Tools for Organizing
Organizing is one of my favorite things. It makes life so much easier when things are organized.
But getting from mess to organized takes some time, some work, and some tools.
Let’s talk about tools for organizing.
Tools can mean things other than hammers and wrenches, although you may need those at some point.
Tools can also mean things like apps, planners, boxes, bookshelves, and even knowledge. Learning about organizing can give you new tools for getting the job done.
If you’re organizing a physical space, like a closet, some of your tools might include containers of some kind. For instance, in my closet, I keep baskets on the top shelf for my purses, sweaters, socks, and underwear.
Before I bought the boxes, I determined how many I would need, and I measured the height of the space between the shelf and the ceiling so I would know how tall they could be.
A couple of notes here:
- We stopped using chests of drawers and dressers in our house forever ago. If you’ve ever had a kid dig through their dresser drawers looking for a certain item, you’ll understand why hanging everything is easier. We use baskets in the closet for socks, underwear, and things that can’t be put on a hanger. Plus we get way more room in the bedroom without the added furniture.
- Before you go shopping, you might want to consider “shopping the house” for items that can be put to use. Here is a post that may give you some ideas.
Also, keep in mind that containers are a great way to keep small things organized. I have a small box on the table near the front door just for dropping car keys. Works beautifully and looks better, too.
Also, I may or may not have a shoe box in the refrigerator that holds cheese and lunchmeat. (Insert red face here.) The drawer that was supposed to hold those things broke and cost a fortune to replace. I can never find the right size plastic container to use, so for now, my shoebox works.
Planners can help keep your days and your life organized, if you use them.
For some people, that’s a paper planner, and for others, it’s electronic. Either is fine, as long as it works for you.
Since most people these days have smart phones and take them everywhere, it makes sense to keep most things there. Plus, they have the added benefits of alarms and reminders.
We can’t talk about smart phones, planners, and reminders without talking about apps.
There are apps out there for everything.
I was at Home Depot the other day and they have an entire collection of holiday lights that you can control with an app on your phone. They don’t even have to be plugged in to each other!
I can’t possibly list all of the apps that I like and use, but I will touch on a few:
- Evernote and Trello – I lump these two together even though I use them for different things. I use Evernote mostly to save receipts for anything I pay for online, and I use Trello as a to do list and project management system. I love them both.
- Google – Google has an impressive list of apps. There is Gmail, which I use (and which lets me turn emails into to dos on Trello with a click), Google calendar, and Drive, which has Docs and more. These are only the ones that I use. There are more, and more things (like Trello) which you can integrate with them.
- Cozi Family Calendar – This app really has you covered. In addition to your calendar – which you can share with your family or any other group – it has a to do list, a shopping list (you can make one for multiple stores), and will even let you record special moments that happened that day. I’ve never used it with my family, but I used it for years.
- Oh, and remember I mentioned measuring things before you buy them? My phone has an app for that too.
By the way, did you know that you can create folders on your phone? This works for both iPhones and Android devices.
It’s a great way to organize your screen.
I have a number of folders on mine:
- Financial – for my bank app, Amazon, and bills
- Social – for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
- Productivity – apps that I use for my business, like writing this blog
- Lifestyle – apps for yoga, meditation, affirmations, and positive thinking
Mindset might seem like an odd thing to talk about when talking about tools for organizing, but it’s actually a very important tool.
If you don’t go into the work of organizing with the proper mindset, you’re not going to get the results that you expect.
It’s easy to get angry when confronted with an unorganized space, especially one that’s been bothering you for some time. And if it happens to be a space that isn’t really yours, it can be especially aggravating.
Although this isn’t quite the same thing, my husband recently reminded me to change the bedding in the guest room in preparation for our daughter’s family’s arrival for Thanksgiving. I didn’t mind him reminding me; I know I’m forgetful.
But what bothered me was what awaited me when I opened the bedroom door.
He had been doing some painting and minor repairs to the flooring in the guest room recently. He neglected to mention that all of his tools, random pieces of flooring, and just stuff was all over the bed.
Do you think I was angry?
Yeah. A little bit.
So, going into a project does require the proper mindset in order to get positive results. (In my case, I had to get positive results because it was for my daughter.)
The Elephant in the Room
Do you have any clutter in your house?
We all have a certain amount, but do you have more than you think you do?
After a while, we stop seeing the clutter in our homes.
The tool you may need here is your phone.
Take a picture of your room – you may need to take more than one – and then upload it to your computer so that you can really see it nice and big.
Somehow a picture can show us things that real life cannot.
Like that elephant in your room.
Sometimes we think that we can “fix” our clutter by organizing it.
So we make it into neat piles that look OK until we need something in that pile. And then we’re back to square one: a cluttered mess.
“Organized” clutter is still clutter.
You need to find it a home. Isn’t that part of what organizing is about?
A Final Rule
This rule is one of my favorites:
Make things easier to put away than to get out.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
If you throw all of your kid’s markers and crayons in a big box, they will search through it (or more likely dump it out) looking for just the right one.
But when it’s time to put them away, all they have to do is scoop them all up and throw them in the box. That makes it more likely that they will put them back where they belong.
And this rule isn’t just for kids.
As adults, we’re no better.
What does your makeup area look like?
Mine is a jumbled mess in a drawer.
My nail polish is all tossed together in a box.
My jewelry is a bit better, only because it gets tangled easily.
So, even though it may be a mess in my makeup drawer, it’s a contained mess out of sight. And I will happily dig through it for my favorite concealer.
So, now that you’ve got a better idea of what to put in your “tool box” when it comes to organizing, what are you waiting for?
Got a favorite organizing tip to share? Let us know!