10 Things Pro Organizers Really Wish You Wouldn’t Do

published Jan 17, 2021
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Credit: Alexis Buryk

What are the biggest mistakes you’re making when it comes to organizing? We reached out to some of the best in the biz to discover the things pro organizers really wish you wouldn’t do.

1. You’re buying products without measuring your space.

It might seem obvious, but not all organizing products work for every space. “A beautiful basket may be calling your name but details are in the numbers and if the size isn’t right for the shelf or what you are storing then it just won’t work,” says Ashley Murphy, co-founder of luxury home organizing company NEAT Method. “We highly recommend you get out your tape measure, a piece of paper and maybe even a calculator to make sure what you are buying will really solve your organizational problems.”

2. You’re buying lots of different styles and sizes of products. 

Less truly is more, Murphy’s partner and Marissa Hagmeyer says. “Keep things simple and stick to just a few different products per space,” she says. “You may feel weird for buying 12 of the same thing, but trust us, it will work better!”

The same goes for sizes. Hagmeyer recommends sticking to one size per section. “For example, in a hall closet, use a smaller canvas basket on a top shelf and the same style on the floor in a larger size for shoes,” she says. “This will look better aesthetically and also be functional!”

3. You pick your storage solutions too soon. 

KonMari consultant Alexandria Lawrence encourages clients to tackle the bigger questions, like how they want to live and feel in their homes, before investing in boxes and bins. Once you address those essential questions, you can effectively declutter and pare down. Only then can you choose the products best suited for your lifestyle. “Storage solutions are best left for dessert: the treat you get after you’ve cleared your plate,” Lawrence says. 

4. You’re clinging to a specific theme or aesthetic.

A consistent aesthetic can make your space feel more cohesive. But too much decor is counterproductive, because it creates a cluttered space that distracts from your overall aesthetic. Organization coach Lisa Dooley embraces a “less is more” approach with clients who cling too tightly to cottage chic or beach house themes. “The visual clutter of too much stuff just overwhelms the space and the senses, leading to more stress,” she says.

5. You’re keeping unnecessary items in your home.

Your space didn’t become disorganized overnight. Most clutter accumulates over time, out of habit. That’s why professional organizer Amy Rebecca Bloomer wishes her clients would think twice before bringing unnecessary clutter into the home. Some of the most common offenders? Cardboard boxes, which take up more space than you think; catalogs, which are pointless when you can shop online; and rolls of paper towels. Instead, Bloomer recommends buying a pack of bar mop towels and reusing them to protect the environment while saving money and space.

6. You’re impulse shopping.

Those Amazon Prime deals may look sweet, but slow down before you buy — all those one-time impulse buys can quickly clutter up your drawers, closets, and cabinets. Organizer Katy Winter suggests shopping mindfully by keeping items in your cart for 24 hours before clicking “buy,” and always shopping with a list, whether you’re getting groceries, clothes, or toiletries.

7. You’re storing bins without labeling them.

Once you nail a storage system that works for you, bins can be a great asset for keeping your things hidden and orderly. But all those bins and boxes won’t do you any favors if they don’t actually make your stuff easier to find. Organizer Donna Roses says she wishes her clients wouldn’t store things without labeling them, and that she recommends stickers on the sides if boxes are stacked for easy ID.

8. You’re keeping items in their original packing.

Decanting isn’t just a trend; it’s a super-smart way to save space and keep your home tidy. That’s why pro organizer Marie Jackson can’t stand when her clients keep pantry items in their original packaging. “Boxes take up unnecessary space and add clutter,” she says. “And getting rid of packaging makes it easier to see how much is left.”

9. You’re approaching organization as one-and-done.

There’s a time to hunker down and tidy up. But unless you adopt a new perspective, chances are slim your home will actually stay organized. One way to fix that: Take stock of how you want to live and how mindfully organizing your space can help you get there. Personal organizer Esther Konz likens an organized life to a nutritious diet. Just as a one-time crash diet won’t work, it’s important to have a daily organizing routine you can achieve in the long-run.

Credit: Melanie Gnau

10. You’re striving for perfection. 

Perfect is the enemy of done, and that includes organizing. “People sometimes have a vision of what their space can look like or they want a certain style but those ideas may not be able to exist in the real world,” says professional organizer Ben Soreff. “So they leave clutter in their homes because they don’t have the perfect closet system or container.” Instead of aiming for a perfectly organized home, which can be paralyzing, pick an area and just get started. Over time, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruit of your labor, especially as you frame organization as a lifestyle more than a project.