I used to think baskets would solve all my problems.
So I bought them.
And then bought some more.
And a few more just in case.
Then, I’d get home and the Organizing Energy I had before I left for the store was gone. The baskets would sit in their bags on the floor or on a shelf for . . . like . . . . forever.
They became part of the clutter.
A big part of my progress in this whole deslobification process over the past five years has been realizing/accepting that it’s best for me to JUST declutter. To get rid of the stuff that we don’t need and/or that won’t fit in our home.
JUST decluttering makes the house feel 1000 times more organized.
Because Just Decluttering makes so much sense to my brain, I’ve found myself a little fearful of containers.
But now, more than four years after the lightbulb moment when I finally grasped the Container Concept, I’m using a basket.
And I’m pretty sure I’m using it correctly.
This is a big deal, people.
When I would hear someone say that the best way to keep countertops tidy was to use baskets, I’d nod on the outside and cry on the inside. All my own attempts at this totally obvious and logical solution had failed. I needed SIX baskets to hold all my stuff and then the stuff never made it back into the basket so my counters were covered in not only STUFF but in empty baskets.
Now I get it. I needed less stuff, not more baskets.
And once I had less stuff, the function of the basket finally sank into my Slob Brain.
The basket is where I put the stuff when I clean the kitchen.
Now I’m pretty sure a Normal Person would disagree and say “No, the basket is where you put the stuff after each and every time you use it so your kitchen counters never get out of control.”
Yay for them.
That’s just not how I roll. (Unfortunately.)
But with less stuff (ONLY what will fit in the basket) I find that the basket removes my frustration over my cluttered countertop since there is no decision to make, only a job to do. Move the stuff into the basket.
And if the basket overflows, then the natural limit of the container has been met and it’s time to see which bottle doesn’t deserve to be there. I’m using that basket ONLY for the vitamins and things that get used consistently. Random other bottles can go in the cabinet.
Don’t worry. I totally get that all these things are INSANELY OBVIOUS to most people.
They weren’t to me.
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Christmas is less than 100 days away. (WHAAAT?) So here’s a non-clutter stocking stuff idea. “Santa” put one in Hubby’s stocking last year but I’m pretty sure “he” really meant it to be mine. I use it ALL the time. And it’s only 2.82 at this moment with FREE shipping. Shipping takes up to four weeks though, so it’s worth it to grab one or two now. Bear Claw Telescopic Back Scratcher (Random Colors shipped)
Yes!! I just love that you get it.
A basket on the counter allows things that you use regularly to be out on the counter, but contained rather than strewn about. It limits what should be on the counter when you clean up in your kitchen. I recently bought a basket to put the salt, pepper, cinnamon sugar mix and italian seasoning in. They now stay on the counter and are easier to get to, and it looks pretty! 🙂
Linda W says
I did the same thing in my kitchen and it works for me, too.
I totally understand.
You are not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is so me. I love your blog. I have to s of baskets and containers which most of the time overflow. Am realizing less stuff is deff. The way to go.
I just need to say, I LOVE you. And over and over less stuff, less stuff, less stuff. 🙂
I still don’t get it. There is an empty basket ON TOP OF THE CLUTTER on my kitchen counter. Not sure what happened there…
I went shopping for ONE basket. To put all my meds in. It works for me, but it would still probably be better if I decluttered the cabinet where I should really keep them!
It’s a super power thing. For some, organizing and maintaining systems is their superpower. They don’t even need to think about it, but they do because to them it is fun, and they can’t comprehend why it isn’t as fun and easy for everyone else. Like my hubby, whose superpower is logical. technical thinking, can’t understand why people don’t know everything he does about computers, that he just sort of knows intuitively. This is why I didn’t have to teach my daughter about mythology or animals in our homeschool – reading and collecting information is her superpower and all I had to do was buy the materials and stay out of the way! Your super power is being funny and generous and I’ll bet you are a hoot in person, and a fun mommy. Just own your super power and let the others have theirs. You can’t have them all, you know. 😉
Dana White says
Love that perspective, Dianne!
