There’s nothing more frustrating that setting up an amazing organization system only to have it sit there. Collecting dust. Not helping. Not working for you.
But did you ever stop to think that there might be a reason why your organizational system might not be working? Have you ever dug into the why behind it? Have you ever thought that maybe the system itself is good, but it might not be right for you and your family?
You see, the strength of an organizational system comes when it is actually used and when it helps you. When it helps you save time or streamline a process or know where to find things or even keeps things cleaned and picked up. But if your organizational system is causing frustration, is taking more of your time than it saves, is not helping you keep things picked up, or, in short, not making your life easier, you might have the wrong system.
But here’s the crazy part: You can’t stop at simply identifying that the system is not the right fit. In order to change your current system and find the system that is right for you, you need to lean in to why your current system is not working.
Here are some common reasons why your organizational system might not be working and some ideas on how to fix it:
Reason #1 :: Your System Is Too Complicated
The whole point of an organizational system is to make your life easier. Does your system make your life easier? Does keeping up with your organizational system require a number of steps? Does it take longer for you to get something done using this system then before you put this system in place?
Does your system clarify things or has it make life more complicated? The goal is to simplify and streamline things with organization, not add in layer upon layer of complication!
Step back and take a look at your system. Is it easy to use? Remember, the best organizational systems are sometimes the simplest things that you train yourself to do over time. Essentially, you create a habit for maintaining the system so that you do it without thinking about it.
Now, keep in mind that when you start a new organizing system, you need to give yourself some time, typically around 2 weeks or so, to use the system before you start seeing big chunks of time being saved. You see, it takes some time to learn a new system, to get quick at it and really see the time saving kick in. If you set up a system yesterday or if you’ve only used your new system once and it took you longer to do than before, that’s not a good measurement of whether the system is at fault. Give it a week or two and reevaluate. At that point, if it’s still taking more time than before to accomplish your task, it’s time for a rethink.
So what about your system? Is it complicated? Does it take too many steps to accomplish what you want to do? Does it have so many steps that it’s hard to remember? If so, it’s time to simplify!
Take a step back and think through the basics again: What do you want this system to do for you? What are you trying to accomplish? What is your end goal?
Reason #2 :: You are the Only One who Knows How to Use It
When you create an organizational system, you not only want to make it simple for you to use, but you want to make it simple for others to use and understand, also. When the system is easy to use and people understand why the system is important, they are far more likely to get on board and use the system along with you. If no one knows how to use the organizational system they’ll stop trying – or they won’t even begin to try in the first place!
Teach others your system! If the system is working and it’s not too complicated to understand, then perhaps you need to take the time and teach the system to the others in your family.
Think of it like this: You create a system for washing dishes that involves bringing the dirty dishes to the counter and setting them to the right side of the sink. This makes sense to you because your dishwasher is on the left side of the sink and you placed a dish drying mat on the counter to the left side of the sink for those dishes that are too big to go in the dishwasher. The system is simple: Dirty dishes land on the right side of the sink. They pass under the water in the sink and either get rinsed off and go in the dishwasher or get washed and land on the dish drying mat on the left. Nice and simple.
However, if no one but you is aware of this system, it’s not going to work well. If you tell your children to take their dishes to the counter after a meal, but they don’t know what counter you want the dishes on, you are going to end up with dirty dishes all over the kitchen. Dirty dishes and clean dishes will be intermingled on the left side of the sink. Not all the dirty dishes will make it to the correct place for them to get washed.
In this case, the fix is super simple: Tell your family where to place the dirty dishes. But more than that, tell them why. Human beings, when they are told to do something have a natural rebellion where they don’t want to do what they are told. (If you don’t believe me, just look at your kids!) However, if you understand the why behind something, it is much easier to remember and there is a greater desire to do what is being asked of you. So first of all, explain the why behind the system.
Secondly, if the system is good and necessary, get your family on board! This may take some teaching and training on how to use your system. Or it may take some simple explanation. Perhaps a few times! As you teach this system to others, don’t forget to be patient with them. If you are the one that has created this system, you have had a lot more time to think about it than they have. Be patient as they learn, both in understanding the importance behind the system and in using the system itself.
Reason #3 :: Your System Micromanages, Not Organizes
There is a difference between an organizational system that helps to streamline a process, making things more efficient and attempting to micromanage things. Take a step back for a moment and honestly ask yourself these questions: Is my system so rigid that there is only one way to accomplish anything? Do I start to get angry if this system is not followed perfectly? Does this system help to simplify things or does it add another layer of complication? Is this system necessary for accomplishing a task?
