Whenever I think about organizing, I ponder the impending project for days and sometimes weeks, trying to figure out exactly from what angle I want to attack. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that I must first look at the item or items that need organizing and ask myself, "How often do I use these items?" This question seems too simple. Yet often in an attempt to create a complex organization solution, I skip this most basic step. This question actually answers the three main points of organizing: need, accessibility and design.
When I find that my answer to the question "how do I use this?" is once every six months, once a year, or even "I don't remember the last time I used this," then I ask myself if this item is something I even need. I cleaned out half of my art supplies this month with this approach.
How often the item is used also determines how accessible it needs to be. I asked myself this question when organizing the bookshelf adjacent to my desk. As I looked at each piece of paper, pen, notebook, and much more, I thought about how often I used the items. Things like my favorite sharpie pens, pencils, scissors and stapler are in open containers or not in a container at all and are available at the mere extension of my arm.
At the very top of this bookshelf, I have lidded baskets. The lids on these keep the dust out since they are on top of the bookshelf and only accessed one to two times a month. These are for items like gift bags and tissue paper and my craft supplies. These baskets are super easy to lift down and put up in place, and I use them so rarely that it never seems like extra work to get them down for an impending project.
Supplies that I reach for once every week or so, like my stationary, address stamp, and extra sticky notes are in boxes with lids. The lids help to hide small clutter, but since they are accessed less frequently, they also don't get in the way. Batteries, tape, light bulbs, and extension cords are not things my husband and I use regularly, but they are definitely items that when you need them, you don’t just need them now, you really needed them ten minutes ago. Important paraphernalia like this is stored in baskets because there are no lids to pop on and off when we're in a rush or a moment of frustration.
The last topic that this question tackles is the design of the storage solution. Since my bookshelf is an open decorative piece that I use in lieu of a closet, I took time to make sure that the storage solutions were pleasing to the eye. I created a layered look with various styles of storage containers and decor that all serve a specific purpose. There are baskets, boxes, magazine folders, and designer holders as well.
Asking myself the question, "How often do I use this item?" has helped me expedite the process of planning an organization system time and time again.
Do you have any tips for kicking off an organization project? I'd love to hear about them in the comment section below!