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7 Common Organizing Mistakes People Make and How They Hurt Your Progress

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

As a professional organizer, I see my fair share of clients who all suffer from common organizing mistakes. These could be beliefs about the idea of organizing or steps they think they need to take before they get started.

And when I tell them ways to avoid them, they’re often shocked at how simple the shift is. A lot of these mistakes happen because of things they read, shows they watch, or social media posts they drool over.

That’s why today I’m sharing the most common organizing mistakes I see people make and how you can avoid them the next time you plan on tackling a big organizing project.

Here are 7 common organizing mistakes people make and how you can avoid them

#1 — Not doing your research

In this digital era, there’s a ton of information at our fingertips. You can literally look up anything in seconds. That’s pretty exciting, but it can lead to overwhelm if you’re not careful. Especially when it comes to organizing.

If you’re looking to organize your home, a common mistake I see is people not doing their research. That simply means taking the time to look up different organizing methods and determining which one might work best for them.

Because there are so many professional organizers, that means there’s a ton of advice. And while most of it is fairly similar, there are plenty that differ from each other. What you need to do is give yourself time to learn those different methods and brainstorm which one will suit your lifestyle.

Because the truth is, just because color coding works for someone you know, it may not work for you. We all see the world differently, and that means we all organize differently. So the first thing you need to do is research.

#2 — Buying containers and supplies ahead of time

Perhaps the biggest organizing mistake I see people do is going out and buying supplies before they need them. Specifically containers. Yes, containers and the organizing industry go hand-in-hand, but the truth is you may not need containers. Or you may need far less than you thought.

People buy containers hoping they’ll help them get more organized. But if you use containers to store things without sorting through them, you’re only hiding away your clutter. That’s not getting organized.

My advice? Do not buy any containers or other organizing supplies until you know what you need. This may seem backward, but it’s common among professionals to do exactly that. We don’t walk into your home with a ton of containers. Instead, we help you get things organized first, then we say, “Ok, now it’s time to get some supplies.”

So before you head to the nearest store to stock up on containers, put your keys down. Because the first thing you need to do is declutter.

#3 — Not decluttering beforehand

You can’t hope to organize well unless you declutter your home first. Why? Because once you declutter, you’ll have a better idea of what you have left. Then, and only then, can you go to the store and buy what you need.

This common organizing mistake is one that costs you a lot of time, especially if you hire a professional organizer. Mainly because we’re going to have you declutter anyway. So even if you don’t want to do it, you’ll need to. There’s no other way around it.

Decluttering does more than rid you of things you don’t use or need. It helps to sharpen your decision-making skills. When you get really good at decluttering, you’ll be able to bring that skill to future shopping trips. That, in and of itself, is worth the step.

#4 — Thinking you need to do it all at once

Organizing is not a one-and-done kind of activity. You need to constantly edit, declutter, and organize your home if you want to keep it that way. With that being said, a common organizing mistake I see all the time is people thinking they need to get it all done at once.

This is a one-way ticket to overwhelm and something I encourage people to get out of their heads. It’s important to know before you begin decluttering or organizing, that you do not have to get everything done in a weekend. You may not even get things done in a week.

If you plan on tackling any organizing project without professional help, accept that it may take you a month or more to complete. This will vary depending on the size of your home, how much help you have, and what you plan to do.

But no matter what, life is going to get in the way, so it’s vital to accept now that organizing projects will take longer than you expect.

#5 — Hanging on to decluttered items

I mentioned before that it’s important to declutter before you organize. Well, another common mistake I see is people hanging onto those decluttered items. Why is this a big deal? Because you’re essentially keeping garbage in your home. And it will get in the way of organizing.

That’s why I always recommend getting rid of decluttered items as soon as possible. Once you have a bag or box filled, put them in your trunk and set a date to bring them to your nearest donation center. If you’re at a loss as to where to bring items, check out this nifty list I made.

By getting rid of your decluttered items quickly, you’ll have less to worry about. You also won’t risk going through them and deciding you want to keep something. But if you want to make a little bit of money with your decluttered items, be sure to read this blog post. Who says you can’t make a little profit from unwanted things?

#6 — Using a complicated system

If you follow professional organizers on social media or read any blogs about organizing, I’m sure you’ve heard about systems and methods. These are the processes that organizers teach their clients that help keep their homes organized.

There are a ton of organizing systems and methods you can learn about. So it’s no surprise that a common organizing mistake I see is people using the wrong one. I mentioned earlier that we all process things differently. That’s why certain organizing tactics will work for some, but not others.

The same goes for systems and methods.

You’ll need to give yourself time to test out a few systems in order to see what works best for you. For example, maybe you want to try organizing your bookshelf in a rainbow-like manner. But if that doesn’t work, try putting them in alphabetical order. A good thing to practice different methods with is incoming mail. How do you plan on dealing with it? Daily? Weekly? There are methods for both.

Yes, you may find a system that works quickly or you may tweak a few to fit your standards. Either way, don’t box yourself into using a system that doesn’t work for you. That’s the fastest way to get yourself and your home disorganized again.

#7 — Having unrealistic expectations

Let’s set things straight—-no pun intended—-and get rid of any unrealistic expectations you have about organizing. What do I mean by unrealistic expectations? I mean perfection. Your home will never be organized perfectly. It won’t look like the homes you see on social media or on TV shows.

The truth is, your home will be organized in the way you need it to be organized. It’ll never match what you see online and that’s fine! In fact, I wrote a blog post all about perfection and how it has no place in the organizing industry.

The faster you accept that your home will never be perfectly organized, the faster you’ll be able to organize it in a way that works for you and is manageable. Because that’s what you’re ultimately doing: creating a streamlined home that is easy for you to maintain.

These common organizing mistakes are just some that I see my clients do, and it’s important to overcome them before moving on with your project.

As I said before, there is a ton of organizing advice out there. And while it’s a good idea to read a few different ones, when it comes to organizing your home, you must always go with what works best for you. Even if that means going against something your favorite social media account says you shouldn’t do.

Do you suffer from any of these common organizing mistakes? Have you been meaning to get organized, but can’t seem to get past perfection? Contact me today and let’s talk. Even if I help you through some mindset shifts, it’ll help you tackle whatever organizing project you have in mind.

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