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4 Factors That Feed Disorganization

4 Factors That Feed Disorganization

Disorganization has many root causes, but some elements can aggravate a chaotic environment, compounding the problem. Addressing these elements can make our environment much more manageable. Here are 4 factors that feed disorganization.

1. Too much stuff

We can’t organize clutter. That’s a fact. Things accumulate over time if we do not closely monitor what we purchase or have had for years. Things that once served us well might no longer be relevant. We need to make room for what we truly need and want by eliminating what no longer has a place in our lives. 

Ongoing purging of what we no longer need and want should become a lifestyle rather than a once-a-year activity. Things will continuously enter our space. If we do not get in the habit of eliminating what no longer serves us, we end up with an unmanageable accumulation of stuff.

2. Improper use of the space

Holding on to things we do not want or need is part of the problem. The inefficient use of the space available is another.

Thinking about categories and placing similar things together forces you to assign a specific space to each type of thing so everything in your home has a place where it belongs. You will always know where to go when you need that item and where to return it.

When things do not have an assigned home, they get everywhere. And when anything can go anywhere, then everything will go everywhere. 

Your disorganized belongings occupy three or four times the space they should.

Suppose you used the space appropriately, considering item categories and assigning each category type a unique and logical place. In that case, you’d recover space you had no idea you had.

3. Lack of proper tools

The purchasing of containers or organizing systems should happen after purging what we do not want or need anymore. 

Buying these items beforehand is a waste of time. It could compound the clutter problem. Getting these solutions without knowing what they are for or where they go results in incorrect items for the intended purpose or space.

Storage solutions and containers purchased beforehand may become circumstantial band-aids to our organizing project. As such, they will perform a mediocre job. At worst, purchasing these items negates buying the right tools for the job. Then, these end up cluttering our home. 

4. Broken things

Broken things can be structural barriers to organizing. These items or systems have stopped working as intended and, as a result of being neglected, cause further disorganization around them. 

The dresser with the broken drawer that no longer opens causes its contents to be scattered around the room because it has nowhere to go. 

The closet rod that fell caused you to install a rolling laundry solution in the middle of your bedroom, and you trip on it every day when walking by (not to mention how it looks!). 

That shelf inside the cabinet that fell off caused you to shove the cabinet’s contents without rhyme or reason. The broken shelf means the contents can no longer be divided or organized. 

We live life at a fast pace. That causes us to ignore many details of our environment. Those details accumulate over time, resulting in a dysfunctional environment that stresses our minds and bodies. Often, we do not even realize how it happened – we feel the mess at some point. 

These details do matter. Take time to fix these minor problems the moment they happen. It would be more time-consuming and costly to let them go and deal with the consequences later.

Many elements can become roadblocks to an organized life. But if we could keep up with these four factors that feed disorganization, we would be better shaped to bring the organization back into our lives.

How He Finally Found Flow at Home

How He Finally Found Flow at Home

Years Went By

During a recent trip to Puerto Rico (I’m from PR, if you didn’t know), I listened to a good friend talk about his place- a condo with a killer view and more than reasonable space for a bachelor. This friend also has excellent taste, so his place looks nicely put together.

During a recent trip to Puerto Rico (I’m from PR, if you didn’t know), I listened to a good friend talk about his place- a condo with a killer view and more than reasonable space for a bachelor. This friend also has excellent taste, so his place looks nicely put together.

But for the last decade, he had tried to sell his condo.

During that time, the property had been on and off the market. And although my friend had done everything within his power and seemed to do it all right, the sale never went through for various reasons.

All the while, he had felt emotionally detached from his own home, as he said.

Deciding To Flow

At some point during those years, his life significantly changed – It sped up exponentially. Consequently, he was spending much less time at home. The timing was ideal because now, he did not need to spend so much time in a place he did not love.

However, he thought maybe his path was not to sell his apartment after all and that he probably needed “to flow” with his home instead.

And by “flowing,” he meant he had decided to align his actions and feelings with the energy of his dwelling so it could be the source of joy he wished for – a home that would delight and support him. (I swear I had nothing to do with his decision or process – this was all him).

As he started to plan some upgrades on his apartment, it was clear he could only begin those after emptying several areas that have been storing a lot of stuff through the years. He had not seen, touched, or needed that for long.

