The first thing most people do when they decide to get organized is go out and buy all kinds of neat looking containers and boxes. It is really easy to do. Storage products get prettier every day. They are available in more and more places. Inevitably many of them end up adding to the clutter they are trying to organize. How about you – have you ever needed a storage system for you organizing storage?
If the containers are used, often they do not work just right. It takes to much effort. The containers are almost the right size. They will almost hold all of the little pieces. The person gets frustrated with their organization system and over time quits using them. Then the person wonders why they are incapable of being organized.
Its not that they are incapable nor that all of the products are poorly designed. They are just working the problem from the wrong direction. They are making their stuff fit the containers instead of buying products to fit their stuff.
There is a simple order of actions that I typically follow whenever I organize a space.
- Declutter. If you look in any book or on any website about organizing, you will find somewhere a statement similar to, “You can not organize clutter.”
- Review. Take a minute to review the work flow areas and create specific zones and workstations. Take a minute to determine the work style used for different activities.
- Assess. Take a look at all of the things left after decluttering and put them in the zone where they are needed. I also make sure each zone has what is needed regularly without frequently moving outside the zone.
- Sort. Within each zone, sort out like with like. Some sorting can be easily done during the previous steps, but anything not already sorted has to be gone through before moving on to the next step.
- Take measurements. Sometimes the pieces can simply be counted. Other times a tape measure is a great little helper. I not only measure the thing I am trying to put away, but also the space available.
- Investigate. I take my time looking for storage alternatives, investigating their specific dimensions. I always make a point to investigate things already on hand that could work for storage either as is or repurposed.
- Contain. Then and only then, do I buy or build the containers I believe will work best.
On the rare occasion even after following all of these steps, a solution needs tweaking or may be less than ideal. Much more often I end up with a perfect match.
Have you ever been disappointed in a storage solution? Do you have lots of containers sitting empty somewhere because you loved the way they looked when you saw them in the store? Have you every purchased the most recommended product only to discover it didn’t go with the way you worked?
When we get conversations going in the comments we all learn from each other and can encourage one another. So, share your stories in the comments.