What springs to mind when you think of the word ‘organization’?
Rows of neatly labeled boxes on a shelf, color-coordinated closets with matching hangers, and a giant label-maker at the ready, perhaps?
That’s the only way to be organized, right?
As a matter of fact, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth!
In this post, you’ll find eight of the most common myths when it comes to organization.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the items on this list!
You need to buy organization supplies before organizing.
Unless you are interested in adding even more clutter to your space, you should strongly reconsider buying organizing supplies before starting an organizing project.
This myth perpetuates the wrong way of approaching an organizing project, literally putting the cart before the horse!
It’s best to save your shopping for last; you’ll get a better idea of what items you actually want to keep after decluttering and organizing.
You might even find existing organization supplies at home or find clever ways to re-purpose items for your needs.
You need a miscellaneous folder for documents.
While it might be tempting to start and keep a miscellaneous folder for random papers and documents, this approach will eventually get the better of you. Any number of things could happen from your good intentions: you’ll forget what was filed in the folder, you’ll waste time sorting through items, or you’ll become quickly frazzled and overwhelmed. Take the time the time to properly classify and file papers. Label files plainly and simply so you can easily file and retrieve documents.
Your organization supplies will keep you organized.
Okay, there is some truth to this, but like many things in life, there is a catch. Here’s the honest truth: organizing supplies won’t keep you organized, they simply provide you with a helpful framework in which to keep things in order. You have to work to keep items organized. It is up to you to give items a home, replace items when you are finished using them, and generally maintain your space.
You need to keep everything in order…all the time.
Let’s get real for a moment: it takes a lot of time, energy and effort to keep a room in a house looking like it came from a magazine photo shoot. That being said, everything does not have to be in perfect order, all of the time. Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on practicality. You have to be choosy about how you are going to spend your time. Is it practical to always clean up a messy room when you are running late for a meeting across town? Go easy on yourself!
You need a label maker.
Labeling items with a label maker does not necessarily mean you are organized. Using a label maker is a secondary and voluntary step. Labels do not create order; you create order. You ultimately decide how items are organized. You could theoretically label all the craft jars in your craft room to your heart’s content, but if you don’t develop an organizational system for those jars, your hard work will be for nothing.
You must follow only one organization system or method.
There are an infinite number of ways to organize materials. Organization systems can be simple, complex, or involve a variety of criteria. An organization system that works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa. The only thing that matters when organizing anything is that the organization system you develop: 1) works for you and 2) delivers what you need.
You think organization is a one-shot deal.
This myth is otherwise known as the, “Once I’m done organizing X, it will be done forever,” syndrome. It’s important to remember that organization is an ongoing process that requires careful tending, maintenance and evaluation. You’re constantly interacting with your belongings, so you will always be organizing and tidying up things. The only true way to keep something organized forever (and even then, this set of actions is doubtful), is to organize it, lock it up, and never ever touch it again.
You have to be a whiz at organization.
Organization is a skill. You can learn to organize and get better at it over time, provided you are willing to put in the hard work and effort The beauty of organization is that there’s so many different ways of organizing ideas, items, materials, resources and people. Even people who are extremely well-organized are constantly learning new ways to improve existing or develop new systems.
Now to you…Which of these myths surprised you? Can you think of any other organizing myths that should be questioned? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post was originally published on January 17th, 2013.