There are so many people who want to be organized but feel totally overwhelmed at the prospect of selecting organizing products. They’re the ones who treat themselves with a visit to The Container Store, but once inside, they’re lost.
Hours later they’ll emerge; dazed, confused, slightly encouraged thanks to an employee’s coaching, but overall, having no certain feelings that they chose the best possible options for them.
The confusion ends here.
1. Figure out exactly what items you need organized and contained.
This necessarily means doing the work of thoroughly editing your belongings before you turn the conversation to product-talk. If you haven’t had the conversation of what you’re keeping and why, you’re in no position to start thinking about the how.
Once you’ve edited, you can start thinking about where you want various items being kept, and in what manner. Let the type of item and the storage location guide the product selection: If you’re storing small items, like single serve raisin boxes or binder clips, you’ll want smaller organizing containers. If you’re trying to accomodate larger things like stuffed animals or shoes, you’ll want larger baskets or bins.
So you take the knowledge of the scale of items being stored, and you combine that with the limitations of the preferred storage spot.
Which brings us to number 2…
2. The first real qualifiers for organizing products are dimensions.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: if you have not measured your spaces (and I do mean spaceS–every drawer, shelf, or cupboard you intend to purchase products for) you have no business shopping for or purchasing organizing products.
Get out of the aisle, leave the store, do not collect $200 because you are disqualified. Once you’ve done the work of measuring, you’re allowed to start the shopping. If you leave your measurements at home, sorry, no.
After clarifying that the products you’re considering should roughly accomodate the specific items you have to store, the next determining factor for whether an organizing product is right for you is whether it’s the best possible fit for your space.
Of course there are exceptions to the following (in the form of really shitty, inferior quality products), but generally speaking:
The best drawer organizer is the one you think will work for your drawer-contents, and is the one that best fits the drawer.
The best storage tub is the one that you think will accomodate your items in scale, and that best fits the storage shelves.
The best baskets are the ones that you think will best suit your items, and that best fit the bookshelves.
If the product doesn’t fit it won’t enable organization. If it’s too large and hangs off the edge it’ll look dumb and you probably won’t utilize it to its fullest capacity because you’ll fear its falling over. If it’s too small it’ll look dumb and feel like a feeble attempt rather than a legitimate system.
3. Now you see it (if you want to), now you don’t.
The next filter for selecting organizing products is a major stylistic one: do you want to be able to see the contents through the organizing product? Or would you prefer to have the contents masked?
The visibility camp you fall in will help you determine whether to go the plastic or acrylic route, or whether your situation is more suited for something like canvas, woven baskets, etc.
In general, my vote is for using clear organizers for things being stowed behind closed doors (since it’s not as important for them to be beautiful, and because increasing visibility will increase likelihood of use, ease of maintenance, etc.) and non-see through organizers for items stored out in the open.
So, for instance, if I were storing not very pretty office supplies inside an office closet, I would opt for a clear container to corral them. If I were storing the same things on a bookcase in the office, I’d opt for a concealed storage method. Make sense?
4. Pick your pleasure
Once you’ve decided on clear vs. not clear, you can then select whatever style options are available to you that also fit your measurement criteria. Color, texture, material–organizing products are just as much a chance to inject your personality and delight your eyeballs as any other decorative object in your home.
5. The Budge’
Finally, you’ll want to ensure that you feel comfortable with the amount you’re spending on organizing products. I recommend this as the final filter because I think most people are pretty clueless when it comes to the cost of these things. Determine your needs and your options and then figure out what you’re able to accomplish within your budget.
While it’s a tough call, I ultimately advocate for devoting funds towards a more thorough organization of one area than for scattered injections of organizing products throughout your home.
The latter will never give you the satisfaction and systematic results that a well thought out, beautifully organized area will. If that means you can only do the kitchen right now and you’ll have to save the mudroom for next month, so be it.