4 Reasons You Can’t Get Organize and How to Fix It

You know how to get organized. You’ve read many, maybe even hundreds of articles about getting organized. You’ve read a couple of books and watched the TV segments about getting your life in order. You may have even peeked in on an episode or two of Hoarders while assuring yourself, “At least I’m not that bad.”

You know the steps: sort, purge, put like with like, containerize, and then put everything back together. You have seen it done plenty of times.

So what is the holdup? What is stoping you from turning your knowledge into action? Don’t buy any more pretty containers  before you take a moment to think about that question. The answer you find may be simple or may be a combination of reasons. Check out a few roadblocks and how to knock them out of the way.

4 Ways to stop procrastinating


You quickly get overwhelmed?

You start to organize with the best of intentions, but 30 minutes later you look up and you’re surrounded by random piles scattered all around you. A much bigger mess then you started with! You have no idea where to go from that moment and become frustrated when you can’t see the progress right away. Does this sound familiar?

Instead of trying to conquer a whole closet or desk, break projects into smaller bite-sized pieces. Set goals like going through one small pile each day and focusing on what needs action or what you know is to keep and toss.

Avoid procrastinating on decisions. Try to only have one thing in your hand at a time and make the decision on that item quickly. Try not to set it to the side and move on to another item or paper. Make it a habit to decide now instead pushing it off to later. Even if it takes you an extra moment or two to figure out where that item should live, it’s worth it.

It might be time to call in some back up. Do you have a friend who could help you for an hour or two? You can always return the favor in the next week or month by helping her with a project at her house. You can also hire a professional organizer, even if it is to help you create a plan. That might just be the support you need to get unstuck.

Once you do get an area organized, focus on daily maintenance. For paper clutter, continue to process the mail daily or clear off your desk before moving on to the next task. In the closet, have a permanent donation box to keep giveaways headed for the door.

Garage Mess

Your expectations are too high?

You see the pictures of those perfectly organized spaces (you know the ones where it doesn’t even look like someone lives there) and feel discouraged because your home looks nothing like those glossy images. Maybe you are waiting until you have the time or money to make it look like that picture perfect image. Or you feel your home could never look like that so why bother.

There is no one perfect way to organize. There are so many different ideas on how to get your daily papers in order. Just try one and tweak it as you go. It is easy to get caught up in searching for the best way; but it is more important that you do it rather then waiting to find the perfect system or buy the perfect desk.

It is okay to be organized just enough. As Julie Morgenstern puts it, keep in mind your “external realities.” If you have young kids or a large family or are in the middle of a big life change, you must remember to give yourself permission to have things organized just enough. We don’t have to live up to Martha Stewart standards especially if our circumstances don’t allow it.  As long as you can find what you need and you are not fed up with clutter, you may be perfectly organized for you.

You really don’t have the time?

We are all moving at such a fast pace. If you truly are overworked and can’t find the time to get organized, take a look at your expectations and your specific circumstances. You will make time for what is important to you. There will be a point where you will get frustrated enough to make the time for getting organized. But also be honest with yourself; are you using your busy schedule as an excuse?

Get others involved. Invite the family to help sort and purge by choosing what they still use and what can be donated. Declare a family work day (even if it is only 2-3 hours). Plan something fun to celebrate a job well done.

It is harder to organize with small kiddos around. Remember that you are teaching them important organizing skills and you’ll be surprised at what your children pickup. However, if you have little ones, it might be worth it to hire a sitter while you conquer a big project.

Cut something out from your schedule, even if it is just for a short time. Could you limit the TV, browsing the internet or even that third extracurricular activity for your son or daughter. You might be surprised about how much time you can find in your schedule. If you are having trouble, try making a time map by listing out your tasks and time spent on each activity. Tracking your time for a week can help you to find what can be cut or grouped together for better efficiency.

Do a little at a time. Disorganization doesn’t happen overnight so be realistic about how long it takes time to put things in order. Since it usually takes longer than a day to complete major projects, focus on small 10 minute projects each day or small 2 hour projects on the weekend.


You’ve tried to get organized before but it didn’t work?

Just like being healthy is a way of life, and one that you work at daily (you don’t exercise once and become healthy); getting organized takes more then one purge session. It takes daily and weekly tasks and maintenance to train and flex your organizing muscle.

There will be days when you don’t feel like getting up a little earlier to workout. There will be days when you miss that workout. There will be days when there is a pile of mail you don’t feel like going through. It is a process. But don’t worry, it can quickly become a habit that doesn’t feel like work at all. With practice and consistency, you can develop discipline to work on your organizing a little bit each day.

