Sometimes a client will say to me: “Just tell me the right way to do things.” Seems like a perfectly reasonable request, right?
But that’s the funny thing about organizing: it’s so specific to each individual person. There is no one strategy that works for everyone!
This is because a good organizing system doesn’t just contain stuff: it nudges your brain into patterns and behaviors that will make it easier for you to retrieve and use your stuff. In order to create an organizing system for you, I have to know more about how your brain works and what nudges will get you moving in the direction you want.
So I thought I’d show you a concrete example. Here is my upstairs linen closet. It stores the extra bedding and towels we keep for guests (we have this much because if we get creative with air mattress placement, we can sleep 7 additional people - and yes, it’s happened!).
This system totally works for me for specific reasons:
items are grouped by set, then item type, in a way that makes intuitive sense to me,
everything is neatly folded so that I can see it and easily retrieve it,
this is a rarely used space, so it didn’t make sense to invest a lot in customizing it,
the layout is straightforward enough that my husband, my weekly housekeeper, and I can all use and maintain it.
You may notice that this closet is missing two very popular things in the organizing world: labels and bins! But you know what? I personally don’t need those things to keep this space neatly organized. At this point, it’s pretty second nature for me to fold everything the same way I always do and put each item back where it came from.
That said, for different types of clients, I might recommend labels and/or bins in a very similar space.
Labels are super useful for people who are trying to get used to an entirely reconfigured space. They’re also good for people who are not familiar with living with any sort of organizing system at all and need visual cues about how to train themselves to use things and put them back where they belong. I also recommend labels for spaces that are highly trafficked by multiple people - they just help everyone get on the same page.
Bins are great for people who are easily overwhelmed by options. In this closet, instead of a face full of linens, they would only have to mentally process each item type. Bins are also good for storage spaces that are somewhat open (my closet has a door on it, so everything is neatly out of sight). And of course, the aesthetic of rows of clean, neat bins can also be really appealing!
So, I'm sorry to say that there is no one system that works for everyone! But the good news is that with over five years of experience, I’ve seen enough spaces and clients to be able to quickly and efficiently get down to business, learn about people’s needs and preferences, and build organizing systems that work and last.
Curious about what I could do for you and your home? Book your free in-home consultation here.