face-in-handsThis time of year many of us resolve to be more organized in the New Year. That’s great! Step one is: believe in yourself, because YOU are not the problem.  I’m amazed at how many of my clients say things like, “It’s a sickness,” “Don’t be mad at me,” “I’m a slob,” or “Am I the worst you’ve ever seen?” In most cases disorganization just comes from being too busy, having too much stuff, bad systems, and misguided mindsets.

Too Busy

OK, this may sound like a cop out because EVERYBODY is busy, but don’t overlook it. If you find a half hour window to reorganize the pantry and your daughter needs help with her algebra homework, the pantry has to take a back seat. You have your priorities straight, so give yourself some credit. Your free time is limited which makes removing all the unnecessary obstacles that much more important.

Too Much Stuff

Perhaps the most unnecessary but relentless obstacle to getting organized is too much stuff, aka “clutter.” There is only a small minority of us encouraging you to get rid of excess stuff, but there is a massive force telling us to BUY MORE everywhere you look. The global economy makes items cheaper than ever, credit is deceptively easy, and infomercials make you feel like you’ve got to have these items you never knew you needed. Then there are the gifts people feel obligated to give you and the unwanted stuff your family gives you (or leaves with you). If you’ve got more stuff than you can ever hope to use, getting organized is an uphill battle.

Bad Systems

Maybe you try to get more organized by buying an organizing device, but you know what you get? More stuff! Organizing devices tend to be overly complicated, inadequate, and unrealistic to use, leaving you even more disorganized than you would be without them. I have written many pages on what makes a good organizing system, but here’s a starter: give yourself a system with MINIMAL features, not multiple.


A mindset is something we adopt, but it’s also something we can let go of if it’s no longer serving us well. Case in point, the most enduring legacy I have seen from the Great Depression is the mindset of keeping an item “just in case, because you never know.” Since I’m such a fan of reducing, it should come as no surprise that I also favor of reusing and recycling wherever possible. However you do it, you need to let go of the unimportant stuff that’s getting in the way of the good stuff in your life. Another mindset that can keep you disorganized is “I’m going to get that fixed.” That can really cause things to pile up, especially if it’s attached to the mindset “it’s a rainy day project.” Perhaps the most self-defeating mindset is “I really SHOULD do that.” Psychologist Albert Elis said “don’t ‘should’ on yourself” and boy is that true!

So if you find yourself saying “I really SHOULD get my back-up printer fixed the next rainy day I have,” STOP! Let it go. Let it ALL go, the stuff, the mindsets and all. If that stuff’s not helping you, it may be hurting you, but there’s nothing wrong with YOU. You’re a hard-working, caring individual, who deserves supportive friends.
Make sure you’re one of them.

What are some obstacles that keep you from getting organized?