Do you have organizing challenges? Today’s how to declutter your life blog will talk about organizing mistakes people make and how to overcome them.

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 mistakes people make and how to avoid them.


I am going to start off with this: Not asking for help when you need it.  We all have our skills and strength. If decluttering and getting organized aren’t yours, consider asking a friend or seeking professional help.  I have had several clients who have struggled for years on their own before they asked for help. I can’t tell you how many clients have said I wish I had called you sooner.

  • Not tacking at a good time

Especially if this is difficult for you, do it at a time when you have your highest energy to reduce stress and address it when you are clear-headed and have the energy to take the time to do it right. If you aren’t a morning person, don’t plan on doing this at 7 AM.

  • Unrealistic expectation of time

This is what I see the most.   TV shows like hoarders give us a false sense of how much can be done quickly.

Especially if you have never cleared the 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.

It’s been my experience the more people release clutter the easier it becomes.  Many of my clients are able to do so once they get going and build some organizing muscles.

There’s no measuring stick. I had a recent client and we did two rooms in four hours. She was shocked we got so much done. She worked right beside me though and hustled.

  • Not being in the right frame of mind

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 after a death, as you need to deal with the estate, not the stuff.

Baby, divorce, pressure at work.

Organizing and releasing clutter is all about making decisions, so you want to be in the best frame of mind when tackling it.  Don’t start the process if you are under a lot of stress

  • Trying to do too much at once

People take on too much and get overwhelmed and then just stop.  Make it manageable and chunk down.  If it takes you a few months to do one room or one bookcase, that’s okay as long as you keep moving forward.


Have you ever gotten fed up with something and declared you are done with it and hastily do something?  Sometimes people will ruthlessly go through stuff, but they haven’t sorted and they don’t know what they toss. Or in a moment of frustration, they toss something they will later regret.  I had to hastily leave an apt.

Once and I tossed a bunch of old journals. Part of me regretted it; the truth is I probably wouldn’t have looked at them that much but would have preferred to have done it when I was in a much calmer mind.

Organized woman relaxed and drinking coffee

Adopt tips from others, etc. instead of working with natural habits & traits

Something I have seen with clients a fair amount. If it works for Martha Stewart it will work for me. Not necessarily true. Very important to take into account your lifestyle and habits.   I had a client that loved Martha, but she had a part-time business and was homeschooling.  It was unrealistic for her to maintain everything that Martha recommended. 

  • A rigid focus on rules

The client has learned and would become distraught. “Only touch every paper once” Life happens and sometimes it’s unrealistic to touch one piece of paper only once or do, delete, delegate or ditch for email.

My use of calendars. Have only one calendar. I agree with this in theory and would tell clients this. However, it doesn’t apply to every single person out there.  I keep two huge whiteboards in my office and also have a traveling calendar for clients. This works for me, but I have a system in place.

  • Not knowing your priorities

Releasing stuff without having figured out what your priorities are to decide what is really important

  • Think might need it someday. But have had it for 10 years and never used it. Trust you will get what you need when you need it.
  • Move stuff around without really doing anything

It May seems like working and accomplishing, but not really. 

This is an opportunity to dig deeper if you can. Overwhelmed? Afraid? Unable to make decisions? Avoiding something?

  • Not measuring

Buying containers without measuring & knowing what & how much to store. I have learned from my husband to measure twice and cut once.

variety of spices in glass jars on wooden shelves
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

One had a potential client call me up and wanted to hire me to go out and get her a bunch of containers for her move without having seen her place.

Make sure to not forget your own home. Big fan of repurposing and you might have containers around the home.

What organizing mistakes have you made?  Which mistakes do you need to avoid?

Take actions from today’s uncluttered living blog on organizing challenges:

  • Write down which common mistakes you think might be a pitfall for you 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.
  • Be clear in your priorities, this will really help you get organized because you will be able to focus on what’s important.

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