Christmas decorations, out-of-season clothes, sentimental mementos, and any number of other items not in daily use need a dedicated spot in our homes if we want to keep things neat, orderly, and easy to locate. By organizing with bankers boxes you’ll have an easy and inexpensive way to store items in your home.
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Organizing With Bankers Boxes
Minimalism and decluttering and organizing are big buzz words lately. Everywhere you look people are “KonMari-ing” their homes. I’m doing some serious decluttering, myself. But unless you take it to an extreme level you’ll still have items in your home that need some type of storage.
That’s where white bankers boxes with lids come to the rescue!
Many years ago I read about this storage system in Emilie Barnes’ book, “More Hours in My Day” and to this day I consider it the best storage system I’ve heard of.
Here’s how it works:
- You purchase a number of bankers boxes. You can get them at your local office supply store or Amazon has a 12 pack for around $40.
- Label the boxes with consecutive numbers. You can write the number directly on the box or use labels.
- Start with the first box and fill it with items you need to store.
- Take an index card and put the box number in the top left corner. List the items in the box on the card and place in a small index card file. If you have a single storage area that’s all you need to put on the card but if your storage boxes will be in various areas of your home or garage then include the box location.
- If you will be storing a lot, you can reserve box #15 for income tax paperwork (for April 15th) and #25 for Christmas. Chances are you’ll need more than one box for Christmas decorations so you can label the boxes 25 a, 25 b, 25 c, etc.
How I use the system…
We have a very large storage closet (16×4 ft.) with floor to ceiling shelves along one wall and across the back. About 20 years ago I organized it with this system. We were homeschooling at the time so we had a LOT of educational materials and this was a great way to organize them.
Over the years I’ve given away most of those things and my system sort of fell apart. However, I still have the little card file with corresponding cards so I can find what I’m looking for in the boxes I have left. It’s just that as I put other things in the closet they weren’t always assigned a box and just took up residence on a shelf.
A couple of weeks ago David installed shelves on the other long side of the storage closet for my pantry overflow. I now have everything up off the floor and onto the shelves. I have been working on re-establishing this system, little by little. For instance, last week I put all the small games and playing cards in one box and my puzzles in another.
Examples of things to store…
- extra lightbulbs
- batteries, flashlights
- extension cords
- first aid supplies (I keep a box of bandaids and some antibiotic ointment in the kitchen and the rest in a bankers box.)
- craft supplies
- small games, puzzles
- holiday items
- small seasonal decor items
- mementos, photos
- extra office supplies and stationery
- backup supplies of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant
Where to store the boxes…
I know not everyone has a big storage closet like ours. While it’s handy to have one central location for storage, there are plenty of other places you can put bankers boxes. The top shelf of clothes closets in bedrooms, laundry room shelves, attic, basement, garage, coat closets and such are all possibilities.
Keep in mind, however, that cardboard doesn’t protect against moisture so avoid storing in areas that are damp. You can, however, use the same index card system for plastic boxes. Consider a combination of bankers boxes and heavy duty plastic storage containers to accommodate your available storage areas. For instance, we have our Christmas decorations in Rubbermaid containers in our unheated garage and indoor storage in bankers boxes.
Why this works so well…
The beauty of this system is that you can achieve a semblance of order inexpensively and in a short period of time without having to make a lot of decisions about what to keep right away. Just start filling boxes and write down what’s in each one. In no time you’ll have a visually organized space and the ability to locate any item.
Then take one box at a time when you have a few minutes here and there. Sort through and decide what you truly want to keep and what can go.
Over time, as you get rid of things, you’ll be able to combine items and have fewer boxes. Because the contents of each box are written on an index card rather than on the box itself it is easy to update them.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a minimalist and honestly, that really isn’t my goal (although I’m leaning a tiny bit that direction!). I just want everything to have its place and for me to know precisely where that place is. I guess you could say I’m a neat and orderly packrat. This system allows me to keep my treasures and be able to find them instantly. It also makes storage areas look very tidy which is important to me.
If you don’t want to purchase bankers boxes, consider using plain cardboard boxes:
You could even decorate them with scrapbook paper or leftover wrapping paper.
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How to Organize Plastic Food Containers in the Kitchen
How to Create Your Own Homemaking Binder
Sounds like a pretty good system to me.
I love this system, too. I am currently updating all my old boxes with new ones. The index card filing system is what makes this effort work well. Thanks for reminding me where I read about it so many years ago. I just reordered the “More Hours in My Day” book. I want a refresher on her time-tested organization strategies!
Deanna Piercy says
It’s such a simple yet brilliant system. One of the things on my list for 2018 is to update my system. I originally set it up when we were homeschooling so many of the original boxes held educational books and supplies. I got rid of most of those so my system needs an overhaul.