10 Common Organizing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Efficient organization is the key to keeping your house from looking messy and cluttered. While it may seem simple for some to sort and store items, for many it’s all too easy to make organizing mistakes. This is understandable, as there’s so much conflicting design advice going around and trying to get a handle on clutter can be overwhelming. To help get your house in a clutter free state, here are ten organizing mistakes that you should avoid.

1. Thinking clean equals organized

While there’s definitely something positive to be said for keeping a clean home, that doesn’t mean that all of your possessions are in place. Many people have clean counters that are cluttered with items, or closets that are technically clean but have disorganized piles of linens. Purging what you don’t use and is simply taking up space is a first step. Then, sort things according to their use and make a place for everything so messy clutter becomes much less likely.

2. Clearing too much off your kitchen counters

Yes, it really is possible to go too far and remove too many items from your counters. The problem with this is that it becomes easier to fall back into disorder because none of what you use each day is at hand. In a kitchen such as this one, it’s common to clear everything off the counters to get rid of the mess, even small appliances. However, when the next meal comes around all of the stuff ends up back where it started. Keep out things that you use often, such as your coffee maker, utensil crock, and dish drain, and make a schedule for clearing away dirty dishes each day.

3. Letting your refrigerator become a message board

Seeing tons of papers, receipts, and even drawings on a fridge instantly makes a kitchen look messy. And if your home happens to have an open concept kitchen, dining, and living space, it will affect the look of the entire area. We all know how easy it can be to tack kid’s drawings, take out menus, exercise regimens, appointment notes, and all manner of other things on the fridge, but resist. Instead, designate a folder for menus, pin notes on a board in your office or get a planner, and let kids hang their artwork in their own room.

4. Creating a catch-all entryway

If you’re storing too much in your entry or have no defined system set up for what should go there, it’s bound to look messy and you’ll make one of the most common organizing mistakes. Put out a basket to catch shoes as people enter the house, place your mail receptacle far from your doorway to prevent letting it pile up, and reduce the amount of furniture in your entry. The less places to set things, the less clutter that will accumulate.

5. Not having a place just for your paper and mail

When you don’t designate a spot for incoming papers it then ends up as random piles around the house. The ideal thing to do is open mail as soon as you get it, but short of that pick a folder or one drawer where you’ll place mail. Once it begins to get full, force yourself to open and deal with it.

6. Thinking form over function when it comes to your closet

We’ve all seen those super cute closets with the coordinating baskets and such on Pinterest. The problem is that you don’t see what those closets typically look like off camera: a mess. Why? Because the focus when designing those closets wasn’t on lifestyle and everyday usage but looking nice in photos. This closet’s storage bins aren’t doing much in the way of containing organization because there’s still disorganized piles at the top and things flowing out of the bins. Focus on what’s needed to keep your wardrobe in order first, then consider aesthetics.

7. Using the wrong storage bins

While some storage bins work well and can effectively organize and contain clutter, many are more decorative than functional and don’t help much when it comes to battling disorder. Avoid buying storage containers before you’ve sorted through your clutter — that’s the sure route to ending up with a bunch of useless and ineffective bins that are the wrong size.

8. Going too far with gallery walls

Technically, gallery walls are a type of decor rather than organization. However, they lead to a messier look when there’s way too much going on, dust starts to collect, and you’re left with a huge wall of knickknacks and art prints that look outdated. What’s worse is wall galleries that aren’t well thought out and look like a mixed mess of pieces rather than a well curated collection. This display overwhelms the space and makes it appear chaotic — pick no more than ten pieces for your gallery wall if you’re on the verge of taking it too far.

9. Not limiting the places where children’s toys are allowed to go

You need a system to corral your kids’ toys to avoid the look of your home being a messy daycare. Set out one container, bin, or storage ottoman for kid’s toys in the living or family room and let that be it. Better yet, ban toys from living areas altogether. Donate what’s not being played with and throw away what’s broken or missing pieces. Kids get overwhelmed with stuff even faster than adults do, and most are relieved when they don’t have to keep up with tons of toys.

10. Inefficiently arranged bookcases

Books are wonderful and we’d all do well to own some, but you need to be careful how you display your collection. This is one of the easiest to make organizing mistakes that leads to messy looking home offices, living areas, and bedrooms. First, remove from your bookshelves everything that’s not a book and designate a place for it, then stand up your books the right way so they don’t look messy. In this home it would work better for the board games to find a home at the top of the shelf and for the remaining random items to be moved elsewhere.

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