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5 reasons you can’t stay organized (and how to fix it!)

Hello friends!  I’m back from Dallas and had such a fun trip!  I’ll share a few pics at some point.  As soon as I’m caught up on the cleaning and the laundry and my e-mails and my sleep and the 2,000 other to-do’s that got shoved to the side while I was away.  So basically those pics will pop up next year. ;)  Actually when it comes to the cleaning, I’m not too worried about recovery.  Even though I came home to a semi messy house (my husband did the best he could with all that was on his plate the past four days!) I have most of my rooms/spaces organized in a way that makes clean up pretty simple.  This hasn’t always been the case!  The first year in our new house I struggled with organization (despite my love for it!) but I think I’ve found my groove and am finally starting to feel mostly on top of things when it comes to keeping my home organized.  Today I’m talking about 5 reasons you can’t stay organized (and how to fix it!).  These are some of the stumbling blocks I’ve faced over the years when it comes to keeping my house organized and what I’ve learned about how to work around them.  See if any of these 5 things sound familiar to you too!

1-  We don’t prioritize organizing.  I’m busy.  You’re busy.  We’re all busy.  Well.. except my parents who are retired and absolutely loving life with no schedule.  But they were once very busy too and finally now deserve to chill a bit. ;)  Here is the point and something I know to be true – if we don’t prioritize getting organized, it won’t happen.  By prioritize I mean schedule the time for it.  Organizing a messy space takes time.  If there is an area of your home that is an unorganized mess, you have to look at your calendar and decide when you are going to fix it.  You might choose to block out a full day to knock the entire space out, or (since that isn’t possible for a lot of us), you can choose to spend 20 minutes every day for a week working on it.  Either way – schedule that time!  And don’t let anything else get in the way!  A quote by Jim Rohn I’ve always loved is “if you really want to do something, you will find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”  No more excuses!  Look at your schedule this week and find some time to prioritize organizing.  This week I’m spending 20 minutes a day organizing.  I need to finish a few bathroom drawers and finish organizing some files in my office.  I’m doing this between 8 and 8:30 pm (after I’ve put Kole in bed and while my husband is picking up my girls from dance and other activities).  It’s on my calendar!  I’ve scheduled organizing like this before and it really works for me.  I pick a time that I know I won’t be distracted and put it on my calendar for Monday through Friday.  Often there is a day during the week that something comes up and I can’t do it, but I can usually stick to it for 4 out of 5 days.  Prioritize organizing and just START.

5 Reasons You Can't Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)


2- We organize clutter.  Oh man.  Am I ever guilty of this one!  It took me years to really understand that in order to stay organized I need to constantly PURGE!  And then purge more than that. :)  You will never stay organized if you have too much stuff.  It just won’t happen.  I have purged more in the past 3 years that we’ve lived in our new house than I ever have before.  Let me tell you something about purging because I know that it can be hard – it gets easier the more you do it.  Try to be constantly mindful of things you aren’t using and don’t need any more and always have a black sack nearby to easily toss things into.  I always have a black Goodwill sack in my garage and when I come across something we don’t use/love/need, into the sack it goes.

5 Reasons You Can't Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)

Here is another example of organizing clutter.  Because I can be really good at it. ;)  Soon after we moved into our house I started organizing my office.  I gathered up all of our camera instructions and other miscellaneous manuals and put them in tidy little ziplock bags with labels.  So cute.  So perfectly organized.  Guess the last time I pulled out one of these tidy little labeled sacks and used these manuals?  Hasn’t happened.  Clutter!  These manuals are clutter.  Now maybe you have manuals that are important and that you need to keep but MOST things like this, you will never look at again.  If I have a question about my camera or one of my computer programs, I’ll look up the answer on-line!  These manuals are getting trashed.  Stop wasting your time organizing clutter so that you can spend that time organizing the things you truly need and use every day.

