I fall into these traps for failing at organization all the time, but being aware of them helps me overcome them and get more organized!
I originally wrote this post a few years ago, but have found myself coming back to it as a reminder of organization traps to avoid, so I thought I’d refresh it for this year!
We’re all about organization at the beginning of the year, right? We say this will be the year when we get it all together, our house will start to look more like Pinterest, and we’ll live in the world of organizational bliss…. and then life happens. 🙂 A few weeks in (aka right about now…), the kids are back in school, activities are starting up again, things get busy and all of those dreams of order and organization go right out the window. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
I was thinking about this vicious cycle the other day when my analytical brain kicked into overdrive and I started jotting down reasons why Mission: Organization tends to get derailed after we start out with so much enthusiasm. Having this list written down helped give me a different perspective. It showed me the red flags and things to watch out for so that I could avoid them or rededicate myself to my efforts if need be. And since this list was so helpful for me, I thought you just might like it too. So here we go– 5 Reasons You (and I) Are Failing at Organization:
1. We take on too much.
I am terribly guilty of this. I hate telling people “no” because I don’t want to disappoint them or make them feel sad. What happens, though, when I say “yes” to everything is that no one gets the best of me– not the committees I’ve joined or the people I agreed to help or my friends or my family. And when this happens, when I don’t say “no” and life gets busy, the first thing to go is order and organization. My house ends up a mess, I can’t find what I need, my family doesn’t have clean clothes to wear or dishes to eat off of, and I’m stressed because I feel like I’m failing at everything, which I am, simply because I couldn’t say “no.” (Whew! That was a lot.)
Along with taking on too many responsibilities, I also find that my organization fails when I take on too much stuff. No matter how many times I rearrange or how many new bins I buy, if I have too much stuff I’m not really organizing. I’m just rearranging my clutter.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Solution: Say “no,” have a good purging session to get rid of all of the extra stuff, and don’t feel one bit bad about it! 🙂
2. We fail to plan.
If you haven’t caught on to this yet, I think planning is hugely important. I know that even if I want something to happen really badly, if I don’t make a plan to get it done, it just won’t happen. It’s so easy to fall into this trap with organization. We pin a few organization posts, get really excited about how organized we’re going to be this year and then… nothing. We never make a plan for how we’re going to organize our lives and our stuff, and we look around a few months into the year and our house is as unorganized as ever.
Solution: Make a plan! Make a list of the areas or systems that need to be organized or reorganized in your home and schedule specific times on your calendar to take them on. Better yet, get the whole family involved– it will be more fun and will go a lot faster!
3. We do too much planning.
“But Abby,” you’re thinking, “I thought you just said that planning was a good thing!” And it is! But sometimes we get stuck in the rut of what my husband Donnie calls “analysis paralysis” where we spend all of our time planning how and what we’re going to organize and little to no time actually doing the organizing.
Maybe it’s because we’re fearful that our plan or system won’t work. Maybe it’s just really fun to read blog posts about organizing and make lists of how we’re going to do certain tasks but not as fun to put our plans into action. But as perfect as our plans may be, if we never take action, we won’t get our desired result– a peaceful, organized home.
Solution: Take action today! Even if it’s only decluttering one drawer or bin, start the process. If you chip away at the things that need to be organized little by little and stick with it, eventually you will see big changes.
4. We ignore broken systems.
I do this all. the. time. I will know that my organizational system isn’t working for a certain space, but instead of taking a few minutes to rethink it and change things around, I live for months being annoyed by the clutter and mess that my broken system creates.
Take my tupperware cupboard, for example. For way too long it was a hot mess of mismatched containers and lids, I could never find what I needed, and every time I opened the door to grab a container, several of them would inevitably fall out, making a mess on my counter. One day I had had enough. It took me 10 minutes to stack the containers by type, corral the lids in their own container, and my problem was fixed. 10 minutes. And I had lived with the broken system for months!
I find that broken systems often happen when we try to take on other peoples’ way of doing things instead of finding a way that works for our life and our situation. When our boys first got into Legos, for example, I was determined that I was going to organize them by color. I had seen that method on Pinterest, and it seemed to be working well for everybody else (and it looked pretty!), so certainly it would be perfect for our house too, right?!
It turns out that with the way my boys play with Legos, organizing by color just made them very tedious to clean up, and we were often left with a messy pile of Legos on their Lego table, simply because it took too long to break everything apart and re-separate it by color. When we abandoned the color coded system and just started storing all of the extra pieces together (only separating out the “guys”), my boys were much happier and their playroom stayed a lot tidier!
Solution: Think about the areas of your house that you avoid or dread facing. Is it a certain drawer or closet? Maybe a particular box or storage container? It may even be an entire room. Mark time on your calendar this week to fix that broken system. (There’s that planning thing again!) Rearrange, get rid of things, use a different container– do whatever you have to do to make that area an organized, welcoming space that works for you.
5. We forget to reset.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to always be in “go” mode. Go get the kids from school, run errands, work on a project, write the next blog post, answer the emails and comments I’m SO behind on, make dinner, do laundry… you get the point. There’s always so much to do that I often forget to stop and think about how I should really be using my time. When this happens, I end up playing defense, dealing with whatever situation seems most pressing at the moment rather than intentionally using my time to work on my goals and priorities.
Solution: I try to set aside a little bit of time each week to reset. For me it’s usually Sunday afternoon. I think about what I want to accomplish during the next week, write down the action steps that will make those things happen, and schedule the action steps for specific days on the calendar. Even if I’ve failed miserably the week before, taking time to reset renews my focus and gets me right back on track rather than letting myself slip further and further away from the things that I’ve set out to accomplish.
I think that all too often we treat organization like it’s this thing that we should be able to complete in a week or so and then our lives will be all better. The truth is, though, that organization is a process. Our goal should be to build better habits rather than just creating this picturesque, Pinterest-worthy scene that is neither helpful nor practical.
The more we avoid the five derailing traps above and really hone in on what works for our particular family and situation, the further we’ll get on our path to organization. So even if you are feeling like you’re off track already, take a moment to refresh, refocus, and get right back at it. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so go out there and run your best race! 🙂 Happy organizing!
What things most often cause you to get derailed when it comes to organization?
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.