3 Myths from Popular Home Organizing Shows

posted by Andrea | 04/28/2017
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Over the course of my lifetime, I have watched more organizing and home makeover shows than I care to remember — everything from Hoarders and Extreme Home Makeover to Mission Organization and Clean Sweep.

The results are always jaw-dropping — which is one reason the shows are so addicting. However, as I hope many people realize, these shows are far from “real life”. 

They have teams of people (including professionals) working around the clock to transform the spaces in record time, they can do so much more with their budget since much of the labor is donated and the products are discounted due to advertising, and of course… they only show all the fun stuff on film!

Although I do think these makeover shows can be very motivational, I also think they have the potential to make real life organizing projects in our own homes seem out-of-reach and overwhelming for us normal people.

If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed with the thought of everything you need and want to do around your home, I hope today’s post offers a few helpful suggestions and ideas. It might not be as fun-filled or as entertaining as your favorite home organizing show — but I think my advice is a bit more practical 🙂

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1. You do NOT need huge amounts of time, money, or resources to complete your project.

Contrary to what you see on TV, you don’t need to take time off from work, you don’t need to hire childcare or ship the kids off to grandparents, you don’t need to move into a hotel for the week, you don’t need to bribe all your friends and family to help, and you don’t even need to spend money hiring a professional.

You just need to get started (sooner rather than later if possible!)

Yes, the project might go faster and be more fun with many helpers and an unlimited budget, but I can speak from lots and lots of personal experience that even as a mom with several young children at home, I can carve out a few minutes here and there to plug away at an organizing project.

Of course, I am grateful for the times Dave is home and I can get a full hour or more to work on my project — but I’ve finished many larger organizing projects in 15-20 minute intervals — every little bit DOES make a difference!

2. You do NOT need fancy containers or coordinating color schemes.

Every time I see an organized space with cute matching containers with coordinating colors and perfectly printed labels I just want to scream “That is not normal!”

Yes, I can see the appeal for TV and magazine audiences — and it’s a great marketing tactic to sell specific products; but it’s just not practical or economical. After all, who has time to dump out the contents of every box of cereal, pasta, crackers, rice, spices and baking products into clear matching (and expensive) food storage containers? And that doesn’t even include the time or expense to add labels!

I promise you will find very few cute organizing containers and zero fancy labels in my organized home… and yet, I can still quickly and easily find everything I need.

If cute containers and labels are your thing, go ahead and use them… but please know they are in no way necessary for any organizing project.

In fact, I strongly encourage you not to purchase any organizing containers until AFTER you’ve finished going through a significant amount of stuff. You might be surprised how many empty containers, boxes, bins, etc. you find as you start to purge!

3. You can NOT expect to get organized once and be done.

In my experience, people with messy homes are often people with messy habits (after all, homes don’t get messy unless the people inside them make messes!).

So if you’re a messy, disorganized person who decides to finally get organized “once and for all”… but then immediately goes back to your normal lifestyle of piling papers, not picking up after yourself, etc. etc, you will end up with a messy home sooner than you realize.

Although it’s not always fun or glamorous to think about daily and weekly maintenance, it’s an essential part of every organized home — and the part they never show you on those makeover shows!

Yes, getting organized and seeing the before/after transformation is much more exciting than picking up your clothes every day, washing the dishes after every meal, and filing all the paperwork that comes through your door. However, I guarantee you’ll need to do the maintenance if you want to enjoy your organized space for more than a few days.

One concept that has always helped me with the not-so-fun maintenance part is to literally time each task as I do it so I realize how quickly I can actually plow through the things on my list.

I realized that I can easily clean out the dishwasher in less than 5 minutes and load it with dirty dishes even faster — so what’s the point of procrastinating? I realized I can fold a load of laundry in less than 10 minutes and make my bed in about 3 minutes — so why don’t I just do it right away?

Knowing how quickly I can complete these daily maintenance tasks helps me to “do it now” versus putting it off until “later” — whenever “later” might be!

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The next time you watch your favorite organizing makeover show (or read your favorite organizing magazine or blog), enjoy all the fun before and after footage, get motivated to tackle your own organizing project, and then actually get up and DO something to move yourself towards a more organized home and life.

Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed because you don’t have a huge crew of professionals or neatly organized bins to help you. Just pick one area, set your timer, and get started!

Also, just for fun, I’d love to know…

Do you have a favorite organizing show (or magazine or blog)?

