Find a Container

How do you find a container?

The main concept to find a container that will make house organization easy is the following:

The item should be easier to put away,

than it is to get out. 

This sounds confusing, so let me give you an example.  We have a large, rectangular, wicker basket in our front living room for shoes.  It’s easier for the family to toss shoes in the basket, than it is to get them out.  When someone wants their shoes, they are willing to do whatever it takes to find their shoes – even if they have to dig.

This shoe container works because our family usually takes the easiest path when it comes to putting things away.  If you make it too hard for your family, they usually won’t do it.

If I expected everyone to take their shoes to their bedroom when they slip off their shoes to watch tv, they wouldn’t do it.  Instead I found a container that was big enough, a giant shoe basket for the family to flip their shoes into.  It’s fun and easy to maintain our house organization system.

shoe organizer

Your family has habits. Learn to work with their habits - not against them. Find a container and place it where the family kicks off their shoes - even if it's in the living room. A house is not a showpiece to admire for strangers. It's a home to welcome and friends and family.

Choose your battles.

Make it easy for your family to put things away.  If you have a home full of meticulous teenagers (ha ha ha – hey, it could happen) then you could have a more complex shoe solution such as a stack-able shelving unit.  Find a container that makes it easy to put things away.

mudroom organization

Here's a family solution that works well for a family that has teenage children with good habits. There are cubbies for the shoes, and put away baskets for each person with hanging tags with each person's name on it.

The key is to success in your beehive is to work with your family’s cleaning habits and organization style.  Do what works for your family.

Tips to Find a Container:

1.  The item should be easier to put away, than it is to get out.

Make it as easy as possible for the family to put things away.  It’s a okay if it’s a little harder to retrieve their item because people are usually motivated to search a little if they have to.  They are not likely to put something away if it’s too hard.  Because of this the container SHOULD NOT have a lid.If you leave the lid on then the family has to go through 3-5 steps to put something away right.  For example, pull out the Nail Polish container, take off the lid, put the polish in, shut the lid, put the container back.  Five steps.  That’s hard.  It’s easier to leave the item out.  Get rid of the lids so your family can put away items easily.  You can save lids in the long-term storage if you ever need them.  There are times to break this rule, but not very often.  I keep my holiday decoration totes and my food storage containers with lids on them so critters can’t get into them.

2.  The container should fit the space by coming to the front edge of the shelf.

If you don’t do this, then the family will set the clutter in front of your container instead of inside the container.

3.  The container should fill the space vertically 50-80%.

That means that there is enough room for your hand to drop the item in without having to pull the container out.  That’s one swift movement to success for every bee in the family!

  • Get a measuring tape.
  • Measure your space you need to fill.
  • Write the measurement in your planner so you have it when you shop.
  • Take the measuring tape with you when you shop to measure the container.
  • Only acquire containers that fill the space according to your measurements.  The container must come to the front edge of the space.  (If the container doesn’t come to the front edge then put a box behind the container, so there won’t be a dumping ground available in front of your container.)

In time you will get good at estimating the right size containers without measuring, but at first it’s good to measure because it will save you many trips back to the store.

4.  Label your container with text or a picture.

When you label your containers all the readers can put things away correctly every time.  Put clip art or a photo on the containers for all the non-readers in the family.

Find a Container:

Good, Better, or Best?

We all have time and money considerations to consider when you find a container.  A “good” container would be a cardboard box.  It’s a good because you can see if the organization solution worked without spending any money.  When you are ready to upgrade – you can move up to a “better” or “best” such as a plastic container that’s better looking and easier to clean.

  • A Good Container- This container follows all 4 rules but it’s not necessarily beautiful.  For example, you could cut a cardboard box to size or tape a divider in the box as shown below.  Throw a label on it and you’re organization is complete!  It’s free!  The con with cardboard boxes is that sometimes they are flimsy, they don’t have lids (if you need them), they have distracting advertising, and some say cardboard boxes have bugs (I haven’t ever had a problem with critters).  I still use cardboard in some areas because of frugal living.  Spray paint your boxes to get a more professional look or tape the edges.

    cardboard drawer organizerHere’s 2 cardboard boxes that have taped dividers to organize different size diapers, etc.  This is a good solution because it’s functional, free, and fits the space exactly.

