Organizing Mistakes – What not to do when conquering your clutter!

Laine Hardman can be reached at, 703-401-4829 or

Sometimes we have good intentions – let’s get rid of some clutter this weekend! But then Sunday night rolls around and all you have are new piles of stuff and a few things thrown away. Here are some mistakes that people make when trying to declutter their homes (and how to avoid them).

Zig-zag – The biggest mistake that people make when organizing is what is called zig-zagging.  You are planning on an organizing session in the kitchen, you find a book there, you go into the office to put it away, you find a toy there so you go to the playroom to put that away, then you start putting away toys and you never make it back to the kitchen.  When organizing, keep an “upstairs” bag and an “office” bag, for example, near the door and put those items away after you are done in the kitchen.



Getting Distracted – Another common mistake is not making a commitment to focus on the organization without distractions – no kids, no phone calls, no emails, for a set amount of time. Set a timer if needed and keep working until the timer goes off!



Holding on to Unused Items – Very often people just keep too many items they will never use, even when they are trying to purge some items. Maybe it is because they are “perfectly good.” Or they may have spent money on the items and they feel the money is now going to waste if they get rid of the item. Or maybe the item was a well-intentioned gift. The new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, (great book title – why didn’t I think of that?) challenges us to ask of our belongings, “Does this Spark Joy?” We often keep items “just because.” If you have not used an item in one calendar year, there is good chance you will never use it. And right now it is only taking up valuable space in your home!



The biggest mistakes by room would be:


Kitchen – Using your prime real estate for items that are rarely used. Consider how often you use your kitchen items.  Rarely used items like slow cookers or waffle irons can go in a closet in another room or on a high shelf.


Kids’ Playroom – Having a big intake of toys due to a birthday or holiday without getting rid of old toys.  Also, skip the large toy box – it becomes a bottom-less pit.  Store toys in baskets in an open storage cabinet.  Once you get any space organized, you should follow a one-in, one-out rule.



Bedroom – Using your dresser tops for mail, paper work, and other non-bedroom items.  These items should have a place in your home office.  Not purging unworn clothes will leave you with too many items that could end up in piles on the floor. Don’t be afraid to donate clothes that no longer fit or that you haven’t worn in a year.  Always keep a white trash bag in your closet to put clothes in for donation.


Mudroom – Keeping out of season items in this room will limit the available space.  Winter coats should be elsewhere in the summer.  Soccer items should go in the closet when the season is over. Invest in a storage cubby with hooks, preferably one with baskets, to store backpacks and sporting goods.  Take advantage of the vertical space with shelves where you can use baskets to hold hats, scarves, shin guards, etc.




Stay on top of clutter as much as possible by taking a little bit of time each day to put everything in its place.  And organize your home in a way that makes sense to the people who live there.  You will be glad that you did!


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