Common Home Organizing Mistakes Professionals Always Notice (and Organization Ideas to Solve Them)


If you’ve been in as many homes, offices, and home offices as we have, you start to notice a few themes. Many people make the same common organizing mistakes, usually without even knowing it. To address this challenge, Redfin put together a blog highlighting the recommendations of organizers across the country… and they asked theNeatNiche to contribute! Check out their blog post below… and see if you can spot tNN’s contribution!


Organizing our homes is a goal many of us have, but with so many home organizing ideas available, it may be difficult to find a place to start. It’s easy for a clean and organized home to fall by the wayside when life gets busy, but keeping your homes neat can improve your productivity and even relieve stress. After all, it’s hard to relax in a home surrounded by mess. 

If your home feels messy despite your best efforts to curb the clutter, chances are you might be committing a common home organizing mistake to tackle the mess. We reached out to experts from Charlotte, NC to Honolulu, HI to share the most common home organizing mistakes they notice and organization ideas you can use to solve them so you can get your house back in order in no time. 

Living room organization

Keeping extras “just in case”

Our rule of thumb is if you can purchase the item again for under $20, you never need a duplicate waiting as a backup. There’s no need for five soup ladles jamming up the utensils drawer, a mountain of pillowcases that haven’t left the linen closet in years, and a junk drawer full of random charging cords, pens, and plastic silverware. – Sarah Fiel, Home Theory

Going shopping before coming up with a plan

Before buying containers: a) sort, b) purge, and c) assign homes for your items. To choose the best container, you want first to evaluate what type of container would be best suited for the size, weight, and shapes of the items to be stored in them. Take precise measurements of the space each container will be placed in, leaving a little wiggle room for convenience. – Jana Hartwell, CPO, Sensible Organizing Solutions 

Containers do not make you organized. If you put a pile of clutter inside a container, you still have clutter – it’s just contained clutter. If you want long-lasting organization, you need a system: a set of streamlined, repeatable steps that produce a predictable response. Stop buying them until you know what you need, or they’ll become part of the clutter problem, not the solution. –theNeatNiche 

Don’t purchase supplies as one of your home organization ideas before you’ve decluttered. Putting this step ahead of decluttering costs money, time, and quite honestly, more clutter. The first step is to remove the items that you no longer love, want, or use. This should result in fewer ‘keep’ items. And, you may find that the ‘keep’ items no longer serve a purpose in the room that they’ve always lived in. At the end of the process, you will have fewer items to store and you may find that what you currently own will do nicely for containing the ‘keeps’. – Organized!byKristi

Trying to tackle the mess in one go

Organize a little bit each to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed. Whether you’re just trying to keep up with chores or need to declutter certain aspects of your life, dedicate a small amount of time that you can commit to every single day. You’ll be amazed at how enjoyable it can be when you organize or declutter in small chunks of time. –Determined to Love Mondays 

Do you only brush your teeth once? Of course not – decluttering and tidying up are similar; they require daily attention. It doesn’t take that much time to pick up a few items and put them away. Once in the habit, these small steps will be life-changing. –Mode Home Organization

Storing clutter in available spaces

Centerpieces are your friend. We tend to stack a lot of clutter on open, horizontal surfaces. By placing a centerpiece in the space, you break up the surface and put less on it. It’s an easy home organization idea to “trick” yourself into maintaining a clean, clear, and uncluttered space. -Noell Egeland, Halcyon At Home

One of the best home organization ideas is to designate zones. Everything should have its own home or designated space. Items should be grouped with like items – this makes them easier to locate and put away when finished – and it also allows you to know your inventory. Each zone has “prime real estate” which should be used for your everyday needs. Relocate items you don’t use often to less valuable areas. –Living Neat

Organizing to be “responsible” 

Often, the clutter in your home results from wanting to be responsible for others, the environment, or the world. Clutter is postponed decisions. Decide what you want to keep by asking, “Does this help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If the answer is “No,” it’s clutter, and you can’t afford it. -Barbara Hemphill, Less Clutter More Life 

Choosing style over substance in your home organization ideas

I always recommend to clients that they should think through:

  • “how” and “where” they will be using something
  • “who” needs to access it/share it
  • “when” or “how” often something is used
  • “why” they are holding on to it

All of this information is critical when choosing containers, setting up organizing systems, and making your space not only look good but also function effectively. –Wendy Buglio Consulting

Before you think about how you want your space to look, take some time to declutter what you don’t need, and think about how (and how often) you use the items that are left. Clear bins and rainbow bookshelves are nice touches, but if you don’t have a simple system in place for your stuff, you’ll be back to your old messy ways before you can say, “now, where did I put that again?” From there, you can organize your space in a way that makes it easy for you to find what you’re looking for and to know where to put it when you’re done. –Practically Minimal

Overusing ROYGBIV in your home organization ideas. Not everything needs to look like a rainbow. It can look pretty when styling bookshelves or be useful in a closet as long as you categorize your items first, but it’s not practical as an organizing tool in most spaces. Try organizing by function instead, so that you can instinctively find what you need – without having to look for the “red toy” or the “blue box of pasta”. –The Edited House

closet organization

Not practicing smart spending habits

Waste happens at the moment of consumption, not the moment you let go of an item -that money’s already been spent. When you’re purging that I-never-wore-it-but-I-got-such-a-good-deal-dress, focus on the lesson you learned: why didn’t you wear it, who will benefit from it, and how you can make smarter choices in the future. –This Joyful House