3- We gather too many tips/ideas.  Something else I’m completely guilty of doing!  Oh Pinterest.  I love you so much.  We all do.  But Pinterest can be a problem if all we are doing is pinning others’ organizing ideas and not implementing those ideas into our own homes.  Sound familiar?  Sometimes gathering tips and ideas completely backfires because it makes us feel overwhelmed and like our homes are so far from those beautiful, organized pictures that we shouldn’t even start.  Or we use the only free 20 minutes we had in an afternoon looking at ALL the pretty pictures instead of using that time to organize something in our own home.  Instead of gathering tips and ideas on Pinterest or looking at pretty pictures in magazines this week, use that time to organize a drawer or cupboard in your own home.  Inspiration is wonderful when it truly inspires us to act.  Time to stop gathering so many tips/ideas and start acting!  And when you’re done organizing that drawer and decide to head to Pinterest for a little more inspiration you can follow me here where I share lots of it.  Ha.  ;)

5 Reasons You Can't Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)



4- We don’t recognize and fix systems that aren’t working.  Sometimes it happens.  You spend precious time organizing a space only to find that weeks (sometimes days!) later it’s a mess again.  You straighten everything again but bam.. before you turn around it’s a mess.  A truly organized space is one that isn’t difficult to keep organized.  You’ve all seen the craft closet I organized in my office…

5 Reasons You Can't Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)


My kids use this almost daily and it still looks just like this.  Maybe the papers at the top aren’t quite so straight, but other than that, it really does look the same.  No.. my kids aren’t unusually clean (I wish!).  This space is just easy to keep looking this way.  My kids grab the bin they need, make a mess with the things inside of it, then when they clean up, they simply put everything back in the bin.  Below is a space in my house that isn’t working so well for us.  Remember my organized medicine cabinet?

5 Reasons you can't stay organized (and how to fix them!)

Beautiful right?  I snapped a picture of it today..

5 Reasons You are Struggling to Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)

Hmmm.. not quite the same. :)  I know this isn’t awful, but it certainly isn’t as tidy as it once was!  When I organized this cupboard the first time I didn’t allow room for anything other than what we had.  We’ve all been sick here and there over the past six months and have added a few more medications to the cupboard.  The system I originally set up isn’t really working anymore.  Instead of trying to squeeze things in the small containers and make it work, I need to come up with something better.  There have been lots of times that I’ve organized a space and realized later that it isn’t working for us.  I remember in our previous house organizing my girls’ toys in some bins stacked in their closet and I thought it was the perfect solution!  Right up until they were ready to play and couldn’t reach the top bins.  Ha!  It happens!  When it does, recognize that you need to re-think your space and try again.  You’ll know when you’ve struck organizing gold when your space is easy to keep looking nice.

p.s.  You can see my solution to this cabinet I came up with HERE!  Working like a charm. ;)

5- We let “perfection” get in the way.  This has been my BIGGEST stumbling block when it comes to organization – and really all other areas of my life.  I used to think “if I don’t have time to completely organize a space and make it picture perfect from top to bottom then why bother?”  So I would do nothing.  The problem is, there is never time to completely organize a space from top to bottom and with three kids, picture perfect isn’t going to happen either.  We can’t wait for circumstances to be perfect.  Don’t tell yourself that you’ll get organized “when you have time.”  And don’t focus on making everything picture perfect.  That’s a blogger’s job. ;)  (And trust me, once I’ve taken pictures of an organized space for my blog, life happens.  Those spaces stay organized, but they don’t always look picture perfect.)  Get over that idea of “perfection” and settle for good enough.  Jump in and spend what little time you have today purging and organizing and trust me, you will feel better.  You will also be inspired to spend a little bit of time organizing tomorrow.  And before you know it, your home will start feeling much more organized.  Bringing some much needed sanity back into your life.

5 Reasons You Can't Stay Organized (and how to fix them!)


Do any of these issues sound familiar to you?  These are 5 reasons I’ve struggled at times with organization and I hope that by sharing them (along with how I’ve learned to fix things) I’ve helped you think about what you might need to work on to finally get organized.  It’s a nice feeling to know that even when my house is a mess, it won’t take long to pick it up and recover.  So get out your planner, schedule some time to organize, toss things you don’t need, stay off of Pinterest and stay focused on your goals.  Keep moving forward!  You’ve got this!  And so do I.

Our pep talk for the day is officially over.



xoxo, Erin
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39 thoughts on “5 reasons you can’t stay organized (and how to fix it!)

