I Can’t Like That

frowning boy. situations or events which we don’t care for.
Image by Joëlle Moreau from Pixabay

When my niece was very little, she once mistakenly said “I can’t like that” rather than “I don’t like that.” In the ensuing years, it became an inside joke in our family to describe situations or events which we don’t care for.

In the world of organizing, there are many possible solutions for storing and managing belongings. I fully acknowledge that each person is different, and any solution that is working is a good one. However, for me personally, there are a few approaches which I try and avoid.

Rubber Bands for Paper

These sticky little items are good for some uses, but not paper. They bunch up, get stuck in a file, and eventually dry out and break. If you want to hold papers together, the best option is a staple, followed by a paperclip.

Post-it Notes as Reminders

I love Post-it notes… they are so handy and come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. But writing a password or a “to do” on a Post-it note and sticking it on your computer or wall around your desk is not a good solution for at least three reasons. First, in a very short period of time, your brain will adjust to the note’s presence and stop noticing it, rendering it useless as a reminder. Second, you shouldn’t have passwords out in public view. Ever. Third, the adhesive is meant to be temporary, so it will eventually fall off.

Round Storage Containers

As a general rule, I prefer square or rectangular storage containers because round ones – especially when nestled up against each other in a drawer – waste a lot of space. Yes, there are times when I use them (e.g. a painter’s bucket in the garage to hold ice melt), but generally, I want to be making the most of every available inch.

Storage Requiring Multiple Steps

If you have plenty of time and love being organized, this isn’t an issue. But if you are more of an “I’ll drop it here and put it away later” kind of person, then any storage system where you have to take items out of one container and put them into another is not a great idea. My classic example is a lucite spaghetti holder. Yes, this looks nice on a shelf, but most of the world is not going to spend the time to take the spaghetti out of the box and put it into a separate container. The result is a lot of unused decorative containers, crowded in with the original boxes, making you feel guilty for not using what you spent money on. Who needs that?

Rigid Organizing Systems

Any good organizing solution needs a measure of flexibility: a drawer should have a little extra space for a new t-shirt, a pantry shelf should be able to comfortably accommodate grocery fluctuations, and so on. I resist any solution that only works if everything is “just so.” For example, a spice rack which only holds bottles of a certain size is limited right from the start. Odds are, someday you will come home with a bottle that doesn’t fit, and then where will you put it? When I’m working with clients, I always try and provide solutions that will continue to succeed even if circumstances shift a bit.

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As I said above, if you have a system that works for you, hooray! If it is working, don’t fix it. What matters most is designing systems that you will use and enjoy.

Have you ever tried a solution that just didn’t work out?

29 thoughts on “I Can’t Like That”

  1. I agree Seana about the spaghetti container. i see people all the time take unnecessary steps in my view, like putting laundry soap in a fancy glass jar, it might look nice, but I don’t have the time or the energy to make that extra step. I like user friendly solutions, and most times the containers they come in work very well.
    Jill Robson recently posted…What’s on your plate?My Profile

    1. Tear off a lid and the box of envelopes works pretty well as an envelope drawer, right? It’s not that I am against pretty containers for the who love using them, I just hate when people feel guilty because they don’t have the time/desire to transfer items. First get the function down, form can come later if you want it to. Thanks for the comment, Jill:)
      Seana recently posted…I Can’t Like ThatMy Profile

  2. Sigh. With all this data entry I’m doing right now, they are all held with rubber bands! It’s horrible. I want to make a rubber band ball out of them and bounce it into the garbage.
    And post-it notes… it’s hard to break up with those.
    Tamara recently posted…Taking Care of Business.My Profile

  3. Under rigid storage systems, I’m not a fan of using the red/green totes for Xmas decorations and the orange/black totes for Halloween decorations. You get locked into using them for only those specific holidays and they can’t grow with you. Not to mention those types of totes aren’t see-through!

    1. Excellent point, Sarah. I think lids should come with interchangeable handles, perhaps in different colors, to go with the seasons. All bins should be clear!!

    1. Maybe this will help be a bit of inspiration to rip all of those old Post-its down, Marcia. I’m always surprised at how quickly my eyes/brain adapt to the environment and stop taking notice. I practically have to put something on the floor in front of the door to make it work as a reminder!

