Storage: the home organizing con(tainer)

When your containers need containers...

When your containers need containers...

If you're like most people, when you think about organizing your home, you think about getting more storage containers. 

In the timeless words of Admiral Ackbar... IT'S A TRAP. 

Of the dozens of people I've worked with, not a SINGLE ONE has needed to buy more storage containers. Not one. Why is that?

There are a couple of reasons. One, if you've been thinking about getting your house in order for a while, you've probably already made some trips to the Con(tainer) Store. You've probably got extra hanging files and extra bins tucked away... somewhere out of sight... Or you have containers full of tax documents from 15 years ago that you could empty out without even reading any of them. You just... haven't gotten around to that part yet.

Second, you may not have heard about the great tricks I use in organizing that make many containers obsolete. For example, when you position bookcases about 4 inches away from a wall, there's great storage behind them for broken-down moving boxes. They're out of sight until you start packing for your next move. Furniture about 10-12 inches from a side wall make a great mini storage space for things like brooms, vacuum cleaners, umbrellas, and walking sticks -- no container needed. There are tricks for desks, traveling, bathrooms, you name it.

But the bottom line is that the problem I encounter in most homes isn't about finding containers for the stuff you use. The problem is that you have a bunch of stuff in your home that you don't use.

Storage containers provide a handy way to keep stuff out of sight, but they don't address the real problem. The problem is that there is stuff in your home that isn't helping your home work for you. That stuff is making you work for your home -- taking your mental energy to ignore, taking your money to buy containers and keep it out of sight, taking your time to sift through it and get rid of it. Storage containers may be a band-aid, but they're like a band-aid on an infection: they  cover it up, but they don't help it heal.

Next time you're thinking about organizing your stuff, don't fall for the great container con. Strike the heart of the problem. Empty out one of those boxes of old papers you haven't looked at in years, or call me in to empty a bunch of them. Now you have an empty container (or 15) to use, and less stuff to worry about overall. I call that a win.

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Have other container-free storage solutions? Want to share your favorite organizing tips? Share them below!