The container business is a huge market that has grown more as we continue to buy. There are even large chains that only sell containers. You can find containers in any size, shape or color you could dream of! We are told that in order to get organized we need to buy containers but we are here to tell you today that is not true. Buying more will not help solve the problem of clutter in your home and in most cases it compounds the problem. Today, we want to clear up the myths that you may have heard about containers.
Myth 1: Containers get you organized
As we have told you before, step 4 of the organizing process is to contain your items but we aren’t always talking about actual containers. When we say containers, we are talking about any space that will hold an item, this can be a shelf, a cabinet or even the counter top. These are the tools you should use first to try to store the items in your house. If the storage in your home is lacking then there are items you can install, like more shelving, or buy, like a functional furniture pieces. For more ideas on storage solutions in a small space read our Bigger isn’t Always Better post.
Myth 2: Containers help keep things in order
Think about the last time you moved and had to pack all your items in boxes. Were you able to find the things you needed right away or did you have to search through box after box? This is what happens with containers. Though you might start the process off in an organized manner, eventually you start throwing items in any box to have it “taken care of.” A problem can also arise when it comes to places to store these containers. Living in South Florida, certain items will not survive in the attic or garage so where do they go? A box in this closet, a box in that closet, all of the sudden you have various boxes around your house and keeping track of what is in which closet can get confusing.
Myth 3: You need containers to hold all of the things you have
As Americans, we have been raised to believe we need to have all the latest and greatest items available on the market. This mindset has made us overbuy which will eventually lead us to outgrow the space we live in. The median size of a newly constructed house today is 2,478 sq. ft., compared to the average size in a 1950s home of 983 sq. ft, even as family size has shrunk during those years. What does that mean? We have too much stuff and we only use 20% of the things we own. In turn we buy containers to hold all these excess items but if we don’t have the space to store the containers and don’t use them, why keep the stuff?
We like to tell clients to use their spaces to set limits on the amount of items they keep or buy. Think of a glass, you can fill it with water but you can only fit so much liquid in it before it over flows. The size of the glass sets the limit on how much water it can hold. Now think of your closet, the size of your closet is the glass and the clothes are the water. If you cannot fit all of your clothes in it, that means you need to get rid of the extra items, not put them in a container to throw in the garage.
Myth 4: Putting items in a container makes them easier to find
Have you ever spent an extended period of time looking for an item that you swore you knew exactly where it was? Putting items in containers with lids makes finding them that much harder. We always stress the importance of labeling but if you combine various items into one container it is harder to keep track of where they end up. This is where assigning a home to things becomes important. The home needs to be a place where you would think to look for the item AND where the item will be visible.
Myth 5: You need containers for all your stuff
Almost daily, we service clients that have bins and bins full of stuff and by the end of the appointment we are left with a stack of empty containers. Once the client goes through the items stored in the containers, they realize the items are no longer needed. This could be anything from old paperwork, toys or clothes. Storing items in bins and putting them away is creating clutter by letting yourself store the items without taking the actions needed. Clutter is formed by delayed decision making and if you store your items in a container without sorting and taking the right action steps you are just storing the clutter.
So before you go running to buy containers think about the myths we busted above. Do you really need the extra storage or is it time to go through your items and make your space work for you? We know getting rid of items is not an easy task but giving yourself limits based on your space may help change your buying pattern in the future.