5 Common Organizing Mistakes

Most people want to be organized to a certain degree. And most people think they can do it on their own. They “know” what to do. But as a professional organizer for almost 10 years, I have seen some common organizing mistakes that people make which prevent them from staying organized.  See how many you may have made:

1.  Mom makes the system, nobody gets it – This is where the frustration starts. Mom can be organized but if the rest of the family doesn’t know or follow the system, it falls apart. So mom, show they your system! Ask for their input as in, “Does it work for you to keep this here?” Then insist on a routine to get things back to normal.

2. Starting with a small area and not looking at the big picture – How many times have you organized a junk drawer? One cabinet? Or a stack of papers? But if you fail to look at the big picture it’s like arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Look at the room, decide the purpose and make sure everything in it serves the purpose. Then you can create zones for different activities.

3. Buying the containers first – Many of all fall for this. The cute bins and boxes at a home store invite us to start an organizing project. You’re in the store or looking in the sales paper and think “Those photo boxes will get me organized!” But you fail to go through the photos first so you don’t know how big a container or how many you need.  Do the CPR process (Categorize, Purge & Re-Arrange) first so you know exactly what size, shape and quantity of bins or boxes you need before you go shopping.

4. Filing every piece of paper we have, instead of deciding what we really need to keep. – This goes against my “subtract before you add” absolute. Subtract papers that you don’t need to save. If they are on-line or something that is outdated, recycle them. Keep what you will absolutely reference again, then make a file for it. Files should be general unless it becomes so big that you have to create subcategories.

5. Building a bigger closet instead of keeping only the clothes we really wear. – Again this goes back to not doing the CPR process. Even paring down a little bit of one category will save you space. Purge first and then decide if you need a bigger closet. Remember we actually use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time.