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Ask Lela: Organizing The Small Stuff

Ask Lela Burris

“I’m pretty good about organizing most of my house, but I’m really struggling with organizing the tiny things. Like the really small stuff that never seems to have a real place. Any ideas?”

        -Amanda from Rapid Falls

How To Organize The Small Stuff

I get this question all the time from my clients. The bigger things are so easy to sort. There are great containers and dividers and hooks and hangers for all your “average sized” items, but when it comes to the small stuff, no amount of organization ever makes them feel neat and tidy. Even the small divided trays turn into a big mess after just a few weeks.

So why is it so hard to keep the small stuff organized? The biggest reason is because we hang onto a lot of small stuff we really don’t need. Go open your desk drawer and count how many pens and pencils you have in there. If it’s more than the amount of kids in your oldest child’s classroom, you, my friend, are a “stuff” hoarder.

You may be really great about not having a bunch of random kitchen appliances on hand. And you might only have a few extra pillows and blankets. But when it comes to little things, we tend to hang onto more than what we need because they’re so small. They don’t take up a lot of space, therefore we don’t see them as a problem.

So before you start trying to tidy up all your “tiny things” you really need to be honest with yourself on why you are hanging onto those items and if you really need them. Once you’ve downsized your mini stockpiles, you can jump into how to organize what’s left.

Storage Solutions For Tiny Things

Makeup You definitely need to invest in a specialized divided acrylic storage system for makeup. Those caboodles and plastic drawers just don’t cut it. Things get jumbled around, mixed up, and pushed to the back, leaving you with broken pressed palettes and expired mascara. I keep my makeup in this acrylic divided tray, and you can mix and match systems to suit your stash.

Jewelry  Jewelry can take up a lot of space very quickly, and jewelry boxes aren’t suitable for the kind of stuff we wear now. I definitely recommend grabbing a storage mirror like this one to hold your whole collection. It hangs from a door so it doesn’t take up any counter or dresser space. I keep mine in my closet and it doubles as a dressing mirror.

Office Supplies  I love using those nail/screw storage containers for office supplies. They take up a small amount of space and can be stored standing or lying flat. They’re great for staples, rubber bands, push pins, paper clips, pens, and pencils. And this container has adjustable dividers so you can custom-fit everything inside.

Tiny Kids’ Toys  For mini toys, I love those cheap over-the-door shoe pocket organizers. They hold so many things and you can use each pocket for a different category. Yo-yo’s in one pocket, spy gear in another, Barbie accessories in another, and so on. I like getting clear ones like these so they don’t even need labels and kids can clean up their toys easier and faster.

Art Supplies  Chances are, the arts and crafts projects aren’t happening in just one place in your house. You’re likely doing some projects at the dining room table, some on the sofa while watching the Housewives fight in a restaurant, and some outside so paint spills don’t ruin your new hide rug. I suggest keeping art supplies in a rolling craft organizer like this one. It’s like a suitcase but with tons of pockets and dividers. You can take it anywhere and have everything you need on-hand.

Batteries  Instead of trying to keep batteries in their bulky packaging and taking up a ton of space in your junk drawer, try storing them loose inside a small hardware container. You can separate them by size and store them neatly all in one place. I like this container for batteries because it has slots for all different sizes and even comes with a battery tester.

Tools Do not, do not, a hundred times do not store your tools in a toolbox. That messy pile of tools laying on top of each other is doing nothing but pissing you off when you can’t find the flathead screwdriver. Tool boxes are one of the worst things you can use when it comes to organization because all they do is corral everything into one big jumbled mess. Always go for a pegboard for your tools, and keep nails and hardware in small divided containers. I really like this pegboard kit because it’s so easy to install and you get everything you need in one set.

Shop For Small Organizers

Here are all the organizers I mentioned above, and they’re all available through Amazon. I put them all in one collection in my Amazon Store to make shopping easier. See? Even my Amazon Store is organized! [I’m giggling, you just can’t hear me.]

organizers for tiny things

Read More:

5 Containers That Are Making You Less Organized

Have A Question Of Your Own?

Need decorating advice? Stumped on storage solutions? No idea how to organize that awkward cabinet in the corner of your kitchen? Stop waiting for the golden answer to appear at your doorstep. You can send your questions here and if chosen, you’ll be featured in an upcoming Ask Lela segment. Free advice straight from a pro. What more could you want? 🙂


  1. I’m definitely guilty of stuff hoarding! I have quite a lot of makeup and I definitely need to do a clear out. That’s great advice to invest in some divided storage trays to keep everything separated and properly organised… I also love the idea of the storage mirror for jewelry, great for saving space! 🙂

    Thanks a lot for your tips Lela – I’ll definitely sort out my makeup storage!

    • Lela Burris

      I’m so glad that helped you! You’re so right, makeup is one of those things that can pile up in a hot minute. Good luck with getting it all cleaned up!

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