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35 comments

  1. Marisa

    05/05/2017

    About 10 years ago or so, I saw a show about organizing your clothing/closet. The professional-organizer-guy went through the lady’s “before” closet and got dramatic about how awful it was that her hangers didn’t match. She stood there, baffled, saying, “But what does the color of my hangers have to do with getting organized?” He flew off the handle, “How on earth can you have an organized closet with hangers of all shapes and colors?! It looks terrible!” And he stormed away in apparent disgust at the magnitude of the job before him, and the depressing apathy of the unenlightened masses.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That’s ridiculous! I’ve honestly never seen the organizer be overly rude to a client. That’s bad!

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  2. Lee Winemiller Cockrum

    04/30/2017

    I’m in the boat with the people who say they enjoy reading hoping it will rub off on them! LOL

    But seriously, although I totally need to get rid of quite a bit is stuff, I truly am organizationally impaired! My brain just does not work that way. I am fabulous at brainstorming, but I do not do well thinking in a linear fashion. If a system is set up for me, and it makes sense, I can generally follow it.

    I am making a small amount of progress, I have a couple areas in the house that I have gotten under control, and I’m managing to keep them up:)

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  3. Julia

    04/29/2017

    Your blog is my favorite organizing blog! I’ve actually stopped reading the first one I found that was all about making organizing look pretty too. I do like to make my projects look nice because I appreciate the aesthetic, but it’s not necessary and doesn’t always happen. One simple, frugal and versatile thing I do is use mason jars and Pyrex containers. It all “matches” but has multiple uses. Since I don’t like my handwriting either I just use a simple label maker and call it good. Thanks again for all you do! I love your practical tips and use a lot of them. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. Leanne

    04/29/2017

    yours!!!!
    its totally do-able, adaptable, and easy to maintain…
    please never stop writing your blog!!!!

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  5. Chris

    04/29/2017

    When I see pictures of spices in little matching jars, I think of ALL the work of transferring them, making sure it doesn’t spill. What if you have some leftover in the original jar? What a lot of work and mess. lol I do love pretty organizing but for some reason I just don’t like the look of all matchy, matchy pantries. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I always think it looks so cool (and I was THIS CLOSE to doing that with my own species after our kitchen reno 4 years ago. However, then I realized how expensive the project could be to buy all the jars and labels — plus, I do not have nice handwriting so the whole project would probably look silly once I was finished.

    One thing I DO do for my spices is write the name of the spice on the top of the container because my spice cabinet pulls out from the wall and I see the tops of all my containers. This makes it so much easier for me to find what I need quickly. It sure doesn’t look pretty though 🙂

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  6. Stephanie

    04/29/2017

    Your blog has been my favorite! Your advice is real and practical. I love decluttering and making our home attractive and efficient. I am not attracted to the blogs that look too slick. I tend to be a perfectionist but when I see blogs with all white furniture, glass, and expensive organizing tools, I move on. I love to see homes that families live in and are at the same time functional and beautiful. Clean, simple, but not so high maintenance that it looks impossible with kids.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Stephanie!
    I think that’s probably the goal I have for my home at this point in my life — functional, beautiful (in my eyes), clean, simple, low maintenance!

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  7. Debbie

    04/28/2017

    Wow, I’ve never watched any organizing type shows at all! I do look at Pinterest and see all the pretty organized closets, pantry, drawers, etc. I personally can’t think clearly if my environment is not organized. I like to be able to find things I need easily.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    what!! You should watch at least one home organizing show soon! They are usually very cheesy and you probably won’t want to watch another one — but then at least you can say you did it 🙂

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  8. Angela

    04/28/2017

    You’re blog is my favorite organizing blog of course! Really!! You give the best genuine and practical advise.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Angela!

    [Reply]

  9. Emily

    04/28/2017

    Well said! Your practical organizing methods are one of the reasons I love your blog! One vlogger that I enjoy is Kathrynn from the YouTube channel “Do It on a Dime.” She’s all about budget organizing, although she’s a bit overkill on the coordinating bins. 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Emily 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Tori

    04/28/2017

    YES especially to number two!!! i watched a youtube organizing video where EVERY.SINGLE.AREA had cute, color-coordinated containers and darling, creative labels. I found it to be utterly ridiculous. I often think I’d like to have a cute set of canisters, but then I immediately think, “What a hassle.”

    One thing I really like about you, Andrea, is that you are super organized with minimal to no clutter, but you aren’t nuts! 🙂 You offer practical, realistic help without going overboard.

