Getting Organized? Don't Buy Boxes!

Let me state up front: I love The Container Store.   Every time I go there I’m inspired.  I particularly love the Elfa system, which is attractive, incredibly functional, works with a variety of styles, and keeps contents quite visible.  However, I do think it’s important to not confuse use of organizational tools (bins, shelves, file folders, drawers, etc.) with true organization.

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You can have a whole room of meticulously labeled and categorized file folders – but do you need paper records of those things?  Can you find what you’re looking for?  Is it easy to sort incoming important documents into their proper places?

You can have a giant closet full of clothes stored in garment-specific bins, bags, and boxes – but do you wear all those things?  Can you find what you’re looking for?  Is it easy for you to put outfits together?

I’m currently working with a client who has purchased a couple of different kinds of decorative storage boxes over the years, from pretty soft-sided bins for the closet to plastic file tubs for overflow papers.  To her surprise (but not to mine!), the pile of empty boxes that she’ll probably get rid of is larger than the pile of papers to trash.

There is a tendency out there, backed rather strongly by Pinterest, to believe that if you purchase the right system, you’ll be able to get organized. But this is actually backwards.  If you start getting organized by editing and curating your items, you’ll be able to figure out the type of storage tools you need and create the system that works for you.

True organization consists of having only things you need and love, organized so that you can find and use them in a way that matches your esthetic.  And if certain organizational tools help you do this, all the better!  But remember, it starts with the stuff, not the tools.