Boss Lady

5 Pitfalls to avoid when organizing


Did you start an organizing project only to discover it would take longer than you thought? Are you about to begin an organizing project and would like to know some pitfalls to avoid?  Have you tried organizing and haven’t been able to figure out where you went wrong?

Sometimes I get called in to help a client because they have tried to get organized but have made mistakes and gotten stuck. Here are some pitfalls people make and how to avoid them.

1. Running out of time

I have had clients who watch TV shows like Hoarders and think that it will take a lot less time than what they see on TV because they do not have as much stuff.  What you don’t see behind the TV shows are the crews of people and the hours and days they worked behind the scenes.

Especially if you have never cleared clutter, or if it has been a while, you might have years of stuff you have accumulated. It won’t get taken care of overnight, even if you hire someone.

Depending on what you are de-cluttering, it might be difficult and that could slow you down.  You might discover some photos that cause you to stop and reminisce, for example.

Everyone is unique and his or her situations are unique and there is no measuring stick.  You could try to see how long it would take you to organize something small like a drawer in the kitchen or a bookcase in the office.  Then with that estimate, you could gauge how long it would take to do an entire room. Whatever amount of time you calculate, I suggest doubling that. If you don’t spend the entire time organizing, you will have free time to do something fun.

The good news? It’s been my experience the more people release clutter the easier it becomes.

2. your head & heart aren’t in it

You usually want to make major decisions when you are clear and can focus—not under pressure or after a major distraction, such as an illness or death in the family.

Organizing is all about making decisions, so you want to be in the best frame of mind when tackling.  Don’t start the process if you are under a lot of stress.  Now, that can turn into procrastination and avoidance, but that’s not what I am talking about.  You wouldn’t want to start this process the day after you had a baby, but maybe after a few months you would be ready.

Especially if this is difficult for you, do it at a time when you have your highest energy to reduce stress. I am not a morning person, so I wouldn’t organize at 7am.

3. biting off more than you can chew

People take on too much and get overwhelmed and then just stop.  If your whole house or office needs organized, don’t start with Organize My Entire Home.

Make the project manageable and chunk down.  For example, say that you want to organize your entire office.  First break it down into areas: bookcase, files, desk, etc.  Choose one of the areas to begin.  If you start with the bookcase, you could commit to sorting and separating one bookshelf at the time. After you did all your shelves, your next step could be to purge what books you don’t want. After that, you could organize each shelf by category.  Once your books are organized you can move on to another area.

If it takes you a few months to do one room or one bookcase, that’s okay as long as you keep moving forward.

4. Forgetting to incorporate you

Where do you store your coffee and tea?  Some of you may keep it in the pantry, others may have a set up by the kettle or coffee pot and still some may keep in a cabinet with other drink items. All places are correct because what makes sense for someone else might not make sense to another.

Many clients believe it if is popular, or works for someone famous, or even their neighbor, that it will work for them. That is not necessarily true. Marie Kondo’s method is very popular, but I have clients that aren’t able to use her recommendations.

It’s very important to take into account your lifestyle and habits.   I had a client that loved Martha Stewart, but she had a part time business and was home schooling.  It was unrealistic for her to have a home that looked like Martha’s or to implement all of her organizing suggestions.

When getting organized, take into consideration what would work best with you and your habits.

5. Trying to tough it out when it’s not working

We all have our skills and strength. I don’t know how to do my taxes or build a website so I hire someone to do those projects. I don’t think less of myself and I am thrilled to get the results that I need so that I can concentrate on my priorities and share my gifts with the world.

If de-cluttering and getting organized aren’t yours, consider asking a friend or seeking professional help.  I can’t tell you how many clients I have had say to me, “I wish I would have called you years ago.”

Take actions:

  • Write down which common mistakes you think might be a pitfall for you, your co-workers or your family;
  • Whatever amount of time you are planning for a project, double that. If you take less time, you can enjoy something fun with your free time.
  • Be clear in your priorities, this will really help you get organized because you will be able to focus on what’s important.

About Julie Coraccio

Julie Coraccio considers herself a Chief Possibility Officer and often asks, “What else is possible?”An award-wining professional organizer, certified life coach and author, Julie is passionate about getting people organized, supporting them in clearing clutter in all areas of their life and becoming more mindful and aware in both home and work. She hosts the popular podcast Clearing the Clutter Inside & Out. Based in Raleigh, NC, she works with people around the globe. She is happily married to Tony and is at the beck and call of their two rescued black cats, Joey and Antonio.

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