When I help people organize in person, I bring a big bag of basic organizing supplies with me. I often get asked, “what’s in the bag?”. In this post, I’ll outline my very favorite organizing tools, plus a few of my favorite organizing books. If you’re excited about getting organized, check out this post!
Organizing Supply List
- 3 types of trash bags: black (for donate), white (for trash), and clear (for recycle). This makes it really easy to distinguish between the different categories. The clear bags aren’t recyclable (except through a specialty recycler like Ridwell), but you can dump the recyclables out and then re-use the bag. You may also need boxes to take more fragile things to donation, but this is a good start. I keep the big Costco rolls in the trunk of my car, and I refill my bag as needed.
- blue masking tape (for quick labels)
- a few black Sharpie markers
- a tape measure
- a box cutter
- screwdriver with multiple heads
- Ziplock bags: snack, sandwich, quart, gallon
- work gloves
- clear packing tape
- a label maker with spare batteries and extra label tape
- Post-it notes
- rubber bands
- a small dust pan/brush
- slippers (for going into homes that don’t allow shoes to be worn indoors)
In addition to the screwdriver (which I tend to need fairly often), I also have these other tools handy:
- rubber mallet (for putting together wire shelving)
- pliers (a few types)
- adjustable wrench
- stud finder
- a drill (when requested ahead of time)- I don’t usually have this with me.
Other supplies that I occasionally need
- hooks such as Command hooks, cup hooks, or other types
- extra plastic tabs for labeling hanging folders. I don’t bring things like hanging folders and file folders, but those are often necessary when organizing paperwork.
I don’t bring these supplies with me, but it’s a good idea to have the following on hand at home:
- paper towels
- microfiber clothes
- all-purpose cleaner
- disinfecting cleaner
- glass cleaner
- a vacuum with handheld attachments
- a broom
- a mop/bucket
My favorite organizing products
I don’t usually have people purchase any bins or shelves prior to working together. It’s better to declutter and sort items first and then buy the bins or shelves later. Occasionally we need to buy bins or shelves first, but it doesn’t happen very often. The products that I recommend most often are:
- These two sizes of Sterilite bins. It’s often cheapest to buy them in person at a store like Target, but you can find them online too. These bins are good for sorting smaller items.
- Weathertight totes. These come in lots of different sizes and are clear, so it’s easy to see what’s inside.
- Scout storage bins. If you like more decorative bins, these are great. They are easy to keep clean and fold down when not in use. Since they’re opaque, it’s important to label them. (I’m also a huge fan of the bags made by Scout!)
- Alex drawers from Ikea. These come in multiple different sizes and are awesome for successfully storing and retrieving office supplies! I also like them for small art supplies.
- Wire shelving. Uline provides the best selection of these types of shelves, although they aren’t always the cheapest. You can also order additional shelves as needed.
- Shelf Genie! I recommend Shelf Genie quite often because their products are excellent for accessing deep cupboards and cabinets.
Since every organizing job is different, I could never list all the products that I recommend. It really depends on the types of items you’re trying to organize, the size/shape of the items, the size/shape of available space, the aesthetics you want, your budget, and several other factors. The best way to figure out what you need is to group like-items using containers you already have (or making your own with cardboard boxes, bags, or whatever else you have). This will help you visualize what kind of containers you’ll need. It will also help you visualize how you’ll want to access the items (drawers, shelves, containers on shelves, pegboard, etc.).
There isn’t a “right” way to organize. It depends on the space, the type of items, the density of the items, the person, and several other factors. I am well versed in many different organizing techniques so that I can meet my clients where they’re at, and make the most of our time together. I have spent thousands of hours working with clients, have had lots of training in different modalities, and have read lots of organizing books. My three favorite organizing books are:
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- Conquering Chronic Disorganization by Judith Kolberg
- How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis
These three books are all quick reads, and teach simple (yet sometimes unconventional) ways of organizing. Often, my clients already have a big stack of organizing books. These books are the ones that resonate with my clients most often.
What are your favorite organizing products or books? Send me a message. I’d love to hear about them!
Posted By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
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