    Another idea would be to tape a LARGE label on the front of your box that sits on the shelf.  Then all you will see is the label, not the box.

    kitchen cupboardLabel shoe boxes and cardboard boxes for a frugal organization solution.
  • Better Container-This container follows all 4 rules but it’s nicer looking.  For example, you could acquire plastic containers and label them.  Some in a family like clear containers because they can see what’s inside.  (Tips:  You may rather have opaque containers rather than clear if you don’t want to see the chaotic clutter in your container.  If the container is opaque then the children can’t see all those tempting treasures to discover.)  Decide what you like.  The pro’s about “better” container is that cleaning is easier, it’s usually one consistent color which creates a peaceful, professional look and there are no bugs.  The cons are that they cost money.  You can get some good-looking, frugal containers at the Dollar Store, Thrift Stores, garage sales, or friends and family.
    organized pen pencil junk drawerThese gift boxes are “better” containers because they’re functional and nicer looking than sawed-off cardboard boxes but they are harder to keep clean compared to plastic.
  • Best Container-This containers follows all 4 rules but it’s beautiful.  It’s what you would see in a designer home.  It could be plastic, glass, wicker, canvas, or wooden.  The label is beautiful also.  It’s pros are that it’s beautiful and cleaning is easy.  It’s cons are that it’s harder to find and it usually costs more.  If you have the money and time, then find a container that’s beautiful.  Make sure it can be labeled so your family can put things away.
    junk drawer organizerThis is a “best” solution because the containers fit the space exactly. They are white plastic which is easy to clean. The only problem is that this junk drawer is not labeled – so notice how everything is put away in a random fashion.  Labeling is a key to organization success and it’s worth your time!

For more examples of label solutions go to Laundry Organization.

Choosing labels:

Good, Better, or Best?

With labels you also want to consider how much money and time you have to get your containers labeled.  Although labeling is almost the last step in the organization process, it’s tempting to skip or get tired and not do it.  If you don’t inscribe then you’re allowing your organization to be unraveled in no time. If you don’t label, then you are expecting everyone to memorize where everything goes.  I call that “living in a dream world.”  I commend you if you can get that done, but to me it’s not worth the struggle.  Your labels don’t have to be beautiful, but they do need to be there.  You will be more efficient and save hours of time by labeling your containers.

  • Good Label- If you are super short on time and money then use some masking tape and a black marker to inscribe on your container.  Print neatly and don’t use cursive!  Minimize the words on your label.  For example:  A box labeled Noodles is better than a box with lots of little words that say Spaghetti Noodles, Lasagna Noodles, Egg Noodles, and Ramen.  One or two words is shorter, cleaner, and easier to read.
  • Better Label- If you have a little more time and money then you could print your labels on the computer in a simple font and tape it to your container.  Clip art is easy to find in Microsoft Word to put on the label too.  You could use clear packing tape over your label.  One of the advantages is that you can make large, easy-to-read, professional looking labels.  The con is that it takes more time than masking tape.
  • Best Label –Get a labeler from an office supply store that costs around $25 and the tape refills are about $12 each and label each container.  This is nice because the label tape is laminated and cleaning it is easy because everything can wash off.  It can be reused if you want to move it too.  The con is that it costs more and the labels aren’t larger than 1/2-1 inch.  There are lots of other good-looking solutions such as tags you can hang, containers with windows for the label to be slipped in, etc.
    brother labeler laminate tape

    This labeler cost about $20 from any office supply store. It prints laminated tape which looks professional and cleans off easily. It resticks too if you want to move it.

Find a container, label them, and get organized!

You can create an organized beehive!

Krystal Meldrum

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