11 Organizing Mistakes Wasting Your Time & Money

dark haired lady admiring organized kitchen cabinet

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Have you ever thought about the fact that it is possible to make organizing mistakes?

The purpose of organizing the various spaces in our home is to give us more control over our workspace and living area.

There is a calm feeling that comes with knowing what we have and being able to find those things when we need them.

Have you ever needed to find something as you were running out the door, and when you couldn’t find it your entire day seemed to go haywire? You thought you knew exactly where it was, only to find it wasn’t there when you needed it.

Starting a day in a frazzle tends to make the rest of the day follow in a similar fashion.

On the other hand, when you are running late and remember to grab something you almost forgot, and you go right to where it is located then you’re out the door and on the way, the rest of the day plays out quite differently.

These two scenarios can be the difference in having an organized home versus a non-organized, or chaotic, home.

As you start the journey to organizing the different areas in your house(under the sinks, closets, drawers, pantries, etc.) it is important to understand the pitfalls we can easily and unintentionally land in during the organization process.

The last thing you want is to create more chaos since that is exactly what you are trying to remove from your life!

[bctt tweet=”The following 11 organizing mistakes are easy to make if you aren’t aware of them before they happen.” username=”drtawnaschmidt”]

Avoiding them will keep you on track and soon you will be enjoying the multiple rewards that come with an organized home!

shoes and boots organized neatly in closet

1 | Confusing organizing with decluttering

Organizing and decluttering are two different things, although it is easy to confuse them as the same or similar task.

Organizing items is when you categorize items and give each of them a logical and permanent place to live so you know where to easily find the items when you need them.

Decluttering is going through items and actually making a decision about what to do with each one. Should you put it away, give it away, keep it and give it a home, or trash it.

I recommend you declutter before you organize.

There is no need to spend your time organizing items that you would throw in the trash or give away if you were decluttering.

One of the biggest questions I get is, “Why can’t I do both at the same time, won’t that save me time?”

It will actually take you longer. Once you know the definite items that need to be organized you can make a solid plan on how to organize them. It would be a waste of your precious time to include items you will be getting rid of in the plan.

Simple Solution:

If you have set aside time to organize a space, make sure it is already decluttered.

If that is not the case, make a plan to declutter first, then follow up with organizing it.

2 | Expecting a container to fix a clutter problem

Organizing containers keep your cabinets and closets looking neat.

More importantly, they keep your belongings in a specific place so you know where to find them.

If you have too much clutter in your house, it won’t matter how many organizing containers you have because they will be overflowing with things you don’t use.

Essentially this makes them useless because at that point they are not being used to organize but rather just to hold a bunch of stuff all mixed together that will take you loads of time to sift through when you are looking for something.

Simple Solution:

Don’t bother with using organizing containers just to throw random items in, and definitely don’t spend hard-earned money on purchasing them if you don’t have an organizing plan in place to use them properly.

Keep your organizing goals in front of you and take them one step at a time.

If you know in your heart that decluttering needs to happen, tackle that before starting on the organization journey.

3 | Buying organizing products before you need them

It is so tempting to be walking down the aisle of your favorite all-purpose store or the Dollar Tree, see the variety of organizing containers, and start tossing one of each in your basket.

While these purchases have good intentions, without a plan for what they are going to be used to organize items in your home they will just become part of the problem. They will create more clutter in your house. 😲

Simple Solution:

If you genuinely want to live in a clutter-free home, every single item you purchase moving forward must have a specific purpose before you buy it.

4 | Starting a project without a plan

organized desk with folders and pencil holders

I understand you are excited to get started!

However, we often get lost in the excitement and just dive in without making regard to what needs to happen during the process of organizing a specific space or area. Instead of mapping out a plan, we just start moving stuff around and kid ourselves that we are making productive use of our time.

Simple Solution:

Make a plan when you are ready to start organizing an area of your home.

Take time to define the functionality of the space, or at least what you want the functionality to be like when you’re finished.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How did this space get disorganized?
  • Who uses this space and will continue using it after it is organized?
  • Why do I need this space to be organized?
  • What will I need to do to keep this space organized?

Quick Tip

Once you have an organization plan in place, calculate how many organization containers you need for the area.

Measure the area and head to the store to get containers that will fit in the specified size.

Don’t want to carry along a tape measure?

Download the Measure app on your iPhone and turn your smartphone into a tape measure!

5 | Keeping things you might need ‘someday’

This is a common mistake.

I’m guilty of falling into this trap too many times to count!

Many people think they are actually saving money by hanging on to items they aren’t currently using just in case they need them at a later time.

The thought process typically goes like this: “I don’t have any use for this item now, but what if I do need it later? Then I am going to wish I had saved it! If I don’t save it then I will have to go buy it again and I don’t want to spend more money when I already have the item now that I can just keep.”

