don’t just organize – containerize!

Several years ago, I asked my friend Jeri Dansky (a professional organizer) to come and help me with my kitchen cabinets, which were driving me insane. They were messy and disorganized and overflowing with things I frequently needed and couldn’t find.

Her solution was simple: Containers.

Really? Why hadn’t I thought of that… Come to find out it was stunning how much more organized everything became with only one container per cabinet!  After that, I became a little obsessed with “containerizing” every cabinet and closet in my house. It occurred to me that others might find this little tip very helpful as well, so I’ve asked Jeri to write a short guest post on the topic, and here she is… thanks, Jeri! 🙂

I first learned about the value of using containers to organize cabinets and closets when I was dealing with my own collection of spare soap and shampoo bottles. I had them in a cabinet in my garage, in a nice neat row, but it was sure hard to find and pull out the specific bottle I wanted. Then I placed them all in a bin that I could pull out — and this little part of my life got much easier.

Using containers to group similar items helps us easily put our hands on the items we want, and also makes better use of space. Lots of little packages can be put in a bin or basket, so they don’t go missing. Containers can be stacked, where many individual packages don’t stack well. And a container can make it much easier to reach items stored in a hard-to-reach spot, like a corner cabinet or a top shelf.

Have a closet filled with toiletry items? Try using separate containers for groups of products: toothpaste and floss, eye makeup, first aid supplies, etc.

Have an out-of-control pantry? While putting all your bottles and cans in containers isn’t necessary, containers can sure help with the smaller stuff — and with those items that don’t stand up nicely, like pasta bags.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting containers.

1. Try to keep containers only about 75% full. It’s much easier to pull something out and put something away if the container isn’t close to overflowing!

2. When space is an issue, square or rectangular containers make better use of that space than do round ones.

3. You don’t necessarily have to buy new containers — and you can be creative! Shoe boxes and such can work fine sometimes, and you can always cover them with wrapping paper or such to make them prettier, if you wish. I’ve used gift bags to organize someone’s collection of teabags; I have a little bowl that I bought in Thailand that contains the single bags I offer to guests.

4. If you do choose to buy containers, there are more and more green options: products made from recycled materials, for example. And thrift stores can provide a wealth of possibilities.

5. If it’s not easy to see what’s stored in a container, then take the time to label it so you always know what’s inside without pulling it out of the cabinet.

Thanks again, Jeri! For more organizing tips, check out Jeri’s fantastic blog here.

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