5 Organizing Mistakes Everyone Makes
Professional organizer Sarah Reynolds shares common missteps and the easy ways to fix them in her new book, Organised.
Trying to Be Perfect
Many people with clutter in their space, and in their schedules, are perfectionists. What can we do to help make decisions when it comes to organizing?
One solution is getting comfortable with being 'good enough.' With organization being 'good enough', with projects being 'good enough'. Organized people are very aware of their time and therefore prioritize. Prioritizing allows tasks to get done well enough. First find the solution that's good enough.
Stay in the present moment, declutter and organize where we are and let's not worry about the rest of it just right now. Recognize partial wins and accept 'good enough' for today. You can perfect it later when time allows.
Overlooking the Final Step
Every job, task, project you need to do can be broken down into a beginning, middle and end. I imagine each task as a circle that has to be closed to complete the task.
When you have something to do, think about everything you need to get it finished. Any to-do usually includes other little jobs you need to do to get the task done. For example, you write on your to-do list, 'Organize Oliver's birthday party.' But your scheduling of this task won't work if you leave it at that. You have to be specific. What does organizing the party actually involve?
You need to list all the elements, for example:
Most people do the preparation before a task but don't bother with clearing up until much later. They want to get on to the next job, then the job after that, leaving clutter in their wake. Getting the task done can be difficult enough, but once the task is over we're often so relieved that we collapse and relax or we have to push on to the next thing.
It's very important to close the circle. Finish the job at hand. If you don't it will nag away at you, creating mind clutter. The work is not done until it is done.
Choosing the Wrong Time
Before you start to lay out your schedule, think about your energy cycle.
Whether you're a morning person or a night owl, it's very important to assign your most difficult and most important tasks to the time of day when you feel most energetic. Leave tasks lower down the priority scale for times of the day when you are less energetic. I'm hopeless in the afternoon, for example, so I schedule easy tasks then.
If you're a morning person and need to organize the spare room, do it first thing. You'll get more done if you schedule it for the morning. Then, as your energy lags in the afternoon, sit down and call the insurance broker or book your car service. Or, if you work best in the evening, schedule writing your thesis after dinner.
Putting Things Out of Sight
When you approach your space—whether that space is a container, your wardrobe or your garage—what is the access like? The system of organization will stay in place if you can get to things easily. If you are fighting your way to get to something, then when it comes to putting things away, you won't bother; you'll drop things as close as possible to the destination. To maintain organization, that just won't do. Items you need daily should be within arm's reach.
For hard-to-reach areas, buy a foot stool and for dark areas, a light.
I find one big contributing factors to disorganization is a lack of good lighting. Whether it's the garage, attic, under the stairs, or a deep kitchen cupboard, making sure there's good lighting coming into the area will help you keep it tidy. It's one thing to be constricted due to a lack of space, it's another to not be able to see any space at all. Shine a light on your situation!
Relying on Containers
Getting organized is not as simple as putting a few items in a container and—hey presto—you're organized. Organization involves an awareness of your habits, how you use things, how you use your home and why. Storage does bring organization together and streamlines space. It gives homes to all our things and makes it very easy to access everything. However, it's not always the answer. Another container, box, or even an extension can be just another place to dump things. It's not the storage that solves your issues. Somethings you have to remove the storage in order to achieve organization. If there's one too many places to dump things, then removing the storage option is often your answer.
If it was as easy as getting a box, we'd all have beautifully organized homes. But it's not the box, it's the behavior.
From Organised: Simple Ways to Declutter Your House, Your Schedule and Your Mind by Sarah Reynolds. Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Reynolds. Excerpted with permission by Gill Books.