Let’s talk about permission.

Lots of people want permission to do things. Kids want permission to go to a friend’s house. Employees want permission to tackle a new project. And when they get the permission, they’re usually happy.


The opposite of permission is disapproval. That kid can go to the friend’s house, but if he doesn’t get permission he might get grounded. That employee may not want to face their boss’s disapproval for tackling a project that the boss considers to be a waste of time.

And permission is not only common in interpersonal relationships, it’s common in our approaches to organization.

Let’s take an example.

You have three pairs of shoes. It’s all the shoes you want, and you’ve decided you don’t need more. You don’t have room for them all together on the floor in your closet, so you buy one of those door-hanging shoe organizers that holds 12 pairs of shoes. Now fast forward a year.

Want to guess how many pairs of shoes you’ll have? Hint: the answer usually won’t be “three – that’s all I want and need”. It’ll almost certainly be more than three, and it will usually be much closer to 12.


Well, you had three pairs of shoes. You were happy with them. And then you bought a dedicated storage space for shoes, and that dedicated storage space holds 12 pairs. Subconsciously, you’ve made room in your life – given yourself permission – to have up to a dozen pairs of shoes. You effectively told your brain, “12 pairs of shoes is now okay”.

A $15 over-the-door shoe holder, quite literally, gave you permission to acquire another 9 pairs of shoes that you didn’t necessarily need or even want when you started.

Containers are powerful!

So how do you leverage the power of containers and permission to work for you, instead of against you? We’re glad you asked.

Resist the “I’ll buy a bunch of this one size” trap. 

Lots of containers of the same size are good for stacking, and they’re great for filling moving trucks – but they’re not necessarily good from a permission standpoint. If you have a huge bin for old power cords and chargers because you bought it the same time as your bin for your fall wardrobe, you’re going to accumulate chargers and power cords. Don’t let your storage system give you permission to over-accumulate.

In fact, evaluate your storage needs before buying containers.

Consider how much of a given type of item you actually need to store, and shop for your containers accordingly. If you’re stacking these in a storage area you might look for differently-sized containers that stack with one another (half size, 1/4 size, etc.), or consider having smaller containers inside larger containers to limit yourself.

Limit yourself to the container you’ve chosen, or intentionally re-evaluate.

If your art supplies are filling the bin they’re in, and you have more to add, schedule some time to go through the old bin and see if anything else in there can get removed. If you really, legitimately want everything in the bin, then re-evaluate your storage needs and choose a new, appropriately-sized container. Don’t just grab another container off the stack and start filling it as well!

We know it’s not always easy. Items that turn little tiny patches of floor, backs of closet doors, and other surfaces into “vertical storage space” are both plentiful and cheap. And we’re not saying to not have the amount of storage space you want or need.

But those are the key words, aren’t they? “Want” and “need”. Make your decisions, and make your stuff serve you – not the other way around.

Of course if your stuff isn’t serving you, that’s our specialty! If you’ve given permission to a few too many things, give us a quick call. We’ll show up to your place – whether or not you’ve got appropriately-sized containers to put the junk in – and make it disappear. We make it fast and easy, so you can reclaim your space and get a fresh start on your journey to be organized!

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