Containerizing is the art and science of deciding which container will be a good home for your stuff. (Perfectionists take note: I said “good”, not “the very best imaginable”.) A container can be a box, bin, jar, or basket. But it can also be a shelf, closet or room. Containers provide structure for your things so that you can find them when you need them, and put them away easily.
There is nothing that can’t be “containerized”:
- Magazines and catalogs in a basket
- Any number of household items (by category) in clear plastic shoe boxes
- Packaged goods on a pantry shelf
- Clothing in a closet or drawer
- Files in a file cabinet
- Gardening tools in a shed
- Coats in a coat closet
- Books on a shelf
- Activities in blocks of time on a calendar (a topic for another post)
The concept of containerizing goes hand-in-hand with the concept of assigning everything a home. When I see a pile of clutter, I know that those things either don’t have homes, or they don’t “like” their homes. And, of course, what I really mean is that YOU evidently don’t like their homes (if they exist to begin with), or you’d be putting your things away. Usually you just haven’t thought about it, but if you do think about it for a minute I’ll bet you can come up with a solution. Is it too small, too big, too far away, too ugly? Is there something piled on top of it so you can’t use it easily?
Containers also help you set limits for yourself on how much stuff you will own. Staying clutter-free is much easier when you set limits…and nearly impossible if you don’t. If you’ve decided how much of something you are going to allow into your space, and if you take the time to purge the excess when you reach or exceed that limit, your space will remain clutter-free. As I tell my clients all the time: Don’t let your containers overflow!
So, where do you get the right containers? First, shop your home! Many of my clients find they do not need to spend a cent on containers. The more purging there is of unwanted items, the more containers get freed up in the process and are made available for repurposing.
Good containers are:
- Appropriate in size, shape and material for the items they contain. (Too big, too small, wrong size or flimsy will lead to you not wanting to use them.)
- Big enough so that you aren’t constantly having to replenish it. (Overflow of things like toilet paper and office supplies is OK, but only if you have a place to store them, and only if they are kept organized so you can find what you need and don’t just keep buying more just because you can’t find it.)
- Roomy enough to be able to access the items easily. (Think children’s toys that are packed so tightly they never again fit into their original packaging without an engineer’s help.)
- Attractive enough for the space you are using them in, so that you will enjoy using them. (Think ugly metal file cabinet in a garage vs. a nice one that looks like an end table in a home office that doubles as a guest room.)
- Modular, with lids, if you want to stack them. (Think adult craft supplies.) Or, without lids, for ease of taking things out and putting them back in. (Think toy bins and laundry hampers.)
Does everything you own have a home? Is it time to rethink your containers? Is it time to purge so that you can continue using your perfectly good containers?
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Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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