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April 16, 2014

The Art of Organization: Five Questions for Sharona DiCostanzo

The Container Store’s expressive sales trainer shares how organizing became her medium of choice.
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Sharona DiCostanzo's knack for keeping order has evolved from a job to a full-blown passion. “I used to be in theater, and it was always all about me. I found it exhausting and unsatisfying," she says. "Now, my work lets me give back, whether I’m training sales agents or helping customers find solutions.” Find a few of your own, below.

What's your organizing philosophy?

Know where everything lives. If you haven’t defined a home for an item, how can you be expected to keep it there? When you do that first deep-clean, focus on finding a logical place for everything. Think of it like a game. Once you’ve established a system, maintenance is easy.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to get organized?

Don’t try to change all your habits at once. Know your tendencies and work with them. For example, when it comes to office space, you’re either a “piler” or a “filer” -- if your desk is covered in stacks of paperwork, you’re never going to keep up with an in-drawer filing system. Instead, you might set out trays that let you categorize your piles by subject or action item. It may look like chaos to outsiders, but what matters is that it makes sense to you.

Any tips for making the most of a small space?

We often forget about vertical space. Even if you can’t build out, you may still be able to build up or down! Add shelves above a desk or dresser, or try storing items under the bed.

You can buy products designed to expand your space, too. Vacuum-sealed Space Bags are a modern miracle -- they’re a way to essentially get rid of stuff, yet still access it when you need it. 

How about a DIY solution?

Turn a cardboard box on its side, with the opening facing front -- instant shelf separator! You can use small boxes or shoebox lids to organize drawers, too. Dividing a space makes it easier to group like items together, which goes back to the idea of a system. 

What’s the most powerful purchase one can make to instantly feel more organized?

A set of clear storage bins. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel once the chaos is contained, and you’ll be able to see exactly where everything is. And don’t underestimate the influence of small spaces you use all the time, like your kitchen cabinets or pantry. Buying tiered shelves or a rotating rack to corral your spices can improve your life multiple times every day.

Feeling inspired? See more quick organizing solutions, and share your best tips in the comments.

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