Why containerizing is important

Oh how I love to containerize. It’s my most favorite step of the organizing PROCESS!  There is just something so rewarding about making more fit into a space by using a few carefully selected containers.   I could do it for hours.  Okay I have done it for hours and it never gets old to me :)  There are just so many possibilities and configurations and the best part is no one way is right or wrong.  If I’m able to find what I need right when I need it, if I’m able to maximize the space available to me, if everything has a home and I stick to what I can afford then I am on the right track.

One of the most important things about containers and other storage solutions is this:

Containers establish boundaries and limits.

So often people don’t pay attention to the space they really have available to them.  They figure that if their space is full they must then just need more space.  When rather what we should be thinking and what would be painfully clear if we had established limits and boundaries is that we just need less stuff.

Let’s take my cookbooks for instance.  I have a designated space for them on one shelf in one of  my bookcases.  That is the space I have set aside for them based on the space I have available in my home.  I have established that to be the boundary and limit to my cookbooks.  When that gets full I don’t then start piling the books up on the floor as I get more.  I’ve exceeded my limit and therefore need to reign in my over consumption by purging out the excess or making some tough choices about what else I could part with in order to make room for them.  And because all of that takes work it definitely makes me think twice about what I buy in the first place.

Those in place boundaries and limits keep me in check.

They allow me to divide a space and contain “like with like”, consolidating items to fit more into my space.

Containers do NOT need to cost much money.  They certainly can, but they don’t need to.  You can find containers for ANY budget.  My favorite place to shop for containers and baskets is the dollar store.  Since I mostly use these bins in drawers, cupboards and closets they don’t necessarily need to look pretty they just need to be functional.  In fact cardboard boxes such as tea boxes and tissue boxes work amazingly well in drawers just by cutting the tops off.  If I didn’t use these baskets in my drawers everything would be just thrown into one big jumbled mess and I’d never be able to find anything.

Some of my favorite baskets that I use regularly:

Each of them were a $1.00 or less!

There are baskets and bins and containers for any space…big or small.  Keep your eyes open at the thrift stores as well because you can find all sorts of things that can be re-purposed to use as clever storage solutions for next to nothing.

Containers divide and conquer.

Once you have sorted your stuff into piles and purged anything you no longer love or is useful than it’s time to think about how you want to containerize the stuff remaining in your “keep” pile.  Be creative.  Look for unused nooks and crannys that could double as storage.  For instance, it drives me crazy that there is so much wasted space above the top shelf in a closet.  In our old house I had my husband add an additional shelf at the top of each of the closets, then with the use of some baskets I had storage for items I didn’t necessarily need daily access to.  So often people think they don’t have enough room but with some realistic purging and a little creativity you will be surprised at the storage you can find.

How are you all doing on your challenge?  What are you learning, finding most challenging, discouraged by, purging, etc..  Feel free to discuss, give an update and/or ask questions in the comments.  Would love to hear how it’s going!


Participating in this month’s challenge means you’ll be eligible to win many amazing prizes including:

$100.00 Mabels Labels prize package and a one year subscription to Blis (Best Life Information System) valued at $125.00.

Related posts:

Discovering your joy with fresh eyes

Filed under: Containerizing, Organizational Challenge


43 Responses to Why containerizing is important

  1. 1
    Larra says

    Containerizing is my favorite step too. I love picking up containers on sale when I come across them. I have to be careful bc I’ll end up with more than I need and then it becomes clutter bc I just have them stowed away waiting for a purpose.

    My space is finally coming along! I’m so excited! I have some great ideas for finishing it up and am just praying that my busy schedule over the next week won’t prevent me from finishing before the deadline! Can’t wait to share my result!

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      LOL, yes Larra I totally know what you mean. I have a container just for my containers…it’s definitely an addiction for me!! :)

  2. 2
    Heather says

    Have you seen the show Hoarders on A&E. I’m starting to think I may be a hoarder..though not on the level of those people. I just can’t seem to purge much of anything (I do not keep trash, I mean real stuff). My cook book EXCEED my designated cookbook space and yet I’ve purchased 2 more in 2010!!! But I HAD to support the blog world. I got The Pioneer WOman and the $5 dinner mom’s cookbooks. That PW book is just lovely!!

    • 2.1
      Laura says

      Heather as long as you have the space available for them in your house (piles on the floor don’t count) then it’s definitely okay to re-evaluate your designated space and perhaps increase it if you want. You just always have to remember though that it might mean saying no to something else in order to create the space you need.

      • Tanna @ Complete Organizing Solutions says

        There are several different levels of Hoarding. You have to ask yourself if the stuff you have is used, loved or purposeful to you in a reasonable manner. Not “I might use it one day, if such and such happens” If it is not useful to you now think about letting go of some stuff. If you bought 2 new cookbooks this year, Look through the others and find one you have not used in the last year or more then think about purging one. Use the one in one out rule!

  3. 3
    Dad is in the House says

    Thanks for the post, I talked over at my place about containerizing as it relates to putting your clothes away–an important step. And good to point out that the containers don’t have to be expensive. I use boxes quite a bit and then if the concept works, I might buy something nicer–but then I’ll know exactly what works shape and size-wise, without the frustration of buying something new that ends up not being the right solution. Also, the dollar store has amazing containers for $1.

