Archive of ‘Organizing’ category

Adding closed storage to an IKEA Expedit

I have liked the IKEA Expedit I use in my bedroom for storage, but have concluded that I’m just not an “open storage” person. I find the cubbies get dusty really quickly, and I don’t like looking at everything that is being stored, especially in a bedroom, where I want the vibe to be calm.

See what I mean?

IKEA Expedit shelf

Not dreadful, but nothing I want to see every day. Except the cat, of course.

I purchased four Kottebo baskets, two Kallax drawer inserts, and two Kallax door inserts. Putting the baskets together was simple, they fold open and then the bottom flips down. I like the color and texture of them.

The drawers and doors were a bit more work to assemble, especially screwing the inserts into the sides of the shelves. If I do any more IKEA assembly, I will definitely invest in an electric screwdriver. The only other challenge was my cat, who was overly interested in what I was doing, and at one point batted a wooden dowel and started chasing it.

The doors were a bit of a pain to make level, square, centered in the space. But in the end, it was worth all the effort.

IKEA Expedit shelf with drawers and baskets

Much better!

Making Progress on the Basement

The basement, aka the trash heap, is really coming along. I’ve gotten at least 15 boxes of items to donate ready to go, and several bags of recycling and trash already out. I’m having a hard time finding a way to donate an older television, which still works fine. I’ve been told by two charities that there is a law in my state preventing them from accepting televisions.

Huh. I guess I’ll be charitable (heh) and assume that lawmakers had a logical reason for this law.

It’s amazing how easy it is to get into the downsizing groove once I just start. I have just decided to let go of most of the craft and hobby materials, for things I never engage in anymore, and hope someone else will enjoy them.

Room By Room vs. Category Organizing

I recently finished reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. One of the key things in her method for organizing is to focus on organizing and decluttering by category of item, rather than room by room.

She suggests gathering up all of one category of item, for example, books, no matter where the books are normally stored in your home. Then go through the books with an eye to purging and identifying those you will keep. Her argument is that if you go category by category, the rooms will end up organized anyway.

I really like this in theory. I used this method to go through my books and my clothes. However… for me at least, it seems that sometimes room by room is the only way to go.

Some rooms just demand to be focused on, rooms such as my basement, a.k.a., the Subterranean Pit of Doom. (And you have to say it all drawn out and dramatic: Doooooom!)

There are so many different types of things down there, that really, there’s nothing for it but to dive in and start decluttering. I just wish I had a backhoe in the basement.

messy basement photo

And this is just one small corner. Hold me.

Do you have a preference for either room by room or category for organizing?


Closets: useful home storage, or black holes of chaos?

As I’m cleaning out several closets and finding a lot of trash and broken items just shoved into the unseen recesses, I’m thinking that closets are really not the most useful storage.

Unless, I suppose, one springs for a lovely closet organizing system, that makes dark unseen recesses a thing of the past.

Why did we keep empty boxes? Dirty old shoe inserts? Or, for that matter, single shoes without any mates?

I believe that the Container Store often has Elfa closet system sales in the beginning of the year. This may be the year I succumb.

My New Brain

I’ve been searching for what feels like eons for a way to organize everything I want to remember and be able to search and find things again. I used to have the perfect system for this type of organization and retrieval of data.

It was my brain.

But, as time has slipped by and I get older, I find that my brain is no longer as reliable as it once was, so I went looking for a replacement.

I may have found it in the online service called Evernote.

Evernote is, essentially, a great big database that you can use to store just about anything. The motto of the service is Remember Everything.

  • Got paper you want to scan and store online? Evernote has your back.
  • Got web pages you want to keep as reference or inspiration? Evernote has a web clipping feature that lets you save entire or partial web pages.
  • Got email you want to keep and be able to organize and search? Forward it to Evernote.
  • Want to take a screenshot of something on your tablet and store it in Evernote? Can do!
  • Want to create a note to house an image? Evernote can handle it, PLUS it comes with a way to add annotations directly on the image. I’ve already annotated an image of a floor plan I created for a room in the basement and it was so easy!

These are just a small sample of the types of things Evernote and store and organize. Evernote lets you organize in two main ways… you can create digital Notebooks full of individual notes. You can create a master notebook, with lots of sub-notebooks, each filled with notes. You can also index the content you are storing with tags.

So, for example, say I have a notebook for Home Repair. I can have individual notebooks within for every room or system in the house. Inside the notebooks, notes on repair people, supplies, wish lists, etc. And each note can be indexed with tags. So if I know I’m going to do a bathroom remodel, I might have a note about tiling the floor, which I could tag with words such as bathroomtileflooring. I could go into Evernote at any time and search by tags to locate all notes in all notebooks with those tags. So if I search for bathroom, I’d get all notes I created with that tag, no matter what notebook they are stored inside.

I’m actually so impressed with tags, that I’m wondering if it’s even worthwhile to create notebooks to organize at all. Of course, planning your tag strategy is important, because you want to be consistent with the tags you add, so that you don’t end up with multiple tags that mean the same thing… you want to have tags, but not so many that you can’t remember them, or that you have to search for several tags to find all the information you need.

As you might imagine, it’s a big job to get all the information I have stored in various formats using various systems into Evernote. And it’s a big job to map out how to organize and tag the info. But once the main input/organization is completed, and the systems and habits are set up, my replacement brain will be so helpful.

Evernote can be used to set reminders in notes. It can be used on Windows or on Macs (although I believe it has more features for Apple users), and on some mobile devices.

I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more on how to use Evernote in the coming months, as I begin the task of transferring so much into it. I think the key is to commit to it as the one place to store everything.

I’ll let you all know how it goes!

Quick Tip: Quieting the Evening Mind

I don’t know if I’m the only person who has this happen, but most nights I will go to bed very tired and sleepy, but the minute my head hits the pillow, my brain kicks into high gear thinking about zillions of things I need to get done.

One of the best tips I ever received was to keep a pad of paper and a pen in the drawer of my nightstand, so that when this happens, I can sit up and write down a short (or often long) list of all the things occupying my brain. It seems to get them out of the brain and then it’s much easier to fall asleep.

BH&G January 2014 Issue

magazine cover I’m just back from a trip, and was happy to find some fun mail upon my return. Better Homes and Gardens has come out with its January 2014 issue, dedicated to organizing. Naturally, no surprise, my favorite issue of the year so far. Ha. Lots of good advice and links back to more on the BH&G site. :   )

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