You Don’t Have to Be Organized!

You Don’t Have to Be Organized!

July 17, 2020 Organizing 2

Think about the last time you stood in the supermarket checkout line, looking at the headlines of those so-called women’s magazines.

“Total Clutter Control Now!”, “Get Organized Once and For All”, or my favorite from Good Housekeeping: “Clutter Free! Have the whole house organized in a month!”

Those cover stories beckon. You read the article with hope. The shelving units are sleek, the children tidy, the parents smiling.  Your house could NEVER look like this. You sigh.

“I’ve got to get organized” is a common lament, one which sells magazines (and glossy ads for the latest organizing products and supplies). “If only I had that gorgeous storage bench/family members who didn’t leave a mess on the floor/some time to get everything done, my life would be SO much easier.”

Maybe so. But it’s not going to happen in one weekend, no matter what the magazine (or even many organizing books) promise you. 

And in fact, an analysis of those 31 tips from Good Housekeeping – one for each day of the month – shows the following:

16 – tell you to buy something new (e.g. a basket for your remote controls, etc.)

10 – basically tell you your décor is wrong (so buy something new)

8 – tell you just to move stuff around

6 – tell you to reduce your stuff by throwing it out

5 – tell you to group stuff together

2 – tell you to change the format of stuff

1 – says “you should be cleaner” and

1 – tells you to hire a handyman to build shelves in your lower kitchen cabinets

So even if you followed these tips, not only will your whole house NOT be organized in a month, but you really didn’t make much progress.

“Getting Organized” is only one step of a process to make your home, work space, and life function more smoothly and efficiently. First, let me distinguish between “getting organized” – a phrase I dislike, as it implies a terminal, static state – and “being organized” – a state which is ongoing, fluid, and responsive to your life circumstances.

Actually, you don’t HAVE TO be organized. 

Disorganization is not a moral issue, a character flaw, or an indication of laziness or indifference. Being organized is simply a skill you haven’t yet learned. Anyone can learn it. 

On the other hand, you don’t have to continue to lose important papers, buy duplicate items because you can’t find the one you already have, fight with roommates or family members over your belongings or theirs, not be able to enjoy living in your home or working in your office because looking around makes you feel overwhelmed and drained.

The choice is yours.

What is “being organized” and why bother?

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I just want to be able to see my dining room table!” 

“I’m running two businesses, and can’t keep up with either one.”

 “I’m late for everything all the time.”

 “My finances are in serious disarray because I can’t manage to pay my bills on time.”

 “I’m embarrassed for anyone to see the inside of my car!”

“I’d like to be able to park my car in the garage” (In fact, a study at UCLA showed that 75% of garages are so full of stuff that a car can’t be parked there!)

Your reasons for decluttering and organizing your home, work space, or life are not the same as your neighbor’s. There is no “one system fits all” as people have different needs, family configurations, work habits, lifestyles, learning styles, preferences, and requirements for the space or challenge they want to organize or address.

Creating new space that meets YOUR most important goals is a big undertaking, one that will, literally, improve your home, work life, and relationships, reduce your stress, improve your sleep and your health, and believe it or not, according to some studies, may even help you to lose weight! 

Again, you don’t have to do anything right now. But if you want to free up space, time, and/or mental and emotional energy, read on.

I welcome your comments and organizing questions.

About the author

Gail R. Shapiro Gail Shapiro is pleased to bring you her experience, education, and energy to help you create harmony, efficiency, and systems that work. Gail first worked as a Professional Organizer in the mid-1980s, after many years in the development field, and before founding a non-profit community women’s center. She brings her clients more than 40 years of teaching and organizing skills garnered from her work as a director of development, project manager, grant proposal writer, executive director, workshop presenter, writer and editor, and strategic planning consultant, as well as a lifelong volunteer and board member at several charitable organizations.


  1. Dinah Moeller

    July 17, 2020

    Great article - thanks! Still using the skills I learned from you. It truly is a process, not a static state.

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