The What-Not Basket

Just when I have the house all nice and neat, it seems as though there are little elves un-doing all my good work. These elves come in tall and short forms. The truth is, it takes a lot less effort to make a mess than it takes to clean one up.An organized home doesn’t have every little thing in just the right place at all times.  Sometimes the best organizational solution is to find the right intermediate place for things to go: a quick and easy way to get the mess out of the spotlight. I have a basket I keep hidden out of sight. I call it the what-not basket. During the day, I pickup random toys and pieces of games and what-nots that the kids leave lying around and toss them in the basket. If I pickup something that belongs to my husband or me, I put it away. I don’t usually need to set aside a time to tidy, I’m just in the habit of grabbing something as I walk by it and going a bit out of my way to drop it in the basket.

I’m not going to pretend that this is the ideal. Ideally –
– No one in our homes would leave misplaced things out.
– Everyone would always clean up immediately after they’re done.
– We would use a one touch cleanup method, where everything gets to the right place the first time we touch it during the cleanup process.

But –
That isn’t really how it always works, is it?

The true ideal is finding a system that works for you! For years, we’ve used a ‘what-not’ basket in some form. And for years, it has tricked many friends and guests into thinking my home is super tidy. But, the reason this works and doesn’t create bigger problems is very simple …

The What-Not Basket gives a home to all of those random things I find all over my house. (FYI – it is not always stuffed animals, but this happened in the basket the day I took these pictures. And the basket is NOT kept on the stairs. It is hidden in a closet where I don’t have to see it except when I’m putting something inside it.)

We regularly empty the basket!!!!! The ONLY reason this system works is because my children (not me!) empty the basket at least once a week, or when it is full. This system is especially beneficial if there are stairs in your house, because I’m not always motivated to go upstairs just to put something away. That sounds a bit lazy, but it is just realistic.

This is the dark closet where The What-Not Basket lives. I wish I had magical skills to take good pictures of things inside of closets.

Please, do not put your what-not basket out in the open or on your stairs. Don’t make yourself look at the junk! The whole points is to get it OUT from under your nose, not in your constant line of vision. We also have an upstairs what-not basket for things I find lying around up there.

This really, really works for us. And I think it could make your life easier too!

Your welcome, world!


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13 thoughts on “The What-Not Basket

  1. I am going to institute the What-Not basket TODAY!!! Sadly, I think ours will get so full it will need to be emptied at LEAST daily, but more likely twice daily!!!

  2. I started a new thing with my kids a couple of weeks ago because I was so sick of all the little things left behind–one sock, one barett, a letter from school left on the floor. I thought about what would motivate my kids to put away their little odds and ends better—Candy!!–at the begining of the week I half way fill a small mason jar with small candy like m&m’s. Every item that I pick up through the week I take out one of the candy’s. At they end of the week whatever is left they get to eat! I don’t know that it is a perminate solution, but they do look for picking up all their little items not just the big one. A good habit to be in.

  3. Love it! I don’t usually do a lot of tidying either because I try to keep everything picked up and put away, but I sure would get a lot more done throughout the day if I had a catch all basket. :)

  4. We actually had one that was made for stairs. It was a basket with a staggered bottom that sat over 2-3 steps. It had a handle and the idea was to place items found on first story in the basket throughout the day and then on the way up take whatever was found on the first floor. And then bring it down (since upstairs stuff usually ended up in family room, kitchen, laundry).

  5. When my kids were small ( I’m 70 now), I had a Lucky Box, where I put all the things I had to pick up. When someone was looking for a missing item, I suggested they try the Lucky Box. If their item was there, they owed me a small chore to buy the item back – after all, I had done a chore for them. Why a Lucky Box? ” You’re lucky I didn’t throw it away!”

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