by Susan McCarthy
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Many people want to start the decluttering process somewhat ironically. While decluttering eliminates unnecessary items from the house, some individuals take their first step at the mall or home improvement store to purchase organizing tools – bins, shelves, cubby units, a plastic tower of drawers.
Why? Because advertisements show us happy people storing items in bins that they set on shelving units and then walk away, brushing imaginary dust from their hands. Organizing done!
When someone asks me what they need to start the decluttering process, I shock them with this list – trash bags and cardboard boxes. “But, but ….” Nope. That’s it.
Don't Start Your Organizing Journey with Buying Organizing Solutions
For one, I’m betting that you’ve bought bins, drawers, and other organizing items in the past. And at this very moment, many of them may be full of things you no longer use. As you declutter, you’ll empty some of these items and you’ll be able to repurpose them in another room with other items.
You may even find yourself donating storage supplies that you’ve emptied and no longer need.
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When you declutter, you’ll have less stuff to worry about organizing. Why spend money organizing something that doesn’t belong in your home?
You may feel that you’d use something if it was better organized. And, that may be the case. However, I’d still suggest that you sort through all the components, weed out the duplicates and the items that you know you won’t use and then – use the items.
Don’t buy an organizing gadget just yet. Use something you already own. If we’re talking art and craft supplies, chances are that you already have some sort of unit to organize the components of your hobby.
If it isn’t doing its job, declutter and rearrange what you have. Then, use your supplies. If you truly need a different organizing item, then note your specific issues with using your supplies. Can’t see what color markers or paints or paper you have? You’ll need this specific information to buy the right organizing tool.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
While some people prefer to store everything in a cabinet or drawer so to leave clear spaces, others realize that if something gets tucked away then they’ll forget about it entirely.
If you have piles of stuff around your house, you may give a nervous laugh and consider yourself a member of the second camp. However, piles and stacks may be home to items that need to be put away. You may know where these items belong … or you may need to figure out where you want to keep them.
That situation is completely different from keeping items visible so that you remember to use them or to complete a project. And, really, you don’t need to keep everything out in the open, likely just the items associated with current projects.
(Would you really forget to brush your teeth if your toothbrush was in the medicine cabinet and not on the counter? Would you forget to wear a shirt if there wasn’t a stack sitting atop your dresser?)
What Do You Want from Organizing Items
Organizing items can make a space look much neater – I’m a big fan of matching clothes hangers. If you like to tuck items out of view, a cabinet or opaque bin will suit your needs. If you’re afraid that out of sight will mean out of mind, clear bins and drawers will contain items while still allowing you to view the contents.
But, most important, any organizing items should make it easier for you to find and retrieve the item you want to use. This also means that the item should make it easy to put away your belongings in the correct place with little to no hassle.
Ease of use – not the storage item’s appearance – is the most important factor. If the latches on a bin are a teeny tiny hassle to unlatch and then clasp shut, you’ll be less likely to return items to that bin. You may bristle at that suggestion and think, “Well, that’s just being lazy.”
However, the day that you’re running around with seventeen things on your mind and you’re trying to tidy your home and put things away before your in-laws arrive for dinner will be the day that you set aside the item that belongs in the latched bin third down from the top of the stack. And chances are you won't get around to putting the stuff away.
Use Storage to Solve Problems
Storage items should solve a specific problem. Maybe your 40-ish bottles of craft paints, sitting six-deep on a shelf, fall over every time you go to grab one color. You use the paints all the time and so it would then make sense to consider investing in a rack or case that would allow you to grab what you want without disturbing the other items.
The tricky part here is identifying a problem that doesn’t really exist. I owned dozens of scarves that I’d bought to accent dance costumes. When I stopped performing, I wanted to wear the scarves as part of my everyday outfits. I rolled the scarves into little packets and set them in a dresser drawer. I didn’t wear them. So, I bought an item that would hang in my closet – to keep the scarves in mind when I was getting dressed.
The thing is – I’m not the type of person who wears scarves every day. I marvel at all the fun ways they can be twisted and wrapped and how they can accent an outfit. However, I fidget when wearing a scarf and I can never keep them from twisting around my neck. I wasted time and money trying to organize items that I didn’t use or, when I was honest with myself, want.
But I figured if they were organized then I’d use them. Nope. My efforts would have only mattered if I’d been wearing them and wanted to figure out the best way to display them so I could more easily decide which once I could wear that day.
Organize for You, Not Your Stuff
When organizing, consider how you want to use an item. This will help you decide if the item needs organizing or decluttering. Then, focus on finding an organizing item that will help you find, use, and then return the items you are keeping neat.
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Hi, I’m Susan.
And I’m here to help you clear the things cluttering your life so you can do and have more of what’s important to you.