House in a never-ending tidy-to-mess cycle? You might be guilty of these mistakes
Turns out there are "deadly sins" of organisation, and I'm guilty of them all.
Maintaining a tidy household is difficult for everyone, whether you have kids or not.
While kids most definitely add to mess, clutter and chaos, so much of the home's state of organisation/disorganisation is dependent on the adults who live there.
I'll be the first to admit I'm by no means organised. I love the idea of everything having its own place and surfaces being clear when not in use, but I find the maintenance of that to be easier said than done.
Limited space and time, combined with my overly-sentimental need to hang onto everything I've ever owned, leaves me often suddenly realising the room I spent forever organising a week or so prior is a cluttered mess again.
Organisational experts spoke to HuffPost about the mistakes they regularly see people make – and what they should do instead.
If you're anything like me, you might see yourself in following and can hopefully take something to try put into practice this year.
Not letting go
Something a lot of us disorganised folk struggle with is letting go. I don't know how many times I've hung onto something I didn't need "just in case."
“I’ve had clients hold on to ‘mementos’ ― broken, torn, and/or nonfunctional items ― and keep old cords even when they don’t know what device the cord connects to," says Nicole Arroyo, professional organiser at Neatly Nic.
But really looking at what we have and seeing what we use, need or enjoy can better help us make the decision on what we really want to hang onto and what stuff we can say goodbye to.
Buying organisation materials before decluttering
“One of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen people make when organising their homes is buying organising tools (containers, gadgets, labels, etc.) before they sort and purge," says Carolyn Rogers, professional organising consultant at Neat Nerd Solutions.
"Sorting your belongings into 'trash', 'donate', and 'keep' categories is not just to help you get rid of unnecessary or unwanted items. It also serves the purpose of helping you to realise not only what you have, but also how much of it you actually have."
While this is yet an organisational sin I'm guilty of, I suppose it does make sense to clear stuff out before buying and adding more into the equation.
On top of buying organisational tools prematurely, experts say people also buy them incorrectly – in that they don't take measurements to see what space they're working with and what shelves, containers, baskets or bins are going to fit.
“Please don’t eyeball a shelf or a closet or a drawer and guesstimate what kind of bin or helpful divider or hanging pocket shoe rack might fit," says Jeni Aron, professional organiser at Clutter Cowgirl.
"Measure the hell out of any drawer or door or shelf before ordering online or in person. Width, depth, height are your friends and so is a tape measure.”
Choosing aesthetic over function
On that note, there's no point buying something that looks nice if you don't actually have the room for it, if you're not going to make good use of it, or if it's not going to help improve the function of the room.
“People tend to purchase organising supplies for their ‘cuteness’ versus whether they will actually use it or not," says Regina Lark, professional organiser at A Clear Path. "When my team is called in to help a client ‘get organised,’ we see a LOT of organising products that are unused, poorly used, or used-to-overflowing.”
Organisation becoming a regular feature on reality shows has sparked a trend amongst TikTok and Instagram users, but experts say much of it is for show.
“Don’t compare your home or space to someone else or a catalog look," adds Pooja Naik, organising consultant at Organising With You.
"Organising is about functionality. While the visual appeal comes with it, that’s not the goal. The goal is to maximise space, minimise stress and save time. So systems need to be centred around that and not just making it look pretty.”
Another one of my pitfalls: trying to squish too much into too little a space.
"A good organising system is easy to access and has room to grow," says Seana Turner, founder of The Seana Method.
"If you have to stuff items to fit them in the designated location, you are likely to become frustrated and the system will fail."
Biting off more than you can chew
Being overly ambitious in facing large tasks can be overwhelming and cause you to either get stressed out or to procrastinate longer and allow the clutter to worsen.
"Instead of creating mini-projects and taking small steps, people try to do too much at once," says Linda Samuels, professional organiser at Oh, So Organised. "This can be de-motivating, debilitating, cause burnout, and prevent them from reaching their organising goals."
Jeni adds that she breaks up her sessions into three hour blocks to stop this from happening. "Do smaller bursts of work so that you keep your motivation and energy going," she says. "Set a timer if you have to and take lots of breaks."
Leaving too much time between sessions
On the other hand though, don't leave too much time between decluttering sessions as you'll lose momentum, become unmotivated, and feel like you're starting from scratch again.
You think you’ll remember that you put holiday decorations in a box at the top of the closet," says Lisa Zaslow, a professional organiser at Gotham Organisers. "You won’t."
Labelling containers or storage boxes helps leave no question as to where everything goes and stops you from forgetting where lesser-used things you need are.
Okay, experts, clearly I have some homework to do...