Saturday, June 19, 2010

That stuff we rarely use, but can't get rid of.

Ahhh my favorite storage section, category number two seasonal stuff. This category is actually bigger than you might think, but can also vary greatly based on where you live and how you decorate. Seasonal stuff can include everything from holiday decorations, to clothing. If you happen to have the room and the money it can also include bedding, dishes, and all sorts of things. I know people who essentially re-decorate their entire house for each season. I don't but that is because I don't have the storage to do it. If I did, trust me I would.

Seasonal storage is different that everyday storage, most people put it outside, either in the garage or a storage shed, or even in a attic or basement. Because of this there are different things that are important.

The first thing is still that you can't keep more than you have room for. I think that this is the universal rule of organizing. If you don't have the room for it you simply cannot keep it.

The second thing to think of is appropriate storage for your location. Most seasonal storage needs to me water and air tight. You shouldn't store your winter clothes in paper bags, or plastic grocery sacks. The bugs, and water, and dirt will get into them and ruin them, and then what was the point in taking up the room storing them? So look at your storage area, what is size appropriate and location appropriate. For a particularly damp location you might even need to double wrap things, putting them into a plastic cover like a Space Bag and then put those into a Plastic Bin. If you are in a drier location then you should be fine with just the plastic bin. And honestly if you are like me the Space Bag won't work for you, they always end up expanding again on me and not staying vacuumed tight, so I look at them as a big Ziploc instead of as a space saver.

The third step, one that most people forget is to label your boxes well. If you can't find what you have stored and end up giving up looking for it and buy new stuff then you shouldn't have bothered storing it in the first place. If you are using the box for things that are permanent in that box like Christmas decorations you can write on the box with a permanent marker, but if you will be changing what is in the box then make sure that you can change the label. I also put a packing list right inside the top of the box, or you can put it in a plastic page protector on the outside. So you can find specific things.

Organizing your seasonal stuff is a lot of work, but when you are done you will thank yourself. Being able to walk to your storage anytime and pull out exactly what you need without going through piles of stuff and dozens of boxes will make things so much easier, and less expensive in the long run.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Now that I've sorted it.

Well the first step is done, you have sorted you stuff and pared it down to what you really love and use on a regular basis. For most of you just making it this far is a huge step. If you really were honest with yourself in the first step you have seen how many things you are holding on to that you didn't need in the first place. If you weren't honest with yourself, well, you really are still stuck trying to organize clutter but that doesn't mean that you are a hopeless case, it just means that you need to work on step one a few more times over the next few months, trying to be more honest with yourself each time. Remember that this is a process, there is no magic wand that you can wave to go from a disorganized clutter-bug to an organized person.

Useful Everyday

This should be the easiest to get put away and organized. There are a few things that you need to answer and then away they should go. Most of these things are probably best right near where you found them. Think about where and how you use the items every day and then find an away place for them to be near that location. The further you have to walk to put something away the less likely you are to do it.

Question 1: What is the best way for ME to organize?

Organization is not a one size fits all activity. Not only does everyone live in a different house, but everyone also uses things in a different way. But, most importantly, what you think is a logical way to do things isn't always what I think is logical, so you need to organize for yourself. I just got through reading a great article in Real Simple that talked about how you shouldn't try to fit your organization into someone elses mold. If you are right-brained you shouldn't try and use the regimented color coded, same sized stacked boxes, and if you are left-brained you are probably most comfortable with this method. Find what works for you and your family.

Question 2: How much space do I have to put this away in?

Let's face it, there are very few of us who live in places where storage isn't at a premium. No matter how much we have it seems like we always need more. When you are planning a place to put things away, and look at your space realistically. If you only have one shelf on one closet for sheets, then that is all that you have. Taking more space than you have for one item usually means that you will have less room for another. Eventually if you keep borrowing storage from one thing to house another you will end up back where you started with no organization at all.

Question 3: Can I really fit what I want into the space that I have?

Look at your box of things that you use, look at the space that you have, will it all fit? If your self will hold six sets of sheets and you have four then you are doing great. If your shelf will fit four and you have six, not so great. If you have to answer no to this question it is time to go back. Do you really need all that you kept? Or are you saving the sheets from your childhood bed even though your kids will never use them. If after you re-assess what you have kept and you still don't have enough space, then it is time to re-assess where it is stored. Maybe you don't need something else that is in the linen closet stored there. Maybe you can move the kids crafts out so that you have more room for the sheets. Maybe you need to store the sheets in the room they belong in, either in an under the bed box, in the closet, or in the dresser. Be creative in your options just make sure you aren't taking storage that you actually need for something else.

Remember that there isn't any cut and dried correct way to do this. You need to store things in a way that is appealing to your senses wheather they be artistic and eclectic or regimented and color coded. You need to store the things that you use every day in a way that makes them accessable, both to use and to put away again when you are done. And last, you need to be honest and creative with where you put things away so that they are stored in the best possible manner.