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A Human's Guide to Stuff - Getting Organized

Updated on January 25, 2020

Get Organized

Nowadays we're so busy, eager to rush around to get things done, so we can make more money, so we can buy more things and keep ourselves occupied until our next paycheck.

Whether you want to keep up with the Joneses, or want to live a simpler life (or both), there is so much that can be done to keep everything in order, with a little effort and planning.

Getting organized isn't always easy, so let's work to get there together.

That's all you need in life, a little place for your stuff.

— George Carlin

Philosophy for Organizing Stuff

There are so many ways to organize one's life, but there are some key principles to recognize first. It's important to get into a mindset that encourages order and organization. The more one follows these principles, the easier it is to organize stuff and reduce the drag of daily problems.

  • Buy what you need and get rid of what you don't.
  • Don't buy something if you aren't going to use it, and don't have a place to store it.
  • Find a home for every thing, and practice returning things to their home when finished.
  • Don't leave things on a flat surface if you can find a better place for it.
  • Make things you need easy to access, use them often and keep them clean and ready for use.
  • Don't burden others with things they don't need.
  • Tell your friends about things that benefit you, and show them so they can decide if it would help them as well.

Soon, you can start maximizing the utility of things in your life, and make them an extension of you, instead of just stuff that piles up and gets in the way.

Classifying Stuff

There are lots of different kinds of stuff - Sort, store and use them properly, or throw them out!

  • Daily Use - These are things you use all the time at home, at work, at school, and which you carry with you wherever you go. These should be the best quality you can afford and be organized so that they are convenient and ready for you.
  • Hobbies and Collections - Whatever you love to do, there are pieces, parts and tools that you need to enjoy your interests to the utmost. Since your interests are usually engaged when you have free time, storage is also an essential part of enjoying your hobbies so you can keep things safely tucked away until it's time to get into them again.
  • Keepsakes and Heirlooms - Pictures, knickknacks and family mementos should be on display, or organized for easy reference. Often times they get stuffed in boxes and lost among the rest of the stuff, maybe dusted off and brought out when family comes around.
  • Paperwork - A lot of mail and documents pile up and either get lost in the shuffle, or thrown out, seen as unimportant. Bills, taxes, forms and other important paperwork need places to stage so they can be resolved, stored for future reference or disposed of properly.
  • Junk - If you don't use things, or enjoy them, or keep them for personal reasons, and they are hidden in boxes, or worse, stacked in dirty basements, attics or garages, then you don't need them. Donate, re-purpose, recycle them, or throw them out.

If you have a lot of things, and you're trying to make sense out of all of them, then this is a good place to start. If you can figure out which groups your stuff falls into, then you can make better decisions on what to keep and how to use it, and how to get rid of the things that aren't doing you any good.

Drawers and Cabinets and Closets and the Art of Not Stuffing Everything Into Them To Be Forgotten

I love boxes, bags and shelves because they almost always hold exactly what they need to, while drawers, cabinets and closets almost always hold a bunch of junk that are inappropriate to the room they're in, take up space, and contain items destined to be forgotten (but they can be improved).

If you can keep these organized, then you're part of the way to a more functional house and less cluttered life. Kitchens and Bathrooms will fight you, however.

Kitchen/Dining Room/Breakfast Nook - Kitchen drawers are notorious for having anything that doesn't have a home unceremoniously stuffed into them. When it comes to the kitchen, drawers are for flatware (with an organizer), and specialty cooking tools and utensils that have no where else to go (like knives in a knife block). As for cabinets, the only thing that should go there are dishes, pots, pans, trays and small appliances.

Everything else food/kitchen related should go into the pantry, if available, or the refrigerator/freezer as needed.

But what about essential things that you need to get to that don't have anywhere else to go, (that usually end up in a kitchen drawer)?

  • Put mail items (stamps, envelopes, labels) in a caddie to place on the counter or nearby wherever you put mail for sorting.
  • Pens/pencils/markers can go in a pen cup (or mug or a caddie or anything that can hold pens)
  • Loose change can go into a bank, preferably one small enough to carry when full, and easy to pour out for counting/redemption.
  • Batteries - Best thing to do is buy them in bulk and keep them in the package, and store the packages in a drawer (let's face it, you're still going to have that drawer, but one is OK). The original packaging is generally the best way to store batteries in the home and for travel use.

Things to get rid of - China Dishes, Tureens, Etc.

If you have to keep China, store them on display in a china cabinet, or a wall mounted plate display.

Bathroom/Shower - A lot of things gravitate to the cabinets and drawers in a bathroom and help contribute to bathroom clutter. As with most things, keep things you're using for the particular room, and nothing else.

Towels should be on wall racks or in the cabinets (or in towel-specific furniture if your bathroom is big enough).

Toilet Paper and Tissues can be stored in cabinets until ready to use.

Toiletries including brushes, combs, trimmers, toothbrushes and the like can have a home on the counter, and if wet, should be stored so they can dry out. Avoid storing home toiletries in a travel bag as the bag will collect dust and encourage bacteria, mold and crud in general. Clear out travel bags after every trip so that bags can dry out/be cleaned, and you can assess what if anything needs to be replaced.

Leave small appliances on the counter - hairdryers, etc.

Anything that gets wet should be cleaned and dried, and stored in cabinets when not in use, like humidifiers.

If you have enough cabinet space, separate dry and wet storage in separate cabinets (toilet paper and tissues in one, and humidifiers, fountains, and pet waterers in the other).

Keep medications and accessories in drawers (including cough drops and vitamins. Get, fill and use a weekly medication box. If you must take medication daily, this is the best way to store and prepare to use daily meds, and it's ready to go for travel.

Bottles of soap and shampoo can be stored in the shower. If you buy in bulk, keep unused bottles in the wet side of your cabinets, just in case of leaks.

AHGTS - Articles

This is just the beginning, a primer to get in the mindset of better organizing our lives. Here is a hint of more to come to help with de-cluttering home, office, travel, auto and your own pockets.

Coming Soon:

  • Boxes, Bags and Shelves (Drawers are Evil)
  • EDC and Where to Put Stuff When at Home
  • Hobby Organization - RC Cars
  • Hobby Organization - Lego
  • Office Bag EDC
  • Car Organization
  • Wallet/Purse/Daybag Cleanout
  • Multitools, Knives and Minitools
  • Duffle Bags/Carry-On Bags
  • Organizing Mail

© 2020 Joseph Flitner

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