I’ve compiled a list of 9 Organizing Mistakes to Avoid to help you sidestep the most common roadblocks to a well-organized space and schedule, both at home and at the office.
1. Not knowing your personal organizing style – When it comes to organizing, one of the key elements is to understand your personal organizing style. What does this mean? It means that you need to analyze your current organizing habits before you implement new systems. For example – are you a piler or a filer? Do you like an open bin system or drawers? Are you an “out of sight out of mind” person and need everything visible or do you prefer everything to be put away? Do you like paper or are you striving for a “paperless” office? Take inventory of your personal habits and preferences!
2. Vagueness about your possessions – It’s important to know what you have. One thing I do with clients all the time is consolidate like items. Organizers are particularly skilled at identifying patterns. If you are addicted to Staples (like me for example:)), keep all your office supplies in one area so you know what you have and what you need to replenish. You’ll avoid duplicates, cut down on clutter and save money in the process. Also, when you are clear on what you have, you’ll be able to purchase the right containers to store them!
3. Boxes and bags syndrome – This is a very common one and I see it all the time. You may be so frustrated with all the clutter on your desk or your kitchen table that you just put it in a box or bag and stick it in the closet. Sometimes you may simply need to clean up in a hurry because you are having company. Before you know it there is an avalanche of boxes and bags in your closet causing you stress and possibly even a great deal of shame. Avoid boxes and bags syndrome by creating a “For Review” area and schedule time to process the items. Try and organize things before putting them in your “For Review” area. For example, if you have a large pile of papers, neaten up the stack and quickly pull items that can be thrown out.
4. Going for quick fix solutions – Quick fix solutions offer the promise of magically whipping years of clutter and disorganization into shape. If you see a storage product or new piece of technology that seems to offer a quick fix, hold off, it may just wind up as another piece of clutter, frustration and ultimately a waste of money. If the product doesn’t match your personal style, it will not work for you long term. Whether for weight loss or organizing, quick fixes rarely work. Know that like anything worthwhile, getting organized takes time!
5. Procrastination and Avoidance – If you have been living with clutter for a long time, there is a high level of procrastination and avoidance that may cause you to freeze up. This paralysis leads to avoidance leads to frustration. Getting organized is a process. Fear of beginning or not knowing where to start is a common obstacle. This can be addressed by simply making a decision. Make a decision to start with the simplest task for example or with the area that is causing you the most stress. Another great way to begin is to start with the area that is of most interest to you or that will give you the most satisfaction or have the biggest impact. Regardless of what you chose – make a decision!
6. Someday/Somehow syndrome – The someday/somehow syndrome results from not having a plan. Your plan could be a simple one such as I’m going to spend 10 minutes a day organizing my files or I’m going to come in on Saturday when the office is quiet and do a major purge. Whether your style is to do a little at a time or tackle a project head on, having a plan will help you get it done!
7. Lack of systems – Systems and routines free up energy and time – both very precious commodities. Simple systems like having a bowl or a hook at the front door for your keys can make life so much easier. It’s a small example but you get the idea. When implementing systems, the most important thing is that your systems support your habits and organizing style. Look at where things typically wind up and see if you can implement a system. For example, do you always dump the mail on the kitchen table; keep things organized by getting a basket for it so that it doesn’t take over the whole table. Using a basket will keep things contained and portable. So if you decide to process (open, review and decide on next steps) the mail at your couch or desk, you can just take the basket with you!
8. Out of control To Do lists – If your to do list is a mile long without any rhyme or reason you may find yourself constantly busy but not necessarily productive or satisfied. It’s time to step back and review. Schedule what I call a “planning and review” session. During this time you can review your list and organize it into logical groupings. You can eliminate items that are completed or no longer necessary. You can also figure out what items, if any, can be delegated. Once you have a clean list, you’ll want to plug things into your calendar as part of your weekly planning. Benjamin Franklin said that “if you fail to plan you plan to fail” so make sure to connect your to do list items to your calendar!
9. I can do it myself syndrome – When it comes to getting things done in our super fast-paced world, we can all fall into the trap of thinking we can do it all ourselves. Avoid this organizing mistake by enlisting the help of family and friends for home projects and colleagues or your staff at the office. If you own your own business, hire an assistant. By all means, bring in a professional organizer to help you declutter and implement systems that support you. AKorganizing can help so give us a call at 646-245-1248. There’s no need to go at it alone!
Is there something that gets in your way when it comes to getting organized? Fill out the comment box below. I’ll give you a personalized response! Or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.