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Neater by the dozen: 12 tools to help you keep your resolution to get organized

Home > Articles Archive > Neater by the dozen: 12 tools to help you keep your resolution to get organized

DID YOU RESOLVE to “get organized in 2004”? You’ll be more organized this year if you have the right tools for the job. To help jump-start your organizing efforts, I recommend 12 fabulous and versatile products.

But remember: Buying cool products alone does not guarantee that you’ll win the “Organized Man or Woman of the Year” award. No shopping before it’s time. First, do the hard work of sorting, weeding out what you don’t use or love, and organizing what’s left. Then, if you need a tool to make the space work better, you’re more likely to make an informed purchase.

Measure your space before shopping; most products give measurements on the label. Save your receipts until you’ve tried the product. What looked like it would work in the store is not always a sure thing.

1. Gift Wrap Organizer
$17.99, the Container Store
Whether you’re storing leftover holiday wrapping supplies or want to organize your everyday wrap, this is my favorite solution. By Rubbermaid; it fits under a bed or on a shelf, has a see-through base, a snap-on lid and two trays to hold ribbon, gift tags, scissors, and tape. I think the trays make this better than the vertical gift wrap organizer, also by Rubbermaid.

2. Expanding Cabinet Shelf
$6.99, the Container Store
OK, you’ve sorted and weeded the cabinet, and it’s still crowded. You say “What I need is another shelf”. Here it is. This product gives you more shelf area and adjusts to fit. A real space maximizer, I use this everywhere.

3. Interior Files
$11.99/100, Office Max
Imagine my surprise to discover – manila folders that did not stick up above the vinyl tabs on hanging files! Slightly shorter than a standard file folder, they are sized to fit within hanging files without hiding the tab. For the visual learner, spend a little more and get colored folders. Folders help by subdividing papers inside hanging files and keeping papers organized when a file is removed from the drawer.

4. Space Bag
$9.99, the Container Store
If you can’t make your closet bigger, make your stuff smaller by removing the air. Triple your storage space by vacuum-sealing sweaters, pillows, blankets, comforters, and jackets. Besides saving room, space bag protects your belongings from dirt, moisture, insects and odors. This has worked wonders in our linen closet for bulky items.

5. Mesh Lingerie Bag
$2.49, Target or Longs
These bags took away much of the tedium of laundry at our house; I don’t do wash without it. Used for socks and underwear, they solve several problems: no more lost socks, no matching of socks, no sorting between wearer (just write a name on the bag), no bras hooked on other laundry, and no underwear hidden inside other garments.

6. Over-the-Door 6-Hook Rack
$7.99, Target
When you run out of closet space, this rack enables you to use the often wasted space on the back of the bedroom, bathroom or closet door. Now you have a spot for robes, sleepwear or towels. Another use is over-the-cubicle for jackets. Besides the function of this product, I love that it’s easy to install (no nails or screws), which also makes it easy to move as needed.

7. Lazy Susan Spin Tray
$19.99/18″ (other sizes available), Stacks and Stacks, 866-376-6856
There’s nothing lazy about this Susan! With a flick of the wrist, supplies whirl before your eyes; just grab and go. Use it for cleaning supplies, condiments, art supplies, etc. When used for plants, your surfaces are protected, and turning the plant is a breeze. These are indispensable in the pantry — mine was a mess before my Susan.

8. Expand-A-Shelf
$9.99, Bed Bath & Beyond
Think of this as “storage with a view”. The three-tiered shelf makes seeing — and thus, finding — things soooo much easier. Your shelf surface adds a fourth storage tier. It works for canned goods of all sizes, medicines, spices, baby food, toiletries, and more. There are several sizes — mini to extra wide — which will accommodate laundry or cleaning supplies. Best of all, it expands to custom fit your cabinet space.

9. Cable Turtle
$9.99 (for black or gray large cable turtle; colors are $2 more), 877-547-4580
I didn’t like the snake (cable) slithering across my desk from my laptop, so I found a turtle. You too can keep excess electrical cords and USB, mouse or keyboard cables out of the way. Yes, it looks and acts like a turtle: Open the shell, wind the excess wire, and close it up.

10. Car Can
$3.49,, 800-387-5122
Here is an ingenuous lidded container for the car that fits in the cup holder. I use mine to stash trash, but it could also hold change, sunglasses, cell phone, snacks, or pencil and paper.

11. Zip Out Tote
$9.99, the Container Store
This little 4 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch pouch transforms itself into a substantial tote bag. It’s made of light nylon and has long handles for shoulder or hand carrying. I use mine when traveling or shopping so I don’t have to recycle plastic bags constantly. It fits easily in a purse or glove compartment when not in use. And it will zip closed to keep your things secure.

12. Chalkboard
$59-109, depending on size, Pottery Barn
In my childhood home, we used a chalkboard — and after missing lots of messages in my current home with two teenagers, a husband and dog, we tried a chalkboard. Kids can’t resist using it, and there are no more lost phone messages at our house. Besides “Mom, call Aunt Jeannie,” it’s good for “Walking the dog, be right back.” Comes with chalk, eraser and magnets for dry-cleaner receipts, etc.