Home » Blog » Cleaning, Organizing, & Time Management » Day 24: A Useful Storage Hack That Will Make Life Remarkably Easier

Day 24: A Useful Storage Hack That Will Make Life Remarkably Easier

Do you keep old magazines? If you do, how do you store them? Do you try to stand them up on a shelf? How's that working for you?

Maybe you've got them stacked horizontally on that same shelf. I bet they never slide off and become one big fan of magazines all across the shelf (or on the floor), do they?

Just wondering…

This storage hack is one you may be missing in your home. It's cheap and easy to DIY. Use it in any room of the house, including the kitchen or bedroom. Part of a series of organizing tips for the life of a homeschool mom.

Remember the BIG tip — make things easy to get out and put away (from Day 5)? We also discussed a corollary to that rule on Day 15. Well, today I have another corollary for you.

Corollary #2: If it stacks easily and will stay stacked, it can go on a shelf. If it is difficult to contain, it needs a bin or a drawer.

Example A: Pots and pans and their corresponding lids. Pots stack inside each other nicely, don’t they? And they stay that way — they don’t fall over at the slightest touch. Put them on the bottom shelf of a lower cupboard, because they are heavy.

But their lids are a different story. They don't stack well at all, and if by some chance you get them to, they won't stay that way. They will slide all over the bottom of the cupboard.

A bin of some sort is a wonderful place to keep lids. (On Day 9, I tell you about the PERFECT bin to use for this.) You can throw them in there, and they can lay on top of one another in random order; but they will still stay in the contained space of the bin.

You may think it’s a good idea to put the lid upside down on each pot and stack the next pot/lid combo on top of that. Nada. Because that is not EASY to stack, and therefore it violates our overarching rule of making things easy to put away. What is EASY is to put the smaller pot right down inside the larger one without having to worry about placing a lid there first. With the lids in a bin, it's easy to find the one you need, and easy to put it away after it's been cleaned.

Example B: Plastic containers like Tupperware or Rubbermaid. For a long time I stored these on shelves in the bottom half of my china cabinet. But boy, they were ALWAYS messed up. Sure, they’re supposed to stack well, but in reality, if you’re like me and have so many sizes and shapes, it’s not easy to keep them all together. Plus some would migrate to the back of the shelf and be difficult to get to.

My husband had the great idea to switch them with the cookie sheets and 9×13-type aluminum pans that were in the large drawers next to my oven. I thought I should have those there because the oven is where I use them — but boy, it was tough to get the one out that I needed, because invariably it was at the bottom of the stack. So I would have to lift all the others up and try to slide it out, but since the drawer has a front, hello, thus restricting the movement of all those cookie sheets, it was never a fun process.

When I put the plastic containers in the drawers, where they could shuffle around to their hearts content but I could still see them, with the lids in a smaller bin inside one of the same drawers, life was easier. And getting out a cookie sheet from a stack on a shelf is a simple matter of sliding it horizontally towards me. Yowza, I never woulda realized if The Man hadn’t said something!

Spices are easy to get to and put away when they are in small bins. They are too small to stay stacked or organized unless there are “walls” closely surrounding them. And one of the best things about putting them in a small bin (or basket) is that you can pull the entire thing off the shelf to find the one you need, rather than moving them all around on the shelf itself.

Packages of rice and dry beans do best in a bin. Bottles of specialty vinegars or corn syrup or oil — stand them all up inside one that has fairly tall sides. Cookie cutters. Chocolate chips and nuts for baking. Onions and potatoes (although not together, did you know that? Apparently onions make potatoes rot faster). Food processor blades — for these I use an empty plastic ice cream bucket, because it is round, like the blades (although a square one would work fine, too).

Sometimes it’s easiest to put homeschool books in a bin or drawer. Like for your first grader, who has books and workbooks and separate papers to practice handwriting and her crayons and her favorite Hello Kitty eraser. Give her a bin or a drawer to call her own and let her throw it all in there at the end of the day. That stuff would never stay pretty on a shelf, and you know it. :-)

Even my high schoolers still use drawers for their books. I talk more about that on Day 27.

Again, the point of all of this is to make things easy to get and easy to put away. It’s not easy to get things if they are constantly becoming disarranged due to poor overly-optimistic choices about where to store them.

This is another one of those times when over-organizing can be an issue. You think you should stack things because it's “the best” way to do it, or it's the way the organized people do it, or you think it looks neater — but in reality it can make life way more difficult. When you think about the number of times you get frustrated trying to get whatever it is from the bottom of a stack or keep it all stacked and neat in the first place, then we are talking a fair amount of stress. Stress which is really unnecessary if we would just let go of our perfectionism and use a bin. Just sayin'. :-)

So back to the magazines. I keep our old issues of Missouri Conservation (free and full of lotsa life science info) piled in a drawer. Since the magazines themselves are light, it is not difficult to pick through them to find a particular issue. They can slide around all they want and never cause a mess.

Another way to do magazines is to buy those special boxes for them — each box holds just a few issues that are put in there vertically, like books on a bookshelf. (You could also use cereal boxes for this.) I never wanted to spend the money on those things or take the time to convert a cereal box, though. For me, a drawer is easier for the whole family. Especially when the kids were younger, they could get at the magazines when they felt like reading one; and I didn't find a big mess later because it was too difficult for them to put the unwanted ones away again.

Stacking is NOT the best organization strategy out there, y'all. It works for some things, but not for most. Using bins of all sizes is a better way in many cases to keep things contained and still easy to get to and put away.

Be on the lookout for things that you've been stacking that should really be in a bin or drawer. Like most of the other organizing tips in this series, it is a small fix and may seem inconsequential — but after you implement it, I think you might find yourself wishing you'd done it this way all along.

Welcome to 31 Days of Practical Organizing Tips for a Homeschool Mom's Life!
Every day there is a new organization hack to help calm the chaos.
Find links to all 31 days here: 31 Days of Organizing Tips.
It's Not That Hard to Homeschool
Latest posts by It's Not That Hard to Homeschool (see all)

4 thoughts on “Day 24: A Useful Storage Hack That Will Make Life Remarkably Easier”

  1. I use those plastic magazine holders for storing plastic/metal drink bottles in a cabinet–it takes up less space (the bottles stack 4-5 high–lids are in a little container in a nearby drawer) and it’s easy to grab the particular one you want without spilling the others. I also store bags of baking chips, etc. in these holders, as well as foil and plastic wrap, etc. I have very little cabinet and drawer space in my kitchen, so this is helpful! If you aren’t picky about the colors, you can often find these cheaply at thrift stores for about $1.

  2. Great post! I can’t believe I never thought of putting pot lids in a bin! Finally one of my storage problems will be solved! Thanks! :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share via
Copy link