You may be wondering as you get ready to organize, “What are mistakes people make when organizing?” I’m going to share some tips today.

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.


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 knowing your priorities

Releasing stuff without having figured out what your priorities are to decide what is really important. If you’re not sure of what matters the most, you’ll tend to keep everything.

  • Think might need it some day. “But I have had for 10 years and never used.” Have you found yourself saying something like this? Trust you will get what you need when you need it.
  • 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 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.

Organized woman relaxed and drinking coffee
What common organizing mistakes have you made?
  • Unrealistic expectation of time

This is what I see the most.   TV shows like hoarders give the impression that a whole house was cleared in no time at all. You don’t see the behind-the-scenes stuff going on that took a team and weeks to do.

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.  The very first client I ever had was reluctant to let go of clutter. Once she started the process she would excitedly email me that she was clearing her clutter!

Remember, there is no measuring stick. I had a client recently and we did two rooms in four hours. She was shocked we got so much done. She worked right beside me throughout the entire process and had committed to doing the work.

  • 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.  Need to deal with the estate and not worry about if you need to get organized or clear clutter.

Baby, divorce, death, pressure at work: these are a few life changes that might not be the best time to tackle what you need to do.

Organizing and releasing clutter 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

Do you need help getting organized? Why haven’t you asked for help? What is important for you to do to be successful at organizing?

How-Can-I-Organize-My -Stuff?-Home-Organizing-Tips

Purging without thinking it through.

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 apartment 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 when I was in a much calmer mind.

Not working with your 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. 

  • Rigid Rules

I had a client that learned this rule and would become distraught if she violated it: “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 is a little less orthodox. Most people 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 also have a traveling calendar for clients. This works for me, but I have a system in place.

Measure Twice Cut Once: Home Organizing Tip
  • Not measuring

Buying containers without measuring & knowing what & how much to store. I have learned from my husband to measure twice, cut once. I once 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. There was no way I was going to do this.   Make sure to shop your own home. I’m a big fan of repurposing and you might have containers around the home.

Take actions from the two blogs on what are mistakes people make when organizing?:

  • 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.

DIY Options to Clear Clutter

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