It’s easy to find advice on organizing supplies, but what are the best tools to get organized? Let me back up. There are essentially two parts to organizing: getting organized and staying organized. There is a lot of advice on products to stay organized. This time of year you hear it regarding back-to-school products you need to stay organized. But what if you have a lot of stuff overwhelming your space? The latest organizing products to stay organized, won’t help tackle that.

Getting organized involves editing and prioritizing. Once you have done that, you make staying organized possible. What follows is my recommendation of best tools to get organized.  They are the actual tools my team uses for big organizing projects. Some of them may seem a bit much for smaller projects. I think it will be obvious where to scale back for those. I did a video on this subject a while back, but I have added a few more items here.

1. clear work surface

First and foremost, as always, you must give yourself a clear work surface. A clear work surface is vital for processing. It’s more than just a nice thing to have. It is your number one organizing tool. The first thing my team does on every job is set up the folding table. Because you can spread out and identify multiple items, a clear work surface gives you the power to prioritize. Prioritizing and decision-making are the key to opening up the space you need to stay organized.

2. banker boxes

Banker boxes are the perfect size to sort small items. We only use them temporarily to get organized into categories. They allow you to focus on one category at a time and put the others away. Other categories are obscured in these opaque boxes, so they don’t distract. You can save space because banker boxes have lids, which mean they can be stacked.

3. retractable Sharpies

Stay clear on your categories by boldly labeling each one. I like the retractable Sharpies because you never lose a lid.

4. Super Sticky Post-It’s

Don’t write directly on the banker boxes. That is a waste because you are only using them temporarily.  You can reuse them for multiple rounds of sorting. Instead, write on a simple Post-It Note. I like the Super Sticky variety, so they don’t fall off.

5. contractor bags

This is an example of an item of something you would want for you bigger projects. If you have a lot of items to discard, the big heavy bag encourages you to toss more.

6. clear recycle bags

If you have items to donate, make a clear distinction from the discards, by putting them in a clear bag. Donates items in opaque trash bags run the risk of being accidentally tossed.

7. zone signs

If you are working on a large organizing project with other people, keep things clear with zone signs. A “review zone” sign is for items you haven’t reviewed yet. A “Keep zone sign” is to park items you are keeping, before you assign them a home. You can probably guess what discard, donate, and sell zone signs are for. Finally, you would be amazed how useful it is to have an Empties Zone sign. This is for empty boxes you have and for boxes you may empty in the process. It usually makes sense between the review zone and Keep zone.

8. blue tape

We hang the zone signs with blue tape so we never have to worry about damaging any wall


9. large  ziplock bags

One item I didn’t mention in the video is a box of gallon-size ziplock bags. These are particularly handy for paper management. Like the banker boxes, these are useful for temporarily holding a category together.  Before committing paper to files, determine the size and number of files by holding them in ziplock bags. Also if you paper management process lasts more than one session, the bags maintain your progress.

If you are just sorting in piles, they may get mixed up. A bag will contain your category and a simple Post-It inside will identify it. These are also great for sorting cords.

10. small ziplock bags

For sorting smaller items like business cards and loose change, the quart size bags are handy.

11. hamper stand

This is a client favorite. The hamper stand supports the large contractor bag and creates a nice big opening to toss in freely. It saves your back the strain of reaching for your trash bag on the ground. If you’ve got the urge to purge, arm yourself accordingly with the hamper stand and contractor bag combo.

All of these best tools to get organized