Over the past 3 years, I  have developed several theories about organizing.  For starters, I believe that people fill whatever space they have (and then some), which explains why we can move to a larger home and then fill that just as full as the old tiny space.  Another working theory is that surfaces beg to be covered, so if you take surfaces away you’ll force yourself to have less clutter.  (The allure of placing items on clear surfaces is almost impossible to resist). My most recent theory is that we tend to repeat ourselves in our organizational attempts by trying the same thing over, with little success. I see so many people buy organizational items to add onto something already in place that has been outgrown.  They believe that simply acquiring the item will make them a more organized person, which is rarely the case.

Some common examples:

Starting a new email account because your old one was too full of junk

Moving office (or closet) locations in your house because you just couldn’t get anything done or find anything in the first space

Buying a new purse, seduced by the interior compartments and larger size
Stocking up on bins, boxes, or scrapbooking items to finally bring order to your many projects, memorabilia, and belongings.
Starting new active files for categories you already have, because the existing ones were too stuffed or inaccessible

Now don’t get me wrong–I’m no stranger to being motivated by a shiny new organizational item. However, I frequently see peoples’ repeated attempts to fix a situation by ditching the old and embracing the new, rather than stepping back to consider what wasn’t working about the first one.  Chance are, the problem wasn’t that it wasn’t big enough or that you didn’t have time to implement it.  Often, the problem is that there wasn’t a system in place to maintain the organizational attempt.

I see this a lot with purses and travel bags, specialty organizing bins, and filing & desktop office organization.  When something like this happens, when you’re tempted to start fresh, consider that it may not be that the old device/area wasn’t working but that you don’t have a system in place.  Without an effective, easily sustainable system, the same thing is likely to happen all over again with your new shiny item.  To prevent that, instead try this:

1) Ask yourself what you don’t like about the current set-up, or what’s not working
2) Ask yourself what your ideal set up would be, or what is alluring about a new version
3) Determine 1-2 simple fixes or routines you can implement to have your ideal situation

  • Instead of adding another desktop filer to  contain your office clutter, perhaps you simply need to set aside 10 minutes each morning to file away and recycle papers that no longer need your immediate attention.
  • Instead of buying a new, bigger purses with more compartments, consider regularly paring down on the contents or your current purse.
  • Instead of buying more bins to hold all the projects you’ve started and never had the time to get back to, ask yourself how you really want to spend your leisure time, and which of these projects you’re excited about returning to, and donate the others.
  • Rather than ditching your home office in favor of paying your bills at the kitchen table, ask yourself why the home office space isn’t jiving with you anymore, and how you can revive that space as a functional, inviting space.

And, as always, if you’d like professional help, don’t hesitate to email me!