Fact or Fiction? Common Organizing Myths Debunked
Everywhere you turn there is buzz around organizing, living simply and minimalism. Go to your local book store and you will see aisles of books and magazines on the subject. Better yet, run a Google search of the word “organizing” and you get 110,000,000 hits. Regrettably, along with some great tips, information and interesting perspectives, there is also a lot of misinformation that can make the process of organizing your life confusing and even more intimidating than it was to begin with. This month I’m going to discuss some common organizing myths and provide an explanation of why you shouldn’t fall for them.
Myth: Organizing is a one-time event.
Organizing is a process, not an event. In Laura’s book Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life she explains how maintenance (Step 10) is the most important step of any organizing project. Similar to reaching a weight loss goal, getting to an initial state of organization feels great, but letting it slide back to where you started does not.
Maintenance should be a regular occurrence, but the regularity will depend on the organizing project. For example, in order to maintain order in a coat closet, you need to hang your coats up in their designated area after each time you wear them. Now that it’s the fall season in the states, this will likely be a daily maintenance activity for most of us. In the same coat closet, you may switch out your coats on a seasonal basis. This type of maintenance occurs only a couple of times a year.
Myth: It’s best to organize your entire house at once.
There are several reasons why I disagree with “organizing your entire house at once” theory recently made popular by Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Talk about overwhelming! Organizing is my favorite things to do and the thought of tackling my entire house at once is enough to send me into a panic!
There is a difference between tidying a space and organizing a space. As you read in the previous myth, organizing is a process. The process requires making a lot of hard decisions and that takes time. After a typical six hour organizing session our clients are more often than not, exhausted. I am often asked, “Aren’t you tired?” after working with a client. Although sometimes I am physically drained, the client is the one who will feel the most emotionally exhausted. It’s important to practice self-care and patience with yourself as you go through an organizing project or else you may experience burn out. This means you may not get to every room in your house over a one week period of time or even a month!
Lastly, it is possible that you only have one or two areas of your home that need organizing at this point in your life. Major life changes like a partner moving in or the addition of child may call for a serious organizing overhaul in a particular part of the home, but that doesn’t mean other areas in your home aren’t currently, or won’t continue to function well for you after the change.
Myth: I have to be a minimalist to be organized.
Becoming a minimalist and getting organized are two different concepts. I have seen many unorganized spaces that had nothing to do with the amount of ‘stuff’ in it. A space can be disorganized and chaotic because it’s not being used efficiently, regardless of the amount of items in it.
Although purging unwanted or unneeded items is an important step in the organizing process, not everyone needs to downsize in order to create an organized space. When it comes to organizing, designating a place that is visually satisfying and easy for you to access and use, is more important than the total number of items you possess.
Myth: Everyone will be successful if they follow the same method.
This is another theory from Marie Kondo’s book that I couldn’t disagree with more. People are not one size fits all, and they should not be coached to deal with their organizing challenges this way. Habits, lifestyle and learning style are just a few of the things that need to be taken into consideration when organizing a space. I might have the desire and discipline to perfectly fold each item of clothing in my dresser drawers, but that doesn’t mean you do or should. Everyone has a different definition of organized and what that looks and feels like in their life. If you would like a refresher, I wrote an article at the beginning of the year about defining organization in your life.
I hope this article has provided you some clarity and inspiration as you begin or continue in your organizing efforts. Happy organizing!