To Have and To Store

Our duplex is small.  My dream is someday to have a place for everything and everything in its place without a need for Rubbermaid tubs, save three or four for Christmas decorations (I do believe in taking down a tree in a timely manner.)   Until I have the space, I have storage bins… in the basement… on pallets because our basement floods. IMG_8845

I keep things in bins like books.  We had book shelves in our spare room, but our spare room became the kids’ room.  I keep things like costumes, board games, a bin of baby keepsakes, and one for missions keepsakes.  I have two bins of diplomas, certificates, yearbooks and track medals (I don’t have many of that last one, don’t be impressed).  My husband has two bins of Star Wars toys.  (We keep what’s important to us without judging the other’s choices.)    So many bins have framed pictures that no longer go with my current décor.  Now that I’m writing it all out here I feel like I need to go back through them and pitch more.  Ha! IMG_8848

On to the tip…  I used to label my bins with what was in them.  I taped “missions” on the outside of a giant bin.  But I keep more than just missions in it.  Tricky.

Then I read books by Michelle Duggar (I love her, but if you don’t you would still appreciate her advice on home organization.  19 kids and she’s still smiling.), and she talked about renting and living out of boxes when their family was about half the size it is now (which is more than twice our size).  They were waiting to move for a long time, and so things had to get packed and unpacked and repacked.  The only way she was able to get to what she needed was a card system she gleaned from someone else.  (Remember, I’m Columbusing.  Just discovering something that someone else has discovered from someone else.)

The way she did it was every box had a number on the box and on the lid.  She then had an index card with a matching number and listed all the things in the box on the card.  Now instead of opening 5 boxes to find one thing, she opened up her 1 box of cards, found the item and sent a kid to fetch a specific numbered box.

My first thought was, I could do that… and I could make a database!  Microsoft Access and I are buds.  I’ll start small when revealing how crazy I am about data entry.  This is my storage database.storage list

IMG_8846Each bin is a number which I simply put clear tape on my existing bins and wrote the number with permanent marker.  My next field is a description of what kind of bin it is (i.e. “15 gallon clear with blue lid”).   That really helps me find it when the numbers get out of order.  The next field is “items.”  I list as many items as I feel I need.  This isn’t graded… it’s just for me, so I have several that are simply “books.”  It’d be nice if I was more specific, like title and all that, but it is what it is and nap time is only so long.

The best thing about the label being a number is that I don’t have to rewrite on the bins, I just type and delete on the database.  My boxes were at one time in order, but I go through them twice a year or so and have a clear out.  I don’t move the numbers, I just move the bins and change the database.

I’m going to use the same database for when we move someday.  I’ll just continue the numbers on the moving boxes and bags, and list the items on the database.  I’ll add a field for “Destination” and write what room it belongs in.  My plan is then to color-code the boxes and put a color label on each room so people who help us move won’t have to ever ask, “Where do you want this?”  (My friend Kris did this when he moved and it was so fast!)  With a database I can also print a list for each room with what boxes are in that room and what items are in which box, so I can unpack in the order I want the items.

If databases aren’t your thing, I think the index cards are still a great idea.  The only downside is manual sorting and searching.

What about you… What sort of things do you hold on to?  How do you know where things are?  How close are you to having a place for everything?

IMG_8850PS – How great are these bins for my Christmas decorations?!  They are clear and have lids that rise above the bin itself so I can over fill!!  I bought these at Menards years ago and I haven’t found them since.

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