If being organized has been a lifelong challenge, then new habits are necessary to get and stay organized. Sometimes, however, organizing challenges can be overcome just by addressing the structures we choose. Staying organized requires easy, reliable movement from one stage to the next.  Circulation prevents accumulation. Here are some examples of structures that we hobble ourselves with, just like a hobbled horse.


Keeping your invoices and statements in envelopes means your are wasting up to four times the necessary space in your file cabinet.  It also means you are restricting the accessibility and mobility of your files.

Rubber bands

Bundling envelopes in rubberbands means your are never going to look at these files again.

Accordion file

Number one on my list of least favorite organizing tools is the accordion file.  This conventional standby hobbles you and your files.

Shopping bags

Here’s a scenario, particularly for busy moms.  You’ve got a pile of mail and other junk on your dining room table and company is coming.  So you stuff the contents into a couple of shopping bags and chuck them into the closet. You’ll get to it later, but now is just too crazy.  I think there’s something comforting about the shopping bag.  Every time you bring groceries home in a shopping bag, you make a point of emptying them.  But mail is not perishable so it can wait.  And wait. Until it is forgotten.  The shopping bag is not your friend.  A simple habit is.

Personal Organizers

Just want to be clear about this one, because sometimes people refer to me as a “personal organizer.”  I prefer “professional organizer” and I am not a hobbler.  The culprit are those date books people carry, that get stuffed with everything, but tend not to get UNstufffed. Without an easy plan for retrieval, these books tend to do more to restrict us than free us.

I consider all of these structures to be bundlers.  Whenver we bundle our items, we hobble our movement. There is a sense of security that comes from wrapping up certain areas in our life, but this is a false sense of security.  We’re not gaining control, we’re losing it.  If it’s not easily visible, findable, and moveable, it’s hobbled and it’s keeping you hobbled.