When you think of “organization” does your mind immediately conjure up an image of perfectly stacked, color-coordinated storage containers? Or perhaps you imagine opening your sock drawer to a rainbow of meticulously folded socks that all “spark joy”? Maybe you envision a pristine office desk with nothing on the surface of it except a laptop, pen, and notebook like that influencer you follow on Instagram?
Chances are, what you think being organized looks like is not what it actually is because you’ve been taught to believe that there’s a one-size-fits-all approach to organization and what it “should” be.
I’m going to help paint a clearer picture of what organization really is by busting five of the most common myths I hear from clients who seek me out as a professional organizer.
Myth #1: Being Disorganized Means Something is Wrong With You
It pains me to say this, but I’ve seen and heard professional organizers who can’t understand why their clients can’t get organized. They don’t understand disorganization and think that it should be easy for everyone.
If anyone tries to make you feel that all you have to do is just get rid of stuff or throw stuff away, it’s easy as that and shames you for being disorganized, stop working with them!
Being disorganized does not mean that something is wrong with you. And if you can’t follow any one person’s system or solution, no matter how hard you try, there’s nothing wrong with you for that either.
The key to being organized is recognizing that there’s no cookie cutter approach, no one right way (or wrong way) and sometimes you have to try many different approaches or blend them before finding the one that sticks and works for you.
It’s not easy for everyone to be organized and it doesn’t come naturally to many of the clients I work with. But, it is a skill that can be learned, as long as you’re being taught in a way that works for you.
Don’t believe anyone that says they have a system that works for “everyone”, because that everyone might not mean you. And that’s OK.
Myth #2: Being Organized Means You Need to Become a Minimalist
Minimalism is a buzzword right now and it’s actually a bit misunderstood in the organizing world.
The definition of minimalism is, “Extreme simplicity or sparseness.” When I hear people talk about minimalism being the key to organization, it’s actually not telling the full story.
First of all, there are different ways of being minimalistic, everything from how many articles of clothes you own to how many deep and meaningful relationships you have in your life. Some people are minimalistic in their finances and others with their projects at work. Even in the minimalism philosophy, there’s no one right way to do minimalism. There are scales of minimalism and knowing where you want to fall on the spectrum is more important than committing to scrapping everything and living life as bare as possible.
Living with sparseness may not be right for people. And extreme levels of minimalism aren’t always healthy. Striving to live more simply and with less is right for most of us so it’s about personalizing this to how it works for you.
You can be a minimalist and still have stuff. You can be a minimalist and still have 1,000 ideas you’re excited about.
Starting to live minimalistically is about getting honest with yourself and looking at what you do have in your life and making sure it all has a purpose and is serving you. If there are things that don’t fit, take steps to remove them from your life.
Myth #3: Organize Once and You’re Done
Before I dispel this myth, I want to encourage you that once you start getting organized, it becomes much easier to stay organized. That said, getting organized is not like setting your car into cruise control or like autopilot on an airplane.
It does require some level of maintenance to stay organized. Keeping consistent can help ensure that stuff doesn’t pile up again, clutter doesn’t bring you down, and overwhelm doesn’t sink you.
This is exactly why my online membership exists. My members and I have chosen to live more intentionally and organized lives and hold each other accountable to working on our organizational projects and tasks regularly.
Here’s some more good news, the satisfaction of being organized often helps to propel you forward to maintaining your organizational efforts and wanting to stay committed.
You will have a much easier time staying on track, or getting back on track once you get started.
Myth #4: You Need to Spend Tons of Money on Planners, Containers, and Organizing Products
I’ve never once told a client they should go out and invest in fancy containers and organizing supplies, buy an expensive daytimer, or jump into oodles of various tech tools like project management software and automation.
First of all, it’s your decision to choose how much you want to invest in tools to help keep you organized.
Secondly, chances are you don’t need half of the things you think you do.
You often don’t need all the pretty colored bins from Target, the snazzy closet organizer, or the fancy calendar system. You need what you will use, what works for you, and a system you’ll stick with.
Label makers, fancy file folders, and daytimers won’t create order and organization, you create order and organization.
These tools can certainly help, but I always recommend these aren’t where you begin. Determine what you need down the road and don’t procrastinate getting started because you think getting organized is going to be an expensive endeavor.
Myth #5: Organization is All or Nothing
How many times have you taken an all-or-nothing approach to something, lost momentum, and given up?
I see this so often with people who view their organizational efforts through an all-or-nothing lens.
They come out of the gate full steam ahead, excited to organize EVERYTHING and become their most productive selves ever, and then inevitably, life happens. They lose momentum, fall off track, and because they can’t keep it ALL together, they give up entirely.
Organization doesn’t need to be all or nothing. It’s about taking incremental steps each and every day to get and stay organized.
The right system can ebb and flow with you, it will allow for seasons of your life you shift, grow, evolve, and change. Being organized is about building habits that keep you moving forward and improving each and every day. It’s not all or nothing.