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Organize Your Unfinished Projects May 21, 2013

Posted by Sindy in Organization, Tutorial Tuesday.

I am the Queen of Unfinished Projects! Bow before me you knitted hat without enough yarn! Pay me homage you beaded necklace that I ran out of time for and haven’t gotten back to!

Wait, what is this? A coupe? You are threatening to fill my apartment with piles of stuff and haunt my dreams and get under foot?! How dare you! I shall organize you into manageable containers! I shall finish some of you and release some to the fates of the thrift store! I shall regain my domain! I shall use exclamation points too much in this blog post! Bwahahaha! (Sorry, just had to do an evil laugh somewhere in there.)

Organizing Unfinished Projects

– Unfinished projects (I have a mending project, an art project, an electronics project, and a home decor project pictured, but these techniques should work for any kind of project)
– Project instructions
– Lists of required materials and next steps
– Project inspirations, sketches, etc.
– Pen, marker, pencil, etc.
– Zip-lock bags (What is their generic name?)
– Boxes
– Rubber bands, zip ties, twist ties, etc.
– Labels, stickers, masking tape, post-it notes, paper & tape, etc.
– Cabinets, shelves, etc.

Organizing projects supplies

Step 1.
Divide your piles into their associated projects and decide which ones stay and which ones go. Do I really need to make paper gift bows when I don’t like to decorate gifts much (they aren’t stackable with fancy bows on them)? Probably not, but then again, I could give a bag of homemade bows as a gift. Do I reeeeeaaaalllly want to make individual ice cream makers when there’s never room in the freezer and I’m trying to shrink my waist and I could easily make ice cream in a zip-lock bag? Sigh. I guess not.

You can also finish up some of these projects, but beware of this, it’s waaaaay too easy to get distracted and not finish your organizing (believe me, I’ve fallen into that trap more times than I can count).

Step 2.
Make sure each project has the instructions, lists, inspiration photos, etc. associated with it. You can’t finish the project if you don’t know what to do with it. You can also make a shopping list as you’re organizing so you can get some of these projects finally done. Make sure to include samples of what you need with your shopping list so you get the right stuff. I also often take a photo of packages so I can make sure it’s the same stuff.

Project with instructions

Tip – Mending Projects:
For mending projects I pin a piece of paper onto the item detailing what I need to do. I also often point out the spot that needs mended.

Mending with labels

Step 3.
Find appropriate containers for your projects. Some projects (like moving a tree in the yard) obviously won’t fit into a container, others will require certain kinds of containers (like the seeds for your garden probably shouldn’t be put in an empty laundry detergent box – it will make them smell like fake flowers and get bad chemicals on them). I use everything from reusable grocery bags to zip-lock bags (I have a large collection of sizes) to paper folders for flat projects (like my shrinky dinks). And some projects I just roll up and put a rubber band around it with its papers.

Project in box

Project in bag

Tip – Boxes on Shelves:
My friend Krystal from house-organization.com says that if you put boxes on shelves, you need to make sure the box goes all the way to the edge of the shelf. Otherwise you’ll start putting stuff in front of it just making it harder and take longer to get stuff out.

Step 4.
LABEL EVERYTHING!!!!! (Is that loud enough?) You need to remember what’s going on from one day to the next. Label the project, label the container, label the cabinet you put the project into. In fact, I have labeled my kitchen so thoroughly that a stranger could walk into my apartment and make a gourmet meal (if I have the right equipment), or at least well enough that my friends can find the cups when they’re thirsty or bowls when they bring ice cream.

Partly because different surfaces need different kinds of labels (I’ve discovered that cheap post-its don’t stay on cabinets) and partly because I don’t have a fancy label printer, I use all sorts of things for labeling. Everything from floppy disk stickers (I somehow ended up with a giant roll of them) to masking tape, to simply writing in pencil on cabinets (that way I can easily erase it). Whatever you do, I’d highly suggest you find something that stays AND is easily removable – especially if you live in a rented situation, or simply if there’s any chance in the world that you’ll change what’s in the container.

Sewing Project Cabinet

If you have a certain kind of project that you’re not sure how to contain, let me know. I probably have an example around here. Also, if you have any tips, suggestions, or do things differently, please comment and help us all out.



1. Organizing Scarves | Too Many Talents - May 29, 2013

[…] after last week’s tutorial where I organized projects, a few of you asked if I had any ideas for organizing scarves. As a matter of fact I love scarves. […]

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