Busting the Top 10 Organizing Myths
As part of my 10-year celebration of being in the organizing business, I thought I’d revisit this old blog post and see if I still agreed with myself. I do.
Don’t believe everything you think! Here are the top 10 organizing myths, along with the truth and some helpful links to related blog posts and flow charts.
Organizing Myths #1 & 2: Neat equals organized. & Messy equals disorganized.
Truth: Not necessarily!
Don’t we all know someone with a messy desk who knows exactly where to find that important report? Are you intimidated by friends with spotless homes? Don’t be! You haven’t seen inside their drawers and closets. They may not be able to find their tax records or car keys when they need them! Being organized is about being able to find the things you need, when you need them; getting important tasks done with time to spare; being comfortable in your space; and enjoying your life! Finding a system that works for YOU is what really matters. (Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs)
Organizing Myth #3: Multi-tasking saves time and increases productivity.
Truth: It depends. Studies show that people who multi-task are actually LESS efficient than those who focus on one project at a time. Think about the time you lose switching among multiple tasks — “Now, where was I?” Multi-tasking is overrated, stressful, and potentially dangerous, such as when talking on your cell phone while driving. Even using a hands-free device, are you really giving either activity — communicating or driving — the attention it deserves? Good, safe examples of multi-tasking combine activities with no serious consequences for either, such as: listening to an audio book or music while exercising; checking loads of laundry between home office tasks; dusting or loading the dishwasher while chatting on the phone. (Are You Doing the Right Things?)
Organizing Myth #4: A Professional Organizer will make you get rid of all your stuff.
Truth: A good one won’t! Your stuff isn’t as important as what you want to do in your life, and how you want to feel in your space. If we need to eliminate some stuff in order to accomplish that, we will. Together we will determine what you really use, love, and need to keep. Then we will display those items, or store them in such a way that they take up less room and are easier to find when you need them. (The Original Clutter Flow Chart)
Organizing Myth #5: The perfect gadget or container will get you organized.
Truth: How well has that worked for you so far? I subscribe to Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E. method of organizing — Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, Equalize. You’ll notice that “Containerize” is the next-to-LAST step in the process, not the FIRST step! If you haven’t sorted, purged, and assigned a home for your stuff yet, how do you know what size or style of container you need? If you haven’t fully, and accurately, analyzed the problem, how do you know which gadget will solve it? If you buy too soon in the process, it’s likely to end up as more clutter. If you wait, you might even discover that you already have everything you need! (How to Create More S.P.A.C.E. in Your Life)
Organizing Myth #6: Hiring a Professional Organizer is cost prohibitive.
Truth: It may cost less than you think! When you really stop to consider the cost of clutter, and the value of organizing, the cost of organizing may well seem like a total bargain! The real question is: Can you afford not to get organized? (How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?; How to Get Organized Anywhere at Any Budget)
Organizing Myth #7: Only disorganized people need to hire a Professional Organizer.
Truth: Not true! Actually, many of my clients are quite organized! Or at least they used to be. But life happens…moving, physical illness, new baby, job change…and life doesn’t wait around for you to get things back under control. Why suffer when there’s help available to get you back on track? Or, maybe things aren’t bad the way they are and you just want some ideas to make things even better! (Are You Situationally Disorganized?; Getting Back on Track)
Organizing Myth #8: Disorganization is a character flaw.
Truth: Don’t think that! There are many reasons why someone might be disorganized. They range from situational (moving, physical illness, new baby, job change), to chronic (ADD, brain injury, mental illness). Maybe there’s nothing “wrong” with you at all, but you are trying to use an organizing system that doesn’t suit your natural style. Some people have just “always done it that way”, and it simply hasn’t occurred to them that there might be a better “home” for the scissors, or that their laundry never makes it into the hamper because it’s inconveniently located and has a box sitting on top of it. Maybe important papers don’t get filed simply because the drawer sticks, making it difficult to open and close. Most of my clients are simply overwhelmed with their busy lives. Disorganization is a problem to be solved, not a character flaw. (Why Am I Organized and You Aren’t?)
Organizing Myth #9: You should touch each piece of paper only once.
Truth: Oh, please… OK, I’ll agree that actual trash (junk mail) should be recycled or shredded directly from your mail pile the moment you go through it. But, as for bills and other items that require action, who is going to drop everything and pay the bill the instant it arrives, and then file it immediately, thus only touching it “once”? I recommend an Action File to most of my clients. It is a temporary, very accessible holding place for items that require action. At best you will still be touching the paper two or three times (including filing, if filing is even necessary). But it’s a realistic system that works for most people. (Mystery Piles & Action Files; The Paper Clutter Flow Chart)
Organizing Myth #10: Organized people schedule every minute of every day.
Truth: Heavens no! What fun would that be? Organized people do schedule appointments; chunks of time to work on projects; time for themselves (exercise, hobbies); and family time. But they also leave pockets of unscheduled time on their calendars for those little unanticipated (but inevitable) things that crop up during the day; time to take advantage of new opportunities; and time to do nothing but take a deep breath, relax a bit, and appreciate their lives. (Are You Too Busy?; The To-Do List Clutter Flow Chart)
Copyright 2009-2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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