Dianne’s comment is about the core concept of the Strengths Movement. In case you want to read more on that for inspiration! There is a book I like called Your Child’s Strengths.
I’m in huge favor of baskets in the kitchen!!!
I have one for baking and one for cooking. Instead of rummaging through my cabinets for a specific seasoning or whatnot, I pull out desired basket an toss it in when done using. Put the basket in on clean up. It greatly reduces prep time and clean up! Sure beats putting one spice in at a time, also makes the cabinet appear tidier. Win win win 🙂
i love this idea! i’m always hunting for my baking soda or baking powder or vanilla extract that either got buried or shoved or somehow put on the tippy top shelf that i can’t reach let alone even *see* (so how did it get there when i’m the only one who uses it?). it never occurred to me to think “oh hey, i usually use all this stuff together, so let me… put it all together…. ” wow. you just changed my life.
Anne @ I Need Some Inspiration says
Yes! I didn’t do that until recently either! I read a homemaking/organizing book that said to put the baking stuff with the baking stuff in a dishpan. So, I did! Then, you just pull that out when it’s time to make something.
Thanks for this post, Dana! You are so funny. (I like the PP about knowing your superpower!) Also, it took time for me to accept the limit of the container: closet, bin, basement, garage, cabinet….work in progress, for sure.
This concept of containers IN the cupboards was learned by me in the past 7 years when I moved into smaller kitchen (twice). (Now also moving again.. oh, what will I learn next?!) It started with exposed storage shelves rather than traditional cupboards. So, I had to make it look pretty and organized for all to see. I have only 2 utensil drawers– 2 whole drawers– in my kitchen so I learned to keep only the tools I really do use often in the main area. I can’t vouch so much for the “packed away in storage” spaces or weird location of things like a box of crap in the basement. But, in the kitchen working area, it’s a spiritual practice to keep it tidy. In my exposed pantry I use large clear cookie jars where food rotates in and out of all the time. A jar is not “THE cookie jar”–it’s just a jar that gets something put into it after it’s empty. Could be something else like oatmeal, tortilla chips, dog food, etc. Whatever at the time is needed. The baking stuff, like Raquel’s comment, is together in a basket so that baking time I just pull out 1 or two baskets which contain hand electric mixer, baking soda, whisk, measuring cups, chocolate chips, whatever. The kids have their own basket for all the lunch box stuff like containers, snacks–all in that same bin.
I’m also going to try to re-create a SHALLOW cupboard in my next home. It’s where I put my plethora of supplements and medicines. Cupboard is only deep enough for 1 large supplement bottle. So, it’s the same concept as a MAGAZINE RACK–some libraries are now using this idea because they know it works in stores–go wide, not deep, and spread out the merchandise so you can see it easily. We thought of this idea for my Grandma–use an IKEA picture rail for her supplements! We can do this on the inside of cupboard doors with a rack that takes up the space in the front and then the stuff on the shelf can’t be deep either. Let there be no dark corners with things lurking!
Does this mean you are a basket case? 😉
Rebecca L says
Well, I did it. I read your entire blog back to front. Took me several weeks (not even sure how I found you) (and I’m freaking out that your kids grew up 5 years in weeks!!) I must say, you inspire(d) me! I’ve been making a little progress, but I put your ‘do it now, don’t make piles’ rule into action last Friday (a day before my 2yr olds birthday party). In 2 hours I had my kitchen, dining room, and living room done!! I resisted the urge to shove things in random places never to be seen again, and got the main parts of my house live-able, AND (close family) company ready!! In 2 hours!! Unheard of just a month ago!! No comment on the state it is in right now…. (Being the queen of excuses, I offer mine: I work over 50 hours a week outside of the home, homeschool my 5yr old, and chase after a 2 yr old….also I have a geriatric cat who forgets where his litter box is….and I’m pretty sure I’ve been gifted with slob logic/vision…..)
