5 Habits that cause your home to be disorganized

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Did you know that the cause of your disorganization could be revealing itself through your everyday habits?

There is no place like home, it is where we feel safe to be ourselves and comfortably indulge in the habits that make us feel good to be home. While some habits are worth the indulgence, there are others, like habits of disorganization, that tend to negatively impact our quality of life. Habits of disorganization cause clutter to build up and can lead to major disruptions in your everyday life. Having an organized home requires your habits and mindsets to shift in order for you to get long-lasting changes. I’ll help you to identify five of the most common habits of disorganization and provide you with some helpful tips on how you can begin to adopt healthier ones and live in a more organized home.

Identify habits of disorganization and take back control of your home.

A common misconception that people have about getting organized is that the process is mostly about purchasing the right organizing products for the area you hope to transform. While this can be one of the more exciting steps towards addressing your organizing challenges, it does not completely eliminate them if the habits that contributed to the clutter in the first place are not corrected.

To identify your habits of disorganization, evaluate how you currently live. What habits do you have that could explain why your clutter constantly builds up? I’m here to tell you that home organizing is a skill that can be learned, but first, it requires the shedding of old habits and the formation of new ones to support the lifestyle you aim to create. Before you can transform your home from its disorganized state, you should note the habits that lead you there.

“Organizing is a skill that can be learned, but first, it requires the shedding of old habits and the formation of new ones.”

5 habits causing your clutter and tips on how to begin breaking them:

Habit #1: Not returning your belongings to its proper place. 

It is a challenge to maintain a home that is in a perfect state of order simply because things are constantly being moved around with our day-to-day activities. One of the most common reasons you would find clutter lying around the home is because items are not being returned to their rightful place after their use or, it lacks a home altogether. Think back to a time where you found yourself unsure of where to place something you plan to put away, only to find yourself shifting it to another location. It later became clutter elsewhere in the home, am I right? Not taking the time to create a home or to return your belongings that lie around the home will have you shifting around clutter instead of eliminating it.

PRO TIP: Create systems so that everyone in the home can effectively return items. 

  • Designate places for your belongings to live through the organizing process. Next, work on the habit of returning those belongings to their rightful place after each use so that you are able to maintain a tidy environment and preserve your hard work.
  • Re-home items daily - this is a technique I teach my clients where you would gather and return all the things that have found their way into the area that belongs elsewhere in the home. It makes tidying up any room that much quicker.  
  • Spend some time doing a scan of the most active rooms in your home at the end of the day and have your family help out by returning their own belongings. This creates a sense of responsibility and reinforces this important organizing skill.
  • Even when systems are in place, items may still lie around the home aimlessly so it’s important to note that it takes self-discipline and accountability to break this habit. Everyone in your home may not always be on board but having a place for all their belongings mean they are able to return them more effectively when prompted to do so.

Habit #2: Not being intentional about organizing your home

Living in an organized home requires consistency and intentional effort to develop good organizing habits and skills. Treating the process as a one-and-done activity will likely lead to a quick breakdown of the organization you create. There are many factors that may explain why keeping your home tidy is a challenge for you, however, evaluating the way your family handles the home’s maintenance could reveal why clutter constantly builds up. 

PRO TIP: Be intentional about staying organized.

  • Add organizing tasks to your monthly and weekly schedules to increase your chances of actually following through with them. Over time it will feel natural to do the organizing tasks that keep your home in order.
    • Example: Set a time of the week to sort the mail, kids’ artwork, and any additional papers or items that come into your home regularly and tend to build up.
  • Add tidying-up tasks to your daily routines and hold yourself accountable. Develop morning, evening, or weekend routines that allow you to space out your to-do list into bite-sized tasks.
    • Example 1: Make your bed in the morning and return items to their place while you are getting dressed to set the tone for your day. This leaves behind a calming environment for you to return to.
    • Example 2: Do a quick reset of the most active areas of your home every day, this can fit into your evening routine. Get the entire family involved by adding tidying up activities as a rule of thumb, this sets the tone for a fresh start the next day.

Habit #3: Accumulating more than you purge.

Things are constantly being added to our home so why shouldn’t we monitor what goes out with the same frequency? When more things are coming in than what is being eliminated you may find that certain areas of your home begin to overflow with stuff. A jam-packed cabinet or shelf is a sign of a purge needing to happen. When organizing any area of the home, I always advise doing a purge. It is an important phase of the organizing process that gives you a good idea of the contents in the area and makes it easier to decide what is useful and needed and what is not. Frequent and consistent purging means that clutter is less likely to build up and as a result, you are able to maintain a tidier home. 

PRO TIP: Purge your spaces regularly.

