This is a BIG discussion in the organizing world. And I have some pretty strong feelings about them.
Let me start with this…
In general today we want to contain all the things that we have in our house and our life. We want to put everything in little boxes and organize ourselves that way as well.
I personally believe that’s not always the best way to do things. I think sometimes we try to overcompensate by compartmentalizing.
Compartmentalizing helps us deal with time management issues and helps us understand what’s most important. It helps us prioritize. It helps us understand where things go and how to do things. But putting things in boxes is not always the best solution.
The reason I am writing about this is because quite a few of my clients ask me how many storage containers they should buy from the store before they start working with me.
This is what I tell them…
If you are able to organize clutter well, then your house wouldn’t be full of clutter. Clutter is just a mass of untidy objects.
Usually things that are cluttering your house are not really important enough for us to designate a piece of real estate to. Each item that you own, that gets a space or place, shows that the object has value.
When you give an item a home you say to it, and also to yourself by extension, that this item is important to you and it’s necessary and useful in your day-to-day life.
I recently read an article about how renting everything from clothing to furniture to appliances is becoming a major trend. People want to try things before they buy. They want to see how much they use it. They want to see if it’s useful or if they will get a lot of use out of it.
I thought this was a really great idea. I’m not sure that I could live that way and there’s definitely a value to owning things, especially when you have a family, but the thing about renting what you need only when you need it means that you avoid having clutter in your house.
What we tend to do with things that we own is say “Well, I bought this and therefore I can’t get rid of it because I paid money for it and I don’t want to part with it. It might be useful one day.”
I think one important thing to note here is that storage containers are like a Band-Aid.
Going out and buying new things for containment purposes is not really an effective use of your money or space. When you go out to buy storage items for your clutter, I find that you end up buying a lot of things that aren’t necessary.
You haven’t really decluttered what you have and you don’t know what you have – so you’re buying solutions that are unplanned and it’s wasteful. If you do need to buy storage then get exactly what you need.
Declutter and then buy storage containers.
When you implement this step you will have the places in mind for where you need to put everything. So make sure you plan before you go shopping.
In short, boxes and bins take up space. You have to have the space to put the box or the bin in the cabinet. If you have a very small space for shoes having 20 shoe containers isn’t necessarily going to serve you well.
So, before you go crazy buying storage containers, think to yourself – what do I need to declutter or reduce in my home so I can clearly see what needs to be stored?
Trust me, I know from experience, it’s a lot easier when I go to people’s houses to reduce stuff, than to find a place to store it.
I quickly want to mention two points that often come up while helping a clients declutter that I hope will speak to you as well:
Often people feel it necessary to keep gifts they were given. They feel a sense of responsibility to keep everything but the fact is we don’t need to keep everything. It’s not healthy for us to keep everything. Having less really gives us the space and the freedom to have a lot more.
And I definitely recommend containers in playrooms. I definitely recommend containers especially if you’re putting things like winter coats and winter gear away. If you have six kids you know this is valuable because those are expensive and it’s worthwhile to keep them – but how you store them is important.
But again, same plan applies, try your best to work with your children to declutter the playroom or clothing first before going out and buying containers.
I’m sure you’ll be able to see the benefits of decluttering first and organizing second when you part-take in my Done-In-A-Day Declutter course.
Pick any room in your room that you want to tackle and I help you – every step of the way!
Let’s get started!