Getting organised is a step by step process – ongoing for the rest of your life – and the results (and benefits) can be amazing if you stick with it.
But we have all at some time or another started to get something more organised only to find that it falls short of what we had hoped for.
With this post my aim is to show you how to find the best way to get organised. It will work out some of the things you really should be doing, and point out what you shouldn’t – hopefully then the next time you start an organising project you can see whether you are on the right path, and correct yourself where necessary.
Here are my top “Don’ts” – with what to do instead following on – hope it helps!
DON’T try and do everything in a day
In todays world we tend to see things happen immediately. This can lead to high expectations when we try and do anything in our lives – especially organising.
As I say (a lot!) organising is an ongoing process, not a quick win – and you have to keep this in mind when you are trying to organise any part of your home or life.
A professional organiser will only expect to declutter one room per day (for an average cluttered home that is – not a hoarders home, as this can take many days), and they have the skills and expertise to focus and really get things moving.
Your average person will therefore take a lot longer.
This should never put you off – just motivate you more and set your expectations accordingly. Things will get organised, just more slowly than perhaps you would ideally like.
Think of it another way – your home didn’t get cluttered and disorganised in a day – so why would you be able to organise and declutter in a day?!
DO – realistically time frame organising activities and schedule into your diary
Ask anyone to estimate how long a task takes and they will usually guess way under what it actually does. Its actually a really interesting exercise to do – especially when you are looking at splitting up your cleaning and household tasks throughout a week.
Take the time to time each task just once, and then you will see exactly what amount things take. You may be very surprised at the results.
Once you start to time things, you will be able to see more clearly as to what you are quick or slow at, and you can work out the correct time slots in your diary for each task.
If you start to properly schedule organising tasks into your diary, then you will be much more likely to succeed and get things done.
It may take as long as a year to set up all the systems that you want, and really get your home running smoothly – but it will be so worth it – and you won’t have stressed yourself by trying to get too much done all at once.
Slow and steady really will win the race!
This is a much more realistic way of looking at getting organised!
DON’T organise the unnecessary
By this I mean that too often people spend time organising things that don’t really need organising – things that are actually clutter.
Have you ever tidied a room, finding spaces for everything without giving a thought to whether those things are actually needed anymore, only to find that a few weeks later you come to declutter and half of that stuff will be going? You have spent time and energy organising 50% more than you needed to. Grrrr!
I have fallen foul to moving things around the house rather than getting organised better in the past. Things tended to migrate from room to room, finally ending up in the spare room which seemed to be a dumping ground for things that weren’t really needed anymore but weren’t quite ready to throw them away either. All this meant was more to clean, more to organise eventually, and more in my subconscious that was bugging me on a day to day basis.
DO – follow the ADORE Method to ensure you organise ONLY WHATS REQUIRED!
Do yourself a favour – follow an organising method to ensure that you only spend the time and energy thats really required to get something organised, rather than waste any.
My ADORE method of organising means that you will assess and declutter a space before you get it organised, and that can only be a benefit in the long run.
Not only do you save time and energy now, you will save it tenfold in the future as you will have streamlined and only have left what you actually need and use.
Things always look worse before they look better.
When you are really getting something in your home organised, it can be a messy process.
You need to be able to see everything to make decisions properly, and this means emptying cupboards, wardrobes etc….. When you are getting rid of clutter you will be making several piles in your home (CHARITY, TO SELL, RECYCLE, RUBBISH etc…) and this also causes mess.
But it really is only temporary. You are making progress all the time, and once you see this progress in the form of a finished cupboard or room, then you will be motivated to continue.
Don’t let the first bits of the process daunt you. Persevere!
At the end of an organising session you will be best off by getting rid of the piles you have made to their new homes. If you have a pile for charity – take it to the charity shop there and then. If you have a pile for the tip – take that too.
Not only will you see a marked difference, you will also not give yourself the chance to change your mind (all too often we start to look through things again and find reasons to keep hold of everything again). If you have taken it away from the house then you can’t see it to change your mind!
DON’T bite off more than you can chew
As with setting time expectations (doing everything in a day), another common thing people do is to try and organise too much at once.
