Picture a house where the clean laundry is piled all over the sofa, but when you open the underwear drawer (not that you would do this in someone else's house, but humor me here for a moment), you see all the little panties folded up and put away by color, with drawer dividers in-between.
Why is the clean laundry still all over the sofa? Is it possible that it's because it’s so much trouble to fold and sort all the little panties? Hmmmm? Perhaps the person procrastinates about doing the big job because the little jobs that make it up are so cumbersome.
Did you know that it is possible to OVER-organize? Well, you can.
Organizing your things needs to work for YOU. Not for who you wish you could be or for the person next door whose house is always clean. Let THEM over-organize, if it works for them. If your perfectionist tendencies about the little things are keeping you from getting the big-picture things done, then it’s time to Let. Them. Go.
Why fold underwear? So that the drawer looks neat? Well, let's think about that for a moment. Is that goal really worth the effort and time required to fold all those tiny things and sort them by color and put them carefully into the drawer? For me that would be a big fat NO.
Or maybe it's to easily find the color needed on any given day? I totally get that (there's nothing like the feeling of wearing a matching bra and panties that you know look GREAT, even if no one else will see them, lol); but searching through a pile of underwear, since each item is so small, is not a big deal. It will take way less time than all that folding. And does it matter if underwear is wrinkled? I think not.
To that person I would say: Go ahead, JUST THROW YOUR UNDERWEAR IN THE DRAWER. Let it make a big pile. Sure, sort out panties from bras if you like — even I do that — but don’t do any more organizing than that. Try not to get upset about your panties being literally in a wad, lol. Just try it for a week and see if it's easier to get the laundry put away. I bet it will be.
The idea here is that it’s not always necessary to organize EVERYTHING.
Some things are better left un-organized. Or at the most lightly organized. And it does not make you a bad person or a slob. It just means you are prioritizing where you place your effort.
Putting silverware into the dishwasher. Do you feel the need to sort it by forks, spoons, etc. as you put it in to be cleaned? That’s fine IF you are consistently keeping the kitchen clean, and your kids are also willing to do so. What if you just threw it in the dishwasher any which way and then sorted it into the slots in the drawer when you put it away? Would it take any more time to do it that way? I don’t think so — but it would be easier to get them in the dishwasher in the first place, which means the kitchen might stay cleaner on a regular basis.
Kids’ clothing. I have lost track of how many times I organized the kids’ clothing into the drawers of their dresser. Shirts in one drawer, shorts in the next, etc. Within a week it was all a jumble. But they still found clothes to wear every day. Often just one of the same 2-3 shirts that they loved.
Somewhere I read a blog post about using tubs in the closet and just throwing the clothes in there. Forget the dresser or the hangers! Kids don’t care about wrinkles. They may be much more willing to help with the laundry if they didn’t have to be so careful about folded clothes and where they go.
Budget categories. Do you have a gazillion of them? That’s fine if it’s helpful and you really do run reports to see how much you spent in each one. If you’re not using the data later, then why do all the work of trying to decide which of your gazillion categories each transaction fits into? A few larger categories may be all the information you need.
Bills and household paperwork. It doesn't have to be that complicated. I've got a super-simple system that I've used for over 20 years. Check it out here: Simple Paper Filing System.
Your homeschool records. I have one folder for each kid. When they complete an assignment, and it has been graded and the grade recorded, it goes into the front of the folder. At the end of the year I sort the papers into subjects. During the year it is too much trouble to file them so specifically. If I tried it, the papers would pile up on top because I would always say, “I’ll file this later.” If you have a “to be filed” pile that is growing out of control, maybe you are over-organizing.
As an aside here, for you high school moms, it is NOT necessary to create a portfolio to show to colleges. Nor is it necessary to keep track of every book your teen reads. If you've heard that you're “supposed to” do those things, but they are not mentioned in your state's homeschool law, then let me send you right now to 12 Reassuring Facts You Should Know about Homeschooling High School so you can get that burden off your shoulders. :-)
Why is over-organizing “disastrous”? Because this organizing mistake affects your productivity in a BIG way. All those tasks left undone because the over-organizing is too cumbersome, all the time it takes to get the over-organizing accomplished when you DO do it, the fact that only YOU can do it because you're the only one who knows the complicated system or can do it “right” — all of this combines to prevent you from getting all the other things done that you need or want to get done.
Life as we know it won't end; it's not THAT disastrous, lol — but over-organizing sure can throw a wrench into your everyday life.
This may be one of the biggest tips you’ll read in this organizing series — choose carefully what really needs to be organized and what can actually remain as a pile of unorganized but still easily-used items.