Are you making these four fatal organizing mistakes?
Most of us are surrounded by clutter. We did’t intend to be surrounded by clutter. It just sort of happened. I also think it’s fair to say that when we were little, none of us thought, “I want to grow up to have a messy, disorganized house!” Yet here we are. Our wildest dreams not come true.
There are myriad reasons most of us struggle with keeping our homes clean and organized. Here are four you may not have thought of. (See if these pitfalls have happened to you and learn how to avoid them! And be sure to download my free cheatsheet, “Tips and Tricks for Organizing Success.”)
- Not dealing with paper as soon as it comes into the house.
The mail. Oh gosh, the mail. It’s like a government conspiracy to fill our homes with paper! Maybe they are secretly subsidizing the lumber industry and encouraging the proliferation of paper. Whatever the cause, it has to go. And it has to go AS SOON as we bring it inside.
Here’s what I suggest: Walk straight to the recycle bin before you even set a single piece of mail down. Go through the mail and throw all the ads, coupons, and other items you don’t need or want in the bin. (There is no need to keep all those coupons you get, no matter how enticing they might seem. If you are an avowed extreme couponer and have a system for keeping all your coupons under control, then you can keep them. Otherwise, put them in the recycle bin immediately. You can always grab them out again if you REALLY need new windows or a $1.00 taco).
For everything that needs attention (bills, payments, etc.), put them all in ONE place (preferably a plastic see-through folder). This way you will be reminded of what you need to do, and you won’t have to go searching for these important papers, nor will they clutter up your desk or counter.
2. Only throwing out what you don’t like.
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? After all, we should throw out things we don’t like. But what about all the things we sort of like? What about all the things we don’t care about? Consider that a great deal of your clutter consists of these things that would fall into the “maybe” pile if you were to sit down and go through all of them. Instead, we should focus on what we do like, and what we like a lot. In fact, we should only keep things we love. Can you see how drastically this would cut down on your clutter? Imagine how amazing it would be to only have things that you loved! The next time you declutter, take everything into your hands and see how you feel about it. If you love it, keep it. If not, get rid of it. Somebody else will like it better than you.
3. Thinking too much.
“My mom gave this to me.”
“I used to love this!”
“After I lose weight I’ll wear this.”
“What if I need it for the alien invasion and I have to go into hiding?”
A huge part of our clutter problem stems from our emotional attachment to things, feelings of guilt, and our unrealistic, almost desperate thoughts of “I might need this later.” Here’s the thing. None of these are good reasons. These stem from a reluctance to let go of the past, or a fear of the future. We don’t want to be stuck in the past, nor do we want to be scared of what might happen tomorrow. If we were to give anybody advice for their lives in general, we would tell them to let go of their past and to enjoy today! The same thing applies to your “things.” Only keep what you love NOW, and don’t be held hostage by the secret messages from all your stuff.
“If you get rid of me, you’ll regret it! I know I’m just an ugly orange t-shirt with your high school logo, but if you throw me out, you will lose all your memories from high school!”
“I’m the best hand-knitted wool socks you’ve ever had! Even though you never wear me, your mother-in-law made them for you, and she will know if you get rid of me. SHE WILL KNOW!”
“You’re going to be naked when the aliens invade.”
Tell your clutter to be quiet, then get rid of it.
4. Trying to declutter and organize at the same time.
Have you ever tried to empty a bathtub while simultaneously filling it with water? All that happens is that you waste time and water, and the bathtub stays full.
This is what it’s like when we pair decluttering with organizing at the same time. We pull an item or two off our shelves, then rearrange the rest of the junk we have decided to keep (or that we sort of like or don’t care about). You need to pull ALL of the items off the shelf, decide what you love, and discard or donate the rest. Only when that shelf is empty and you are left with what you truly love should you put things back on the shelf. Likewise with clothes. Don’t pull out one pair of pants, decide you like it, fold it and put it back in the drawer, then pull out another pair and do the same. You’ve got to thoroughly declutter and have an empty space staring back at you so that you will know how to fill it.
Now you have the tools to overcome these four organizing mistakes and keep clutter at bay! And remember to download that free cheatsheet with 10 Tips and Tricks for Organizing Success!