So sad I’m at the end, but looking forward to more posts, and inspiration!!
Dana White says
Love it! And thanks for reading ALL those words!!!
priest's wife @byzcathwife says
did you find the podcasts? I love to listen to one while I declutter
“The natural limit of the container has been met”.. lol
Grace N. says
Oh my goodness, I feel like you GET me!!!! I get you, that’s for sure. Keep writing, sister, and maybe someday I’ll get it together.
Hi, Dana! I’ve been following your blog from the beginning so nothing in this post is a huge revelation for me. Nevertheless, when I read it I exclaimed: “I love each and every sentence in this blog post” and then proceeded to read the whole thing out loud to my husband. He said he could hear your voice in mine (we listen to your podcasts too). In these five(?) years something has happened which is much more important than your deslobification. You have developed and refined a unique writing style that is engaging and funny. The quality of your posts is not consistent, but that’s because you have consciously decided to do it that way. Sometimes you write amazingly inspiring, deep, even life changing (yes!) long pieces. Other times you just pop up to warn us about a giveaway. I admire your commitment to blog as often as you do. I believe this is an important part of your development as a writer, and it has definitely worked. You now can be relied upon to produce an excellent piece of writing in a semi-regular basis. As you would say: this is huge! As a reader, I’d like to see these pieces compiled in an easily accessible section of your blog (more prominent than a simple category) or, even better, rewritten in article form. I imagine someone reading large portions of your blog history would like a way to skip posts that are time-sensitive (sales announcements, vote-for-me in this contest, etc.). That’s just a thought, though. The main point of this comment is to congratulate you on the “becoming a writer” part of your journey and to thank you for the huge inspiration you have been for my family. You are truly changing lives from this little space in the web. I hope you can remember that when things aren’t going so well. I consume a huge amount of blogs and I write a comment maybe twice a year, but I simply had to tell you this. THANK YOU for putting yourself out there, for being honest. Thank you for sharing, for inspiring, for falling and getting up again and documenting it for all the world to see. Your family would be really, really proud of you because you DO make a difference in this world in your own particular way. Thank you and remember to keep pushing yourself, because that’s always where greatness lays.
DANA- You need to read this comment from Lorena! She is SO right about how wonderfully you are making a difference!!!
a few months ago I cleaned out all the baskets underneath our handy-dandy storage ottoman. What I thought was such a cool organizing system had quickl become just a dumping ground for everything I didn’t know what to do with. I am emptied 6 huge baskets and probably threw 80% of the stuff that was in them. It was a huge light bulb moment – like you said, its not that we need more storage but that we need less stuff.
Oh my gosh I thought I was the only strange individual who shopped for baskets and never use them. Ugh, so I need to go back and get bigger ones? Just kidding! I so hope that what I just read stays in the back of my head and is my solution to the insanity that takes place in my brain. Thank you.
Linda W says
Something has clicked with me after reading all of these posts. I have been purging and found some baskets that I had already purchased and set them up.
My refrigerator now has shallow plastic baskets that organize my food.
I cleaned out a hallway linen closet and put my medication in two baskets. One is for morning and one is for evening medication. I even marked them with sharpies.
Angel Michele Cagle says
I love your blog. My whole life, I have been one of those people who instantly sees how to organize and never understood how anyone else couldn’t see it. I was diagnosed with OCD. So, yeah. ……It wasn’t until I started reading your blog that I began to understand “slob vision”. It’s helped me greatly in not wanting to strangle my fellow, as much. (No, people, I’ve never attempted strangulation on my love, but y’all know you’ve thought it, too. ha) Anyway, because of you, there is more harmony in my head and house. Thank you.
Susan Lange says
Keep throw donate…..yard sale…do not fall for the last one, too much work, an excuse to keep something you don’t need longer.
