Many of the organizing myths I’m going to look at represent conventional organizing wisdom. If that wisdom works for you, great, but if it’s unsuccessful then this is for you. Each myth comes with an explanation of why these myths may not work, and advice for what to do instead.
When in doubt, throw it out.
This is advice that shedders tend to give keepers. It doesn’t work because it leads to regrets, and nothing slows the organizing process down faster than having regrets. Instead, when in doubt, clarify the why. When you are clear on why you keep something, it takes you to where it should go.
For example, if you realize you are keeping something for sentimental reasons, sort it with the other keepsakes. Then get right back to the easier decisions to sustain progress. This might sound like shifting clutter, but you have moved the process forward. The next time you see that object, it will be in the right context and context drives decisions.
If you haven’t used it in a year, throw it out.
This one’s similar to “when in doubt…” and similarly, it can lead to regrets. Maybe you will use the item if you know where it is. There can be many good reasons why it’s been concealed. Instead, move the item to a more visible location. When it’s been given a fair chance and you don’t use it, it then becomes easier to toss without regrets
I need more closets to stay organized.
If your goal is to hide everything, then this could be true. However, if your goal is to stay organized, it’s probably not. If you can date it, this clarifies the reality further. You have to prioritize to organize. By pulling everything out of a closet, we find that much of it has been forgotten and can either be relocated or purged. As a result, you can easily find and access everything because it fits comfortably. You don’t need another closet.
Organizing is about keeping a perfect home.
Professional organizers are not perfectionists, but our clients often tend to be. If a job can’t get done perfectly, it doesn’t get done at all. And there it sits in piles. Professional organizers believe that a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. It’s more important that you are able to keep your space functional and your items findable.
Only handle it once.
The thinking behind this advice is that you need to avoid pushing paper from one pile to another without progress. Handle the paper once, then make a final action on it before moving on to the next piece. The problem with that approach, is that it puts too much pressure on you to make the perfect decision out of context. This slows the process down too much.
Also, it doesn’t address the various priority levels of the paper in that pile. So, if you don’t get through it all, you might be missing some dangerously overdue bills. Watch my video on Organizing Paper Made Easy for the alternative I recommend.
I don’t have time to be organized.
Does organizing take time? Of course it does, but if you get organized correctly it will take significantly less time to stay organized. Your daily processes will be streamlined, and you won’t waste time looking for things.
There are certainly more organizing myths I could share, but these six are a good start. Did any of these organizing myths surprise you? If so, I would love to hear about it below!