Have you ever had this conversation with yourself? 🤔

Simple Solution:

My rule of thumb is to give an item 6 months.

If you haven’t used it in 6 months’ time it is likely you won’t use it in the next 6 months, 16 months, or 6 years! It’s time to go.

6 | Using too many organizing containers

lady throwing arms up with basket of clothes

I love looking at organizing containers!

There is so much available and in such stylish form. Of course, there is always the conventional containers that may be lacking in style but make up the deficit in functionality.

If you use too many organizing containers, soon you will find yourself taking the time to organize the organizing containers. 🤦‍♀️

Simple Solution:

Map out your organization plan for the area you are working to organize.

When you categorize the items that will go together in a container, calculate the amount of space each item will take up. Is there room for more items without creating a negative impact on finding the items when you need them?

Can you add several categories of items together into one container and still find the items easily?

Top picks for organizing containers

7 | Trying to make things fit into an organizing container just because you have it

I’m all for using the organizing containers you already have to save money.

I also don’t think every item has to fit exactly into an organizing container.

The important part of this downfall is using containers that don’t fit into the space you have and trying to force them to fit.

This can backfire and actually be counterproductive to the time you spend on your organizing efforts.

For organization techniques to be effective the space needs to be tidy and functional when you are finished.

Simple Solution:

Make a plan for the space before you get started on the actual organization project.

Do everything possible to use the containers you have on hand by combining categories, restrategizing items, and their home, etc. However, if you can’t make it work, don’t force it.

Save the containers for another storage area where they will be more well-suited.

8 | Starting an organizing project and not finishing it

lady facing kitchen cabinets with cleaning gloves on

Have you ever felt super excited to start something and within a day or two the excitement was gone?

Many people will make excuses for all the reasons they should put off their organization goals and sadly, make themselves believe it!

Don’t let this be you!

I promise with each space you get organized, your momentum will build and it is only a matter of time and you will be unstoppable!

Simple Solution:

Don’t let yourself quit!

Find something to keep you moving forward.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Use a timer and set it for just 15 minutes
    • This is very effective because it is such a small amount of time you can talk yourself into doing it. The exciting part is that all those days you complete 15 minutes will add up to big results!
  • Reward yourself when you reach a milestone or complete a project.
    • If you go with this option be sure the reward isn’t something that will add more clutter to your house!
  • Divide your areas into even smaller pieces so you can get finished sooner.
    • It is very motivating to have an area finished so you can go back to it as a reminder of what the rest of your house will be like. If you are just starting, follow the guidelines for taking a picture from the post 10 Expert Hacks To Declutter Anything

9 | Underestimating the amount of space you need

This is likely a challenge if you don’t have a plan in place before you start.

It is also a common challenge for people that have little to no experience decluttering and organizing their space. The exciting news is you will feel like you have been organizing your whole life after you get a few areas under your belt!

Simple Solution:

First and most important, don’t estimate the space.

Measure it and take notes.

Make sure you have organizing containers to fit in the space you have allotted.

organized rustic cabinet with ivory colored chair pinterest image 11 organizing mistakes

10 | Forgetting maintenance

I think we all love the ‘set it and forget it’ concept from the old Ron Popeil Ronco Rotisserie commercials!

Unfortunately, that may have worked with roasting a whole chicken, but it won’t work when it comes to home organization.

Once you get a space organized it takes your commitment to keeping it organized. If you forget this maintenance step, it is only a matter of time and you will be starting over to organize the space again.

What a terrible waste of time that would be!

Simple Solution:

After you finish getting the area organized, take a quick sweep of it.

Think about the belongings you decluttered, and the things you kept and why. These things need to be put back in their place on a daily basis if they are used and come out of their ‘home’.

For example, if you kept extra hangers in the laundry room when you pull a shirt off a hanger in your bedroom that hanger needs to go with the others in their place in the laundry room, not stay in your bedroom in a random place.

11 | Not sharing expectations with others using the space

It is important to share your system with others that use the space.

Have you ever spent a weekend organizing your pantry and two weeks later you open the door and it is in total disarray?

Did it happen overnight? It looked fine yesterday morning!

Chances are it has been happening over the last week or more, you just didn’t notice (make sure you are following the #10.)

For this reason, it is important to communicate with your family or roommates. You spent precious time completing the organization process.

You don’t want to have to start over just because others aren’t aware of how they can help.

Simple Solution:

The first thing you need to do is communicate your expectations. In addition to this, there are several other things you can do.

  • Label the storage spaces so it is easy to know where each container goes as well as what goes into it.
  • Keep your system simple and easy to follow.
  • If you find the space continually out of order, don’t keep cleaning it up but find out who is doing it and have them put the area back in correct order.

Have you made any organizing mistakes or even some that are not included?

If you have made any of these organizing mistakes, head to the simple solutions section, and get back on track!

Do you have any organizing mistakes you have made that I could add to the list?


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