My son just moved out a couple of months ago after living with me for about 6 months post-divorce. My home as a “container” for his stuff was interesting! A lot of it still here but it’s on the move. (Mostly in the garage and I can still park in there.) When he moved in, the bathroom counter was COVERED with his stuff. I bought a small-ish basket, put everything inside. Counter was immediately much better. And he mostly put everything back inside after he used it. That basket (with the stuff) now sits on the back of the toilet in his apartment. There is no storage space in there and he commented on how glad he was I got that for him.
Must winnow down my laundry containers. Oh, what a collection I have! Looks like I should narrow it to the washable pieces b/c with others I get worried about sanitation status and they enter clutter limbo.
After my last purge I had a stack of probably 20 of those 20+ gallon storage tubs. They are still stacked in the hallway (months later…). And for some crazy reason I just can’t convince myself to get rid of them. How do you get rid of the containers!?!?!? I.just.can’t. I *might* need them. I *ALWAYS* need more. Sigh… Got rid of the crap, now if I could just get rid of the containers…
Containers. Right there with ya. Didn’t get until nearly age 61, when you explained it just a few months ago. THANK YOU!
And I love containers, pretty boxes, bins, bags and purses, etc. and have soooo many. Now to continue decluttering and keeping only what will fit in each container: cabinet, drawer, closet, etc.
Jolene Collins says
On an organizing site, I saw this quote suggested:
“Don’t put it down. Put it away.”
I’ve been reminding myself of this for days. It helps.
I have a T-shirt that reads, “I’m a Meemaw, what’s your superpower?”
Baskets everywhere. Grands carry stuff from room to room and sometimes back and forth between houses.
I get the basket thing, but DIL doesn’t!😜
I still don’t get the basket concept. Well, I get the CONCEPT, but it doesn’t work for me. I have a bar-type countertop that attracts clutter like mosquitoes on a hot summer day. My daughter-in-law recommended a basket. I got one, cleaned off the counter, put stuff in the basket. Then more stuff was added to the counter. The basket was full and the counter was still cluttered (or cluttered again).
I also tried a basket for incoming mail. It quickly filled up with stuff that I needed to do something about (phone bills, insurance stuff I had to follow up on, etc.) and then that stuff started to get ignored, so I once again started putting all that mail-to-be-followed-up-on where I knew it’d get attention: my kitchen table.
Maybe I’m just not a basket case!
Hahahaha!!! I thought I was all alone out here struggling with baskets and bins!! When I’m shopping, I always feel like “This is the one! This is the basket that is going to solve all of my clutter problems!!”
It’s not the baskets, it’s the regular decluttering that is solving my clutter problems… who knew?! As I was decluttering last week, I found two big boxes FULL of baskets and bins!! OMG!! LOL!!
I use this idea on my kitchen counter for the supplements my husband likes to take. I had a place in a cabinet for his stuff, but he liked to leave them on the counter because he would forget to take them if he didn’t see them out. So, I embraced it and we now have a platter that holds them. A basket wouldn’t let him SEE the different bottles he has out, but a platter does and still contains them for me. I am on the hunt for a prettier tray to use instead of the platter, but it is an idea that works for us!
Oh. That’s what baskets are for! That makes so much more sense. I thought that they were for going on picnics and just filled with random things in the interim between being used as such, which is probably why I have baskets full of random junk and nothing to put a picnic in.
I have used this concept to try to keep our bills and paperwork organized. My husband has trouble throwing any papers away and it drives me insane. Now I just have multiple baskets in the kitchen and den that are starting to look like clutter because it’s getting to be too many. I even bought a file cabinet for his birthday which just added to our lovely decor of multiple baskets..Lol. Please if there is any advice to stop his paper trail insanity, I would love it.
Cheryl Lemily says
Hey, excellent post! Baskets are really useful in home organization. I use baskets to organize my kitchen cabinets as well. I put spices in a huge basket. I really love browsing your posts. Keep sharing such amazing posts with us.