Many a client has called me after their own attempt(s) to declutter and organize their home or office has failed. Why does this happen? Why do our efforts seem to only last for a day…a week… or maybe, a month, if we are lucky? Do you feel like you are missing your targets?
Here are a few of the most common mistakes we make. [Don’t worry…over the course of the month, we’ll address ways to remediate these issues to help you keep up the 2016 organizing habit.]
You put low-value items in the high-rent real estate district. Most people have caught on that they don’t need to keep Halloween decorations in their coat closet. But, if you take a look around other areas of your home, it’s highly likely that you have low-use or low-value items taking up space in the prime real estate areas of your space or easy-access storage areas. Instead, put high-priority, highly-used items in easy-to-reach places. Coats, backpacks and shoes near the door; old high school yearbooks on the top shelf - or in a storage space like a garage or attic. (Unless, of course, reliving the glory days is a common practice for you.)
Your organizing systems are overly complicated. There is nothing wrong with “good enough” when it comes to organizing. Not everyone’s home looks like a magazine spread. Most often, we have too many little containers when one larger one might suffice. Instead of sorting to an ultra-fine level of detail on lego sets, just keep one or two larger bins full of the legos. Keep the instructions in a binder or ziplock bag. And filing systems are always a culprit. You don’t need to keep PG & E separate from your municipal water bill. (Yes, it’s questionable if you even need to keep household utility bills at all. More on that later. ) Given that 80% of the things we file we may never need to access again, don’t make the filing system too complicated. Laundry take too long? Instead of sorting into whites, darks, etc., sort by person, and do everything in cold water. Then, when the load comes out, plop all of that into a basket - and get that person to be responsible for folding it/putting away.
You purchase organizing products, thinking that will make you organized. Organizing products are exploding on the shelves of retailers - all promising to be the ideal storage option for your carefully-curated items to inhabit. Magazines showcase picture-perfect, neatly-labeled baskets (never overflowing, like in real life.) Stores run continual ads which promise containers to solve all your organizing needs. So I can understand why the purchase of a gorgeous basket or smart-looking desktop product may tempt you. But buyer beware. A product purchase rarely equals an organized space without effort, too. Organization takes work - but the hardest part is simply getting started.
You set unrealistic expectations. Did your space get to it’s current decluttered and chaotic state in 3 or 4 hours? Most likely not. If you are like most of us, you have a shopping bag or a backpack full of stuff coming in a little at a time, but at a steady state. So, don’t expect your 3-or 4-hours of tidying up to give results fit for a Real Simple photo shoot. But don’t give up! Like we learned in our 31-Day GO Challenge, even 10-minutes a day of clean up will help you maintain a space that creates a feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.