Tag Archives: shoeboxes

5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012: Before You Buy Organizers, Know What You Need

Today is the final day of this series! I hope that you have gleaned some nugget of truth along the way that will be useful to you in your home. We’ve already talked about Being Intentional With the Process, Making Specific Goals, Sorting the Major Areas You Use FIRST, and Not Getting Distracted by Details. Today we’re going to go a step further and discuss the importance of knowing what you need before buying those cool, snazzy organizers that are being promoted in every major home store these days (they aren’t dumb. They know how many people make home organization a resolution this time of year!)

I have to say, this particular post resonates with me because as that girl who liked to organize but hated to clean and sort to get the organized state, I went through cycles of binging on pretty, neat plastic tubs, bins, shelves, and anything else that caught my eye. I was operating under the mistaken delusion that more containers meant quicker organizing.

So here’s what would normally happen: I’d buy clear plastic shoeboxes with the newest hip shade of lid, a couple of big totes, and maybe some baskets for good measure. I’d bring them home, take them out and admire them, start putting stuff in them, and I’d eventually get stuck. My sorting method would leave too few or too many containers remaining. Or they wouldn’t fit under my bed or on the top shelf in my closet. Or they’d be cheap and fall apart within weeks. Or … something. But you get the picture.

Then there was the problem that I’d inevitably lose track of which tub or shoe box held the particular item I would look for months later, so I’d tear them all apart until I found it.

So, please, spare yourself that agony …

Step 5: Before you buy organizers, know what you need.

This might make you cringe, but live with your stuff for awhile before you make that next shopping trip to Target or The Container Store.

The beauty of organizing your home is that you don’t have to be confined to a particular method of cleaning, sorting, or decluttering if it doesn’t work for you. I like to keep my toothbrushes in my bathroom in an open mason jar. You might prefer a classier holder. I keep memorabilia in clear plastic bins, you might prefer baskets. I have the majority of my craft supplies in cubbies and fabric drawers in our garage, you might be horrified by that idea and choose a snazzy wardrobe (cast off from the big tv days) to house your crafts.

So, basically, if I was to give you a list of all the best things to buy to get your home organized, they wouldn’t necessarily work for you and you’d be stuck with even more “organizational” clutter than before.

My suggestion is simple; take a few days or even weeks or months to really get the feel for how you use your home. Not how you wish you used your home, but how you really, truly use it. Pay attention to where you put items out of habit when you are done using them. Notice where you wished you had a shelf, or a container. Gather all of like items with like (wooden spoons with the wooden spoons in the kitchen, printer paper with the printer, dirty colored clothing with other dirty colored clothing) and note how much room is needed to hold all the like items.

Once you have a good handle on this, take things a step further and break out your measuring tape. Measure the space available–height, width, depth–in the areas you need containers. Write the measurements down in a place you will be able to find them again (for me, this was a notebook I kept in my purse). Take the measurements with you to the store. You’ll be glad you did. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve broken this little rule and ended up making a second or third trip back to The Container Store to find something the actually fit. Shame on me!

Now, what kind of look do you want with the container you purchase? If it is for the wooden kitchen spoons, simply putting them in the same kitchen drawer by the stove might suffice and save you some money. But if your drawers are all full, or if you want them even more accessible, a pottery pitcher or a plastic lazy susan with upright dividers might be better. For your closet, matching baskets or sturdy fabric-covered boxes would add a certain polished look. In the office, a simple plastic drawer unit or lidded paper boxes would be appropriate for printer paper. Just make sure the item you buy matches your aesthetic, your space available, and your budget.

Speaking of budget, storage isn’t cheap. Even shopping at Wal-Mart, you’ll still run into sticker shock. I’ve had to deal with this by purchasing a few here and there and making do in the meantime. Sometimes making do for us means not having a drawer divider in a kitchen drawer for awhile, or swallowing pride and accepting to use an ugly boring plastic tub I have on hand, or even focusing on updating one area at a time to aesthetically pleasing storage and re-using the uglier storage from the updated locations in other, less visible locations. In fact, I have one plain brown collapsible fabric “drawer,” (first spotted in our old master bedroom closet, then in our laundry room storage area later) that has made its way around my house and is currently residing under the kitchen sink with all my cleaners.

So, before you go out and buy organizers and containers, make sure you know exactly what you need. Save up, take your time, and measure twice.

And that completes our 5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012 series! If you are just getting started reading and would like to learn more, links to the complete series are in order below. I hope you’ll also take a moment to subscribe to Behind Closed Drawers by email or RSS feed, both located at the top right-hand corner of the page. The one-year anniversary of this blog is coming up, and I have big things planned to celebrate!

5 Steps to Get Organized in 2012

  1. Be Intentional With the Process
  2. Make Specific Goals
  3. Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST
  4. Don’t Get Distracted by Details
  5. Before You Buy Organizers, Know What You Need

Happy Organizing,

Andrea

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Filed under Budget, Organizing, Storage