I love a trip to The Container Store and Target as much as the next person, especially when there’s nothing I particularly need. I can always seem to find a product that solves a small annoyance in my home if I just, you know, spend the money. I also know this is not an uncommon plight—so many of us rely heavily on the products we invest in, mostly bins, to do the work of organizing for us, and that’s what marketing of these products wants us to do. So in today’s episode, I’ll tell you the products you really need to buy before taking on an organizing project.
I’m going to throw a curveball in early on—we don’t keep boxes and bins in our organizing work bag when we go visit clients. We don’t at all! The reality is that most of our clients have already bought containers at some point to try to solve their problems and it didn’t work. So we try to utilize those containers as much as possible before spending money on fancy leucite and perfect labels—unless that’s what the client specifically has hired us to do. I’m going to give you a peek into the work bag that we bring with us to jobs so you know what supplies we love to have on hand before tackling any organizing project!
1. Trash bags
Listen, I didn’t say that this list was going to be glamorous. If you’re looking at a major overhaul of a space, you will have things to trash or recycle. If you don’t have trash bags on hand, grab a few as you survey your space for trash. The flip side of this is that if you keep finding trash clutter in your space that you’re organizing, that means you need a trash bin close to the center of where the trash has all landed! I’m always surprised at how simple of a solution a trash bin or bag close to the place where trash is produced is, and yet, we don’t often think about the need for a bin in a guest room, living room, or large closet because it’s not really glamorous. So trash bags before, and if while working on your project you realize that trash is an issue, get trash bins for every space in your home.
2. Cardboard boxes
Again, riveting! I’m not talking about going to get those beautiful cardboard memory boxes or anything. I’m literally talking about keeping a small stash (small being the operative word) of cardboard boxes in your garage or cleaning closet that you can use to haul donations off. We use our empty Amazon and other delivery boxes as well as liquor store boxes—both are really sturdy and are almost always sized appropriately for me to pack a few heavy items and lift without straining. These aren’t meant to be used in your home to organize—remember, this is a tool for moving things OUT. Write directly on them where it’s going with a sharpie if you take donations to different places. They’re not precious, so they’re perfect for organizing jobs.
3. 3M hooks
Long associated with rental spaces, 3M hooks are the temporary hooks used to hang items without damaging drywall or other finishes. The beauty of these little tools in all types of homes, though, is that they can help you test drive an organizing solution before investing in hardware like hooks and knobs and drilling holes. You might find that you want to swap the layout of a space seasonally—hanging only towels in one spot during the summer, but adding a row of hooks for scarves, mittens, and hats in the winter. These little nuggets allow you the versatility of changing with the seasons. I’ve even used them to hang up curtains in my home before when I was testing out different heights while decorating. The big success with hooks, though, is they help you get items up off the floor, reducing visual clutter. So try a few of these little guys out and see if they work for you!
4. Masking tape and a Marker
If you’re someone who loves to label, you’ve probably invested a great deal of time and energy into labeling and creating a system with pristine glossy vinyl…. only to have the labels evolve over the span of one week and becoming obsolete. It’s kind of heartbreaking when we create something absolutely beautiful only to realize that we didn’t account for a certain category or misspelled something in our haste. I’m guilty of this, too. So now what I love to do is use masking tape while in the process of organizing to label plastic bins with what I’m using this for. This helps our entire team be on board—is this box fall? Thanksgiving? Halloween? We slap on a quick masking tape label and clarify what we need before continuing to sift through items and rehoming them. Then, once everything has a home, we go back with our fancy label makers and label accordingly. We’ve even used masking tape on the floor of a garage to create two designated labeled floor spaces for things that were moving out, helping our client see exactly where her son’s items begin and end and then where the items she wanted to give to other family members was. When those items are gone, all she had to do was peel up the tape and her clutter was gone. Masking tape is really a great tool to have on hand.
5. S Hooks
If you can’t tell, I love to hang things up! But often, if we’re short on wall space or don’t want to display an item (think a backpack or a broom) and don’t want to put a hole in the wall for it, it’s more effective to hang it in a closet space. Enter, the S-hook. I have used S hooks to hang empty handbags, bookbags, spray bottles, spare cables, and more in closets. I have even used one to hang a shower spray bottle in between the shower curtain and liner! These nifty things are more sturdy and less consuming of space than hangers, so it’s totally possible to use them for high-frequency of use items or again, for seasonal swaps.
Hopefully you already have a few of these items around your home and can reduce your spending and clutter before a project starts! Then as you realize what items you would like to use as containers, you’re only spending your hard-earned dollars on storage for things you truly want and use. The reality is, you don’t need to buy ANYTHING before you start organizing. Let me know if you find any of these tips useful by leaving a review or sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow Organized YOU! on the podcast app you’re listening on.
Organized YOU! host Taylor Vogel is the Owner &
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