  • Think about the storage areas in your home, these are your systems. What state are they in? Could they use a purge? Ask these questions regularly to evaluate your spaces. 
  • The areas you neglect to declutter can quickly become a mixture of random items lying around or piles of like items waiting to be sorted. It may show up as the kids' play area overflowing with toys, some of which that they have long outgrown. It shows up in your wardrobe as clothing that no longer works for you but still takes up valuable space.
  • Good purging habits to practice include regularly discarding broken or worn items. It includes donating, handing down, or selling belongings that are still in good condition in a timely manner so that it actually leaves your home. It is also sorting and re-homing those out-of-place items to keep your clutter at bay. 
  • If you struggle with letting go, a good place to start purging is with non-emotional items. These are the things that you do not have sentimental attachments to. If after much effort you still find yourself reluctant to let go or refusing to tackle a particular area, dig deeper to get a better understanding of what holds you back. 
  • If you truly struggle with letting go or just don’t know where to begin, seeking the help of a professional home organizer can help you to identify your starting point.

Habit # 4: Poor time management.

Life comes at you fast and every day we find it increasingly challenging to balance our time. A lot of distraction and too little time will quickly leave you with a load of unfinished tasks around your home and bigger messes than you anticipated. You may find yourself stuffing things wherever there is open space with the promise to tackle it later but this is simply a delayed decision making. The time never comes around easily so the mess remains and ultimately grows. If this sounds all too familiar, you may need to be more intentional with your time because it may never present itself without your intentional effort. While there may be valuable explanations for your poor focus, slowing down and taking some time to get clear on what your organizing goals are can help you navigate your focus.

PRO TIP: Build on your time-management skills

  • Get clear on what your organizing goals are and set a realistic plan to tackle the problem areas of your home. Spend some time delegating tasks based on urgency.
  • Focus on setting aside times that work with the schedule, energy, and mental capacity you have to tackle said tasks. Don’t agree to a larger load than you can complete at any single time. 
  • Use a timer to practice your time management skills and increase your focus on the task at hand. For example: Set a 15 minutes timer while you organize the contents of a drawer. Then, increase to a task that may take 30 minutes. Move on to larger blocks of time as your focus gets better. 
  • Organizing is not everyone’s cup of tea and distractions come frequently. When this happens, hold yourself accountable by coming back to the same tasks you left behind and completing it.
  • Don’t start something new unless your other tasks are done and the time is available. The habit begins to break when you get better at time management and allow yourself to see a task through to the end, one after the next. 

Habit #5: Habitual procrastination

The desire to be organized will vary from one person to the next and this is true even if you live in the same household. While there are many reasonable excuses to put off home organizing chores, the lack of time and desire to deal with your clutter does not eliminate the need to do it. Habitual procrastination is simply delayed decision-making and only allows your level of disorder to grow. For instance, if you avoid folding this week’s laundry, you can expect that next week’s load will pile on too. While putting things off and showing up in other areas of your life is sometimes necessary, habitual procrastination is intentional and it can lead to major frustration. It is important to dig deeper and question your reasons for procrastinating if this is a common practice of yours. 

PRO TIP: Discover ways to break the pattern of habitual procrastination

  • Gather resources to help you get started. At times, procrastination shows up because you simply don’t know where to begin and lack the motivation. 
  • Start small and keep going. Break down the load into bite-sized tasks such as decluttering a drawer or cabinet and then moving to bigger jobs that demand more of your time. 
  • Hold yourself accountable by setting a date and time to complete your organizing tasks and stick to them. Think of it as an event you simply have to attend. Let’s say you decide to reorganize the bathroom cabinets on Saturday, be sure that your schedule is cleared and you have the time blocked out from distractions, just as you would if you had an event to attend. This habit can be deeply rooted so you may find that you have to push a bit harder in the beginning but when you start seeing results, your motivation will grow. 
  • Include organizing chores in your daily routines to help you stay on top of the home maintenance. This can look like clearing your surfaces and returning items to their rightful place at a particular time each day so that the transitions through your day-to-day activities are smoother. 

“Your procrastination can lead to major disorganization in your life, and ultimately a bigger job at the end of it all.”

If you identified with any of these five habits of disorganization, you are not alone. If you would like to live a healthier and more organized lifestyle but struggle to get there it’s important to remember that it is an on-going process and keeping your habits in check can eliminate quite a bit of your frustrations along the way. Living in a disorganized home can be debilitating. Your entire lifestyle suffers when you fail to address the cause for your disorganization.

For this reason, I like to encourage others to view being organized as a lifestyle. I say this because of the way the mind works, when you adapt something as a lifestyle, you have an understanding that it requires some form of commitment and change in your habits and behaviors to receive the benefits of that lifestyle. In home organization, when you spend the time to identify and accept the role your habits play in your current state of disorganization, you will begin to see a clearer path towards creating the lifestyle you desire. Read my article on “The mindset for organized living” if you would like to learn more about the mindset shifts that pair well with the tips about good organizing habits that I mentioned in this article. I hope that you feel empowered to break your habits and create the lifestyle you desire through home organization.

Happy Organizing!

Hi there, I am Sherilee

The Organized Style provides professional home organizing that aims to streamline the lifestyle of families all over the Chicagoland area.



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