Have one of those MacGyver-type husbands? You know – one of those really handy guys that can make anything out a bunch of spare parts and actually make it work? I do! You know what that means?
Yeah, lots of stuff – TONS of it. Not much goes to the waste stream around here. But is it organized? Eh, not so much. Well… okay, not even close. There’s no doubt our friends know whose stuff is whose in this household.
We each even have our own barn – his and hers. I’ve given up trying to convince my husband to “allow” me to sort through his collection of stuff – nope! It’s like a man cave – a mechanical one. I can use any of the tools in there, but I’d need a divining rod to find anything I’m in search of. Don’t laugh. I actually used one trying to find a piece of copper tubing once and it worked! Okay, please stop laughing now.
Well, though I haven’t sorted out his barn yet, I set my sights on the basement, which pretty closely replicates nearly everything in the barn except for the equipment, large tools, and all-familiar man cave buddy – a fridge! As basements go, it’s pretty large, but my corner was a bit too tiny for the kiln I just bought and the one I already have, and not to mention the work bench, shelves full of molds for glass fusing, and all my tools – yeah, me and my DeWalt needed more space!
But before I could spread out a little, I took note of the collection of leftover construction materials accumulated from renovating our home – a couple light fixtures, switch plates, two foot long pieces of wiring, extra fan parts. Paint brushes, drop cloths, sandpaper, and more than a dozen cans of gallons of paint and stain. Hooks, and knobs, and oh my, it’s endless. Did I mention the piles of nails and screws? Do you know how many different types of screws there are? I have a good idea now.
Thankfully, we also save lots of empty boxes and containers. Organizing always comes down to math and the alphabet. It’s as easy as A-B-C and 1-2-3.
I move the boxes to closer to the heap and look around to find the common denominators. This is what makes sorting things out easy. If there’s a lot of one type of material or tools or parts, I’ll dedicate a box to it and label it even if the box isn’t filled. It’s easier to find things later if the box isn’t overloaded – you know, for those days when your husband goes all MacGyver on you. Love you, honey!
Over the years, I’d bought a few sets (okay, I confess, 10 sets) of the plastic stand alone shelving and proceeded to line them up along the outer walls of the basement (on “his” side)! Once I had all the boxes labeled and stacked on the shelves, sorting through the stuff and tossing it into its proper box was easy. Done! I even amazed myself getting it all done in one day. There were more than 50 boxes of stuff. I even sorted all the nails, screws, and bolts into containers – well, by type, anyway. I don’t care what size they are – if I’m looking for a self drilling screw, there’s only one place to look.
With the basement clean up out of the way, I set up my workbenches, tools, and glass and got to work!
Mary Anne “Mimi” Corwin is a professional organizer and productivity specialist with a B.A. in Business Management from New York Institute of Technology. She has organized many private events, reunions, public conferences and banquets, training workshops, and fundraising auctions. She specializes in document and digital data management, database development, and designing processes to keep tasks on track. She and her husband Todd live in Flanders and have two children, Brianne and Kiersten. Mimi can be reached at AProAtOrganizing.com.