Refresh: Organized Shelves

May I introduce you to my home? It contains a lot of stuff. A LOT. OF STUFF. I suspect I am not the only one. If you choose not to be minimalist (or minimalist in spirit but not practice), you end up having to find a place for all that stuff. Once closets are full, or if there aren’t many closets, we often end up looking at cabinets or shelves for the rest. That is a good option for items we use often, like shelf-stable food or cookie sheets or toiletries. But the option will fail if it’s not sufficiently organized.

It helps to be able to find what you need AND minimize visual clutter in the process. Shelving is great because it is easy to access. It can be a problem, though, if it’s just more layers of unknown piles stacking to the ceiling. If what you need is buried, you can’t get it and you are oppressing your brain in the process!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put like items together. Make it easy to see where things are in a split-second glance. Consider also which items are often used together. Mixing bowls can be in the section next to the brownie mix. Plastic food storage containers can be in the section next to the plastic bags for post-dinner clean-up.

Do your best to fit the items to the shelf size. Big shelf, big stuff. Push the little things to the smaller shelves. The less you have stacked, the easier it is to put your hand on it when needed. This also goes for bookshelves. Keep the big, tall books on the taller shelves and the short paperbacks on the more narrow shelves. It will fill the space better and look neat.

Put what you use most where it is easiest to reach. The heavier, less frequently used stuff can go on the very bottom shelf. The lighter items can go on the top shelf. You will see and reach for the middle shelves the most, so save yourself a few inches.

IMG_4225Hide what you can in plain sight. We’ve already discussed closets, but this is also for shelving out in a room. Using baskets or bins or banker’s boxes covered in contact paper will help cut down on the clutter in the room. It is there, but you don’t have to look at it until you need it. Using a neutral color for the bins or paper cover will make the shapes blend into the background. Or you can take the opportunity to add a pop of color to the room.

Mix up your shelving. You can use the same set of shelves for books, a few boxes, a vase with flowers, a few picture frames, and toy storage. Bonus: it looks decorative, just like in catalogs! This will also help relieve some of the pressure to fill the shelf with whatever you had earmarked for it. Keep what you need and is meaningful. If you only need enough books, toys and pictures to fill one shelving unit — excellent. If it eventually expands to two, no problem, but resist the urge to force the expansion just to fill space. Note: you will still need to sort into separate areas. For instance, one shelf is books, one shelf is half books and half pictures, and the bottom shelf is toys.

Refresh: An Organized Purse

Speaking for myself, my purse is my treasure trove, lifeline, and security blanket. If it wouldn’t break my back, I probably would put the kitchen sink in there!

We use our purses for many things throughout the day. Think of how many times you reach into or look into yours. How many minutes a day do you spend digging for car keys or wallet or Chapstick? Add that up over a month, and you may be surprised. If you could reclaim those minutes, would you?

I have found that organizing my purse saves a great deal of time otherwise spent scrambling. An added benefit is that it takes less than 2 minutes to switch purses when I want to add variety. Here I would like to share what works best for me. I hope that it helps, in whole or in part, as you seek to improve stewardship of your 24 hours.

With a couple of large exceptions (i.e., Kindle), everything has a zipper pouch for a home. Each pouch is a different size, shape, and texture, so that I can reach in and feel what I need without even having to look. I’ve collected mine from a variety of places, from Walmart to thrift stores to Vera Bradley direct.

  • One case contains “tools” such as a flash drive, a couple pens, a Sharpie, a highlighter, and a creaser.
  • Another pouch has makeup and medicine. So lipstick, aspirin, essential oils and BandAids are all in one place.
  • A third has gum, a granola bar or dehydrated fruit, and cough drops/peppermints for church. Basically these are edibles, so I find a lined case works best.
  • There is also a bag for hygiene, ready when needed. Key here is refilling it at home on the weeks it is used.
  • Coupons, gift cards, and important membership cards and papers can go in an envelope or pouch also.

In addition to the pouches, I have my wallet, an emergency shopping bag, my Kindle and my car key. My phone is generally in my pocket, but occasionally it has to be dropped in as well. I have found that having at least one pocket in the purse helps immensely to contain the key. If I always drop it in when it’s not being used, it’s always there when I need it. Same for your phone.

Anything other than those items that gets dropped in will stick out like a sore thumb, so I generally find it easy to take care of it when I’m at home or have a few minutes.

As I mentioned, when switching purses, I move 5 pouches and four items over. Then all I have to do is check the pockets and throw away any debris at the bottom of the bag. Ready to roll!