Organize Me Now! Discover 8 genius organizing tips plus enter to win my new fave organizing tool!
When I first started on my clutter free journey, I imagined my life would be so far removed from “stuff” that I would never need any type of storage again. (I also dreamed I’d win one of those makeover shows and someone would come to my house, organize me so much that my home would look like a minimalist lives there — and I would never have to organize again. I have a rich fantasy life.)
Yeah, that’s not exactly how things worked out.
While I work hard on living a clutter free life, I am not a minimalist. I’m more of a maximalist. I like to have Christmas decorations dripping from my tree in the winter, camping equipment for the summer (with a few glamping items thrown in – campfire coffee maker is a necessity), gardening equipment for the spring, and home improvement stuff year round. I also love to cook, but I have a tiny kitchen, so many of my favorite appliances, tools and dishes have homes outside of the kitchen area.
Those things, plus other stuff I love, require storage.
If you’re like me, but your storage is taking over your life, and you constantly look around and want to scream “Organize me now!”, just know that it is possible to be organized and clutter free.
Even with my deep love of stuff, living in a 1300-square-foot house, and running a business from home (with a ton of inventory), I have never used a storage unit except when moving, and when I was a single mom living with my parents. (By the way, if you”re living with a storage unit — and that ugly monthly payment — your first goal should be to either eliminate that unit completely, or scale down to a smaller unit as quickly as possible. This post will help with that.)
But even if we don’t have a storage unit, most of us need to have some kind of storage system in our homes, whether it’s a tiny closet or an area in our garage or basement. And our goal must be to keep that area as contained and organized as possible.
Confession time: my storage area has been the most out of control place in my house. Because it was in the garage, I haven’t given it the Clutter Free love it desperately needed. That ends today. All I’m doing today is applying the same Clutter Free principles to storage that I’ve applied to the rest of the house.
When Your Stuff is Screaming “Organize Me!”
Don’t try THIS at home:
The worst thing you could do is to start packing up random cardboard boxes, labeling them “STUFF” with the intention of “dealing with it later” (when does “later” ever seem like a good time?) and just keep piling boxes up.
Do try THIS at home:
Here are my best organizing tips to creating clutter-free storage you can actually use.
Determine Your Storage Space
It’s important to determine what space you will use first, and then decide what you will keep and what you won’t. If the “storage” area has three shelves that hold two storage containers each, you know your maximum storage is six containers. That will help you be selective in what you keep and what you toss (as opposed to most people who just keep buying more storage containers and looking for places to stash them.)
Choose Sturdy Shelving
Piling your stuff not only looks chaotic, it makes accessing what you need a true challenge. If you’ve ever wondered whether the item you were looking for was under the pile of clothes in the corner or in the cardboard box behind the lawnmower, you need a better plan.
Purchase some great, sturdy shelving to make your storage so much easier to use and access.
Buy the Right Storage Containers
Cardboard boxes are not your friends when it comes to storage. I like a lidded clear bin so you can see the contents. Be sure to measure your shelving before you invest in a bunch of bins. There is nothing more deflating than filling up all those containers, only to discover they don’t fit on the shelves. (Ask me how I know. Go on…)
It’s vital to ask yourself the 3 Clutter Free questions as you declutter:
- Do I love it?
- Do I use it?
- Would I buy it again?
If you can’t answer “yes” to any of those three questions, it’s time to get rid of that item. You must be ruthless. The more stuff you have, the harder it is to manage, keep track of, and store. Your goal is to keep your storage contained and small. Declutter along the way so you can stop being overwhelmed all the time by your stuff.
Group Like Items
Make your storage make sense. As much as possible, group like items together. There is nothing I love more than going to one box and finding all my spring decorating stuff in one place rather than having to dig through a half a dozen boxes to make it happen.
Make Your Stuff Accessible
Make it easy to get to the stuff you need. If you have storage boxes with long-term projects (like putting together grandma’s photo albums) those can go into less accessible spots (attic, bottom row of shelving), while boxes you want to access on a regular basis (“Gardening Supplies”) can be placed up front.
Make Your Stuff Findable
You have to have a system for not only putting things away, but finding them again. In my head, as I’m packing stuff away, I’m always asking the question, “How will I find this again?”
My new favorite trick is using Duck Pack and Track.
We have this corner of the garage I have basically been ignoring for a couple of years. It had too much stuff. I was overwhelmed. And it was easier to just pretend it didn’t exist (until I had to find my summer clothes from last year and would have the tiniest mental breakdown…) This is what Duck Pack and Track did for me. My corner of despair went from this…
Guys, this stuff is magical. Truly. Everyone I’ve shown it to has oohed and ahhed over it. It just makes sense.
This video explains it all (watch it – I promise it will change your life…)
Now I know where all my stuff is at all times. When I’m looking for my blue winter coat in the fall because we’re taking a cruise to Alaska, I can find it quickly by just asking my phone and the app will tell me what box it’s in and where the box is.
You can find Duck Pack and Track at Walmart. (We are currently Pack and Track obsessed and “Tracking” our whole house.)
Keep Reducing Your Storage
Finally, remember that your goal is to keep only what you use, love, and would buy again.
Therefore, keep curating your stuff, even after you’ve created storage for it all. Any time you can get rid of a storage box because you’ve condensed your storage enough to do so — that’s a day to celebrate.
So how do you decide what to keep in storage?
One of the questions I ask myself when I’m going through my storage is, “Would I pay to store or move this item?”
If the answer is no, and I don’t plan on using the item anytime soon, then “organize me” becomes “donate me” and out it goes.
And here’s how the garage looks now:
One of the side benefits to getting my garage organized (besides being able to find things on the regular) is that now I actually don’t dread going into my garage.
That, my friends, is the best advantage to living Clutter Free.
Organize Me Now Giveaway (This giveaway is now closed…)
Is your stuff screaming,”Organize Me Now”?
Enter for a chance to win the Ultimate Duck Pack and Track by leaving a comment below about what area of your home you desperately need to get organized. We will be choosing one grand prize winner this week!
Thank you to Duck Pack and Track for sponsoring this post. Please see our disclosure policy for any questions.
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.