Trying to organize around existing items

Make sure to remove each item from your closet and try it on before organizing. The first step is taking each article out and determining if you still like the item. If you’re on the fence, try it on; and if you still aren’t sure, put it back in the closet and take note of the next time you wear it. If another year passes and you don’t wear it, you can get rid of it more easily. – Home Again Transitions

Most people’s core problem is that they own too much stuff, so organizing it into pretty containers does not solve the underlying issue. Start by ruthlessly decluttering your things, and it will make the organizational piece significantly easier. –The Simplicity Habit

Having home organization ideas that go against your organizing type

We all have an organizing type so make sure you’re considering it when selecting storage solutions. You could be a natural-born piler instead of a filer, but yet you’ve created a system with tons of files, labels, and categories because that’s what you have seen others do. Try broader categories and simple organizing solutions. Open paper trays work for filing just as well as file folders depending on your organizing type and may be the solution for you to get organized.. –Graced Space

Using an overly complex home organizing system

If you live with other people, especially kids, you need to organize with everyone who will use the system in mind. Labels are a quick and easy way to get everyone on the same page and let them know exactly what goes where to ensure items are returned to their rightful home each time. Also, keep an eye out for systems that aren’t working optimally – lowering hanging rods or even replacing them with hooks may be a quick fix to jackets and backpacks never being hung up or put away after school. -Indianna McMechin, Room to Breathe

Implementing good systems is crucial. Until the underlying issue of disorganization is addressed, it will be very difficult to maintain an organized space. This could mean creating a system for incoming paperwork, or a “one in, one out” rule for avid shoppers. –Mind at Ease Organizing

Some organizing systems are sleek and attractive, but you’ll end up with a mess and a lot of frustration if you cannot consistently stick to these home organization ideas. Choose the system that works for you, even if it isn’t the fanciest setup.  –Recovering the Home

Keeping your current goals and aspirations separate from your home set up

I often see people not thinking through decisions that will produce results, resulting in inefficiently organized homes. This can diminish our productivity, leaving us overwhelmed, frustrated, and wondering why things aren’t working or getting done. Ask yourself these questions: 

  1. Why is my top outcome to achieve this month? 
  2. What daily, weekly and monthly activity will it take to get this done? 
  3. Do I have a space dedicated, designed, and set up to accomplish this? 
  4. What about the other family members in the household?

Kristy Bertenshaw

organizing children's artwork

Not creating a system for storing children’s art

We recommend going through your child’s artwork to pull a handful of keepsake pieces each year to store in a memory box. Many parents may feel guilty throwing the artwork out, but if parents are having trouble disposing of the rest, try taking pictures of the remaining pieces to convert them into digital art. That way, parents can easily access the artwork on a phone/computer or even make it into a small memory book. If all else fails, we tell our clients to send excess art to Grandparents or other relatives for them to enjoy.–Efficiently Neat

Making one person take charge of organizing the home

Everyone should be in charge, even the young ones. Create a chore chart, so everyone knows how to keep the house organized. But, if you are the only one who can organize the home, it’s okay to ask for help. Give yourself a break and recognize when things aren’t working. A professional can help keep the task of organizing from being overwhelming –Andrea Wait 

Letting keepsakes take up precious storage space 

Instead of allowing sentimental items to overcrowd your basement or garage, repurpose these meaningful items as one of your home organization ideas. Hang Grandma’s china on the wall as art, line drawers with kid’s artwork, or turn trophies into bookends. Every time you see it, you’ll get a jolt of happiness, and your storage spaces will be free to hold things you actually use, like holiday decor or off-season items. –Dismiss Clutter

Buying for the space you wish you had

Buying today for the home you want in the future is not helping your wallet or your current home. Before you click “Buy Now,” ask yourself: “Where am I going to store this?” –The Fine Refine

Underutilizing vertical space in your home organization ideas

Walls are often the most underutilized space resource in the home and are a great way to incorporate vertical space into your home organization ideas. Wall hooks, pegs, wall systems, and shelves allow us to move almost anything off the floor and up onto the walls. Once off the floor, the things we own are easy to see and put away. -Paula Ripple, OrganizeWell

bookshelf organization

Organizing by location instead of category

Instead of organizing your home by sections, go through your home and group similar items together. For example, when organizing books, you might comb through your house and collect them from a bookshelf, nightstand, coffee table, desk. This will allow you to take complete inventory as you sort and discard items. –Tidy Evolution

Mistaking cleaning for organizing

Though they both go hand in hand, cleaning is about disinfecting and removing dirt and organizing is about systems and finding a home for everything. Assign a specific space to categories of belongings so you’ll know exactly where to put things when you’re cleaning up. –A Life Better Organized

Not giving things back to their owners

Put returning the item on your “To-Do” list or in your calendar. When you borrow something, often it lands near the door or somewhere else in your home and never leaves. By noting these items, the chances of it getting back to the owner and not becoming clutter are greater. –Decluttering Key

Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00