How to Organize Without Cluttering Another Surface: Card Tables are Not the Answer

Let’s talk about how to organize without cluttering another surface. Does it seem impossible? It’s not! I know you want to go buy bins and you want to bring in a folding table to lay everything out on, but I promise you, that’s not the answer!

Also, thanks to Cindy D. for entering and winning the very cool Grid-It organizer, perfect for Dad’s tools or anyone who loves the idea of old school pegboard, but with a modern twist.

How to Organize Without Cluttering Another Surface

Overheard this week: I’m getting organized. I’m going to set up a folding table in my room. I got a whole bunch of huge bins, and I’m putting my clutter in there. They’ll go in the basement. But I haven’t put the lids on because I’m afraid I’ll forget what’s in there.” Does this remind you of someone you know?

Folding Tables are Not the Answer to Getting Organized

There are two classic mistakes I see all the time. The first is bringing in another new surface, usually a card table or a folding table, to hold stuff while you get organized. People call a professional organizer when that card table has grown roots and lived in the space many more months than originally intended, as happened here:

Organize Without Cluttering Another Surface

And plastic bins! In the store, they seem like such a good idea, right?

organizing tips

But the containers are often the problem.

(Here’s an interesting fact. Did you know that plastic will burn faster and hotter than wood or paper in a fire? Keep less fire fuel in your home.)

Organize without A Folding Table

Remember, in the SORT and Succeed organizing process, you don’t buy anything to get organized. Get organized FIRST, then you’ll know exactly what containers you need, if you need any at all. That’s Step 4: Tweak.

Instead of thinking bins will get you organized, use any bin you have (laundry basket, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, cardboard boxes, etc.) as temporary sorting stations. Once you’ve sorted similar items together, it will be much easier to make decisions about what you want to keep, paring down items for the available space you do have.

Plastic bins you already own? Label them carefully with LARGE LABELS and store only those things that truly do belong in storage. Don’t keep things “just in case you might need it someday.”

When the card table can finally be used for playing cards again, you’ve truly succeeded. Or a makeshift bar. Or a table for that sewing project you’ve been meaning to start up.

That folding table can be used for so many other things than a paper-shaped speedbump in your house.