corrall and contain your stuff

With all the little bits of life (receipts, business cards, clippings, bills, etc.) that make their way into our house, I needed a way to contain them.  I have a wire ‘In’ basket in my office that I throw everything that needs to be processed into as a way to corral it all together.  By process, I mean, taking each item that I have placed in the basket and deciding if it needs to be acted upon (like a bill to be paid), filed (like a clipping of a great couch that I pulled out of a magazine), entered into the computer (like a name of a website that I need to bookmark) or a decision needs to be made (like what events I am going to go to for Design Philadelphia).  In theory, it’s all in one place, that way when I am finally ready to process I am not running around the house trying to find various pieces of paper.  ‘In’ (upper right), ‘Read & Review’ (lower right), ‘Enter @ Computer’ (upper left), ‘Out’ (lower left).  Although I have always had an ‘In’ basket, I cannot take the credit for the system as whole.  About 4 years ago I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen.  I love his "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule for in-box’s, his multi-altitude thinking for life, goals, projects and tasks and his ideas for 5 Phases of Project Planning.  I highly recommend his book!

In the Kitchen: I’ve started to use some of the same ideas in our kitchen.  I think no matter how much cabinet space you’re blessed with, you can feel like you don’t have enough.  I guess it’s all relative.  Containing like items together has helped us keep our cabinets from being disaster areas.


From left to right: sauce and seasoning packets, jars and bottles of spices, nuts and seeds, tea.  Because most of what we store in our overhead cabinets is small, things end up being 4 or 5 items deep.  Having like items in one basket allows me to pull the basket out, use what I want and slide it back in without trying to reach over 4 other things and then knocking them all over.  Note:  I’ve become more aware of better ways to store food so it stays fresh longer.  Our tea bags just sit in the baskets but should probably be stored in an airtight container (like Tupperware).  Always a work in progress.

Bathroom: I put my makeup on at the bathroom vanity but have no place out in the open to store it.  I bought three clear plastic trays form Linens N Things to keep my makeup in.  I bring it out and sit it on the counter and then slide it back under the sink when I’m finished.   We have a pretty decent exhaust fan to suck up a lot of the moisture created by our shower.  Otherwise, be careful about storing cosmetics in the bathroom.  Moisture can make them spoil faster.

Back to the office: Until I decide what else to do with them, my office supplies are stored in one of my file drawers.  The basket on the right has paper related tools (punches, stamps, grommets).  On the left is all the miscellaneous stuff, and pens in a glass vase.  Before the baskets it was mass chaos.  It took me several minutes (and a few pricks on the finger from the wire cutters) to find one thing.

Wire baskets from Staples.  White plastic containers and baskets from Target.  Clear plastic trays from Linens N Things.  Wicker baskets from Michaels.  All items were purchased in stores.

See flickr set here.

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