The One Organizing Habit You Need to Break Today

The One Organizing Habit You Need to Break Today at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

A couple of years ago, while I was visiting my family in Ontario, I helped my sister and brother-in-law do a few organizing projects around their house.  It didn’t take me long to notice that my brother-in-law had a really bad habit of doing something that I know is a common mistake for many when it comes to organizing.

Scattered and unfocused organizing.

It will get you into a whole pile of trouble.

Unless of course you have all the time in the world then don’t worry about it.

Except most of us don’t.

We find pockets of time here and there to organize our spaces.  Nothing wrong with that.

Except when we don’t focus on the task at hand and instead find ourselves here there and everywhere leaving a trail of disorganization behind us that spans multiple rooms.

Scattered organizing will get you nothing but one great big mess.

I can’t even tell you how many times I had to say to my BIL, “focus, stay focused”.  He was all over the place moving from one room to the next organizing a little here and a little there (he really really loves to organize so for him he just kept getting ahead of himself).  Things quickly get out of hand this way though.

It’s not effective.

It’s not productive.

It can be overwhelming.

And it’s very very common.

Focus –> Freedom Out of Curing the Urge to Scatter

Focus: Freedom Out of Curing the Urge to Scatter

It happens so easily.  You start organizing in one room when you find something that belongs in another room.  You go to put it away in that space and realize you should actually deal with the toys scattered all over the bedroom floor but that means you need to rearrange the room.  You then realize you are missing a piece to one of the toy sets so you head over to the living room to find it.  Your eyes land on the piles of paper on the coffee table and you immediately forget about the toy reorganization when you remember you need to sort these papers out in order to find the bill you know needs to be paid.  You’ve got papers scattered all over the floor when you have to go the bathroom.  Once in the bathroom though you see your hair products scattered all over and decide you simply must do something about that asap.  And on and on it goes.  As you can imagine the path of destruction by this time is totally out of hand.  You feel like a failure and beat yourself up.

There is a cure for this.


Start a task and finish it before moving onto the next.  This is why I recommend setting smaller task goals that can be completed in reasonable and practical amounts of time.  Never say to yourself “I need to organize my playroom today”.  Break it down to manageable steps…I need to organize the Polly Pockets, I need to organize the Lego, I need to organize the dress up clothes, I need to buy x, y and z, etc.

Always have a container near you for items that need to be relocated elsewhere and toss things into that rather than moving it to the other room right then and there.  At the end of your time, relocate all items at once.  It will not only save you time but your sanity as well.

In order to motivate yourself to continue you need to see that you are making progress and you can’t do that if you never allow yourself to complete any one task.

Don’t be a scatter pants.


As you go about your day today be mindful of this pattern of behavior to see if any of it rings true for you.   Making this one little adjustment might be just the mental shift you need to stay on track and get things done.

Does this bad organizing habit apply to you?

If you are still struggling to get organized, be sure to follow my step by step organizing PROCESS.

*This post was originally published in 2011.

Filed under: Organizing Basics


9 Responses to The One Organizing Habit You Need to Break Today

  1. 1
    G Propst says

    Have you been following me around my house? This is the story of my life.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. 2
    Shawnda says

    Yup! Guilty as charged. I believe that I have ADD and it shows up most often as outlined above. There are days when I realize what I’m doing and force myself to finish something before moving on. Other days, I just keep scattering about until I have gone in a complete circle and eventually get things done, but it takes all

  3. 3
    Vanessa says

    Thanks for this post. Lately this does seem to be my biggest problem.

  4. 4
    Jodi says

    Yes! I definitely do this! Then it ends up taking me 4 times as long to get one little area done because I get so distracted. Glad it’s not just me! I’d get frustrated in school because I’d spend so much time getting organized and arranging my desk that I’d forget I had actual homework to do! I try to recognize when I’m doing this now and just stop and focus on what area I’m doing, but it’s hard.

  5. 5
    karen keiper says

    guilty as charged. Now i have a son who does it too??!!

  6. 6
    Darcy says

    Also, guilty! I know it costs me time and I feel like I don’t get anything done – especially with general cleaning or picking up. I do catch myself and it takes a lot of self-reminding to keep myself on task. Great observation!

  7. 7
    Havok says

    This is what I do. Because it’s easy and my house is in need of attention no matter where I go. I’m trying to break the habit, though, and sticking to one area at a time…even if where I’m putting things that “belong” in a space just makes more clutter. I’ll get to that other space eventually, I know that, I don’t need to worry about it right now!

  8. 8
    Dana says

    I feel just like this all time, it is like you have been spying on me, lol. I will now be more aware of the reason I never finish my organizing projects and maybe that will help me to stay focused. Not to mention your tip of setting small organizing goals instead of HUGE. Thanks for what you do!

  9. 9
    Frances says

    Wow. So on target. My new mantra as I clean, ” Just stay focused, just stay focused.” (While channeling For Dory
    from Nemo)


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