Why does a drawer full of office supplies or kitchen utensils
work so much better when it’s organized with plastic drawer
dividers? Most of us would never keep our silverware in a jumble in
a drawer — can you imagine trying to set the table each night and
having to sift through a jangling tangle to find the dinner forks?
We have silverware trays that keep the forks, knives and spoons
neatly stacked and separated. But for some reason, similar
organizers haven’t been a standard in other parts of the home and

Containers separate things and set boundaries between them. Like
a child’s divided dinner plate, built so that the peas don’t touch
the potatoes, dividers in an office supply drawer keep pens,
scissors, tape, stamps and other things from becoming a mixed up,
stress-creating mess.

Containers also set limits — once you fill a container, you can
decide if it’s OK to grow a bit (and get a bigger container) or
that it’s time to let a few things go and keep to your allotted

Boundaries are important throughout the home in order to stay
organized. Obviously, in relationships some boundaries need to be
set so that individuals are not interrupted and distracted during
designated work and task times. It is especially difficult for my
clients with young children to make progress with their organizing
goals because of constant interruptions, but sometimes a demanding
spouse or employer is the worst offender. Often the key to getting
a house in order is some serious family discussions about goals,
expectations and boundaries.

In regards to clutter, within each room boundaries come into
play. In organizing parlance we talk about zones, areas where
certain activities take place and their corresponding accoutrements
are stored. Each zone needs fairly firm boundaries in order to be
effective, meaning remain organized.

 A client recently told me that according to the Montessori
Method, children should have items like books and toys to occupy
them available in every room of the house. I think this could work
well clutter-wise as long as the children’s things in each room are
limited to a designated zone with well-articulated boundaries. 

For example, in a home office, the children’s items could be
given two low shelves in the bookcase, but should not be allowed to
trickle out into desk drawers and designated work spaces. Or in a
living room, the children’s things could be concealed in a coffee
table with drawers but not take over the entire space.

Another client had boundary and limit issues with books. Since
she had never designated a book zone, books had taken over the
linen closet, dresser drawers, the floors of the bedroom closet and
even the storage cupboards in the bathroom. We purchased two
bookcases and she agreed to keep the books limited to them. As we
worked together, she found it fairly easy to purge the collection
until it fit comfortably in the bookcases, which finally freed-up
the bathroom storage for bathroom items and the linen closet for

Setting boundaries and limits for our family members or
colleagues is often very difficult. When it comes to our stuff,
setting boundaries and limits may just be a matter of finding the
right container. A little communication, a little Container Store;
a little therapy, a little Target. Little by little, we create a
house in order.