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How to Choose an Organizing System that Works for YOU

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

Are you tired of staring at the same organizing systems, feeling guilty for not ever getting the hang of them? Do you feel like you’re just ‘lazy’ or ‘don’t follow through with anything’? Not - True. Hear me out.

We are absolutely bombarded with ads for organizing systems and gadgets, are we not? These ads have HUGE appeal and are based on research to make you move (emotionally) to buy. Entire industries, including a chain of stores depend on you finding excitement in the unlikely possibility that their products are the one single solution you’ve been waiting for. Well I’m here to tell you that despite the fact that the employees at this store have all of these solutions at their fingertips (and probably a nice discount), I guarantee that their lives are no less cluttered than yours. Really. Repeat after me: right product, right person, right situation. If any one of those is missing, it won’t work.

Let me share a story with you, and please keep in mind that I declutter for a living. My daughter and I bought a set of those honeycomb-shaped sorters for her sock drawer about a year ago - and I gotta say, they worked GREAT – until we bought her a new dresser.  Then, despite the fact that the new dresser was almost identical to the old one, the sorters totally did not work in the new dresser.  Why? I honestly don’t remember but I do remember sorting, resorting, configuring and reconfiguring until we arrived at the decision that it just - didn’t - work. So, fine. They weren’t cheap so I meandered into my son’s room and asked him if he wanted them. His answer was a quick ‘no.’ So… I turned to my husband and got the same answer.  I looked in my own sock drawer and realized that I, too, was quite content with my socks the way they were. So back to the dilemma – should we just figure out a way to make it work in my daughter’s dresser - especially because I paid good money for it? No. And is my son lazy because he won’t use the system? Also no – he just knows himself well enough to know that he won’t take the time to maintain the system. And is my husband too oblivious to see the awesomeness of this product? Again, no (although valid question:).  So then should I be the one to suck it up and use it, since I did pay for it and hate for it not to be used? Nope. The answer comes down to the fact that yes, it’s cool and definitely did work great at one point in time, but it just doesn’t work for any of us right now. The result of this tragedy is that the sorters are now sitting in my basement waiting for the right person, place and situation to claim them.  And I’m ok with that.

If you’re considering a new bins, organizing systems, or another potentially life-changing gadget, I suggest answering these questions first to determine if it’s a good fit:

1. Who will be using it?  Consider overall lifestyle, pace, age, how much of a learning curve will be needed and how much time the person(s) have to devote to learning the new system. If it just ain’t them, don’t bother.

2. Where will you put it? Do you have space now or is there rearranging to do in order to accommodate it? It’s ok either way, just make sure it actually fits. Also, if the person using it is exceptionally big or little, be sure to put it where they can reach. A good rule of thumb is the batter’s box (chest to knees and no farther than arm’s reach). On the other hand, if they’re little and you don’t want them using it (I do this with my gifts bin), put it up higher. Additionally, if it’s meant for frequently used items, keep it close and swap it out when the frequency becomes less (think seasonal clothes and gear).

3. When will it be installed and when will it be used? If you have to rearrange a room in order for it to work, then make sure you know where in your schedule you have time. I worked with a woman years ago who bought this really cool picnic table for a great price but it took hours to put together. Needless to say, she never did put it together and eventually just sold it unassembled. If the intended use is for seasonal items, then have them handy during the season and swap them out when the season’s over (think cold weather gear vs. summer swim gear).

4. Why do you want it? Is it just so super cute that you can’t resist?  If you get a shopper’s buzz just thinking about it, BEWARE and take a step back. If the buzz comes from how much more efficient you think you’ll be with it, then you’re on the right track.

5. How will it be used? Consider how sturdy you need it to be. If it’s something that will be used daily by a room full of preschoolers, then don’t go cheap, as frequent use tends to wear products down more easily.

6. How much is it?  Don’t break the bank on these things, particularly if you’re not 100% sure of it’s potential or if you’re living in a temporary place. There are industries that rely on quick, emotional purchases from renters. Before you commit, try a less-expensive version or a partial version of an organizing system. Situations change quickly and you don’t want buyer’s remorse.

Remember, friends: you’re not lazy, nor do you lack follow-through. There is a perfect person and situation for every organizing solution and both of these things need to be in place in order for it to work. Heck, even those of us who do this for a living have our ins and outs with organizing gadgets! The best thing you can do is to keep these 6 questions in mind – that way, you’ll be living more efficiently with the systems you already have – and those you will surely purchase in the future.

Aubrei Krummert is a Certified Professional Organizer in Athens, Ohio. She specializes in Home Productivity and works with clients across the United States, doing on-site and virtual sessions. Contact her now.

Photo by Tyler Casey on Unsplash

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