This isn’t an update for any project in particular, but it’s still something I really wanted to write about and share with you all, because there’s some valuable tips in here.
I still very much consider myself a starting maker. Sure, I’ve been doing this for over a year now, maybe two if depending on how you count. But as a consequence of my poor health I haven’t actually finished a lot of projects. I also don’t have that much money to spend on tools and materials, so those have been trickling in only very slowly, whenever I could afford something new.
Why do I mention this? Because I’ve recently been cleaning the room. Since I frequently can’t do the clean-up after I’ve already spent the afternoon doing other things, I often have crap slowly building up on my desks until I can set a day aside to do the cleaning-up.
And I found that it was hard. I had all these microcomputers, magnets, knives, cables, sensors, breadboards, LED strips, jumper wires, connectors, soldering materials, rotating multi-tool accessories, silicone molds, and a whole bunch more that I simply didn’t have a good place for.
For reference, here’s an older picture of my desk:
You could argue there’s plenty of space to put stuff. Plus the desk is sixty centimeters deep, so… what’s the problem? While you could stuff everything into those spaces, trying to actually get something back out is the next big problem.
There’s just no way to do it without digging through everything else that’s in there. And often there’s no way to do it without first pulling out a bunch of unrelated stuff, and then pushing it all back in.
This does not make for a pleasant experience.
So I’d spent some time thinking about what I could do, and I remembered watching MythBusters years ago and how Jamie’s shop had massive shelves with everything neatly stored in containers. And I thought to myself “damn, that’s what I need!”
And I did have an entire wall I wasn’t using yet, opposite my desk… I figured could probably take thirty centimeters of space ‘out of the room’ and put a massive shelf there with room for as many containers as I could fit.
Needless to say, I started drawing up plans in Inkscape immediately.
I also gave up on it not long after. Not because I couldn’t make it work — in fact, I have almost fully complete plans in case I ever do decide to build it — but because the cost was around €200 with all of the furniture panels, screws, glue, plank carrying pins, and containers put together. And money’s kind of tight at the moment.
So I went with Plan B.
( Ah, Plan B. What would the world do without you… )
If you paid any attention at all to the previous image of my desk, you’ll notice that at the time it was taken, I was doing exactly what I described in terms of storing things. It was just a bunch of stuff I chucked in there, figuring I could sort it out at some time in the future — and then never doing it, because there wasn’t a better place to put it all.
So I decided that I’d take my idea and downscale it in such a way that I wouldn’t have to buy any new furniture panels, or screws, or any of that stuff. All I would have to buy would be a bunch of containers. So I did what all the cool kids do.
I made a list:
Specifically, I made a list of all the containers that I could reasonably find or that figured would probably be suitable. I quickly narrowed down on the 10-liter-ish containers as being a sweet spot for my particular needs. I was especially looking for containers that wider than they were deep, since otherwise you’d have the exact same problem of cramming a lot of stuff into the containers and not easily being able to get anything back out of them. Which wouldn’t be much of an improvement over the current situation.
By the way, there’s nothing wrong with your monitor, browser, or connection. I made the image above illegibly blurry on purpose just to see if anyone would keep reading. Also there’s a chance it’ll be outdated by the time you may read this, so an image is a poor way to communicate this information. There’s also no reason you should have to repeat the same arduous process of looking for all the information and trying to make sense of it all, so here’s a direct link to the published spreadsheet for you, with all of the information on it:
Of course, this is only useful if you live in the Netherlands, but still…
My idea was to redesign the shelves on the left-hand side of my desk so I could put eight containers in there. It took a full afternoon of measuring, doing math, drawing lines and drilling holes, but I eventually managed to redesign it to have four spaces instead of three, each approximately 15.5cm tall. Compare the redesigned left side with the original design on the right side:
I’d gone through my list of containers and decided on three possible options that would fit two-side-by-side into the newly reorganized space on the left, four high, for a total of 8 containers. I settled on the Action Starplast Storage Box 11,3l… but of course by the time I’d gotten to the store, it was the one empty shelf in the entire container department. Rather than having to give up, my foresight to design for various boxes paid off here, and I instead picked up eight of the Iris 11l storage boxes.
It took me a while to look around the room and decide on what I wanted the 8 categories to be (the hard part was having to combine things into a single container) but I eventually settled on my groupings. I then used my computer to print out labels on regular paper, cut these out, and stuck them to the sides of the containers using regular tape.
I was then able to finally gather some of the things that I had lying around in various places around the room, and store them neatly into (mostly) their own containers. Here’s the result:
I am still so pleased with this.
Total money spent: €20.
And it is so worth it. I can’t tell you how nice it is for everything to have its own place, and more than that, to be able to get something quickly when you need it. If you are disorganized, or your stuff is all over the place as well, I highly recommend spending some time to do something similar yourself. Take some time and think about how you can make things cleaner and more organised. You won’t be disappointed.
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