    @Heather, you don’t have to throw away everything to not be a hoarder. If you enjoy cookbooks, there’s nothing wrong with building a collection IMO. But if you’re starting to think it’s a problem, you should listen to that. Lots of resources online, and flylady is great at that particular problem.

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      Such a great point about using boxes to trial the concept in order to save money in the long run.

  4. 4
    jen says

    I’ve finished my initial challenge of my library, and I’m waiting to post how we live with what I’ve done. I also added the challenge of creating an art space for my nine-year-old so she’ll know what stuff she can use and what stuff is MINE. It’s going fairly well. ..
    And my new favorite containers are the red-lidded food storage containers from Rubbermaid. They are the perfect shape and size for paintbrushes, popsicle sticks and markers!
    Feeling better already!

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Can’t wait to see it!

  5. 5
    Christy says

    I have gotten so much accomplished in just two weeks, and I’m so thankful that I had some extra containers hanging around in the house. I’m already in the mindset of “if it won’t fit into this container, then, I need to keep sorting and tossing out.” I have tossed out sooooooo much stuff already…I just do not want all this mess hanging around my house! :o)

    • 5.1
      Laura says

      That’s awesome Christy!

  6. 6
    Melissa says

    I need more containers… :)

  7. 7
    Devon says

    I’m finding I’m really enjoying this challenge because it’s giving me a space to dream, you know? I’m excited about it. I love reining in chaos and making it bend to my will.

    Unfortunately we have zip money for containers BUT I am using boxes we already had. Having everything in my closet in one confined space or another is doing wonders for my state of mind.

    • 7.1
      Laura says

      It’s so true isn’t, all the chaos and clutter affects us more than we even know and it’s only after we remove it that we feel the weight lifted off our shoulders. It’s such a great feeling!!

  8. 8
    Jenn Wells says

    What an inspiring post. Thank you. I am in the midst of finishing a room with my husband off our closet. We are making it a food storage and fabric etc area. We lack closets for the most part in our house, like no pantry and no kids closets, hall closets etc like most people have. I am very excited to see that all the walls are up. I am a little worried over how to best containerize all the fabric I have, right now its in big buckets, which does not work well at all.

  9. 9
    Wanda says

    My computer room is coming along but the weather is not cooperating. I wanted to add some paint to a few items to spiffy them up but that will just have to wait. And the building of shelves will have to wait as well – my husband reinforced the blue shelves that I already had so they will last a while longer. I removed a ton of trash from the room as well as one desk and computer. We added a freebie filing cabinet courtesy of my boss at work. My old plastic one will now house my sewing and craft supplies. It really felt good to remove the trash and actually unpack/declutter boxes that were stored away from three years ago when we moved in. This 28 day challenge has inspired me to put deadlines on other rooms!

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      That’s awesome Wanda, so excited for you!!

  10. 10
    Joyce @ Keeping Up With The Moys says

    Since we’ve been under the weather, we haven’t gotten much done until this past few days. It’s starting to look decent, but I think we definitely need some containers. I’m thinking of heading out to Daiso…not sure if they have those in Canada, but it’s great! For awhile we were just stuck and felt like we hit a wall, but even if it won’t be completed by the end of the challenge, we’re still going to work on it, and get it done!! =)


    • 10.1
      Laura says

      Hang in there Joyce, you can do it!!

  11. 11
    Sarah Sarniak says

    Thanks for sharing your opinions on this. I completely agree about the whole dividing thing. That’s my favorite thing about using containers. It creates literal boundary lines so that things don’t get too overwhelming. It looks so much better in the end. I have to start stocking up on the $1 baskets one of these days so I can get more things done on the spur of the moment if necessary.

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      Yes I do like my “little” stockpile, they are my friends :)

  12. 12
    Andi says

    I love sorting things into containers! I didn’t want to buy anything new so I added the extra challenge of everything having to fit into containers I already had. This has really helped the purge pile to grow and I am really excited about my new, less-cluttered and functional space!

    • 12.1
      Laura says

      That’s a great challenge Andi and a fantastic way to save $$.

  13. 13
    High On Craft says

    I too love containerizing and currently obsessed with reusing cardboard boxes, jars and tin cans in new and creative ways to organize my stuff.

    As for the challenge, I’m finding it difficult to organize a room that I use so frequently!! I’ve chosen to organize my craft room but I use it daily for different projects and the whole time I’m creating I’m thinking to myself “this is not helping the cause!” lol. Still, I know I’ll get there with other pockets of time set aside for specifically for tidying up my space.

  14. 14
    Anna says

    I love containers, too. I never seem to have quite enough.

  15. 15
    Heather says

    Hmmm…is that picture from the Container Store?

    I could spend all afternoon in there! And then go buy my containers at the Dollar Store or Bog Lots. :) So much cheaper!

    • 15.1
      Laura says

      It’s actually the Solution store in Ontario. It was a great place to visit and drool but yes too pricey for me.

