stacking-plastic-square.jpgTo choose organizing systems that are actually going to keep you organized, you must first decide on the QUANTITY of items you’re going to keep.

This approach makes me a bit of a spoil-sport with my new clients. They’re excited about the prospect of organizing and it starts with the question: ”Ooh, what containers do you recommend I buy?” I advise them that these recommendations will come later once we’ve determined the amount of items they’re keeping.

The most common problem I find with buying a container first is that they tend to be too small.  Before choosing containers for organizing systems, I use cardboard banker boxes as sorting tools.  One of these boxes is always dedicated to “keepsakes” and it is common for a client to inform me “Oh, I’ve already got one of those.”  They then produce a tattered shoebox bursting at the seams.  Not only is this box inadequate for its current contents, but there’s no way it’s going to contain the three banker boxes of keepsakes we’ve collected, let alone the new keepsakes that will come in.

What happens in the sorting process is that by putting like with like you see just how many, in this case keepsakes, you have and it becomes much easier to pare down.  Maybe you don’t need to keep EVERY pair of sentimental sneakers.  Maybe one sneaker will do or maybe just your lucky laces will bring back the same good memories.  So perhaps those three bankers boxes are whittled down to just two or even one, you still need to plan on a significantly bigger container.

To stay organized your container needs to have generous room for growth, but once you exceed that reasonable limit, that’s the moment you need to rethink the limits of the container.  Otherwise you will have homeless items that become clutter.

TODAY’S KEY TO UNLOCKING CLUTTER:  To choose the right container, first get clear on how much is going into it.