Tag Archive for: containers

Janine in tulip field

Earth Day & Containers

I love the colors of spring, the bright daffodils, tulips, and flowering trees. They make me smile. They also make me think about Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22nd. It’s a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection. You may not see the connection between organizing and environmental protection, but I’m reminded of it every time a client donates and recycles responsibly. Therefore, I’d like to share 3 simple ways we can show our support.

3 Reasons Why Containers are Important

Containers are very helpful organizing tools. They come in lots of different shapes and sizes.  A container can be a bin, basket, box, binder, shelf, drawer, tub, tray, rack, jar or bag. When organizing containers serve three basic purposes.

Containers help us hold like things.

File cabinet drawerHow many junk drawers do you have, and what’s inside them? Junk drawers are usually stuffed with a jumbled mess of random things, hence the name. Therefore, my recommendation is two small junk drawers per household, but that’s it. The rest of our drawers, and all the other containers in our home, need to be filled with items that belong together. For example, store all your tools in a tool box. Hold all your mending things in a sewing basket. Corral all your books on a bookcase. Put all your files in a file cabinet.  It’s easier to find things that way and easier to remember where they are. Items that belong together need to be stored together. Other examples of ready-made containers are tie rack, jewelry box, magazine rack, hamper, fishing tackle box, golf bag, shoe rack, toy box, knitting bag, and pot rack. I can list a bunch more, but I think you get the idea.

Containers help us create storage boundaries.

cosmetics organizedContainers create boundaries where there are none. They help us corral small items such as makeup, jewelry, crafts, snacks, and toiletries. Containers help divide drawers into sections. Which is great for organizing our junk drawers, by the way. Some examples are expandable cutlery trays, utensil trays,  jewelry organizers, craft bead bins, and sock organizers. Another way to create storage boundaries where we don’t have any is to use tape, paint or permanent marker. Create pie sections on our lazy Susan’s and label them as granola bars, cereal, oatmeal, etc. Create parking spaces for bikes in the garage by taping off sections and putting names on them. Tape off labeled sections on the floor of a coat closet for shoes and boots. Use the container to help create and maintain storage boundaries.

Containers provide storage guidelines.

photo albums on shelfThe container helps us see when we have enough. They give us a visual indication of when we have reached the container’s maximum capacity. Therefore reducing our chances of over-stuffing. However it’s important to stay within the limits of the container. If we allow items to spill out and create piles of stuff outside the container, we’re not following the storage guidelines. Once this happens we’re tempted to purchase another container and not use our existing container as a guide, but it’s much easier to maintain order when we don’t over-stuff. Practice the one-in-one-out rule when faced with the need to stay within the container limits.

©April 2021  Janine Cavanaugh, CPO  All Rights Reserved

Container Store

Before your trip to the Container Store

Organizing tipI like the Container Store as much as you, but before making a trip I ask myself these questions.


  1. Is reducing a better option? Would the space function more efficiently if I get rid of stuff so I don’t need to purchase a new container?
  2. What are my best container options? Do I have something here at home that will serve my purpose?
  3. Where will the container go? Do I have a specific spot for the container? Do I need to take measurements before my C.S. visit?

The Best Organizing Product In The World

Helpful Organizer BlogDuring my organizing classes, I often ask the class, “What is the best organizing product in the world?” This question grabs their attention. They stop what their doing, and look up. I see a question in their eyes, and hear it on the tips of their tongues, “What?” They really want to know. Their curiosity is peaked. After a brief pause, I tell them, “The one you will use.” The response is usually a universal, “OH!”

Many of us buy bins, containers, organizing tools, and products that never get used. We convince ourselves that these products are the things we need to make the magic happen. We purchase the items with the best intention, to get organized, but that doesn’t happen. Why do these items end up collecting dust in the back of the closet?

Usually, because they aren’t a good fit for our situation. So, what would make them a good fit? Here are some criteria to use:

  • Make sure the product is the correct size, shape, and dimension.
  • Make sure the product saves time and effort, and doesn’t add unnecessary steps to the process.
  • Make sure the product is convenient to use, not cumbersome, flimsily, or difficult to use.
  • Make sure the product is easy to take out and put away.
  • Make sure the product is used.

Having an organizing product that is just right for the job is very helpful. However, a bit of sorting, planning, and product testing may be needed before the purchasing happens. Here are some things to do before spending any money:

  • Create some order by sorting and reducing before purchasing.
  • Measure before purchasing.
  • Use a box that’s around the house to test out the effectiveness of the solution before purchasing.
  • Ask yourself if you’ve tried something like this before and if it worked, before purchasing.
  • Have the product be part of the organizing process and test that process, before purchasing.

Having the right organizing product can make a world of difference. Here are two examples:

I like my makeup holder vs. a makeup bag.

cosmetics organized










I like my utensil holder vs. having everything loose in drawer.

junk drawer










What organizing products do you like? Please share with me.

©February 2017  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved



Organizing Decorations

Tree Orn. binIf you’re like me, you like decorating for the holidays.  It gets me in the holiday spirit, and I enjoy adding sparkle and cheer to my home.  However, taking those decorations down, packing them up, and storing them until next year is an entirely different story.  That part of the process always seems like such an unwelcoming chore.  So, I’ve done my best to simplify the process and make it as painless as possible.

The first suggestion is to have a designated location in your basement, attic, garage, or other storage area, for the holiday decorations to live undisturbed until next year.  This prevents them from just being shoved anywhere, everywhere, or wherever they’ll fit.  My designated location is on plastic storage shelves in my basement.Tree Orn. sign

The second suggestion is to use clear bins and large easy to read labels.  This allows you to easily spot what is stored inside and where it belongs.  I print large color coded labels, and tape them to the inside of the clear bin.  This allows me to easily read the label because of the large size, and to easily recognize the holiday because of the label color.  It also prevents the label from falling off, fading, curling, or becoming illegible.  I place two labels in the bin on opposite sides, so that no matter how the bin is placed on the shelf, I can view the label.

tree ornaments in binThe third suggestion is to store holiday decorations in layers with bubble wrap in between each layer.  This is much faster than wrapping each individual decoration.  It works best if you put decorations that are similar in width in the same layer.  Also, place plush and soft decorations in between wooden and breakable decorations, and only store fragile or collectible decorations in their original boxes.

The fourth suggestion is to store holiday decorations based on where they are placed inside or outside the house.  For example I have bins of Christmas decorations for each room in my house.  This way I can easily decorate one room at a time, and pack up one room at a time.  It helps me streamline the processes.

The fifth suggestion is to keep all decoration accessories in the perspective holiday bins.  I keep the extension cord, the light timer, extra light bulbs, tree ornament hooks, and the tree skirt in the same bin as the tree ornaments.  This way I’m not searching for these items when it’s time to decorate each year.

I understand that putting away holiday decorations can be a drag, but I hope these suggestions will help prevent procrastination.

©January 2015  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved


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