As you can imagine, this was not a project he looked forward to doing.

The Unexpected Happened

But then something unexpected happened- as soon as all that stuff started coming out of the many “hiding” areas, he felt a rush of energy compelling him to declutter and reorganize everything in his home. He could not explain it, but that feeling was enough. He took action.

Unbeknownst to him, this was a first-hand experience of clutter causing stagnant energy and the contrasting feeling of unleashing the positive energy that comes with decluttering.

He witnessed how this fresh, vibrant energy carried him forward, infusing his environment with the attitudes and feelings he longed to experience in his place.

Comfort Coffee at home

Becoming Mindful

It might be easy to ignore the draining effects of stagnant energy, settling for the status quo. However, becoming mindful gets us in touch with ourselves, our feelings, their why, and how. Then, it’s easier to discern what should be done and the path forward.

So yes, my dear friend has a beautiful, well-appointed condo that he loves and is no longer trying to sell. He made peace with his home, which is now a place that supports his hectic life and gives him joy.

His Story Is My Wish For You

Listening to his story made me realize his journey perfectly embodied everything I wish everyone to experience.

  • Becoming mindful
  • Making the right decisions
  • Taking action
  • Eliminating clutter and chaos from their lives
  • Shifting their energy
  • Loving where they live

(My friend should become My Space Reclaimed poster child, right?)

It’s simple- once you decide to love your place and act mindfully, your house becomes that HOME that supports your life and speaks of rest, comfort, and joy.

When that happens, life becomes easier, bigger, and better. That’s when you experience the flow.

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

It has taken me an excessive amount of time to write this piece. I had allowed the cloud of dust to settle. In the meantime, I have been learning about the subject, filling in the information gaps where I deem appropriate. So here is what I’ve got on Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo.

The way I see it, Mari Kondo helps you eliminate the clutter and teaches you how to fold your shirts and underwear in a particular way. Still, her method is not about professional organization. Some KonMari-certified consultants are Professional Organizers. But more than following the KonMari process is needed to call someone a Professional Organizer.

The Need That Each Serves

Please do not take me wrong. I’m not at war with Mari Kondo. On the contrary. She brings a lot of attention and value to our industry. But having said that, she serves a specific portion of the market. What she does is different from what a Professional Organizer does.

Choose the KonMari method or a Professional Organizer if you need to declutter your space. However, you need a professional organizer to find the root cause of disorganization and implement systems that maintain order. Unfortunately, Mari Kondo can’t help you there.

Let me present a couple of criteria to compare how the KonMari method differs from the Professional Organizer’s approach.

Scope and Focus

Organizers typically follow a method that involves evaluating, classifying, purging, allocating, containerizing, and labeling spaces. As part of this process, they emphasize improving the client’s productivity and the space’s efficiency. To achieve that, Organizers implement systems and processes. 

On the other hand, the KonMari method focuses on decluttering the home using the classification of items. Her process does not address the organizing details. Indeed, Mari Kondo does not focus on systems or methods to enhance the efficiency of the space or maintain the order achieved.

Ideal Clientele

Mari Kondo does not address the root cause of disorganization in a home or a person’s life. Therefore, it is logical to presume that her process does not work for people whose clutter problem is “not about the stuff.” Should these individuals follow the KonMari method, the chances are that shortly after, they will be back on square one. 

Organizers train in a wide variety of areas to help their clients best. Therefore, looking for an Organizer best suited to each person’s needs is essential. A good Professional Organizer seeks to find out the root cause of the problem, transfers skills, and designs systems to make their client’s life easier.

Aesthetic Value and Design

The KonMari method emphasizes reusing what the client has available to organize and containerize the client’s items after decluttering. The process expressly avoids the purchase of containers and systems. Not buying additional equipment or supplies could be advantageous when considering project costs. However, things have recently changed with the merger between Mari Kondo and The Container Store. 

Nevertheless, as humans, we are more inclined to maintain the organization of areas that look neat and that are pleasing to the eye. An organized place should be decluttered and functional but also aesthetically pleasing. An organizing design does not need expensive organizing products to look fantastic. However, it requires careful consideration of style and form. And random repurposed containers might not achieve great-looking results.

Room by Room Vs. Categories

One of the fundamental KonMari principles is organizing the whole house using a process based on categories, placing together all items from the same type to evaluate them simultaneously. Some see this method as more definite, fast, and conclusive than organizing room by room.