  4. I’m quite weird because I use post-its and then just stick it to my planner or my notebook instead of writing on the paper itself. LOL. But I usually do that for quick reminders and temporary notes only. I love post-it notes!

    1. That is a great story, Janet! The perfect example of why these notes don’t work for long-term reminders. Too funny:) What I do with pasta is keep it in the original containers, either lined up horizontally, or stacked vertically. I add extra structure to my pantry with shelves to use every inch. If I open a box and use only a portion of it, then I tear of the top/side panels, and I can instantly see how much is left. That’s my system, anyway. As I said, people who enjoy organizing and having things look pretty will take the time to make the transfer, and that’s terrific. But many people just won’t do it, and then they feel badly about themselves.

  5. Pingback: Grab a cup! Weekly reads & inspiration | A Personal Organizer

  6. I use Post-Its for SAME DAY reminders and short, SAME DAY to-do lists, but otherwise agree with all of your examples! There are a lot of filing solutions I just can’t like, such as: multi-colored folders or tabs for different categories, and having to make do or become paralyzed when you run out of one color; alphabetizing a gazillion individual files (and forgetting what you’ve named them) when they could be grouped into box-bottom files by category; third-cut folder tabs, especially when alphabetizing — where do you put a new folder? (I prefer straight-cut folders.)
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…Born to Organize*My Profile

    1. I so agree with those multi-colored hanging folders. You always need 2 more blue ones or one more red one, and then you don’t want to go buy more, so you end up sabotaging your system before you even get it set into place. I like using white folders best. If you love color, you can always print the file labels in color. I’m also not a big fan of alphabetized files. That just isn’t the way my brain works. I bet we could sit around a NAPO meeting and have fun with this one!

  7. Love this list! I can’t “like” it when there are no clocks in an office, bedroom, or other important space. Without a clock you are in a time vacuum. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh I love that one, Ellen. I have clocks all over and feel naked without my watch. Even though my cell phone has a clock, I still like being able to glance at my wrist. This is such an excellent tool for students as well, especially when it is an analog clock and they can see the time passing.

  8. All this week, I’ve been having conversations with clients about how to make systems work for them… and they’ve all had ‘Simple’ and ‘Flexible’ come up in the conversations. Don’t fight what you know works for you. And don’t design something that requires perfection; you’ll always fail, eventually!

    Thanks for a great post!
    Kathy Vines @ Clever Girl Organizing recently posted…Week 12 of 15 in 15 in ’15 Challenge: Towels, Sheets and BlanketsMy Profile

    1. That pretty much summarizes it, Kathy! So interesting that your clients are able to articulate this need. Knowing this is the goal makes the process so much easier:)

  9. Oh, those round storage containers! I am seriously thinking of getting rid of all of mine and sticking to squares and rectangles. Every time I try to fit a bunch of those rounds and squares on the same shelf in the fridge, I start mumbling under my breath and imagine myself putting all those rounds in the recycle bin! Your post just may motivate me to purge!

    1. Oh I hope so, Stacey. I have pretty much gotten rid of all my round ones. As you say, in addition to suboptimal use of space, they bump each other in unpredictable directions: refrigerator avalanche!

    1. She is cute, isn’t she? But alas, not my niece! Okay, now you have permission to pull those old post-its down and make your space fresh for spring:)

  10. So funny about the spaghetti container as I have one I should just donate! I do use post it notes, but weekly I transfer all notes I haven’t completed into a notebook To Do list. The last thing is I am terrible with filing. I mean I hate it. So even though I have a nice file system set up (I am an organizer after all) I simply use a box that says To File. I’ve actually tried something different this year by making categories to file like Family and Business but I can’t even be bothered with that. When the box fills up I take the time to sort it and end up shredding most of it anyway!. The things I need to file will be scanned since I hope to go paperless soon. Its so true that you have to use solutions based on each client. I can’t tell you how many filing systems I have set up only to return and find big piles. However, when I suggest the “box” method people think it’s messy and want files.

    1. Well, I guess the upside of your approach is that you actually do end up shredding a lot, so you aren’t keeping more than you need to… which is a plus! Frankly, I think the number of people who actually enjoy filing is pretty small:)

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