Does Your System Need Tweaking Like Mine Did?

MID-PROJECT: No, my house has not been ransacked!

MID-PROJECT: No, my house was not ransacked!

In Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs I asked questions designed to help you create the RIGHT systems that will work for YOU. I also stated that every system needs to be re-evaluated periodically, and adjusted as necessary. Because things change.

Here is an example of a system that worked for me for many years…until it didn’t anymore.

supply 8


I have a closet in which I store office and craft supplies and such. Looking at the BEFORE photo you might think, “Looks organized to me. What’s wrong with that?” Well, I’ll tell you:

There’s a pile (1) on the floor, blocking the drawers, which means I have too much stuff. The drawers are all individual units. Although they are made to be stackable (2), they are not meant to have a whole extra shelving unit (3) piled on top! Even though this system worked for years, over time the bottom drawers have become squashed. They are not ruined, but they also don’t open, so I have no access to the bottom two rows. Since I have not had access for awhile (a year or more), guess what? It seems I don’t really need all of that stuff! Meanwhile, in an attempt to make supplies handier I resorted to this over-the-door organizer (4) made for shoes, but useful for any number of other things as well.

So, out it all came. The mid-project photo above makes it look like my house was ransacked. Nope. Just a demonstration of “It gets worse before it gets better,” which I try to warn my clients about before we begin an organizing project together.

supply 3

AFTER: Shelving provides access.

In went two of my favorite items — plastic shelving units! I love these because they are sturdy, inexpensive (around $40 for 5 shelves) and I can lift, carry, and install them myself with only the help of a rubber mallet. Shelves allow easier access to your stuff. (If you don’t need access to your stuff, why are you keeping it?) The trade-off is that they also take up space and limit (somewhat) the storage capacity. So I had to get rid of some things, but – remember? – my access had been limited for awhile and I had realized there were some things I no longer needed anyway. So, no problem!

supply 4

AFTER: Back to normal.




The new arrangement accommodates fewer of the drawers, but there’s room for other sized containers, and MUCH better access to everything on the shelves. I decided to keep the over-the-door organizer. It works for me…for now.

What do you think?

Do you have a system that needs tweaking?

Please let us know by leaving a comment!

Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Janet Barclay on February 4, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Great job, Hazel! I’m glad you recognized the problem and found a solution.

    As I was reading this, I was thinking that when you can’t get into certain drawers, you stop doing the activities that would require you to access them. That happens sometimes too. e.g. “I can’t sew because my sewing machine is buried under my kids’ artwork.”

    • Hazel Thornton on February 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Excellent point, Janet. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Jill Robson on February 7, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Hazel, I am always tweaking systems for my son as he ages. He is 13 now and I am sure the next few years will provide some changes.

    • Hazel Thornton on February 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Jill, that’s a really good example of WHY systems need tweaking (kids growing up and their needs changing over time)! Here are a few more that come to mind: becoming more (or less) interested in a hobby and accumulating more (or needing less) stuff related to it; moving to a new home with different sizes and shapes of closets and other storage areas than the old house did; combining two households; etc.

  3. on February 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I learned years ago in a NAPO Conference workshop that ‘a family is always in transition. I’ve made many tweaks to systems over the years as my children have outgrown them and have done similarly in my business. It’s always a good idea to take a step back to see what’s working and not working and make the proper adjustment.

    • Hazel Thornton on February 8, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Yes. I think it’s second nature to most organizers, but we sometimes need to manage the expectations of our clients and teach them that systems need to be tweaked periodically and regularly maintained.

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