But Professional Organizers agree with the organizing by categories! One hundred percent! We all want to place similar items together before the client decides what to keep. The difference lies in what happens next with each category once the client has decided what to keep. 

Organizers Go Further

Organizers take it a step further, clarifying the purpose of each room to assign items to their logical place. But yes, we completely agree that it should be a whole-house approach. 

And the whole-house approach is inevitable anyway. People love to spread their things all over the home, regardless of item type or home space purpose. So, we must search the whole house to combine all items in the various categories.

Once And For All?

As they say, the KonMari process is a “once-and-for-all solution.” But organizing is a life skill. Habits must be learned and exercised throughout life to keep an organized space. 

The order does not magically happen “once and for all.” People change, fail, recover, let go, and come back. We are more complex than “once and for all.” Without addressing disorganization’s root causes and the human condition, how can anyone sustain the “once and for all” claim?

When clients work with a Professional Organizer who shows them how much easier life can be by using the “logical place for things” and the “one home per category of items” approach, they usually adopt new habits.

In Conclusion

We are not opposed to the KonMari method – it works in specific situations and for a particular type of client. However, people should understand the fundamental differences between the KonMari way and what Professional Organizers do. 

It is time that people needing organization services stop thinking they don’t need a Professional Organizer because they read the KonMari book. Those requiring a Professional Organizer will see no progress with the KonMari method. On the other hand, people who do not grapple with disorganization or any underlying clutter situation will be happy, experiencing joy with what they keep and gratefully saying goodbye to their discards.

Overwhelmed by Clutter? Show Junk Its Way Out with These 10 Steps.

Overwhelmed by Clutter? Show Junk Its Way Out with These 10 Steps.

As a Professional Organizer, I deal with people’s clutter daily. Over time, I have discovered that most of the clutter found in any given home is things that should have left home but failed to do so. We’ll call it junk. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, show junk its way out. 

Although junk includes trash, it also includes anything that does not serve us anymore, regardless of the item’s condition. How long waste stays in the home depends on the routines and procedures we follow (or fail to) in handling our belongings.

Those routines determine how cluttered our environment remains. Thus, consistently following specific practices and learning different habits can remove most clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape. 

Handle The Trash 

Have a good-sized trashcan (13 gal.) and a recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. Getting matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units) is a good idea. Square or rectangular shapes are best because these save space and configure better to the areas. 

Relying on the latest grocery bag hanging on a doorknob to discard your trash or an 8-gal trashcan in a corner to collect recycling might be an economical alternative. Still, it creates more obstacles than benefits and is not conducive to a cleaner kitchen. So instead, invest in good quality tools that make life easier.  

Sort The Mail

Have another trashcan and recycle bin set where you sort mail if this place differs from the kitchen. This process goes hand in hand with having an effective mail processing system

Add Trashcans Everywhere

It is easier to dispose of trash when there is a place to do so while we handle that waste. Therefore, place a trashcan in every room in the home. The amount of actual trash removed from homes while decluttering is astonishing. Garbage goes on the floor, under the bed, on the counter, and everywhere else when we don’t have accessible trashcans. During the weekly cleaning day, take all trash out.

Be Aware

Pay attention to when and how you experience the feeling that something no longer has a place in your life or your home. This feeling could be subtle as an energetic discrepancy in your body or noticeable, like clothing that does not fit. That’s the moment when you need to act. So take that thing out of your space. NOW.

Handle Packages Immediately

When receiving a package, open the box and remove the contents. If keeping it, remove the outer and inner packaging and tags. Take the item to where it is used or stored. Then, trash or recycle all packaging. Do not let those boxes and protective packaging material roll around your home for weeks. 

Every Time You Come Home

Every time you come home, especially when you bring bags of any kind, open that bag and remove its contents. Take everything where it belongs. Then, trash, recycle, or fold bags to reuse if desired. This process takes a few minutes, but it is better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize you can’t deal with the clutter.

If anything can go anywhere, then everything will go anywhere. So you want to have control of your environment. Every single day, with consistency, is how you achieve that. 

Donate 

When you decide something is for donation, take it out of the house and place it in your car. Then, place a note on your windshield or seat to remind you to stop by the donation center when you go out next. This practice might sound silly, but it won’t when you see how effective this method is. 

