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Organized Mindset: How to Overcome Home Organization Roadblocks

It’s something I talk about all the time: if you want to not just get organized but stay organized, you need to adopt an organized mindset. But with all mindset issues, it’s often easier said than done.

Research tells us that clutter can cause stress. But what happens if the process of becoming organized also stresses you out? It can be easy to feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Graphic with a photo of neatly stacked, white dishes with the title, 'Organized Mindset: How to Overcome Home Organization Roadblocks.'

Most of my clients have at least a little stress around organizing. Some have stress around the process of getting organized. For others, it’s stress around their ability to stay organized. And for some, it’s of course both!

After working with countless clients as a professional organizer for many years, I’ve distilled those anxieties into six main mindset roadblocks. I’m going to address each, and provide you with new ways to overcome them.

Organized Mindset Roadblock 1: You think you need to do it all

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re thinking about your entire house and life, and every single thing that needs to get organized.

My advice? Break. It. Down. 

Professional organizer putting away neatly folded item in an organized closet.

They say that the most successful people in the world make it big by starting small. And if you ask me, the same thing goes with organizing your home.

Here’s a little nugget of truth for you: even I get overwhelmed when I go to a new client’s home! My mind races with everything that needs to be done. But letting that overwhelm overtake me doesn’t help. I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time — and that’s what you should do, too. 

Think about the next step in front of you, and nothing else. Pick one task and complete it. Ignore the rest of your home. Ignore the space that just keeps accumulating clutter as you clean and organize other spaces. You’ll get there. Just do what you’re doing today, and worry about the rest later. Better yet, worry about the rest at a designated time that you put in your calendar.

Organized Mindset Roadblock 2: You don’t know where to start

When it comes to getting organized, there is no best place to start. You just have to start!

Garage, entryway, storage space, office, it doesn’t matter. Sure, there are best practices, but the BEST of the best practices is… just start.  Just put yourself in a room with a 30-minute timer and start going through stuff. 

Large, organized closet with built-in shelving.

Start by purging the least sentimental items in your home or space, and work your way up to the most precious belongings. You might even want to consider leaving those precious items alone for a while and returning to them later (like, in a year). THAT’S OK! This is a process that takes time — but you can do it!

For more tips, check out my blog post on Where to Start Decluttering, where I share my home organization journey, or check out my 5 Tips for Getting Organized.

Organized Mindset Roadblock 3: You want it to be perfect

A lot of people hold themselves back from getting organized until they know they can make it perfect. And I completely get where you’re coming from with this one. I feel like if I’m going to put the time into organizing, I want to get immediate, perfect results right away.

But listen: if being organized was easy, everyone would have a perfect home. It’s not, and they don’t. 

Cabinet with neatly organized shoes.

Like anything worth doing, getting organized is a marathon, not a sprint. Do the finessing and finishing touches once it’s close to done. Instead, think about what you can do right now to make progress. After you’ve put in the initial time and commitment, you can worry about making it perfect.

Organized Mindset Roadblock 4: You think you don’t have time

This is a BIG one. We all have many competing priorities and so many things on our plates, and it’s hard to see where we can fit home organization into that schedule. 

It’s hard to see it when you’re at the beginning of your organizing journey, but getting organized actually saves you time in the end! You don’t need to search for your keys every morning if you always put them back in their spot at night. You don’t need to spend an hour at the grocery store if you have a list of what to buy. It won’t take you 10 minutes to get dressed in the morning if you love everything in your closet and pick out your outfit the night before.

Shelves with white baskets, each with labels.

Yes — it will take time to get yourself organized. It took me about a year to purge my house (and my schedule and my obligations), make ALL the decisions, and find routines that worked for me. 

Yes – it will take time to decide where your keys should go. Yes – it will take time to get into the habit of making grocery lists, and then writing up those lists. Yes – it will take time to choose the clothes you love and give away those you don’t. But, you’ll save SO MUCH time in the end. I promise you. And, even more importantly, you’ll save yourself so much stress.

Organized Mindset Roadblock 5: You think your family will ruin it

I see way too many people hold themselves back from getting organized because they’re convinced all their hard work will be erased by their families.

It’s true: you need to have conversations with your roommates, spouse, and/or kids about getting organized. You can’t expect people to know what you want if you don’t tell them. You can’t expect your family to put things back in their home if you haven’t chosen a home for each item and shown them where that home is. 

Large, organized closet with built-in shelving.

Explain how important this new way of life is to you, and how you’re going to live together moving forward. True, they won’t tidy up exactly the way you want them to. Especially not right away. But they can do it pretty well after some practice. If my husband, my 9-year-old, and my 5-year-old can do it, yours can too!

Organized Mindset Roadblock 6: You, quite simply, don’t want to!

I get this. I really do. But we get one life to live. How do you want your life to feel? You spend a lot of time in your home. How do you want to feel there? 

If you don’t want to waste time searching for your keys or getting angry with your family every time you’re running late because you couldn’t get your things together in time, then do something about it! Seriously! Right now! 

If you don’t want to spend that one life organizing, that’s great, too! But you need to stop complaining about being disorganized and learn to embrace and enjoy your messy life.

If you do want to get organized but haven’t gotten into the mental space where you enjoy the process, think of ways to make it more fun. Try listening to music or a podcast while you tidy up. Buy a headset, and make some phone calls to multi-task and make the process more enjoyable. Better yet, find ways to reward yourself when it’s done! 

I can tell you this: the more that you do it, the easier it will get, and the more you’ll enjoy the outcome itself. You’ll get addicted to that amazing feeling you get when it’s DONE... and that will be reward enough.

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