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  • Writer's pictureJonda Beattie

Using Containers as Organizational Tools

Containers can be a great help with organizing. They hold items neatly. They help when sorting like items with like items (all short sleeve T shirts in this bin). They can also help in the process of purging. I often suggest to my clients that they can keep as many of any item as they like if the items will easily fit into a specified container.

Now, when I am talking container, I am talking about anything that holds something. I open up the definition beyond tubs, bins, and baskets and include cabinets, drawers, closets, and bookcases.

This past weekend, Rob and I sat down to organize our entertaining credenza. When we got married this fall, we both did a lot of purging. Still, when we looked into the area where we keep our CDs and DVDs it was easy to see there was still an overabundance. We reached an agreement that we would keep as many DVDs as would easily fit on a shelf and as many CDs as would fit into several containers. Next was the task of deciding what our absolute favorites were and what we could give away. At first it was pretty easy but when we got down to the last 3 CDs it became difficult. We finally managed, but our containers are absolutely full which means if we buy another CD we will have to let one go. This rule, though, does keep our area from getting completely overrun with media.

Try using this same principle throughout your home. I have one cabinet for storing nonperishable food. I want this cabinet to be easy to use – not overly crammed, not with cans stacked, and not too full to see what is already in place. I also zone out this cabinet so one shelf is for canned items, one shelf is for snack items, one shelf is for beverages, etc. This enables me to easily keep food rotated, always putting the newer purchases in back. This also means that I do not buy a case of something just to save a few pennies a can.

A bookcase can only hold so many books. I love books but I don’t think it is respectful to my books to overly cram them into a bookcase, stack books on top of books, or put a row of books in front of an existing row of books. I also do not want to put books stacked on top of my bookcase or on the floor. This means that I can only keep so many books. When new books come in, if they do not fit into the bookcase, I must donate some of my lesser loved books.

Try using this container principle with your clothes closet, your bathroom cabinets, your desk, or anyplace that you feel might be getting disorganized and overfull. As you go through and purge items, try to leave empty room. This allows for new to come in and gives you room to shuffle items within the container.

If I know that I will keep only as much scrap paper as will easily fit into one container in my desk drawer, as many sweaters as will fit in one bins, as many travel toiletries as will fit into one small basket, it makes letting go of the excess so much easier.

Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer

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