The Illusion of Organizing in the Influencer Era

Clean and bright kitchen with exposed dishes in open shelves
Photo by Callum Hill on Unsplash

We’ve all seen the influx of available organizing tips. Whether you’ve tuned in to the shows, bought the books, or follow the professionals or influencers, there’s no denying it—organizers are more mainstream. A slew of these organizing heavyweights have built themselves profitable little empires (neatly arranged, of course). Some are household names with well-marketed displays on the shelves of established chains. Vanity “organizing” influencers with perfect (albeit not-so-average) coordinating pantries incessantly infiltrate our social media feeds. But does it all work?

Stacked and matching wovn baskets with attached labels
Photo by Jaclyn Baxter on Unsplash

Possibly. We can recreate the aesthetics of the “results” we’re seeing in our feeds, but keeping them is an entirely different monster. Simply put, these organizing models lead to stress, whether from steep costs or the need to keep up appearances. Sometimes the airtight methodology is, well, suffocating.

Three matching tops hanging on wooden hangers

These neatly coordinated images naturally appeal to us. The concern is when the urge to emulate them in our own homes leads to a life of want and discouragement. The upkeep is unrealistic for most of us without sacrificing too many valuable parts of our lives. We often forget that some of these images are nothing more than brilliantly photographed real-life Tetras. Easily, one of the top three most frustrating issues I face as a professional organizer is the burden of unrealistic expectations.

Photo by Benjamin Salvatore on Unsplash

Organizing done right produces a life of simplicity—not one of burden. The system needs to work for you… not the other way around.

We could all benefit from the ideas of organizing professionals. I’m not here to knock the pros who came before me. They opened the doors to a highly valued service for those of us in the industry. They are unquestionably masters of their craft, so by all means, embrace the inspiration, take on a project. Just be sure to keep in mind: organized is a lifestyle, and we can only continue by diving below surface depth. Vanity itself will not produce long-term results, despite the amount of products used. Organizing only works when you’re ready to commit.

Simple and tidy walk-in closet with various storage bins and matching hangers

What drives success in sustaining an orderly life then? Here’s my proposition: next time you want to tackle an organizing project, try a more intuitive approach. First, you need to identify your ‘why.’ Why are you taking this process on? Not because it looks nice, but because it feels free. If you can’t check this first box, do not proceed. Decluttering is not as much of a physical issue as it is an internal space issue. Identify your goals. You’ll need to prioritize them as well. Don’t stray from these motivators. Keep your expectations practical. These are components of a ‘whole’ approach that I refer to as intuitive organizing, which we’ll explore length later, but for now, the recourse I’m offering is a life of balance and simplicity.

Small letter tiles spelling out "intuition"
Photo by Edz Norton on Unsplash

A professional organizer’s entire job is to get you on your way to space and freedom. It really doesn’t require some convoluted system to pull it off, nor should it. In fact, the more complicated the system is, the more likely you are to give up, and if this means that you have to break a project into stages over the period of a year or two, then so be it. It’s better to be balanced, thorough, and motivated than it is to be rushed to results only lasting long enough for a snapshot. Remember, we’re looking to gain (space, freedom, peace, etc.) and maintain. Always Simplify. Being at home shouldn’t feel like a job. Home is your place of rest. Do you feel content with your surroundings? Clutter of the space equals clutter of the brain.

Let’s conclude by revisiting the original question concerning the organizing craze. So, does it all work? What if you rephrase and instead ask yourself, “does it work for me?”

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