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Organizing projects are easier and less stressful with the right tools for organization will make an organizing project easier and less stressful. Learn the must-have tools for organization, tools that are nice to have, plus some organizing tips and tricks.
Before you start organizing, you need to get organized. That makes no sense, right?
What I really mean is, organizing is more efficient and less stressful when you have the right tools within arm’s reach.
The best thing is, many of these tools are inexpensive, and you probably have several of them already. You don’t need a bunch of fancy stuff to organize successfully. Having simple (But effective) tools on hand will make your organizing project run smoothly and result in a better outcome.
By the way – if you’re not sure where to start with organizing, you might find my post on how to start organizing your home helpful.
Must-Have Tools for Organization
These are the minimum tools for organization in any home organizer’s toolkit.
Sticky notes and writing utensils
Step 1 in almost any organizing project is sorting and purging. Organizing can easily get overwhelming, and labels will help you keep your sorted piles straight. label categories such as Keep/repair, keep/put away, purge/donate, purge/trash, etc.
Containers for Sorting
Another of the essential tools for organization is sorting containers. This is because the containers keep each category together, keep clutter to a minimum during your project, and make it easy to move or get rid of things that will be leaving the space. This is especially important if you’re organizing a small space.
Oh, and fancy-schmancy containers need not apply… not at this stage, anyway. Cardboard boxes, trash bags, and plastic containers will do fine. As long as they are sturdy and will hold your stuff, they’re perfect for the job.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Cleaning supplies are often forgotten, but important tools for organization. Why reorganize a space if everything is still going to be covered in dust and dirt?
As you’re sorting through your stuff, cleaning items you plan to keep will make the finished product feel more fresh and new. If you want to be exceptionally nice, you can also wipe down the items you plan to donate.
Once you have everything out of the space you’re organizing, give the space itself a good cleaning, too.
Like cleaning supplies, the tape measure is another of the underrated tools for organization. Call me a compulsive planner, but I like to make sure the stuff and containers I want to organize in my space will actually fit.
Measuring your space after everything is out and sorted helps you understand what will and won’t fit before you start putting things back. And knowing what size containers will work before heading out to buy new ones saves time and frustration.
If i’ve sold you on the tape measure, you might want to grab my Organize Anything Guide. It includes a container shopping worksheet, where you can record the dimensions of your space, and the size container you need!
Notebook and Pen/Pencil
There are lots of things to write down when working on an organizing project. As a result, a simple notebook and writing utensil are essential tools for organization. Use them to keep track of:
- Organizing categories. Writing down the categories you want to organize your stuff into helps keep them straight in your mind. It also ensures you don’t forget anything.
- Items are relocating to another place. If you find an item while organizing that you plan to keep, but that should be stored somewhere else, write down where. Don’t let it become clutter!
- The sizes and types of containers you want for your newly-organized space. Buying new containers only to find they don’t fit your stuff or space is the worst. Measure your space and stuff to figure out what size containers you need, and write the measurements down in your handy dandy notebook. Or, get my free Organize Anything Guide, which includes a fillable PDF container shopping worksheet!
- A list of items you’re donating. If you plan to claim a tax deduction for donating clothes or household goods to charity, it’s a good idea to keep records of the items you donate, in case you can’t get a receipt.
Nice to Have Tools for Organization
These tools for organization aren’t essential, but they make organizing, faster, easier, and more fun.
I love my label maker! You definitely don’t need one to organize effectively. However, they are great for labeling what goes where on shelves, in trays and containers, in drawers, in files, etc.
Hand-written labels will keep things organized just as well. I personally write like a second grader, so I stick with my trusty label maker.
You can get a fancy label maker with lots of bells and whistles. In my experience, I don’t need all the extras offered by a premium-tier label maker. I’ve had a Brother P-Touch PT70 for about 10 years (Similar to this label maker). It’s less expensive, simpler, and has held up very well.
I firmly believe in function over form when it comes to organizing containers. That being said, I also believe that a functional container which also speaks to your personal taste and style is the best case scenario. In fact, I wrote an entire post about how to choose organizing containers.
Create a Container Library
A cute, functional container looks great and provides motivation to keep the space organized. But we can’t always find the perfect container in stores when we need it.
As a result, I’ve started occasionally buying containers I happen across in stores, if they fit my taste and are a useable size. I now have a little library of containers in my basement to “shop” from first (Before heading to the store) when I’m working on an organizing project.
You can also sometimes find stylish baskets and bins in thrift stores. They’re usually much cheaper than buying new. You’ll probably need to wash them after bringing them home, but it’s often worth saving the extra money. Buying containers on sale or clearance is another way to save money when stocking up.
If you decide to create your own container library, just remember to make buying random containers the exception, rather than the rule. Otherwise you’ll end up spending lots of cash on a bunch of containers you might never use. Instead, go for a small, curated collection that speaks to your general storage needs and taste in décor.
Extra Tools for Organization
You might or might not need these tools for organization. It depends on your preferences and plans for your organizing project.
Card Stock or Scrapbook Paper
I don’t do this as much anymore, but I used to create pretty labels for nearly every bin and basket in my home using patterned paper. As a result, it was easier to stay organized, and they added an extra touch of style to my décor. Here’s a photo of a few labels I made years ago for my linen closet:
For most of us anymore, access to a camera means having our smartphone on hand. A camera can be helpful by:
- Helping us see how bad it really is. One of the reasons clutter and disorganization persist is that we get used to living with the mess. Seeing a picture of your disorganized space can snap you back to reality, and help you understand just how much that clutter is impacting your life. It might be just the kick in the pants you need to keep your home clutter-free.
- Capturing the esthetic of our space. I like to have a picture of my space on my phone when I shop for containers. That makes it easier to decide if a container will fit visually with the rest of the room.
- Documenting things you’re donating or getting rid of. As I said above, keeping records of items you’re donating is a good idea. Pictures of a valuable donation can help prove its value if you’re claiming it as a tax deduction. And if you have lots of items with sentimental value, sometimes just having a photo of the item is all you need. Use the photo to preserve those treasured memories, and let the item itself go.
- Celebrating your newly-organized space. Once you get a space reorganized, be proud of it! Share it on Facebook or Instagram, or upload it to Pinterest. Relish in what you’ve accomplished, and inspire others with pics of your finished product.
Tools for Organization: Conclusion
Organizing projects are easier when we have the right tools on hand. Some are essential, while others are nice to have if needed. Here’s a quick recap of what we covered today:
- Sticky notes and writing utensils
- Containers for sorting
- Cleaning Supplies
- Tape measure
Nice to Have Tools
- Label maker
- Stylish containers
- Cardstock or scrapbook paper
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What are your favorite tools for organization? Can you think of anything I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below!