Friday, November 4, 2016

The Container Concept

I don't know, maybe you've heard of this.  It's certainly not a new or revolutionary concept.  I was formally introduced to it in the spring (Scarlet, meet container concept...), when I took a free organizing video course, and I've been reminded of it recently while listening to the A Slob Comes Clean podcast.

The container concept goes like this: when trying to decide how many of a type of item one can have or keep, one should put it/them in an appropriately sized container.  Whatever fits can be kept.  Whatever doesn't fit should be gotten rid of (or not brought into the house).  It's a way of corralling, but also a way of prioritizing.  If you can only keep what fits, you are for darned sure going to make sure your favorites go in the container first.

A container could be an actual container, like a basket, box, or bag (I personally prefer rigid containers), or the container could be a closet, one shelf in a closet, one drawer in a dresser, or one room in a house.  My "starter" freezer is the perfect example of a container.  If it needs to be kept frozen, and it doesn't fit in my freezer, I can't have it (well, until winter, when we can use the great outdoors as our freezer...)

I do want to point out that you don't have to go out and buy containers, necessarily.  Most of my containers are either cardboard boxes, or food containers of odd sizes that I can't have in my kitchen anymore because all of my containers need to be stackable (it's a rule--which is also a helpful organizing tool).  I don't think I've bought a container yet, specifically for the purpose of applying this concept.

I love this idea  from Erin Spain to upcycle an ugly box into a pretty container
Now, I'm sure there are some of you who are sitting there like, well, duh.  Of course you can only have as much of something as you have space for.  But there are people among us who, while they might understand this on some level, they still don't seem to quite "get" it.  We want to have more, or we got a great deal and stocked up, so we get a bigger container.  Or we don't have a clearly defined container in the first place.  There are people, and I'm one of them, who need to be told these things.  And just in case you're one of them, I'm telling you now.  Container Concept.

It's all part of streamlining life to make our possessions easier to manage.  Just like with money, we have a finite amount of space, and it's important to make wise decisions about how to use that space.  It is hard to keep a space organized if it's overflowing with all kinds of everything, and organized clutter is still just clutter.

So I've been applying the container concept to various collections of stuff in my life.  For instance, we have so many water bottles.  So.  Many.  We have water bottles for hiking, water bottles for biking, water bottles for kayaking, water bottles for sports, insulated water bottles, even a special water bottle for car trips, which is actually broken, but I cannot get rid of it, because even broken it is useful (to some of us).  And we need them all accessible at all times.

You might think I'm being facetious.  I am not.  We really do need them all to be easily accessible at all times, because at any moment, any one of us might be called upon to hike or bike or road trip or sport.

And you know the thing about water bottles?  They multiply.  At least at our house, they do.  They seem especially attracted to Hubby, for some reason.  They're always following him home.

We used to keep them in one of our kitchen cupboards.  And they were always falling over, and the whole thing was a mess.  The children, who are nominally responsible for putting clean dishes away, would open the cupboard door, chuck the water bottle in, and then slam the door shut before anything could fall out.  But due to the need to keep them accessible, I couldn't put the water bottles anywhere else.

So I put them in a box.  In the cupboard.  And I informed the other people who live here that they are welcome to collect as many water bottles as they want.  As long as they fit in this box.
This is my favorite water bottle.
I kind of wish I had the quart size.
It's such an easy thing to do, once I realize that it applies to whatever situation I find myself facing--it's not quite a habit yet.  I don't know about the other people who live here, but I am certainly much happier, having applied the container concept to our water bottle infestation.  I do think Hubby might be hoarding some water bottles our closet, though...

Your turn: Are you one of the lucky people sitting there going, duh, of course?  Or are you like me?  Take a look around your spaces.  To what collection of items can you apply this concept?

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