A common misconception in the organizing world is that the solution for too much stuff is simply to buy more bins, put up more shelves, move to a bigger house, build another garage, finish off the basement, or rent a storage unit.
After all, won’t “more storage space” magically solve all our stuff problems?
Not so fast!
In my experience, lack of space is rarely the main issue.
Yes, there are many homes, apartments, and offices with poorly designed storage spaces. However, most disorganized overly-cluttered spaces are a result of TOO MUCH STUFF, not too little space.
If this situation feels a little too familiar to you, let me introduce you to the concept of SPACE BUDGETS!
What are Space Budgets?
Space Budgets are boundaries for your space.
The concept is similar to setting a timer and not using more time than you allot for a specific task. Or not spending more money than you allocate for an area of your budget.
Space budgets, however, deal with space (duh), not time or money.
And your “budget” is simply not using more space than you have.
Here are a few examples of MY own space budgets.
Dave and I each have 50 hangers in our bedroom closet (the kids each have 25). Our closets could easily hold many more hangers, but 50 is PLENTY for each of us and 25 is plenty for the kids. We actually all have several empty hangers.
The deal is that whenever we run out of hangers, we know it’s time to purge something. The concept of a space budget is SO SIMPLE — even our kids know the drill by now!
NOTE: this is especially handy when we are gifted with hand-me-downs from friends. Instead of just keeping them all, we are intentional about which items we keep and purge other items to make room.
Our closets never get over-crowded or totally out of control, and it only takes a minute to purge a few items when/if we run out of hangers.
Dave and I limit our shoes by what we can fit on the 2 shoe shelves in our mudroom closet. Once the shelves are full, we purge a pair of shoes before adding anything new.
The kids have little cubbies for their shoes and follow the same space budget guidelines.
We limit our toiletries to 1 drawer (shared between the 2 of us) and a few larger items under our sinks.
Neither of us has many toiletries, so 1 drawer is plenty.
By giving ourselves a space budget, we know that if our drawer feels overloaded, it’s time to clean out and purge. And since it’s just one small drawer, we can easily clean it out in 5-10 minutes.
I use space budgets in our kitchen to designate certain shelves and drawers for various kitchen items.
If our food storage containers no longer fit in one drawer, I know it’s time to purge before we get anything new.
If the small appliances don’t fit in my “small appliance cabinet” I purge one (or more) before getting another one.
TOYS & BOOKS:
When our toy storage areas and bookshelves are full, we purge — simple as that.
The kids are honestly really great about this and often initiate the process on their own now!
Without space budgets in place, it’s just too easy to continue adding MORE to our closet, our mudroom, our kitchen, our playroom, and our basement without giving it a second thought.
After all, we technically have plenty of space left to squeeze and shove more boxes, more bins, more toys, and more clothes… right!?!?
The point for me isn’t that we have extra space, it’s that we simply don’t need so much stuff.
Of course, if you DON’T have extra space, a space budget is even more important to help you keep things neat, organized, decluttered, and simplified!
Just as we budget our money and our time, we must also budget our space.
It might sound silly, but it works! Plus, it doesn’t require you to buy bins, put up shelves, build an addition, or pay monthly storage fees!
The next time you feel like you need more space, consider instead implementing a space budget and simply storing LESS stuff!