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10 Common Organization Issues and How to Fix Them -- Looking at You, Junk Drawer

Everyone's a little messy...right? We're all human. But at what point are you so messy that you might need a helping hand? According to Laura Cattano, who's been a professional organizer for over a decade, here are some universal problem areas around the house. If more than 10 of these pertain to you -- and you've tried our tips to no avail -- it might be time to seek professional help!

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Whether it's you, your best friend, or your significant other, there a comes a time when disorganization is so large it can seem insurmountable. Before you call in the big guns, try these tips from Laura Cattano, professional organizer. That neglected pile of clothes on the chair (you know -- that chair) is a little easier to tackle when you have professional advice.


1. You neglect half of your closet

Most of us only wear about half of the things in our wardrobe. But why? Often, Cattano attests, it's simply because you're not presenting your clothes properly. "Part of my job is to merchandise your own stuff," says Cattano. The same way a grocery store might artfully arrange produce, Cattano organizes such that you want to use your things. Why haven't you worn that shirt in years? Maybe it's because it's stored beneath a blazer you only wear to job interviews. Cattano isn't looking to throw things out, either. "When clients tell me they hate something, I make them try it on," she says. "If it truly doesn't fit, then we can talk about throwing it out." Chances are, however, that the article of clothing has just been neglected.


2. You regularly spend more time than you want in your morning routine.

Rummaging for your keys, tossing about pots and pans as you prepare breakfast -- these are activities that can be removed from the calendar. You just need to organize your home around functionality. Cattano always asks her clients: How do you see your life? Notice: she doesn't ask how you live now. If you see yourself gliding through an efficient 15-minute morning routine, then you need to organize your life to fit that schedule. Place all the ingredients you need for your morning cup of coffee in the same cabinet. Keep all your cosmetics in the same case. Wear the same outfit to work most days? Make sure it's easily accessible. Organizing your home is like sanding down the rough edges of your life -- there will be less friction to prevent you from moving about your day.


3. You dislike your "stuff."

First of all, stop calling it "stuff"! Cattano says the first step to organizing your home is "realizing that 'stuff' can be turned into useful items. Stuff exists to make our life easier. All of our things are meant to serve us; to enable us to do something." Don't let your things burden you! That empty candle votive doesn't need to be tossed -- it can become a vase!



[NEED HELP?: Closet Ideas and Organization]

4. You keep buying things to get organized.

A common misconception about professional organizers, says Cattano, is that they'll buy you "organizational accessories." "I don't want to introduce anything else," she says. Boxes, filing cabinets, gadget, gizmos -- all of these things meant to organize your home will likely just become additional clutter. Purchasing a set of boxes may make you feel more organized, but, like purging, that purchase is just a way to wriggle out of responsibility.


6. You have a drawer somewhere labeled "miscellaneous."

We've all had one. Usually in the kitchen, these drawers are where ribbons and knick-knacks and ancient copies of 100 Years of Solitude cohabitate. These drawers are just graveyards for useful things -- including the drawer itself! That drawer could become a home for your loose tea collection, or a home for sewing tools. Cattano believes that your home can help out -- if you'd only let it.


7. You don't have room to do [insert activity.]

You don' t have room to do yoga. You don't have a space to watch television. You can't work from home because you don't have a home office. These are all activities your home can definitely support. Cattano wants you to want to spend time in your home. If you need a spot to do yoga, maybe you need to place your coffee table on wheels so you can make space every morning. If you need a home office, maybe you need to convert your vanity or get rid of your dining room table. Cattano argues that there is "room" for everything. The perception that your home is too small for "x" is just another excuse to avoid your home.


8. You have a pile of mail sitting next to your front door.

Sure, maybe you could sort the mail more efficiently. Maybe you could get a recycling bin and put it next to the front door so you can recycle mail ASAP. The mail on the table in your foyer is a sign that there's a larger problem at hand. "Don't let the mail come in the first place," says Cattano. "Call the company and ask to be taken off the list!" Take preventative measures to ensure mail doesn't even arrive at the home.



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9. You have a bad habit of accepting "free" things.

"Nothing is free," says Cattano. You'll pay for it eventually, in space, time, or stress. Want to keep your apartment organized? Keep unnecessary items out. Sure, it's a swag bag from a convention, or an elegant party favor. But if you don't need it, don't take it in.


10. You feel guilty in your own home.

"The world makes us feel guilty enough," says Cattano. Her job, as she sees it, is to make you feel at ease in your own home. She's not going to give you a prescription for how to live your life, she argues, saying "no one can tell you how to live your life." You simply have to decide what life you want and then figure out how best to make your home support your lifestyle. And a professional organizer might be able to help.


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