  1. Welcome home! What a great post, Erin! I really appreciated it. I’m guilty of all of those things! I know oh so well the feeling of overwhelm and giving up essentially before I get started. And I think I must be the queen of excuses, too. Need to work hard to overcome those feelings. I will do my best. Thank you for the wonderful pep talk! Hope you have a productive and happy day. :)

    1. Thank you Jeanne! I’m so happy my little pep talk helped! ;) Feeling overwhelmed is rough. I feel that way a lot too when there is just so much to be done and a booked schedule. Try the 20 minutes a day! It has been amazing to me how much I can get done if I really prioritize it and focus. Enjoy your day too cutie! xo

  2. LOVED this! I’m sooo guilty of pretty much all these things. I needed your pep talk. The time is going into the calendar. I felt like I was super on top of things when we first moved in and now closets are overflowing and papers are piling up and it’s time to get those things taken care of! xoxo

    1. Oh my word Gina.. it gets out of hand so fast doesn’t it!? Putting it on my calendar has really helped me! I only have small bursts of time but it has been amazing what I’ve been able to get done in just 20 minutes or so a day. Call me! Dying to catch up. :) xo

  3. OMG! This is spot on for me! And Pinterest is my guilty pleasure but I could/should be spending my time actually organizing my own house instead of looking at others! I definitely have enough inspiration on there to last me a lifetime! lol!! I need to just DO IT! :D

    1. Ha ha.. right!? I hear you Ann! It’s so fun to pin all the pretty pictures! And then we never look back at them and use the ideas! It has definitely been a problem for me too. Time to take action! We got this. ;) Thanks cutie! xo

  4. Ah, I love you so much. Great post–and so true–sometimes you just have to admit that that amazing organizing solution just isn’t working (grrrrrr….).

    One thing I’ve done with my kids is to ask them how they would like their stuff organized. This has resulted, for example, in organizing their legos by type (bricks, flat pieces, people, etc) instead of say, by colour (though by colour is far, far more pinterest-worthy, haha).

    As for the medicine cabinet, I feel your pain. I finally started using bins with lids–one for the kids, etc. And now the everyday items (like vitamins) go somewhere else, even though I would love to keep them all together. Oh well.

    Thanks for writing such a great blog and I hope you’re enjoying the weather in San Diego (it snowed here yesterday!)

    1. Such a sweet comment Wilma! Thank you! That is a great idea to ask the kids how they would like their things organized! And I couldn’t agree more.. sometimes the “pinterest-worthy” solution just doesn’t work! We have to be practical. Even when it’s not as pretty. Darn it. ;) Thanks again cutie! xo

  5. Love this post Erin and had to laugh at your beautiful Anthro bowl medicine cabinet! My goal since January has been to reorganize our meds again…but it continues to be just a goal. :)
    I did my kid’s closets over the past 3 weeks and they look awesome and give me a sense of relief! Now I just need to keep purging.
    I just realized that the beautiful PB shelf I have holding my hot irons, etc. in my bathroom IS NOT working now and is NEVER going to work. It is such a nice shelf….but time to Craigslist. So funny how we hold onto ideas or keep things that aren’t working just because we think they should.

    1. Oh my word.. so hard when a space we want to work just doesn’t! I know.. my bowls were so cute. :) But just not practical. Sounds like your beautiful shelf is the same. {Sigh} I’m proud of you for sending it to Craigslist! We got this. :) Thanks Lynnsey! Enjoy your day cutie! xo

    1. Yes! Scheduling time has really helped me prioritize getting my house organized! And those manuals haven’t been touched in the two years they spent in that basket. Definitely a sign that things like that can go! Thanks Alexis! :) xo

  6. Great post Erin! I think your readers love seeing your not-so-perfect-real-life pictures and hearing what’s really working and what’s not! The part about your manuals made me laugh, because since reading our favorite book, that’s one of the many things I’ve been chucking! I’m still plugging away at my purging, and even though I’m not able to move as fast as I’d like, each time I have another full sack for DI it gives me a bit of satisfaction! Scheduling 20 minutes is a great idea, especially for me right now! Now I’m re motivated to keep working on my house purging 20 min at a time! I keep wanting to organize but I’m going by the book and doing all my discarding first!! Although the small spaces that were easy to organize after purging are looking great! Meaning my sock drawer is still organized! 😂 Small victories!

