Assess Your Tidying and Organizing Strengths and Weaknesses

Skills and mindsets that make being tidy and organized easier.

Posted Jan 18, 2019

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We often see ourselves as being globally good or bad at things, but this perspective misses subtlety and can be self-defeating and demoralizing. Whether you're fantastic at staying tidy and organized, or you're below average, you'll still have relative strengths and it's useful to understand these. 

18 Skills and Mindsets that Make Being Tidy and Organized Easier

Rank the following in terms of what you're strongest to weakest at:

Remember you're trying to identify your relative strengths and weaknesses, not whether you're terrible or great generally. 

  1. You don't buy things you don't need in the first place (e.g., get sucked in by sales).
  2. You'll happily throw away items you no longer use, or that you have too many of (e.g., old electrics, excess chargers).  You don't have a strong urge to hoard things you might want one day but probably won't.
  3. You don't avoid dealing with things that are gross (e.g., emptying the vacuum cleaner, dusting).
  4. You pick up mess when you see it (e.g., you'll grab a tissue that has ended up on the floor rather than walking past it).
  5. You can let go of items that you have an emotional attachment to, but that objectively you shouldn't hang onto (e.g., old baby clothes.)
  6. You keep the items you value clean and accessible (e.g., you're not a person who theoretically loves their cast iron skillet but doesn't keep it clean so never actually uses it).
  7. You easily say no to freebies that will only become clutter if taken home.
  8. You happily utilize alternatives to ownership (e.g., you get books from the library or read ebooks rather than having a big book collection).
  9. You put collection systems wherever "stuff" tends to naturally accumulate in your home (e.g., you have a place to put your keys or laundry wherever your family naturally tends to dump them).
  10. You don't desire a lot of things (e.g., you don't have an urge to have a huge amount of clothing or tools, or have hobbies that require a lot of equipment. You don't feel the urge to buy knick knacks every time you go on vacation).
  11. You clean as you go when you make a mess (e.g., when cooking or when doing a craft or DIY project).
  12. You're great at re-purposing what you have (e.g., using a container you already own for storage rather than buying something new, or cutting up old t-shirts for cleaning rags.)
  13. You value your home being clean and tidy to the extent you're motivated to spend time doing some cleaning and tidying everyday.
  14. You're not prone to becoming emotionally attached to possessions e.g., you don't find it hard to throw away toys your kids have outgrown because of the memories associated with them.
  15. You're naturally good at arranging items in ascetically pleasing ways.
  16. You're a good problem solver. If you have an organizational problem in your home you'll use Google, YouTube or other strategies to find a solution rather than just putting up with it.
  17. You're happy to do periodic purges (Some people are better at prevention and others are better at cure!)  You don't find this overwhelming.
  18. You're good at developing efficient systems for staying organized and giving everything a designated place.  Whenever you first bring a new item into your house, you assign it to a logical and uncluttered spot.

What To Do With This Knowledge

  • Before you concentrate on your weaknesses, look first at how you can make better use of your strengths.  How could you utilize your top 3 strengths in ways you're not currently? 
  • How can other members of your household contribute their strengths to keeping your home tidy and organized?  For instance, if your spouse is more ruthless than you at throwing away unused items, then maybe you accept their influence more.  Specifically  - if you have a spouse or partner, how can you utilize their top 3 strengths?  When you're thinking about this, exclude any strengths that overlap between your top 3 and their's, so that you're concentrating on their unique strengths.
  • Where you've got weaknesses, look at where it would be easiest to make attitude shifts.  For instance, saying no to freebies (e.g., conference swag) might be something you'd be happy to start doing and not require sacrifice.
  • What do you value even though it makes it harder to be tidy and organized? For instance, you might love a hobby that requires a lot of equipment or supplies, and that's fine, it just takes a bit more work.  Likewise, if you love buying clothing or electronics then you're going to need to do more work organizing those items and doing periodic purges.  Evaluate and acknowledge the trade-offs involved.  What's worth it to you and what isn't?