Keep small daily tasks in order like incoming papers, meals, and chores. Keeping those constant upkeep items under control will do a lot for your peace of mind and keep up your motivation to organize other areas of your life.

Routines are friends especially when keeping those small daily tasks in order. Getting into the habit of automatically moving through your daily tasks can be life changing to your day. You know what needs to be done and you do it, which means less laboring over decisions or getting sidetracked. Your day will feel more organized and you will find more time.

Examine what is working. Look around, what is something that works and flows really smoothly in your home? The mornings? Laundry? Getting dinner on the table? Paying bills? Going through mail? Find just one thing that works really well. What is it about that process that makes it go so smoothly? Do you plan enough time? Have plenty of preparation? Get help from others? Focus on that positive and replicate it into other areas in your life.

Organized! via Pottery Barn

No matter what is stopping you, we are here to cheer you on to take action! Let us help. Do you have a particular trouble spot you have a question about? Let us know on Facebook or shoot me an email. Find out more about our organizing services. Sign up for our monthly newsletter of organizing tips or check out the tools and tips section in the menu above. We’re here to support you on your organizing journey!

3 Ways to Keep Clutter out of your Home

Have you ever been cleaning out a closet or cabinet and thought, “Why did I even buy this?”

A clutter clearing session can bring out buyers remorse in even the most savvy shopper. Here are 3 tips to help us save money, be smart consumers, and ultimately limit the clutter we bring into our home.

Have a budget

A budget forces you to prioritize your needs from your wants. I didn’t fully appreciate the power of following a budget until we became a one-income family. With every area of our budget cut and trimmed (including toiletries, clothing, home repairs, electronics, and even food), I discovered a greater sense of creativity when I had to do without for a little while.

When I have to wait to purchase an item, I find myself making better decisions about what I really need to bring into our home and don’t buy things just because “It’s a great deal!” With a budget, you realize (slowly!) that you don’t need everything you think you need. As you practice putting off or cutting out purchases, the result is less junk coming into your home.

Use the one in, one out rule

If you are browsing and about to buy (insert weakness here), set a rule for yourself to get rid of a similar item when you get home. As juicy as that new bestseller looks, you might rethink your purchase if it means purging a book you already own.

Along the same lines as the ‘one in, one out’ rule, is to use a container as your de-cluttering guide. When your magazine basket is full, it’s time to purge. I strictly enforce this rule throughout my house, including a bin for children’s books and two hanging racks for shoes.

Become and stay organized

Yes, it has to come back to being organized. There are just so many benefits! Once you are organized, it is easier to keep clutter out. An organized home provides a greater understanding of what you have and what you will actually use.

Like items are stored with like items and so you know what you have and where it is located. Knowing how much wrapping paper you have, combined with thinking realistically about the amount you will actually use in a year, might give a pause long enough to resist the impulse to purchase more on your next shopping trip.

What are your tricks to keep clutter out? Has becoming organized ever had a resulting effect on your shopping? Do you have a weakness for certain purchases or collections that can easily become clutter? Magazine clippings anyone?

Do organizing gadgets make life easier?

Have you seen this before?

A gadget to make a tiny charging station. I love the tagline, “Organize your phone while charging.”

It got me thinking about the numerous ‘organizing’ gadgets out there, all promising to make our life easier. I must admit that I’m a sucker for these types of gadgets, especially The Container Store’s gadgets they break out at Christmas time. (I may or may not be counting down the days until the 2011 catalog, less a month!)

Look at this sock organizer I snagged as a free gift.

(Where does one score a sock organizer as a giveaway? Hint: I was surrounded by professional organizers at the time). Here it is in action.

You’d have to be really fed up with losing socks to go to the trouble of using this contraption.

I don’t actually ever spend money on gadgets since they tend to create clutter instead of clear it. Case in point is Unclutterer.com’s weekly Unitasker highlight. I am giggling, just thinking about some of the wacky gadgets they find. Like this one, to help you sleep anywhere, or this brush just for belly buttons. What!?


Don’t get me wrong, there are some good ones out there. This shelf, in particular, is made specifically to fit around pipes under a sink. Genius.

 I got to see this cool little number in action at my grandma’s home.

The white shelf pieces can be removed or slid around to make the shelf fit into almost any space. This organizing gadget can help bring order to all of those miscellaneous products under the sink. Anything that helps to make clean up quicker and less of a hassle is a winner in my book.

Do you have a favorite organizing gadget? Or one you found to be a waste of money? Did you ever buy a gadget you’ve never used? Does anyone want a sock organizer? Any “As seen on TV” junkies? Did you know there’s an actual “As see on TV” store?!

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