Think it’s high time to organize your closet, declutter your junk drawer, or tame the chaos in your kids’ rooms—or maybe your entire house?
Home organization is a worthwhile pursuit—but according to home organization experts, even the best intentions can be easily derailed. Yup, there’s a right way to sort and arrange your stuff, and a very wrong way!
To pinpoint what trips people up, we asked organization pros to share the things they really wish you wouldn’t do—mistakes they see people make time and again that really must be put to rest. Consider this a to-not-do list you should abide by, if you hope to keep your home looking its best.
1. Leaving the bed unmade
Face it: A messy bed is an eyesore, so if you’re not going to make it, you may as well stop picking clothes off the floor, too.
“Make your bed every day as a small promise you can keep to yourself, and start the day off on the right foot,” says Katie McCann, a home and office organizing professional at Haven.
But even the pros hate this daily task, so steal this little tip to make your bedroom appear more organized without having to straighten the sheets perfectly.
“Make sure all of your bedding is the same color, like white, and then even unmade, your bed will look pretty organized and intentional,” suggests Drew Henry of Design Dudes.
2. Cramming too much in a small space
Photo by Chris A Dorsey Photography
Sure, every pair of footwear here has its own little space, but what happens when you get new clogs?
“You always have to allow room for growth—and if an area is jampacked, then you probably didn’t let anything go in the first place,” notes Julie Coraccio, author of “Got Clutter? 365 Journal Prompts.”
3. Keeping things because they’re expensive
You paid a fortune for that abstract art, so you might feel compelled to keep it forever. Ditto those fancy clothes you got when you were 10 pounds lighter. But in both instances, you’re wrong—and you need to let them go!
Before you do, think of creative ways to give these pricey things a good home, either by donating them to a good cause, regifting those that are nearly new, or selling them online and pocketing the cash.
4. Relying on plastic bins
“I wish people would stop buying those awful plastic drawer units on wheels because they look tacky and break easily,” says Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organizing Your Home With SORT and SUCCEED.”
What’s worse, these bins are simply a stopgap.
“By the time you buy a few of them, you could have purchased a really sturdy vintage dresser that you could enjoy for many years,” she adds.
Frankly, all plastic organizing bins should just be recycled and never purchased again.
“Homeowners get them to store things without making real decisions, but putting things in bins doesn’t make you organized—it just moves your clutter to wherever the bins are,” she says.
5. Equating organizing with throwing things out
“Organizing is the practice of arranging things so you can find what you need when you need it, whereas this cycle of purge-buy, purge-buy is destructive to the Earth, our health, and our wallets,” says DeMorrow.
Instead, learn to shop for quality things, repurpose items, or figure out how to do fixes or repairs—or do without, she urges.
6. Letting guilt rule what you keep
Your Aunt Mary gave you a soup tureen, with a bird on it, but you don’t make or serve soup and don’t like avian design. In this case, make like Marie Kondo and thank it for its service. The piece was given and received, so feel free to send it to a new home, because there’s someone out there who will appreciate it, says McCann. (Probably.)
“You should also look at what the guilt is about and find ways to assuage it,” says Coraccio.
Clutter has many forms, she adds, so if you deal with your emotional clutter, or guilt, you can then release your physical clutter.
7. Riding the trend train
This one’s a little hard because it’s fun to take part in what’s hot right now. Instead, figure out what works for you and then stick with it, whether it means tossing one thing every time you get something new, or rewarding yourself for progress you make in a closet or junk drawer.
“Define what organization means to you and your family—not what Instagram or Pinterest tries to convince you of,” says McCann.