5 Organizing Solutions That Can Cause More Harm Than Good

published Nov 9, 2020
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Credit: Clea Shearer

For most of us, organization isn’t something we do for fun or something we can afford to pay professional, celebrity-approved organizers to do for us. Luckily, the internet is ripe with tips, tricks, and strategies to get your life organized. Unfortunately, though: These “solutions” aren’t always as shiny as they appear to be. In fact, some may even cause more work for you in the long-run.

So how can you tell the organizing gold from the duds? We asked two professional organizers to shed some light on popular organizing solutions that can sometimes cause more harm than good. 

Decanting Every Product 

There’s something satisfying about a boring old pantry staple that’s been decanted in a beautiful jar. However, this might not be practical for everyone, even if it’s a beloved storage solution that does often work, says Jen Robin, founder of lifestyle and organizing company Life In Jeneral.

“If a family lives an active lifestyle, always on the go, decanting isn’t going to be the best fit or recommended process,” Robin says. “This organized system will become more stressful trying to maintain it versus natural upkeep that suits the family and their needs”


Gorgeous? Yes. Practical for everyone? Maybe not. Though color-coding is very popular, the best organizing systems are ones that make sense to you—and not everyone is as visual as you may think, says Robin. If it’s easier for you to organize your closet by category, don’t force the alternative.

Buying Storage Solutions Before Making a Plan

One of the biggest organizing mistakes people make is buying any old bin you see in the store and expecting the best results, says Anne Gopman, expert organizer and owner of Organized by Anne. As satisfying as it can be to shop for storage solutions, Gopman says you must plan ahead of time… and then shop. 

“If you don’t take the time to sort through your items and plan out where everything should live to truly be efficient, it can get overwhelming quickly,” Gopman says. “The project then becomes too big and discourages people from moving forward.” Start small, pick a drawer in your house, sort through the items to create categories, and then go shopping to implement your dreams.

Creating Overly Complicated Storage for Children

It’s important to remember that even if you’re excited to get organized, that may not be a sentiment shared by everyone in the house, says Gopman. “I see people constantly creating amazing systems with beautiful bins and labels for their children’s toys. But no matter how beautiful your work is, a toddler still can’t read.” To avoid the headache, provide kids with a drop zone—an area where they can leave their toys that allows you to quickly place them back, she suggests. “To up the ante, add pictures to your labels. Kids can then identify like items and it even becomes a great learning opportunity.”

Not Labeling Everything to Keep Things “Prettier” 

If you don’t have the best handwriting or a label maker, putting a label on everything can feel tedious and aesthetically risky. This is where you have to remember that organization is nothing if you don’t know where your items are. 

“Do not forget to label,” says Gopman. “It’s wonderful that you know where every item lives, but to get others to buy in, you have to make it natural and easy. Labeling items takes the thought out of organizing and helps create habits.”