If following the system has become far more important the allowing the system to help you accomplish a task more efficiently, then it is time to reevaluate your system. Remember, the goal of organizing is not to control everything and everyone around you, but to make your life simpler, easier, and more streamlined so that you can accomplish more in less time.
Think about it like this: If you put a system in place for the exact right way to wring out a dishrag and are getting mad because no one else is wringing out the dish rag using your system, it’s time to take a step back! Now, if no one is wringing out the rag and there is a huge river of water forming on your kitchen floor because of all the water dripping from the rag as it travels across the kitchen, that is something that needs to be addressed. The rag does need to be wrung out over the sink before it travels elsewhere in the kitchen. However, does it really matter that much how the rag is wrung out? Or is it more important that the rag gets wrung out in some way? In this case, the how isn’t anywhere near as important as the fact that it gets done. If you’re system is micromanaging something like this, it’s time to say good bye to your system!
Reason #4 :: The System Doesn’t Fit
So many times, great organizational systems are gleaned from others. This is part of the beauty of organizing! You can learn from what is working for other people. But sometimes the system that you’re using is just a copy of someone else’s system point by point. While this can be a good thing in some cases, in other cases, it just doesn’t work! The system doesn’t work in your space. It doesn’t fit your family. Again, there are some wonderful systems out there, but if that organizational system is not going to help you and your family, then it’s not the right one for you.
Remember, the best organizational system for you is one that you help create and one that you can keep going. If using another system does not fit this criteria – even if it is a good system – than it’s not the right one for you and it needs to change.
This isn’t about “your system is better than my system.” This is about creating systems and organization that will help you and that you can build on, saving you time, effort, and energy in the long run while keeping your house picked up and organized in the process.
If the system that you’re using isn’t doing this, then it’s time to change it! But before you scrap the entire system, take a step back and ask yourself what is working from the current system. Keep those parts, those elements that are working, but change and adjust the things that are not.
For example: I read about a family that created a system to deliver items back to their children’s rooms. Now, this family has 6 children and they already had a side table with 6 drawers in it. Their solution was simple: One drawer for each child. Now, when I heard about this system, I fell in love with the idea, but I do not have a table with 5 drawers to copy this system exactly. Plus, with my kids being so young, the items that they leave out many times will not fit into a drawer. So, I took the concept and changed it to fit my family. My solution: I got 3 cloth bins, one for each bedroom, and placed them on the empty bottom shelf of a side table. The bins look nice and it creates a system for my family to get things back to our children’s bedrooms without making a trip to each room for each item each time. You see, I took the concept from someone else’s system but changed it to make it my own, turning it into a simple system that truly serves my family and saves us time.
So take a look at the system that you are using. What is the big concept behind the system? Is the concept worth keeping? Are there certain aspects of the system that are working for you? Keep these pieces, but don’t be afraid to change the system to tailor it to you and your family.
And if the system is not working at all? You have the freedom to get rid of it completely! Again, the system should work for you and help streamline and simplify your life. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to rethink the system.
Reason #5 :: You’re Not Using Your System
An organizational system doesn’t work if you do not use it! It seems so simple, but yet it’s so true! An organizational system is just that: A system! It doesn’t start working on its own with no human interaction. You can spend countless hours setting up the perfect system, figuring out the best way to accomplish a task or keep a space in your house organized, but if you do not begin to use that system, nothing will happen.
This one is probably the most simple and easy fix of them all: Start using your system! Truly! A system is just a theory, a great idea until it is utilized. If you have a system set up, start to use it.
As you start to use your system, you may find that it works beautifully for your family and in your space. If that is the case, congratulations! You have found a system that works for you. Embrace it and keep using it!
On the other hand, if you find that your system is not working the way that you want it to, it’s time to reevaluate. Think through why your system is not working. Perhaps it needs to adjust to fit into your space or to fit your family better. Perhaps the system is not right for you.
No matter what, you need to start using the system that you have set up to begin to see if any changes need to be made.
And there you have it, my Friend, 5 reasons why your organizational system might not be working and the things that you can begin to do to change your system to make it work more effectively for you.
You’ve heard me say this so many times before and you’ll hear it from me again and again: The best organizational system for you is one that you help create and one that you can keep going. It’s not about creating a system just for a system’s sake. It’s not about copying someone else’s system exactly just so you can be like them. It’s about simplifying and streamlining tasks that you need to accomplish so that you can be more productive, more organized, less scattered, and less overwhelmed in your everyday life.
- Why Organize? Progress not Perfection
- What Is Being Organized and Why Is It Important?
- How To Organize the Mess: A Step by Step Guide
- 20 Secrets to Be More Organized
- 5 Simple Solutions to Take You from Scattered to Organized
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.