Basket Case

I am actually making a case against baskets.  I realize that for many with visions of a home beautifully organized into pretty matching baskets that this is organizing heresy, but hear me out.

More often than not, baskets are clutter traps.  Items go in, but they don’t come out.  We have a false sense of control because an ugly collection of items have been contained in a beautiful vessel.  But once those ugly items are hidden, they are forgotten.  Out of sight out of mind.

Items that require action must be kept in the field of play.  This includes mail.  It’s a bad idea for mail to take up residence in a basket or any other container for that matter.  Mail stops being mail, the second it comes out of the mailbox.

Baskets have their place, if, and only if, they are used with a dedicated storage purpose.  For example, maybe it’s just gloves and hats on the mudroom shelf or a small basket for just sunglasses by the front door.

I get the whole aesthetics thing, but whenever possible, especially behind closed doors, I prefer a clear container to a basket.  Reveal, don’t conceal.  Not only are items easier to find, but the smooth surfaces allow you to adhere an identifying label, so there are no excuses for improper use.  A basket offers neither of these features.

The very worst basket for organizing things is an emptied gift basket. Their round extended shape doesn’t play nicely with other containers and the handles are a complete waste of space. Many is the time I have reassigned the contents of a client’s gift basket and she asks, “what should I use this for now?” My first inclination is to answer “kindling.” Of course I actually say something like “Oh you can donate that,” just to get it out of the house without incident.  A rule of thumb with gifts is, just because somebody gives you something doesn’t mean you have to keep it.  That includes the baskets the gifts come in.

Definitely don’t go out and buy a bunch of baskets, if your intention is to get organized.  First sort and purge the excess items in your home, so you are clear on the quantity you are keeping before you choose the number and sizes of containers (baskets if you must) you need.

Manageable quantities matter. The most useful basket for organizing is the waste paper basket.