Most of my clients have at least a little anxiety around organizing. Some have anxiety around the process of getting organized.  And for others, it is anxiety around their ability to stay organized (and for some, it’s of course, both). Research tells us that clutter can cause stress and anxiety.  But what happens if the process of becoming organized also stresses you out?

After working with countless clients, I have distilled their anxieties into six main roadblocks.   I’m going to address each, and provide you with new ways to overcome them.

Roadblock 1: You feel overwhelmed because you’re thinking about your entire house and life and every single thing that needs to get organized.  

Break. It. Down.  Here’s a little nugget of truth for you: I get overwhelmed when I go to a new client’s home! My mind races with everything that needs to get done. But, letting that overtake me doesn’t help. I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time. Think about just the next step in front of you, and nothing else.  Pick one task and complete it. Ignore the rest of your home. Ignore that space that just keeps accumulating stuff as you clean other spaces. You’ll get there. Just do what you’re doing today, and worry about the rest later. Better yet, worry about the rest at a designated time that you put in your calendar.

Roadblock 2: You don’t know where to start.

Just start!  There’s no best place to start.  Garage, entryway, storage space, office, it doesn’t matter.  Sure, there are best practices, but the BEST of the best practice is . . . just start. Just put yourself in a room with a 30 minute timer and start going through stuff. Start with the least sentimental items and work your way up to the most precious belongings.  And . . . maybe consider leaving those precious items alone for a while and returning to them later (like, in a year). THAT’S OK. This is a process that needs to take time. And you can do it!

Roadblock 3: You want it to be perfect.

I completely get where you are coming from with this one.  I feel like if I’m going to put the time into organizing, I want to get immediate, perfect results right away.  But listen: if being organized was easy, everyone would have a perfect home. It’s not, and they don’t. Like anything worth doing, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Do the finessing and finishing touches once it’s close to done. Think instead about what to do right away. After you’ve put in the time and commitment, you can worry about making it perfect.

Roadblock 4: You don’t have time.

This is a BIG one.  We all have so many competing priorities and so many things on our plates.  I think it’s hard to see it when you’re at the beginning of this journey, but being organized actually saves you time in the end!  You don’t need to search for your keys every morning if you always put them back in their spot at night. You don’t need to spend an hour at the grocery store if you have a list of what to buy.  It won’t take you 10 minutes to get dressed in the morning if you love everything in your closet and pick out your outfit the night before.

Yes, it’ll take you time to get yourself organized.  It took me about a year to purge my house (and my schedule and my obligations), make ALL the decisions, and find routines that worked for me. Yes – it will take time to decide where your keys should go.  Yes – it will take time to get into the habit of making grocery lists, and then writing up those lists. Yes – it will take time to choose the clothes you love, and give away those you don’t. But, you’ll save SO MUCH time in the end. I promise you.  And, even more importantly, you’ll save yourself so much stress.

Roadblock 5: Your family will ruin it!

You need to have conversations with your roommates, spouse, and/or kids. You can’t expect people to know what you want if you don’t tell them. You can’t expect your family to put things back in their home if you haven’t chosen a home for each item and then shown them where that home is.  Explain how important this new way of life is to you, and how you are going to live together moving forward. True, they won’t tidy up exactly the way you want them to. But they can do it pretty well after some practice. If my husband, and 9 and 5 year old kids can do it, yours can too!

Roadblock 6: You, quite simply, don’t want to!

I get this.  I really do. But we get one life to live.  How do you want your life to feel? You spend a lot of time in your home.  How do you want to feel in your home? If you don’t want to waste time searching for your keys, or getting angry with your family every time you are running late because you couldn’t get your things together in time, then do something about it!  Seriously! Right now! But, if you don’t want to spend that one life organizing, that’s great, too! But you need to stop complaining about being disorganized, embrace your messy life, and enjoy.

If you do want to get organized but haven’t gotten into the mental space where you enjoy the process, think of ways to make it more fun.  Try listening to music, or a podcast while you tidy up. Buy a headset, and make some phone calls to multi-task and make the process more enjoyable.  Better yet, find ways to reward yourself when it’s done! I can tell you this, the more that you do it, the easier it will get, and the more you’ll enjoy it for the outcome itself.  You’ll get addicted to that great feeling you get when it’s DONE and that will be reward enough.

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Friends, I’m so glad that you’re joining me on this organizing journey.  I really hope that my suggestions for crushing these anxieties and roadblocks are useful to you.  I want you all to live a more calm, relaxed life, in a more organized, streamlined home. And I believe in you. I know you can do it!  Let me know how you are doing in the comments below!