    1. Ha ha! It really is all about small victories Josie! They are the things that motivate us to keep going. And I know! Our Tidying book is all about throwing away manuals and I couldn’t agree more! I seriously haven’t looked at those once in the two years they’ve been there. It’s crazy how much I’ve organized clutter in the past! I’m over it! Such a good feeling to scale back and not have as much stuff to take care of. And I know – at the stage we are both in 20 minutes a day is about all we’ll get! We’ll have to text each other for motivation. ;) So fun hearing from you this morning cutie! xo

  7. This is a great post! You really point out the reasons we can’t get organized and give wonderful examples of how to remedy that. Thanks Erin, this is terrific motivation for me!

  8. Hi Erin, thank you so much for this post. Just the motivation I need. My husband and I recently moved into our new home and while a couple rooms are decorated and organized, the rest of the house is a mess. So I feel incredibly overwhelmed and with a full-time job and a first pregnancy, I have no energy to do any organizing. Will try your tip of 20-minute a day starting today though!

    Do you have any tips for purging? I have collected so many clothes, shoes, bags, and kitchen tools over the years. I think my style has changed completely now but I feel so wasteful for getting rid of clothes that still fit perfectly. Also, I’ve started to invest in nicer cookware but before getting rid of my IKEA collection, I’m not really using those yet.. so everything are still in boxes and collecting dust. Where do I begin????

  9. Such good advice! Another thing I’ve learned is that it doesn’t have to be pretty or make sense to anyone else, it just has to work. I struggle with purging because my hubby and I both like to keep things for sentimental reasons…like blankets. But then we store them in the linen closet because they’re ugly with sport teams and dinosaurs on them! Haha, the struggle is real! :)

  10. Everything you said rings true for me but for sure the most important one that has been life changing- and perhaps the hardest one for anyone I know to do– is purging. Super important. What helps is my husband is similar and so we don’t have clutter despite being in this house for the past 4 years. In fact, our garage currently only has our cars in it. That’s right we purged to the point of not even having stuff or storage in the garage. We have a toddler so I know this won’t last forever but we will do storage with some nice shelves later (any posts on garage storage?) love your blog and IG posts!

  11. Erin thank you for your post. I’ve spent the last 2 long days cleaning out our garage. We threw things into it when we finished building and they have stayed the same for almost 2 years. Was so great to organize and label everything. I even have empty shelves!!!

    I have spent a lot of time organizing since we moved and it’s so rewarding. I’m on my second time going through each space.

    Your tips and ideas are so helpful!!!!

  12. Guilty of pretty much all of it! I have gotten better over the years. Couldn’t agree more on organizing clutter. I am all about tossing it now. So true about the manuals. I have NEVER opened one. EVER. Great post, girlie.

    1. Thank you sweet friend! Oh my word.. I toss everything! My husband is worried I’ll toss him out at some point. ;) So fun hearing from you on the blog cutie! Made my day. :) xo

  13. This was a fantastic post – thanks for sharing. As always, I love looking at your beautiful home and your color/design choices. You’ve made some really good points here that I can take to heart. I have begun the “organize from top to bottom” in my home that I share with five other people (!!!) and purging so far has been the hardest for me — I don’t know why? You didn’t say it but I think you would agree — we don’t need more space, we need less stuff! Anyway, I’m pinning and will refer back when I find myself lagging or short on inspiration.

    1. Such a sweet comment Jenni! Thank you! I know! Purging really can be hard but just remember the end goal. It’s SO much easier to stay organized with less! And I promise the more you purge the easier it gets! I don’t even think twice before getting rid of things anymore. And I never miss the stuff I toss! Good luck! And thanks again. :) xo

  14. This is such a great post. You address all the things that we struggle with. The idea of perfection is a myth, just like a marriage where we don’t argue. The difference is arguing versus fighting – or organization versus perfection. If you’re looking for perfect, you’re always going to be disappointed, but if you’re looking for “good,” you can find it all over the place. Thank you!

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