    Unfortunately, all of my very enjoyable reading of your articles has not resulted in any improvement in my home management…Maybe someday…

    Tori

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, the cute labels just seem so over-the-top for me.
    Also, I read your comment to Dave and we both laughed out loud! I’m glad you enjoy reading my blog… but I certainly hope some of my tips eventually prove to be useful and helpful in your daily life!

    [Reply]

    Mary Catherine Martinez Reply:

    Lol, I am in the same boat! I read your blog hoping the productivity and organization will rub off on me…but nope! Still love it, though!

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — just keep reading. Maybe someday!!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. A Reply:

    Hilarious! I love the honesty.

    [Reply]

  11. Ann

    04/28/2017

    Great information. We downsized, moved and retited a little over a year ago. It is a on going organizing challenge. We use what we have, do not buy more and keep finding ways to improve what we have and love.Thank you for your tips and suggestions.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I think LIFE is an ongoing organizing challenge — so you are not alone!

    [Reply]

  12. Karen

    04/28/2017

    Absolutely! This one. Just yesterday I started filling out the Important Information document downloaded from here. Wow. The time it took me going through my own file folders for the information told me I was doing the right thing. And I discovered a few important pieces were missing. We also have a home based business, so I added a page with important info for that too. I wasn’t aware of being stressed about this before, but definitely feel a sense of relief knowing it’s taken care of now.

    I like that you focus on the organization itself, not so much the container it is in.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh yay! Glad you’re doing the binder! It can be a bit of work upfront, but you’ll never regret it once you have all that info together!

    [Reply]

  13. Chris from Normal

    04/28/2017

    Your blog is my favorite along with Mockingbird Hill Cottage. I like Thrifty Décor Chick because she does the majority of her projects/remodels herself including building cabinets!

    I don’t watch any decorating or organizing shows anymore because they all seemed “put on”.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Chris — looks like I need to check out the Mockingbird Hill Cottage blog now 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Alison

    04/28/2017

    I loved Clean Sweep! I did always find it comical that they organized a yard sale in what appeared to be 1 day’s time. I watch Hoarders occasionally, but sometimes it’s way too gross for me to stomach!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I agree, I’ve only watched a few episodes of hoarders in my life and that’s enough for me!

    [Reply]

  15. Candis

    04/28/2017

    My favorite “organizing” blog is andreadekker.com. While the blog is primarily focused on living a more simplified life, that approach to life helps me stay more organized. 🙂 Thank you! 😉

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — thanks Candis 🙂

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  16. Mara

    04/28/2017

    Terrific post! Happy Friday!

    [Reply]

  17. Angela

    04/28/2017

    Good points! I think it’s worthwhile to look at the motivation behind cute organization.

    If a person is doing it because they want to measure up to the Pinterest photos or cute bloggers or HGTV, that’s probably the wrong reason and will only cause them stress and discontenment and might overshadow the process of organizing.

    If, however, the motivation is channeling l a person’s creativity and bringing joy to their home, that’s a different story. I’m a creative person who also loves to organize, so I have a couple of areas that are “cute”. My labels in my laundry cabinet make me smile each time I open it, and my kids like their fun toiletry baskets with their initials on them. It sure doesn’t help KEEP anything organized, but I think it’s motivation for me to use my creativity in a way that benefits my home and adds a little color and personality to otherwise hum-drum spaces. It all depends on each person’s personality, I think!

    I used to be a daily reader of I Heart Organizing. Then I went through a time when looking at all the very glamorous organizing photos got a little bit discouraging and disheartening to me, because it was not attainable for me and too fancy and contemporary for my style, so I stopped reading it. Now I pop in there from time to time because I do enjoy the blogger herself, but don’t read daily. I do read your blog daily though, because your tips for simple living resonate with me, your decorating style looks more like mine, and you enjoy some of the same things like gardening, baking and frugal, NORMAL living. I guess it’s kind of like choosing friends to hang out with…people with similar interests are more fun to be around! : )

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, exactly! if you get enjoyment and pleasure from making your organized spaces look cute with matching bins and such, then go for it!
    Also, I used to read I Heart Organizing more regularly too — but it just got to be too much for me. I honestly can’t imagine she really takes the time to meticulously label everything like she does (but who knows, maybe she does!)
    Anyway, I just visited her blog last week for the first time in many month… and she’s still labeling 🙂

    [Reply]

  18. Organize365

    04/28/2017

    Amen! Well said:)

    [Reply]

  19. Organize365

    04/28/2017

    Amen!

    [Reply]