When it comes to organization, there are people who get it. And then there are people who get it. If you resonate with the latter, chances are, you’ve either built a career around organizing, or you carry the self-proclaimed title of Pro Organizer. Either way, when it comes to room and home tidying, you have a long list of best practices. And because of this, you also have a long list of don’t-dos.
In order to help those who just don’t get it (yet), we’ve consulted with the experts to create this list of 9 things pro-organizers wish you’d stop doing. So if you find yourself nodding your head to any of these points … you may want to change up your habits.
1. Stop Feeling Guilty About Poor Organization
“It’s not your fault,” says Caroline Clark, Professional Organizer and Home Organization Coach. “Getting organized isn’t an intuitive skill for most people, and it's generally not something we're explicitly taught how to do.”
Rather than beating yourself up over your poor organization habits, Clark says to “be gentle with yourself as you acquire this new ability.” It’s okay to not be the best. We’ll get there … eventually.
2. Quit Trying to Do It All Alone
When it comes to organization, like anything in life, really, it’s okay to ask for help. “If you’ve been struggling on your own for years with a lot of clutter, it’s time to hire a professional. It’s okay to ask for expert help,” says Kim Sneath, The Clutter Coach. Sneath also advises us to actually stop setting the 15-minute timers and trying to declutter in a short amount of time. Instead, carve out proper time and space to really dive in … or simply reach out to someone who knows what to do.
3. Quit the Negative Self-Talk
“I wish people would stop the negative self-talk, telling themselves that they 'can't do it'. Or that they're 'not an organized person,’” says Michelle Hansen, an organizing expert and owner of Practical Perfection. “You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do if you just put your mind to it!”
Although the process can feel daunting at first, Michelle encourages us to take the one-step-at-a-time approach: “The beautiful thing about organizing is that there is an incredible feeling that comes with getting organized that creates a snowball effect,” she says, “You'll recognize how great it feels to have an organized junk drawer so maybe you decide to move onto your desk drawer, and so on."
4. Stop Organizing by Color (Please!)
“Yep, I said it. I think the rainbow order is ridiculous,” shares Melissa Keyser, professional organizer and certified KonMari Consultant. “While rainbow order is very photogenic and trendy, I don't think it's a practical way of sorting things for most homes.”
“Having to remember what color the packaging is of a particular brand of soup so you can find it in your pantry, or searching the bookshelf because you can't remember the spine color of that book you wanted to read, doesn't add ease to anyone's life,” Keyser says. Instead, she advocates for grouping items by similar use or subject.
Then, if you’re still stuck on the rainbow, you can order by color from there.
5. Stop Neglecting the Power of Hangers
Who would have known that hangers could make such a big impact? Apparently these pro-organizers did. First, Stacey Agin Murray, a New Jersey-based organizer, shares that you need to stop using the wrong hangers.
“I have seen many garments ruined due to the use of the wrong hanger—corduroy pants ruined by being draped over a wire hanger, sweaters sporting ‘shoulder bumps’ from being hung on a too-narrow hanger, and heavy coats placed on tubular hangers,” she says, “The heavier the garment, the more weighty the hanger should be. As a general rule, hang coats on sturdy wooden hangers, sweaters/blazers and most tops on crystal hangers, silky tops and tank tops on ‘huggable’ or ‘flocked’ hangers. Pants can be hung from skirt hangers or draped over open-ended pants hangers.”
“Spending money on a good hanger,” she says, “will save you from having to replace an item of clothing in the future.”
6. Quit Shopping Without a Plan
Okay, this tip applies to everything in life—not just organizing! But one major thing pro-organizers wish you’d stop doing is heading to the Container Store or Target without a plan.
“I don't let my clients go to the Container Store unsupervised,” says Lucy Miligan Wahl, owner of a boutique professional organizing company based in San Francisco. “People who aren't familiar with the inventory can get very overwhelmed and either purchase the wrong thing ... or nothing at all.” She also recommends the obvious—getting sizes and measurements before even leaving your home.
7. Stop Saving Unnecessary Bags & Boxes
Raise your hand if you have a collection of boxes somewhere in your home. Now raise your hand if you have a designated bag area under your sink or stuffed in a closet somewhere. Chances are, you have both hands up.
But why do we do this?
The Clutter Queen Rhea Becker says “nearly every home has what I call a ‘bag of bags’. Nylon and canvas shopping bags are ubiquitous in our world and many people can’t part with them. I urge clients to pare down their bag collections to a handful and discard the rest.”
8. Stop Hanging Onto Things for the Wrong Reasons
We’re all guilty of hanging onto items from our childhood, heirlooms from our loved ones, or even silly trinkets that we, for some reason, can’t seem to part with.
For example, people also may hold onto items out of guilt, building more negative emotions in a space than necessary. Esther Konz, personal organizer and blogger at Uncluttered Simplicity, says, “at the end of the day, it is fear that holds us back and keeps us trapped in all the clutter around us. We're worried (needlessly) that we can't afford to replace anything if it breaks, so we're going to hang on to all the things. The reality is, if we can’t afford to replace something, maybe we can just do without it.”
She encourages setting physical space limitations for objects. Despite their significance, you can’t hold onto everything—and sometimes letting go is a good thing.
9. Stop Calling Yourself a Perfectionist
We’ve heard it before, and guaranteed, we’ll hear it again—being a perfectionist is not a positive or cute label. Putting those expectations on yourself is “a sure-fire way to never get anything done, have massive amounts of stress and anxiety, and greatly limit your potential,” says Taylor Morgan, founder of The Captain’s Lifestyle.
“Focus on progress, not perfection,” Morgan says.