If you haven’t ran out and bought out the entire storage container aisle at Target yet, hold it right there! Just because a container is made for storage, doesn’t mean it will actually make you more organized. Some containers actually do the opposite.
While having your stuff properly stored is a good thing, it’s not helping you much if your stuff is still piled up and cluttered, only hidden away that way. These five offenders below are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, and if you’re not careful, they can really make a big mess of things, even worse than before you “organized” them in the first place.
Containers That Make You Less Organized
1. Big Plastic Rolling Drawer Units
You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re in probably every kid’s room and craft room in America. Why? They’re cheap, easy to move, and hold a lot of stuff. Right?
But did you catch that last line? They hold a lot of stuff. Go up to your kiddo’s bedroom and open up one of those drawers in that big plastic rolling drawer unit. See what’s inside. Go ahead, I’ll wait… Ouch, right? There’s more crap in that thing than you even knew they had! From headless action figures to old Halloween candy to a monkey wrench, [umm, whyyyy?] it looks like anything and everything has just been stuffed inside.
Why? Because you said “You better have that room cleaned up in 30 minutes or you’re not playing Fortnite with your friends tonight!” And so he cleaned. To kids, cleaning is just getting stuff out of the floor and out of sight. “It’s clean Mom!” And just like that, those drawer units have turned into a hot mess of forgotten stuff.
You don’t have to ditch the drawers completely, just be mindful of how easy it is for them to get out of control. To keep these drawers in shape, follow these tips:
- Designate each drawer a very specific category.
- Don’t store large or heavy things inside. They make it hard to close drawers and can break the shell.
- Label the outside of each drawer with what’s inside.
- If one ‘drawer category’ starts getting too full, explore a new option for storage instead of cramming more inside or overflowing into another space.
- Encourage kids to purge these drawers every couple of months by emptying them out completely and re-sorting.
2. An Abundance Of Baskets And Bins
This one’s tricky, because baskets and bins can actually be a good thing. But in moderation. Baskets get a heightened reputation because not only do they store our stuff hidden out sight, but they look pretty, too. And those collapsible bins are so freaking cheap! Why not load up, right?
But the thing about these baskets and bins is the bigger they are, the more stuff you can fit. And the more stuff you can fit, the less likely you’ll have them stored in a neat and tidy way. Pick a basket, any basket, in your house. Whatever’s close. Is everything neatly sorted, separated in smaller containers inside, and all within one category? Or is it the evil cousin of the junk drawer, with everything piled up on top of it?
Now I’m not saying baskets and bins are bad. They’re totally great when used right. Keep these things in mind when organizing with baskets:
- Only one “category” per basket or bin
- Avoid very large bins that allow for an overflow of clutter
- Use smaller containers within a large basket to keep small items separated
- Purge the out-of-place or no longer needed items every couple of months to avoid overstock
3. Tool Boxes
Sorry dudes, but your tool boxes are a disaster zone. And they know it. So before you start defending your man and that big giant tool chest in the garage, hear me out. Because deep down, you know the truth already.
Unless you’ve got a $3000 tool chest with fifty drawers and organizers inside like your utensil drawer, then you’ve got a big jumbled mess. Tool boxes are great for storing tools, but they’re terrible at organizing them. If storage is your end game, then you wouldn’t be hanging out on this site anyway. I know you, girl. You want everything to be neat, tidy, and easy to find.
I recommend to all of my clients when working on garages to always use a pegboard instead. You can still have that tool box for some things, but once you experience what it feels like to not search for five minutes for a flathead and just see it hanging right in front of your face, you’ll never want to open a messy toolbox again.
On the subject of tools, here’s a few more storage tips:
- Labeling spots on your pegboard makes it easy for everyone in the family to put things away
- Have a designated tool area in the garage and police it like crazy to make sure nothing else ends up there
- For multi-story homes, keep a small “starter” tool set upstairs to avoid having to run up and down to get a hammer or screwdriver
- Declutter the over-abundance of tools once a year. Nobody needs eight hammers…
4. Glove Compartments and Middle Consoles Of Cars
This one is a no-brainer, right? If you got pulled over today, how long would it take you to find your registration paper in your glove compartment? Long enough to annoy the officer and knock out any chance you had of getting out of that ticket? Probably.
It’s great that cars come with these cool little cubby holes, but most of the time, we just shove stuff in them when we’re about to pick up a friend for lunch and we don’t want them to see that we are straight up animals when it comes to keeping our cars clean. That middle console of yours has more expired gum and stale M&Ms than the floor on the back row at the dollar theater on the bad side of town.
Take a hot second and pull all the stuff out of the cubbies of your car, and follow these quick tips to make sure that mess never happens again:
- Get a car wallet for registration, insurance cards, and other quick-grab documents
- Store headphones, chargers, and other small electronics in hard-shell containers
- Use small makeup organizers to keep little things like beauty items, pens, and small tools in place in the middle console
- Be realistic about what you really need to keep in your car and what’s not actually that important
Read More: Simple Vehicle Organization Hacks
5. Opaque Storage Bins
This one is more of a personal preference, because I have lots of clients that prefer an opaque storage bin over a transparent one, but hear me out. When you use a solid, opaque storage bin, you can’t see what’s inside. And you can hide a jumbled mess in the time it takes you to pop the lid on and shove it back on the shelf. And this may be fine for you, as long as it’s well-categorized and packed inside carefully.
But once you experience what it’s like to have clear storage containers, you’ll never go back. When your bins are clear, you can’t just throw all your knitting stuff inside all willy-nilly. It’s all on display for the world to see that you’ll spend five minutes untangling that yarn before you can get back to your project. With that simple sense of “being on display” you will instinctively put things away more carefully and intentionally. Making opening back up that bin much less stressful later.
More Containers That Make You Less Organized
- Photo boxes (Use an album instead, or store digitally like this)
- Drawers without dividers
- Extra large tote bags
- Toy Boxes
- Built-in banquets/window seats
- Cardboard boxes
- Wide or deep nightstand drawers and cabinets