Steer Clear of These 5 Organizing Mistakes

Organizing Mistakes - I Love Clutter (Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0) (c) Sin Designs on Flickr - cluttered office with several filled boxes, magazines holders, and folders in shelves and strewn on a desktop

Organizing products, organizing books, organizing speakers…the industry is exploding with tips and tricks promising you a slick, new, neat look in your currently chaotic space. Do not be fooled: organizing takes work, though it doesn’t have to be difficult. Get your weekend warrior on and tackle a project, but avoid these pitfalls along the way:

Organizing Mistakes - pale blue ~ 8 mail organizer (Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0) (c) Meandering Wa - pale blue hanging files with alphabetical label tabs

The Perfect System

Don’t worry about coming up with the perfect organizing system for bills or filing. Done is good enough. Grab your to-do paperwork and keep it in an ACTION file, then pull anything for current year taxes to a clearly-labeled folder. Pull out any paperwork that can be archived - saved but not needed regularly. Nearly everything else goes in a quick file labeled by the month. If you actually need to find something, you don’t want to have to look through complicated filing systems. One of twelve months is enough of a system.

Organizing Mistakes - Sewing kit and first aid kit from The Container Store - impulse buys

Impulse Buys

Seriously, do we need ANYTHING in the "impulse aisle” - i.e. the checkout line? Even at my favorite stores, I steer clear of gadgets and other little impulse buys, like tiny little labels that can’t be read, another set of cable corrals, iPhone device accessories, travel organizers…. Just skip it all. It can be a waste of money - and time. And it creates clutter.

Organizing Mistakes: Don't buy useless document storage boxes that you'll never open - Light blue document storage box from See Jane Work


You know those gorgeous looking horizontal file sorters/letter trays? If so, then you know what I mean by a coffin. They are oh-so-pretty to look at, but oh-so...useless. Paperwork goes in…and well, dies. With a stack of any more than 2 or 3 of these letter trays on your desk, you can say goodbye to whatever is in them. Just try one basket as a catch all on your desk. When it fills up - that is your cue: time to sort through the piles.

Premature organizing purchases

I am human. I, too, am tempted by the rows of neatly-placed, bright and happy-looking baskets and bins at organizing stores. But beware! If you don’t have a specific need for a certain size basket or bin, don’t get it. It will create clutter in your home or office - not organization or sanity, not to mention waste money. Marketers and advertisers would have us believe organizing is as easy as buying storage baskets and putting stuff inside them. It’s a myth. Organizing is a process - not a product.

Organizing Mistakes: Buy the right kind of storage bins! - Clear plastic Iris totes from The Container Store

Clear plastic storage bins

Not all storage bins are created equal. You need a bin that is strong enough to stand up to changes in temperature and can withstand the weight of another bin or two on top. Plus, you need a lid that will snap shut properly to protect your stored items. I always stay away from handles that can fall off such that your lid comes loose. And, I really despise the bins that have a hinged lid that splits in the middle - they are nearly impossible to close.

We all make mistakes - it’s human. But if you can stay away from these pitfalls that will hamper your progress, you will be making a step in the right direction.

#organizing #functionalspaces #organizers #filing #gadgets

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