Last year we checked in with professional organizer Angela Kantarellis about getting ready for tax season and this year we look at the sorts of organizing mistakes you can easily avoid in your home office.
Angela: “It’s 2012, a brand-new year wide open with promise and possibilities. If ‘get organized’ is one of your resolutions again this year, let’s look at what might have gotten in the way in the past and work to change it in the future. I’ve compiled a list 7 Organizing Mistakes to Avoid in 2012 to help you sidestep the most common roadblocks to a well-organized workspace.”
1. Not knowing your personal organizing style – When it comes to organizing, one of the key elements is to understand your personal organizing style. What does this mean? It means that you need to analyze your current organizing habits before you implement new systems. For example – are you a piler or a filer? Do you like an open bin system or drawers? Are you an “out of sight out of mind” person and need everything visible or do you prefer everything to be put away? Do you like paper or are you striving for a ”paperless” office?
2. Going for quick fix solutions - Quick fix solutions offer the promise of magically whipping years of clutter and disorganization into shape. If you see a storage product or new piece of technology that seems to offer a quick fix, hold off, it may just wind up as another piece of clutter, frustration and ultimately a wast of money. If the product doesn’t match your personal style, it will not work for you long term. Whether for weight loss or organizing, quick fixes rarely work. Know that like anything worthwhile, getting organized takes time.
3. Boxes and bags syndrome – This is a very common one and I see it all the time. You may be so frustrated with all the clutter on your desk or you might just need to clear it in a hurry – you put all the clutter in a box or bag and stick it in the closet. Before you know it there is an avalanche of boxes and bags in the closet causing you stress and possibly even a great deal of shame. Avoid the boxes and bags syndrome by implementing systems – such as mail processing systems that prevent clutter from happening in the first place.
4. Vagueness about your possessions – It’s important to know what you have. One thing I do with clients all the time is consolidate like items. Organizers are particularly skilled at identifying patterns. If you are a Staples junkie like me, for example, keep all your office supplies in one area so you know what you have and what you need to replenish. You’ll avoid duplicates, cut down on clutter and save money in the process. Also, when you are clear on what you have, you’ll be able to purchase the right containers to store them.
5. Procrastination and Avoidance - If you have been living with clutter for a long time, there is a high level of procrastination and avoidance that may cause you to freeze up. This paralysis leads to avoidance leads to frustration. Getting organized is a process. Fear of beginning or not knowing where to start is a common obstacle. This can be addressed by simply making a decision. Make a decision to start with the simplest task for example or with the area that is causing you the most stress. Another great way to begin is to start with the area that is of most interest to you or that will give you the most satisfaction or have the biggest impact. Regardless of what you chose – make a decision!
6. Someday/Somehow syndrome - The someday/somehow syndrome results from not having a plan. Your plan could be a simple one such as I’m going to spend 10 minutes a day organizing my files or I’m going to come in on Saturday when the office is quiet and do a major purge. Whether your style is to do a little at a time or tackle a project head on, having a plan will help you get it done.
7. I can do it myself syndrome – When it comes to getting things done in our super fast-paced world, we all can fall into the trap of thinking we can do it all ourselves. Avoid this organizing mistake by bringing in what my colleague and pioneer in the field of chronic disorganization, Judith Kohlberg has termed “a body double.” A body double is someone, a friend or family member for example, who will sit with you while you organize and de-clutter. Make sure you chose someone that is supportive and non-judgmental. You’ll be amazed at the results of asking for help.