5 Home Organizing Mistakes To Stop Making

If you are like many people, you dream of finding time to get started on a few home organizing projects. Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid and tips to stay on task and be productive:

#1 Trying to get others organized.

I often get calls and email from thoughtful family members, friends, and neighbors asking for help for someone they love that’s living a cluttered life. The disorganized person may or may not live with them. If you want to help someone else declutter and get organized, the best thing to do is live by example. If you are living with the cluttered person and it bothers you, have a gentle talk  and make an agreement to set space boundaries where they put their stuff, and you put yours. If it’s a shared home office, draw an imaginary line down the middle of the room and keep your things on one side, and theirs on the other. Then keep your area neat and organized and tune out the others persons space. Yes, learn to TUNE IT OUT. Your wonderful, pristine space can become an inspiration for the cluttered person to slowly get their act together. In time, they may start looking to you for advice and help with their mess. If it’s a serious hoarding situation that violates health codes or puts you and/or the person in danger, contact a specialist for advice. I assist with light levels and boarderline hoarding, but for serious issues, consider this resource: http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding/

#2 Thinking you can organize everything at once.

An organized home isn’t built in a day. Getting organized is a process, a lifestyle change that is learned, develops and improves over time with regular practice, much like getting your body fit and toned. You may clean and organize a certain area of the house one day, but then it’s back to its cluttered state a week later if you have not kept up the cleaning. Instead of doing a big job all at once every six months, get in the habit of cleaning and organizing an area a little at a time and more often. For example: your desk. Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to file paperwork and clear it of the days clutter. Set your phone alarm for daily reminders or put a big sign above your desk to remind you. Clean and organize one small space 15 minutes daily for 21 days in a row and magic will start to happen. Don’t believe me? Try it!

#3 Organizing without letting go.

It’s a fact of life that we collect stuff. Like squirrels and their acorns, we hunt and gather and fill our homes with wonderful goods. As more things enter the home, we find ways to store them by buying bins and baskets. The baskets start to fill, overflow, and spill over. Time for another basket? No. It’s time to purge through what you have before thinking about another trip to the container store. Getting organized isn’t only about containing things, it’s about learning and practicing clutter prevention methods, and regularly letting go of things you never or rarely use. Every time you clean up, encourage yourself to let go of a couple things that are of no use, function, and take up valuable space where peace and clarity can reside instead.

#4 Allowing toys and kids clothes in the house without setting rules & guidelines.

How much do you remember owning when you were a kid? When you were 18, or 25? When younger, you don’t care quite as much about owning lots of things as you will when an adult. If you’re a parent with a child’s room or house filled with toys, clothes, and kid clutter, really think about how and why it got there. Who bought the toys? Who allowed so many gifts inside the house over the years? Think back to the simplicity of childhood, how you didn’t need but a few, special things to make you happy. Most kids are too young to understand the concept of feeling cluttered, and will live in it feeling weighed down without realizing they have a choice to live without it (recent studies have shown that collecting and hoarding can be learned in the home!) Help prevent scattered kids stuff and take a load off your kids themselves by not allowing any more children’s clothes or toys into the house until you’ve made some solid declutter decisions and set rules & guidelines for a healthy in/out exchange.

#5 Organizing without a plan of action. 

When’s the last time you jumped into a home organizing project without taking time to think about what you are doing and why? How did it turn out? How much better do you think the experience could have been or the process a bit more efficient with advance planning? Avoid rash actions that result in an argument with your housemates, partner, or kids, get organized faster, and enjoy longer lasting effects by setting goals and making a plan you actively follow over time. Use my free downloadable Action-Plan-Template to get you started. Complete it, stick it on the refrigerator, and make things happen…


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Isabella Guajardo, also known as Girl With A Truck™, is a San Francisco Bay Area professional home organizer and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). She shares simple and creative ways to stay organized while reducing, recycling and re-purposing. Join Bella Organizing on Facebook and Instagram.