Getting Organized: Systems Built to Last

Once you have purged your accumulation of stuff using our A-B-C-D prioritization tool, your organizing project is about creating systems that will last through the weeks and months ahead.
You definitely want to put the most frequently used items in the most accessible places — the way you have your favorite pens and pencils in a jar on your desk. But you also want to locate homes for items based on what we organizers call “Point of Use.” For example, put your pot holders near the oven and stove — right where they are used.
As you are putting things away, you may need containers or other products to make your system work. Always measure first before going out to purchase baskets, bins or drawer dividers.
Also, think through how else you can make your project work better, especially if you are sharing the space with other people. Just remember the Spanish word “VEO,” meaning “I See.”
Your organizing system should ideally be Visible, Easy and Obvious:

  • Visible: Everyone can see where things belong and what is available for making selections.
  • Easy: Everyone can put things away with minimum hassle, ideally with one-handed operation.
  • Obvious: The categories of items are labeled clearly and are unambiguous.

Keeping things visible might mean buying clear containers instead of baskets. Having open bins without lids is one way to make things easy, so that people can toss items in without fussing with the containers. And labeling is a great way to make the system you designed more obvious to everyone using it — chips go in the labeled “CHIPS” basket in the pantry.
We human beings prefer things to be simple, especially kids. Think about how much easier hooks are to use when hanging up a coat, rather than hangers. Hooks are a great “VEO” example to follow for creating great systems!
And remember, no organizing product is THE ANSWER. No matter what product you buy, it requires a system of habits and behaviors around it to make it work. Bins and cubbies don’t work unless people put things inside them! In our next post, we’ll discuss maintaining the systems you built.
Remember, Goodwill® stores are regularly stocked with donations of people’s organizing supplies that did not work out when they brought them home, because they didn’t measure first or they didn’t maintain their systems! Don’t make those same mistakes — measure first, then shop at Goodwill for any organizing supplies you need. Baskets, large and small containers and bins, desk trays, and the like are easily found at your favorite Goodwill store. You can also find a new favorite using the Goodwill Locator or by downloading the Goodwill app for iOS and Android devices!