all mean that changes in how we organize would be useful, too.
Organizing Quote of the Month
Would I buy it again?
-- One of my clients, deciding which items to keep
Organizing Statistic of the Month
Closet and storage items were the fastest growing housewares category over the past five years, with consumer spending increasing at an average of 20.5% per year.
-- Per the International Housewares Association, referenced by Nancy Keates in the Wall Street Journal
Product of the Month