We all have stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Many times all this stuff gets in the way of our productivity. Trying to find the tools and supplies we need for that neglected home improvement project among the piles of clutter in the garage can be a nightmare.

If everything is organized in such a way that you can find things easily, you can dramatically cut the time it takes to get things done around the house. Thus, you’ll end up getting more done.

These days it is easy to find a myriad of shelves and bins in your home improvement store in an endless array of sizes and shapes. The trouble is that there are so many choices, and picking the system that is right for you can be just as intimidating as getting organized in the first place.

Before buying any type of organizing aid it is important to determine your specific needs. Is it the laundry room, a closet, or the garage that you are trying to sort out? Knowing what you are trying to organize and where you are trying to organize it will help you determine what type of system that you’ll need to do it correctly.

Shelving for each area of the home serves different purposes and holds different weights. What you’ll need to store all of your tools in the garage is much different than what you may need in the laundry room. Choose the wrong type of shelving and you could be woken up at two in the morning when the shelves comes crashing to the floor.

The best way to start is to completely empty the area you wish to organize. Then divide that big pile of clutter into smaller piles by category. For instance, if you are working in the garage separate your tools and supplies by plumbing, painting, gardening, etc.

Now examine the piles and decide if these items should go in a bin with a nice lid, get hung up, or placed on an open shelf for easy access. Don’t take the easy way out and assume everything should get thrown into a bin just because it will look “neat” on the shelves. You could end up sending yourself on a treasure hunt digging through a dozen bins before you find the one that holds what you’re looking for.

I learned an important lesson from my mother that I share with all of my customers. She always said that everything should have its own spot and you shouldn’t have to move something to get to something else. This holds true for anything you are organizing.

Once you have a grasp on what it is you’re trying to organize, determine how much storage space you really need for all that stuff. Measure the spot you plan on putting your storage system and guesstimate the weight and size of each pile you created and write it all down.

Grab your tape measure, a pad and pen, and head out on a reconnaissance mission to your home improvement store.

Hit the “organizing” section and you’ll find row after row of great gadgets, shelving, cabinets, bins, and things you can’t even imagine exists. Compare what you have with the systems that are available. Create a quick sketch of your space with measurements of everything to help you visualize your needs.

You may find that all you need is a stand alone set of shelves. These plastic or metal shelves are easy to assemble, cheap, and don’t get attached to the walls of your home, but they do limit how you can organize your stuff because they are not always adjustable.

A nicer more professional approach is a shelving system you can customize for your needs. You will find a variety of track shelving, with all the goodies for hanging things, designed specifically for different rooms in the house. There are white-wire shelving systems for the closet and laundry room and heavy duty cabinets for the garage that look good enough to go in the kitchen.

These custom adjustable systems need to be attached to the walls of your house. This will take some basic carpentry skills but anyone can handle it.

The strongest and most secure way to hang shelves is to attach them to the wood or metal studs behind the drywall. For super heavy loads this is imperative. For average to lighter loads it is possible to attach directly to the drywall. Most wall anchors such as screws, plugs, toggles, and hooks used for hanging things in drywall are rated to support a maximum weight or load. Their rating is listed on their packaging. Knowing the weight of what you’re hanging is important for finding a match.

Plastic expansion and plug anchors are the most commonly used for light loads. They are little plugs that are put into the drywall and expand when you screw them in. To install a plug simply create a pilot hole with an awl (a pointy screw driver) and insert the plug. The pilot hole should be slightly smaller than the plug so it fits snug, but not too small because then the plug will bend when you try to tap it in. Some of these plugs don’t expand, instead they look like a large short plastic screw. You screw this plug into the drywall and its threads hold it in place.

Hollow-wall anchors such as toggle bolts or winged anchors are better for heavier loads. These deluxe anchors come in different sizes and the largest can hold over one hundred pounds. They look like spring-loaded wings on the end of a screw. The wings are the toggle and they get folded back and slid through the drywall. When the screw is tightened the toggle expands grabbing the back of the drywall for support.

To in install a toggle bolt, or other winged anchor, drill a pilot hole the size of the toggle when it is folded back. Take the screw out of the toggle and pass it through the item you are hanging. Put the toggle back on the screw and push it through the pilot hole until you hear the wings pop open. Pull back on the screw as you tighten to keep the toggle from spinning.

Now that that the shelves are up, staying organized is the next trick. Once again, Mom’s wisdom holds true. Now that everything has a spot it should only be put back in its spot. Then you’ll always know where it is.

Don’t let that old storm door slam and bang any longer. Its taking away from your home’s beauty and it’s a very easy fix.