Reality Check: Are You Getting Organized or Just Getting STUFF?

Getting Organized or Getting More Stuff

Sometimes in the quest to get organized you can become distracted by the accoutrements. You can find yourself buying all manner of containers, books, systems and paraphernalia, none of which bring you any closer to living a simpler, more productive or more organized life.

These products can be a waste of money – but that’s not all.

Because they’re related to organizing, they can leave you feeling virtuous and stop you taking action that would genuinely improve your life.

So here’s a little reality check to test whether the stuff you’re buying is helping you simplify and organize your life – or whether it’s just stuff.

Storage Containers

  • Do they store things you don’t need or love?
  • Are they unattractive?
  • Do they require work – needing to be dusted or wiped down regularly?
  • Do they provide a home for clutter?

If Yes: Get rid of them!


  1. If you must use them, only keep a few storage containers, that match your decor, and contain things you need.
  2. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

Time-Management Systems

  • Are you constantly looking for a new planner system that will finally ‘make’ you organized?
  • Do you invest considerable time and money buying and learning time-management systems and applications?
  • Do your time-management systems create clutter in your home or office?
  • Are your time-management systems unnecessarily complicated?

If Yes: Get rid of them!


  1. Take the effort you put into your time-management systems and instead put it into working out your priorities.
  2. Read or listen to a classic time-management book that focuses on the basics – not a complicated system with lots of rules and nomenclature (I recommend Brain Tracy’s Eat That Frog).
  3. Commit to buying no more time-management systems until you’ve mastered the art of working with a simple, prioritized to-do list.

Organizing Books and Magazines

  • Do they contain discussions on organizing, but little in the way of step-by-step instructions on exactly what to do?
  • Do they expect you to commit more time each day or week than a busy person can reasonably afford – eg they ask you to file daily, conduct a weekly review of stationery supplies, etc?
  • Do they fail to translate into action that makes your life simpler, less cluttered and better organized?
  • Do they pile up and create clutter?

If Yes: Get rid of them!


  1. Cancel your subscription to organizing and simplifying magazines and newsletters that don’t translate into a simpler or more organized life.
  2. Only invest in organizing books or programs that provide specific, step-by-step instructions that you can put into action.
  3. Only invest in organizing books or programs that require a reasonable commitment of time.

[Image by Rev Dan Catt]

1 thoughts on “Reality Check: Are You Getting Organized or Just Getting STUFF?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Michele,
    This is a great post. I will admit I have been a victim to getting stuff. I was so focused on organizing that every time I say something that could help me I got it! And then things just started pilling up. Until I realized that a lot of it was useless and I could be more organized without it all. GTD is a very helpful tool to stay organized.
    We recently did a webinar with David Allen that you might find helpful! He touched on some key topics around GTD and answered some great questions. Check out the recording here:
    Thanks for the content!

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