Do you work hard to get organized but either can’t quite get things where you want them to be, or it just doesn’t quite stay organized once you get it there?
Yes? I thought so.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And I’m here to help.
The fact of the matter is that our attitudes affect our ability to stick to goals such as getting (and staying) organized. It’s possible then-and even likely– that the way you think about organizing hurts your efforts. Bummer.
Let me give you a heads up…realizing that your mind is working against you can be painful. But it’s important for growth.
So, if you want to figure out how to get organized for good, then here are 9 attitudes you will have to change:
1-) Decluttering is a one-time effort
Ahh yes….decluttering. Everyone knows to do it when they organize. But there’s a lot of subtle implication out there that makes people believe that it only needs to be done once.
Unless you somehow magically own the same exact stuff ten years from now as you own now, decluttering will be a regular effort. Your kids will get involved in activities with a lot of equipment, you will pick up hobbies, you’ll get gifts, etc.
Please…just erase that thought now. Your home will thank you.
The new attitude: Decluttering is something you need to do either as you go or once every month. You need to hold yourself (and your family!) accountable for keeping the amount of stuff under control. Personally, I like to declutter as I go. I keep a donation/recycle pile at all times and we take it out as needed.
2-) I don’t have the storage space to keep everything organized
Pardon me for being blunt, but this is an excuse. The two actual issues at hand here include:
a-) You own too much stuff
b-) You aren’t utilizing the space you have
For most of us, the overall issue is some combination of these two issues. It’s up to you to figure out where in the spectrum of these two issues you fall. Then define a plan to fix it. This task can range from painless to difficult depending on the size of your home and the amount of stuff your family owns right now. But it’s worth the time investment. I promise.
The new attitude: Besides decluttering (see point 1), regularly visualize how to make a space for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) you own. Consider what spaces you’re not utilizing to their full potential (especially places designated for storage, such as closets), and come up with a plan to fix it. If visualizing spaces isn’t your forte, then ask a friend or professional for help. People who like to organize often like to nerd out helping people on this stuff!
3-) I (or my kids) need x, y, or z
No you don’t….unless it’s food, water, clothing, or shelter.
Can I tell you the number of times that I felt hard core mommy guilt because Little Grasshopper’s friends had so many more toys than he? A lot. And honestly, sometimes I still do.
But I know for a fact that he feels as happy as the rest of his peers. I also know that I can clean up after him in less than 15 minutes at the end of every day, and that he will have money towards college later on.
Trust me…I feel your pain here. The peer pressure can be intense! But just remember…getting the latest stuff or keeping up with the Jones’s is a vanity metric. It won’t ultimately fulfill you or your kids.
I’m by no means saying that your family shouldn’t have nice things! You should! But you don’t need all the latest fancy toys, electronics, etc.
The new attitude: Consider why you want to buy something: Does it look cool? Is everyone raving about it? Will it simplify your life? Once you know your motivation, decide how that motivation fits into your priorities. If you’re looking for something that will simplify your life, then maybe it’s worth it for you. However, if everyone is raving about, say, the latest roomba and you’re perfectly happy with your Hoover, then buying the new roomba will be a waste of money and space. Own your decision, and then move on.
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4-) I should stock up…
Sometimes stocking up makes sense. After all, no one wants to run out of toilet paper! But getting carried away with buying stuff because it’s cheap is a clutter disaster waiting to happen. Practice control.
The new attitude: You should stock up only if a-) it’s consumable, b-) not perishable (unless you can freeze it), and c-) something you won’t get bored of. Otherwise, move on. Find a way to reward yourself when you opt against buying something, such as putting the equivalent amount of money away for investments.
5-) I might need this in the future
But you might not, either.
This attitude is one of the most common decluttering issues for people. They get rid of significantly less than they probably could because they’re afraid of needing something later on.
But most of the stuff that people are afraid to ditch they could buy again later. For example, are you holding onto a back up stapler in case your normal one stops working? Yet, if your current stapler does happen to give out, will it be the end of the world if you have to go buy a new one?
