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by Sortly

Don’t go shopping yet!

Thursday 25, Jun 2015

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I know what you’re thinking; all I need is the right container. If I buy this new filing cabinet, container, desk organizer, it’s going to solve all my problems. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the containers you purchase won’t magically organize your space while you sleep.

I know that statement’s a bit of a stretch, but many people have a similar line of thinking—that the right tool will make everything clutter-free. I understand the genuine surprise (and frustration) you feel when after the product’s marketing promises don’t come true. Everything seems great at first. You bring home the container, put everything in, and it looks great for a few days. Then, you slowly get upset and confused when it doesn’t continue to work and you’re back at square one (with less money, to boot).

The reason it fell apart is that you tried organizing your stuff to fit the container rather than choosing a container to fit your organizing system.

This is why shopping for supplies is usually the last (and most fun, I know) part of organizing and why I don’t recommend specific products until the end of a project.

The reasons are that:

  1. You have to create the organizing system first.
  2. In the beginning, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to keep where. Just because you’ve always kept something in the same place, doesn’t mean it has to stay there. When going through the organizing process, it’s often happens that as we’re clearing out one area, we decide that certain items should be stored in another, more convenient place. So, if we buy a container that’s perfect for to hold an item on a shelf and then decide to move the item to a drawer, the container is obsolete.
  3. The appearance of the overall room may change. As the project progresses, sometimes it’s best to move things around or add furniture. When this happens, the containers you purchased might not work.
  4. You don’t know how much to contain. If you’re clearing out a desk drawer and decide to buy containers for everything before moving onto organizing the storage closet, the chances of finding something that needs to be integrated is high!

All of these reasons can change what you’ll need container-wise. So, do yourself (and your wallet) a favor. Stop shopping and create your organizing system first.


This guest post is from Professional Organizer Virginia Maddan. She has been helping people transform their lives by changing her clients’ relationships with their clutter since 2008. Since then, Virginia has coached and consulted with hundreds of individuals to exceed their goals.

She has also spoken to numerous groups, such as the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Golden Gate Business Association, and privately held companies that want to enhance their staff’s productivity and organization.

Virginia is active in her community and is a member of The National Association of Professional Organizers and has served on the Board of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of NAPO.

Learn more at Comfortable Structure.

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