Starting on your whole house at once may seem to have its advantages at the start, but as you move constantly from room to room, you will create a massive mess in every room, get very overwhelmed very quickly, and more than likely just give up. Then all you will be left with is a messy house – worse than when you started.
DO – start small and create some quick wins
It will take time to get organised, so start small and see how big a difference that can make. This will give you the momentum to keep going.
I always say to start with a small area that is really hurting you at the moment.
By hurting, it means something that is being a pain in how its functioning at present. Do you always lose your keys? Then start by creating a key holder or area in your hallway and creating a habit for yourself to always put the keys there when you walk through the door – without fail. This is a small organising project, but will make a huge difference to your life, and will more than likely motivate you to carry on!
DON’T buy organising products at the start
I am the first one at the shops to look at all the lovely boxes, containers, organising products that are out there and promise to make me into a domestic goddess.
I have fallen foul many times to buying products, bringing them home, then finding that they don’t serve the purpose (too small, too big etc….) and then they form their own pile of clutter. How ironic to have clutter from organising products!
DO – get organised first
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy products at all. Far from it. BUT what I am saying is that you should get organised first, and buy last.
If you are sorting out a bathroom cupboard for instance, work out what products and items you are going to keep, how you will be using them etc…. – and then (and only then!) buy any containers you need.
Organising products should enhance a space, and not add to clutter or detract from the organising you have done. They should simply make life easier.
You will more often than not find that you have a suitable container already in your home that can be re-purposed. But you will only find this out once you are organised!
DON’T jump in without thinking
Its easy to just start anywhere and hope for the best, but halfway through trying to sort a space out you will usually realise that you don’t know what the aim is really – and give up.
If you jump in without thinking, then you are likely to end up just as disorganised as when you started, albeit with things looking slightly more tidy!
DO – Assess and plan first
It sounds boring, but is so necessary when you get organised to plan what you are doing first.
I’m not talking about reams of paperwork and thinking, all it may be is 5 mins over a cuppa at the start. But you should be thinking about why you want to organise a specific space, what the benefits will be, and how you want things to look and work in practise.
If you can visualise the finished product, you are much more likely to get there.
Thats where sites like this are helpful – as you will find some great inspiration and ideas to try for yourself. But you aren’t alone!
DON’T try and organise other peoples things
The fatal mistake people try when they are getting organised is to organise other peoples things at the same time. Most commonly this happens for partners and children.
This rarely works.
If people aren’t ready to get organised themselves, they will resent you trying, and more often than not rebel against it. So you will have made things ten times worse. Not the goal you had in mind I’m sure!
DO – set a good example
If people can see that being organised is helping you, then they are much more likely to adopt some of your new habits themselves.
Things will rub off slowly!
This is especially true for children, who like to copy their parents behaviour. So like it or not, if you are messy and disorganised you are likely to be subconsciously teaching your kids to be the same way. Setting a good example to them now will stand to benefit everyone in the long run!
Also – its often worth telling the family what you are doing, as there may be things that they will need to help you with around the house. Once they can see the benefits (more time to spend with them, more energy to play etc…) then they are likely to come around to the more organised way of living.
DON’T go back to old disorganised habits
Its all too easy to fall back into old habits. That won’t help anyone in the long run.
If you start to add clutter back into a room, or avoid looking at your new schedule etc… then it will stop being effective very quickly.
DO – give yourself time for the new habits to settle in
Habits take around 30 days (or 30 times of doing them) to really embed in your head. I always advise giving yourself at least a month of trying a new way of doing things, and really consciously do them, as by that time you will have either made a great new habit, or realised that this way of working doesn’t quite fit with your lifestyle and may need tweaking.
Whatever the outcome – don’t give up after 2 or 3 days – as thats never long enough to see the real benefits of getting organised.
My favourite habit is to create a one in one out policy in the home once every room has been decluttered. If you buy something, then it should be replacing something else. A new jumper? Throw out an old item of clothing at the same time. That way you will never get overwhelmed again.
Its a much easier way to live, and it also helps you to appreciate what you currently have – as you can see and use things much more easily when theres less of them.
Always ensure that your new organised habits are things that work with your way of life as well – as they have much more of a chance of staying put!