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Baskets and Bins: Helping or Hurting?

03/04/2013 4:55 PM | Anonymous

by Anne Powell of Charm City Organizers, LLC

Baskets and Bins: Are they helping or hurting?

I can’t help asking myself that question as I work in client homes. Many of us have the idea that if we couldjust buy the right kind of container, we would be organized. The good news is that organization doesn’t need to cost anything. The bad news is that it can’t just be picked up at the store.

Part of the trouble is the sheer lure of baskets and bins - they come in so many cute and irresistible varieties! (And of course, if used correctly, they can be quite useful, as one part of a larger organizational system, and maintenance schedule).

So what’s going on here? Why do so many homes have bins over-flowing with clutter?

It’s all about placement:

Right placement with specific purpose = success. 

Meaning: if you use a bin to corral necessary items in their rightful place, the bin will serve you well.

Example: a paperclip holder or pen cup on a desk

Hectic placement with vague purpose = baskets full of clutter.

Meaning: if you place bins around your home with the hope they will somehow, magically make you more organized, you’re in for some disappointment. They will become a catch-all for items that are not in their proper place.

The classic example: A mom is frustrated that shoes keep getting left at the base of the stairs instead of being taken upstairs to her kids’ rooms. So, she buys baskets for these few pairs of misplaced shoes, thinking “at least now those few will be contained before they’re actually taken upstairs where they belong.” The next time she turns around, instead of just a few pairs of shoes lingering at the base of the steps, there are tons! The cute little bins are over-flowing! “What happened?” she asks her kids, who at this point get defensive because, from their point of view, they’re just putting shoes in bins.

Does this sound familiar??

Here’s what went wrong:

A bin was created for shoes in a place where shoes do not belong. It became an undefined space without clear expectations. Was the basket a holding area for just one or two pairs? Or, is this storage for all of my shoes? A guideline needs to be set and a maintenance schedule put in place to make sure it’s upheld. The task of emptying the shoe bin each week, and putting them away in each room, could be added to the weekly chore list. 

OR, you can go to the cause of the problem and look at why there’s a pile-up at all. Is there a way to store everyone’s shoes in a more convenient place that will get used correctly?

This deeper question - getting to the root of clutter - is something a professional organizer is great for: we help you think about how you’re actually using your space and can design a system to match your needs.

© 2013 Annie Powell. All Rights Reserved.

Annie Powell is a sub-contractor and blogger for Charm City Organizers, LLC. She works with clients to clear clutter and create new organizational systems in their homes and work spaces; she specializes in small space problem-solving. "Saving you time, money, and sanity... one drawer at a time."


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