Deal with Broken Things

Upon identifying an item that needs repair, put that item in a particular place dedicated to this purpose. Assign a monthly date in your calendar for repairs. Take the basket, bag, or bin with you on that day and take care of them.

Send Stuff Away

If you see something that you should have/could have/would like to send someone, prepare the package at that moment. If this is impossible, place the item where it bothers you enough that you will notice it and remember it. Then, include a reminder in the calendar for later that day to prepare that package. Once the box is ready, please put it in your car immediately to be shipped.

Take It Out NOW!

The point is to TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR SPACE NOW. Some things need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place them. As you put something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to address the issue.

Is the item too big to move, or is the action something cumbersome you cannot handle now? You can always calendar these things. You deal with the issue the moment you decide about it. By placing a reminder or an action in the calendar, these things will be out of your head – clearing your mental clutter as well.

Refrain from entertaining trash, junk, and other people’s treasures in your home. Your home is living space, not storage space or a dump. 

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital Clutter Is A Thing

Digital clutter is a thing. Although it is present in many ways, its lack of physical appearance allows us to ignore it. This type of clutter appears as a disorganized desktop, misplaced electronic files, multiple copies of the same documents, and misspelled file names, among other things.

Our digital clutter causes us to spend precious time looking for information, going through duplicated files and folders, forgetting tasks, and missing appointments. 

Digital clutter fills up your hard drive; before you know it, you also have 10,000+ messages in your inbox.

Organizing our email system might be a daunting task. However, email is so front and center in our lives that a change in this area can produce substantial changes to boost productivity and increase our efficiency.

Here are some email management tips to reduce electronic clutter, especially regarding emails.

Retail Bombarding

How about setting up a folder for promotions and store-related matters? If your email service does not allow creating folders within the inbox, consider setting up a separate email account just for stores, ads, and orders. After setting up that folder, go through your retail subscriptions and move each to the new folder. 

Instead, if you need to create a new email account, change the email address retailers use to communicate with you to the new account’s email address. Then, only check your new retail folder or the new email account when placing orders. Finally, clean out the new file or inbox monthly.

Email and Breakfast Do Not Match 

Avoid reading your email first thing in the morning. When you do, you let someone or something else prioritize your day. This practice sets the day off to a stressful tone—instead, schedule times during the day to read your email. You will notice increased productivity in your email response time and other tasks.

That Chime

For most, the chime of a new message creates an immediate reaction to checking the email. Turn off notification sounds that make you jump and see how productive you become. You lose momentum and efficiency when distracted by email notifications. And remember that the multitasking phenomenon is a myth. Attempting to multitask makes us absent-minded and derailed.

Update Contacts

Add important senders right to your address book. Otherwise, their messages might appear spam or junk, and you will miss important information and dates. Keep your contacts updated for your peace of mind.

Managing Emails Efficiently

Strive to read each email only once. Using folders and category options in the email is a necessity. Use the following categories or actions for each email message:

    • Delete – When the message is not needed now or later, delete it immediately.
    • 2-Minute Action – If your response or action to this message will take less than 2 minutes, process the information at that moment and then delete it. If the answer or action requires additional time, leave the message in the inbox as a reminder to tackle it later.
    • Pending Matter – Messages with information to be referred to in the short-term future and notifications to remember can stay in the inbox until the time comes to act on these. Limit inbox messages to follow-up and immediate action items to allow these messages to stand out.
    • File – File messages or notifications containing information for future reference. These messages might deserve a permanent electronic file, but removing them from the inbox is essential.

An inbox containing 4,230 messages will not help improve efficiency or boost productivity – it will hide essential messages that should stand out for your inbox to become a productivity tool.

More importantly, an inbox with this many messages is evidence of delayed decisions. An inbox full of messages of all kinds is no different than that basement or garage, where you keep things “just in case” – no one knows what is in there.

Digital clutter might not be as apparent as physical clutter, but it affects us. And whether the mess is digital or physical, it creeps up every time we postpone decisions and actions. 

So, decide and act promptly and consistently when processing your email messages. Decrease your digital clutter by increasing your inbox control.

P.S. If you dive into organizing your digital clutter, you want to expand your planning to include organizing pictures and organizing media.