When I was a kid, I played video games A LOT. Puzzle games were especially my favorite to play–like Tetris or Dr. Mario. Even some of the other story-based video games kept me busy because I loved looking for the pattern in things. Like in Sonic the Hedgehog, I would eventually learn Dr. Robotnik’s patterns in the stage battles and would beat him without any problems after 2 or 3 attempts.
Organizing an area is similar to Tetris in that we try to efficiently use the space available and learn patterns.
Take my plasticware cabinet for example.
Eeks! It’s spilling out everywhere!
Obviously at any moment, I’m going to open that cabinet and be buried under a mound of plastic. This fear of mine is only second behind death by choking on Chinese delivery alone on a Friday night (a single person’s worst nightmare).
But anyway, I digress.
When dealing with a single location like this one, I like to start fresh and just empty out the space before I try to organize it. This initial step allows you to take a quick inventory of what exactly you have to deal with. It’s also an opportunity to really evaluate some of the stuff you’re trying to hold onto. Like this one:
Plastic containers, even the best ones, eventually degrade at some point.
When plastic breaks down, it can leech harmful chemicals into your food, especially when heated. After evaluating my current inventory, I learned that a lot of my containers were in the beginning stages of this and would need to be replaced within the coming months.
I didn’t throw out the entire lot at this point. After all, a girl still needs to eat and I couldn’t replace $100 worth of plastic containers overnight. However, I did put it on my list of projects to tackle when I get an opportunity.
Ahhh. A blank canvas.
I kept my larger containers on the top shelf because I knew I rarely used those unless I was bringing something cold to a pot luck or something like that.
I have a TON of little containers that I often use to pack salad dressing, toppings, and other spices and sauces when I bring my lunch to work. So the last time I was at The Container Store, I picked up one of these Akrobins.
Narrow 10-7/8″ Akrobin ($6.99)
I’m guessing these Akrobins are primarily used in garage or basement organization systems because you can actually attach them to a wall mount that they also sell at The Container Store. The Narrow Akrobin ended up being the perfect solution for rounding up my small containers and keeping them within reach.
The Akrobin in use. Keeps those tiny little containers in one spot.
Nesting containers was another strategy that helped me reduce the amount of space some of the containers took up, especially the ones that I knew I only used every once in a while.
Nesting containers significantly reduces the amount of space containers take up.
After about 30 minutes of moving things around, putting this here, and that there, I ended up with a perfectly organized cabinet AND extra room.
So a couple things to take away from this:
- Start with a clean slate. Empty out the space you’re about to tackle.
- Evaluate what’s going back in. Toss what’s in poor shape, donate what’s no longer being used, and make note of what items will need to be replaced.
- Find ways to reduce space consumption when putting things back into their place.