Feel Like an Organizing Failure? Follow These Three Steps to Achieve a Positive Mindset!

As a professional organizer, I work with clients to hold them accountable, get them in balance, and take back control of their stuff. Because I have a background in Early Childhood Special Education, I am particularly interested in working on play spaces and tweaking organizing systems to meet more complicated needs. A repeated theme when encountering clients living with mental health conditions is a negative mindset about why they cannot get and stay organized.

Instead of saying, “I’m damaged, I’m broken..say “I’m rediscovering myself, I’m starting over.” ~ Horacio Jones

Before we address what is not working, I help clients reframe the reasons why they feel they have failed by looking for what IS working. We can then move forward to reframe their negative mindset. As stated on, (National Alliance for Mental Health) Mental illness can slow us down, but we don’t need to let it stop us.

How do I help clients with these pessimistic thoughts stop seeing themselves as perpetual organizing failures? By helping them to 1.) Recognize, 2.) Reframe, and 3.) Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Following these three steps allows them to turn “I can’t” problems into “I can” solutions.


1. Recognize – This step is about recognizing our brains can sometimes distort the facts to reinforce negative thinking. This process, known as Cognitive Distortion, convinces people that they are “bad” at organizing, when they can actually be successful using non-traditional approach. These thoughts may be the result of repeated negative messages from a partner, or repeated failures at organizing systems that have too many steps, or require too much effort to maintain.

2. Reframe – This step is about filtering out the negative messaging. The client is used to looking for what is wrong. It is necessary to teach them to make a habit of re-framing those thoughts to highlight the positive. I encourage clients to share stories of their success when I arrive, allowing them to take ownership of their success and begin looking for it when I am not there.   

3. Replace – Once the client has learned to recognize their negative thoughts and reframe them, it is time to permanently replace their thinking about their ability to be organized. They learn that while their method may not be the same as their partner, what they read on-line, or see on the shelf at Container Store, the result works for them and leads to long-term success!

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