Getting to know you: Organizing all the things

You know those questionnaires that ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t in your current profession? I’ve always put “professional organizer.”

Now that you’ve stopped laughing, here are my reasons:
1. It reduces my stress level and lets me focus on what matters, like playing another round of “Ring Around the Roses” with my one-year-old instead of playing “Where’d I put the water bill?” Especially when you can’t even remember said bill’s due date, or whether you saw it last week or last month. Or whether that was the water bill, or maybe the sewer bill, or maybe it was both. Are those on the same bill now?

2. It allows my family to stay on budget and keep ourselves healthy (or, at least strive to). Because, if you know you already own five pairs of scissors — and, you know where to find them — you won’t be tempted to buy a sixth pair just because they’re pink and have those comfy squishy handles and are marked 60% off. Or, if you have a plan — and the ingredients for — each evening’s dinner, you won’t get to be on a first-name basis with the good people of the Sonic Drive-In. Trust me, it’s not as comforting as it sounds to be greeted with, “Welcome back!” at a fast-food joint.

3. It satisfies my inner perfectionist. Identifying a problem, brainstorming a solution and putting an organization system into practice is a creative and fulfilling process for me. What’s not to love about a sense of accomplishment?

Take this simple example: movies, music, and video games. They aren’t used regularly, but if they’re not readily accessible, you aren’t as likely to use them. It’s a vicious cycle. Now, I’ve heard some people who just download their multimedia to their computer, iPod, etc., and ditch the whole collection. I’m a bit paranoid for that approach — hard drives fail, after all. Plus, I want the mobility of grabbing a CD to take to the stereo in the garage, or throw in the car for a cross-town errands trip. So, I needed a system that would keep our collection out of the way, yet easy to get to when we wanted to use it. First, I sorted all our discs, alphabetically, in those 1990s-fabulous zippered CD binders (Exhibit A here). Which worked. Until we got new discs. Unless all your acquisitions start with Z, it quickly becomes a pain to move every, single, disc over one space to keep up with the alphabetical order. I needed a new system.

Next, because I lost my mind a bit, I bought a hundred clear media bins with lids (like these), thinking it would work better to store them in their proper factory cases. Except, most of my husband’s part of the collection were case-less. So (because my mind was still lost), I purchased empty cases in bulk, painstakingly searched online for and printed out case covers, and sorted them (still alphabetically — the one theme that continued through this journey) in the bins. I even made cute, glitter-chipboard-lettered labels indicating which letters were in each box. Satisfied, I lugged all 100 bins (Because those neat jewel cases? Take up tons of space.) to our basement and stacked them on empty shelving units. Where they proceeded to gather dust and be a landing point for all manner of odds and ends needing proper homes. And any new items to add to the collection sat in a stack on top of the shelf, as it was an equal pain to move every, single, disc over one space to the next box. Shocking, I know. I needed a new system.

The motivation — and inspiration — for our current (and hopefully final) system came when we had a whopping three weeks to pack up our whole house for a 300-mile move. Suddenly, all those dusty bins did not look like something worth making the moving-van cut. So, I did two things: I ordered clear plastic CD cases (similar ones here), with tabs, in bulk, and I did a massive purge of our collection. Hubby and I sorted through each movie, each CD, each
video game, and decided which ones to keep and which ones to donate or sell, including any duplicates (Of which, it turned out, we had several. If anyone needs an extra copy of Shania Twain’s Up!, I’ve got you covered).

At the same time, we got rid of every single case, all of which were plastic and went into our recycling bin. Using my trusty labelmaker, I simply printed the titles on a clear sleeve and sorted the items alphabetically in one of three clear bins, and labeled accordingly by type. I was going for function here since these aren’t displayed, but you could take a bit more time and create cute labels, too. As we get new discs, I simply scroll through the tabs and slide it
into place. Last, I stored all three in a covered ottoman in our living room so they’re available where we use them – by the TV and game consoles. You could do the same thing with an empty cabinet, shelf, basket, etc.


Easy, simple and very do-able. But now I could use some suggestions for how to fill 97 clear media bins. 🙂


One thought on “Getting to know you: Organizing all the things

  1. Pingback: (Organized) adventures in babysitting | The Sensible Home

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