The new attitude: If you haven’t used an item of question in the last 6 months- 1 year, then chuck it. Your chances of needing that item in the future are slim. If it’s something sentimental that you can’t replace, try and think of ways to display it, use it, or decorate with it.
6-) I don’t have time to clean/organize
Do you have time to watch TV? Ever? What about anyone else in your family?
If you only consider large chunks of time to commit to organizing, you may not actually have enough time to devote to it. But you can achieve the same results over time by just committing 15 minutes every day to decluttering, visualizing, and organizing your space.
Here’s the other thing: it’s not only your responsibility. If your children are old enough, assign them jobs; ask your husband to drop off old clothes to donations; have a family yard sale.
Most importantly, keep in mind that you lead by example! When we bought Little Grasshopper his play kitchen, one of the first things he did was take his sippy cup and put it in his new sink to get “washed.” I was so proud that he picked up on our habit of putting dirty dishes in the sink when we are done with them. Mom win!
The new attitude: Initially getting your home clean and organized will take time and patience. However, you don’t need to feel that you need an entire week of doing nothing else to get there. Slow and steady wins the race! Once you do get there, think of habits you can develop and teach them to your kids by leading by example. This way, you won’t have to worry about the house getting out of control again in the future.
7-) Getting organized shouldn’t cost any money
I mentioned in point 2 that you need to define a plan to utilize and maximize your space. To carry out that plan, you will likely need to buy shelves, hooks, bins, and other storage accessories.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Stores like Ikea and Target offer inexpensive storage options to help you get the job done. And if you are comfortable with DIY work, you can even make your own beautiful storage yourself. In addition, you can offset the cost of storage supplies by selling some of the items you’re decluttering by yard sales, apps, consignment stores, and more.
The new attitude: Money towards getting your home organized and optimizing your space is an investment. You invest in getting organized because it will ultimately decrease your stress levels and make things easier to find so you don’t accidentally buy more than what you need (like when we ended up with 5 jars of mustard). It’s an investment that will make you happier AND healthier.
8- ) I’ll deal with that later
Mmmmm……unlikely. You probably kept putting it off until now, and will continue putting it off as long as you can.
So, what is causing you to want to “deal with that later?” Do you not have a space or a system devoted for it? If so, what do you have to do to come up with a system? Plan it out.
A big culprit for this type of thinking is mail. Piles and piles of mail. It takes over the kitchen, the dining room table, and more.
I’ve mentioned before that I think mail should be moved out of the kitchen, but you have to develop a plan to keep on top of it. Shoving it to another place that’s in the way won’t make the problem disappear. Instead, sit down, think about a system that will solve your problem, and implement it.
The new attitude: The thought “I’ll deal with that later” tends to happen when we are in a hurry. When that happens, immediately remind yourself, “I need to find a system to deal with this as soon as possible” and add it to your to-do list. This should help you stop procrastinating and puts the issue on the priority list. Once you develop a system, force yourself to use it regularly. Eventually it will become habit, and you won’t have the disorganization/clutter build up again.
9-) Out of sight, out of mind
What would this post be if I didn’t call out the ol’ “Let’s just shove our things in the closet so the house looks neater?” Mmm hmm, we all do it.
But shoving things in random places doesn’t fix clutter or get us organized, it makes it worse. So please, save yourself stress in the future and just don’t do it.
Good news though… if you maximize your usable closet space (see point 2) you can store a lot in your closets with your stuff organized! Bring on the shelves, bins, and labels!
The new attitude: Clutter should be visible. Yup, you heard that right. Why? Because if the clutter stares you in the face then you’re much more likely to deal with it. In fact, I do this all the time….if there’s something I need to find a place for, I put it wherever it will be the most in the way. This way I can only tolerate it for so long if I try to ignore it (see point 8).
At the end of the day, good attitudes and habits will get your home organized and keep it that way . While they can be challenging to adopt, the time and effort will be well worth it in the end.
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For more organization advice check out some of my favorites, such as 5 challenges to your organization system and 5 one-time tasks to keep your kitchen organized for good.