We asked professional organizer Maggie Megenbir of Calm, Cool & Uncluttered to shed light on common stumbling blocks standing in the way of achieving an organized home.

Inherited items

Usually one sibling in the family becomes the keeper of family heirlooms and history. This can be a huge burden because it all takes up space and they’re left with having to make all decisions about what to keep. 

Cluttered horizontal surfaces

This usually happens when you lack a good paper system. Think flow, not just filing. When paper comes into your home, what path does it take? How do you get it from the door to where it needs to go? Often, it just lands on the kitchen counter and dies there. If that’s where you’re naturally inclined to put paperwork, why not set something up right there?

Rooms of deferred decisions

Garages, spare bedrooms, basements — things get tossed in there with an “I’ll deal with you later” shrug, and then it accumulates over the years until people find they have these rooms they just can’t use. Real estate and rent are far too expensive to not use and fully enjoy your space.

Toy overload

When children have far too many toys, parents might consider asking family members to give the kids experiences rather than stuff. When kids have too much, they can become overwhelmed, just like adults. 

Quick-fix purchases

When we’re busy or stressed, we may buy items we think will make our lives easier. “Wow, this treadmill will help me exercise more and make me healthier!” But when the novelty wears off, we’re left with a lot of things we paid good money for that aren’t being used. The cost of hanging onto these things is high. When we hang on to the idea that our future will change and be better because we have this stuff, it keeps us from living fully today.