  16. 16
    Thea @ I'm a Drama Mama says

    Hi, Laura! I didn’t realize until too late that I actually HAD a space that needed to be done…I had been living in happy blind bliss until I was forced to look at it.

    Anyhoo, are you doing a challenge a month again or is this it for the year? I really love the motivation I get from you, but I just don’t have it in me to get it done this month!

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      I’m not sure I’ll do it again or not, haven’t given it too much thought yet but we’ll see if there is enough interest.

  17. 17
    Barb Maynard says

    Thank you for the challenge this month. I have designated at least an hour a day from filing papers from the last 3 years to purging the one I realized I didn’t need. My husband has had me on our home office mission at least a dozen times, and I couldn’t get started even with a personal organizer in my house several times. This time I did it for me, because I was ready (actually tired of tripping over things, and loosing things, being late for things b/c of the lost something I needed and so on….). This challenge has made me realize a lot- that I am SOOO blessed with the little things such as cute office supplies, containers, and a great space-I have just never utilized these things. I’m halfway there-I am really proud of myself and husband has noticed too which is more meaning than you know since I have disappointed him so many times with unkept promises, deals, and …..
    Thank you!

  18. 18
    Laura says

    Oh Barb this is so encouraging and will be such an inspiration to others! I’m so proud of you and especially so for honoring your husband in this. Just AWESOME!! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  19. 19
    Susanne says

    LOL. I had no idea you so loved containers. ;vD

    I need to make a pit stop at the dollar store for more of the smaller variety for drawers.

    I have an award for you.

  20. 20
    Finding Pam says

    I have just found your site. The question I have is about my spouse. While I think every thing should have a place and could tell you exactley where it is, he on the other hand is not organized. We have been married for 38 years and he seems to be getting worse. Any suggestions would be helpful.

  21. 21
    Becky L says

    I’m doing ok….but in a stalemate..been busy with working an extra day this week and last week and no energy to sift through the papery stuff from my desk. I have a table with the stuff I need to sift through more thoroughly right behind me. I’d rather be resting tonight cuz I wasn’t feeling good at work today so need some rest and feel better for tomorrow is my added work day this week. Worked for a co-worker who’s husband had eye replacement surgery. Yuck!! Anyway, am plugging away and trying to get this task done!! I’m addicted to containers and some are full in closet that needs purged, eventually as well. Thanks for your encouragement.

  22. 22
    Deanna K says

    I like containers with lids – so you can stack them!
    moving along organizing – having a community garage sale – I want to make some Money!

  23. 23
    TheFeministBreeder says

    I’m the container queen. I have two kids under 3.5 and if I wasn’t a container freak, this house would be carpeted in toys. Every room they play in has a place for bins, and the bins are all labeled with where things go. When we have playdates, people who help clean up just start shoving cars in with dinosaurs and I have to be all “oh, no, the dinosaurs go in the container marked dinosaur” and they think I’m a nutbag – but guess what?! My kids can always find their favorite dinosaurs when they want them!

    I wish I could teach this skill to my friends. A few cheap containers can go a long way to saving one’s sanity.

  24. 24
    Dawn says

    I have enjoyed the challenge. I actually think I am going to try to do one room a month and meet my goal of being better organized in 2010. I am working in my master bedroom and I definitely need some containers or storage solutions for the closet. A second shelf up top is a great idea. I’ll have to see what I can come up with this next week! Thanks for the challenge!

  25. 25
    Rana says

    I’m having fun doing this challenge. The hardest part has been getting rid of kids toys. It’s been going fairly well. The kids helped purge a lot of stuffed animals. I’m working on the basement playroom and it is coming along really well.

    • 25.1
      Rana says

      I forgot I didn’t have to buy any containers because I had so many from other projects. It was great to just use what I had.

  26. 26
    Molly says

    The other day I was putting laundry away and realized I couldn’t close a drawer. This post inspired me to rethink all the things that I was storing in that drawer, and I put quite a few shirts in the donate pile. Thanks for your help!

  27. 27
    ChristyL says

    I have been doing pretty good sorting things. I do spend more than I should on containers. I’ve almost gotten through my entire house! I’ve finished my kitchen, living room, girls bedroom and playroom. I don’t have a lot of storage space in my house so I bought a nice big closet (at lowes) for my hallway. It holds a lot of things. I am currently working on my craft area. That has been my biggest challenge so far. I had to buy a lot of containers for it but it is looking really nice and I know where everything is! Thank you for the time you take helping us all get organized…it really does change our everyday life!

  28. 28
    Susannah says

    Late to the discussion, but my biggest challenge is Other People’s Stuff (read: spouse’s). Talk me through how you deal with stuff you can’t sort or purge on your own! I have a “junk room” for stuff I don’t know what to do with and it’s already so full I can barely walk through it!

    For instance, all the gun hobby stuff is in our bedroom. Arg! Tools leftover from projects, etc. Garage is not yet organized, so no “home” for tools. When I get totally desperate, I move them to cardboard boxes set willy-nilly in the garage. Unfortunately, I’m nearly always the one sent to go hunt for this or that tool, so it works against me. I feel so helpless over it, that I am completely demotivated when it comes to decluttering. (I do declutter my own stuff pretty regularly.)


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