want desks to surround you transparent containers are nice stackable transparentbsliding drawers big monitor window maximized windows, devilspie emacs, viperre colemak things you forget in transparent containers, visible

stuff with a weird shape that might fall over (e.g. suitcases) must go on or near the bottom

prefer stackable stuff, esp. things that hook into each other to stack

drawers, not boxes, for anything you actually will want to get (e.g. almost everything). make sure they are high quality (i've had good experiences with 'the container store', and bad ones with sterilite), o/w they will deform with weight on top and be hard to open and hard to close completely

front-open boxes are good too

For sufficiently airtight, transparent, easy to open and close, sturdy high quality stackable containers, the Container Store is a good place. It's very expensive, though.

drawers and front-open boxes near the bottom, normal boxes on top; because in order to access a normal box under a bunch of other boxes you have to take them all off first (which can be like "Towers of Hanoi" if you are low on space and don't have a convenient place to put the other boxes as you take them off), but in order to access a drawer or front-open bottom box under a bunch of boxes, you don't.

if a tower of stuff sways easily, it's too tall. Such towers do seem to collapse 'spontaneously'. Also, if you decide to temporarily create such a tower while in the process of rearranging stuff, watch out when you are near it because it can collapse on you unexpectedly and hurt you. This has happened to me; be conservative.

shelves are good because they allow you to utilize the height dimension by 'stacking' things without actually stacking them, which means that you can access things on the bottom without taking out things on the top. One problem is that many kinds of shelves are not constructed to bear tons of weight, so watch out.

try to put really heavy and rarely used things at the bottom; it is really a pain to lift these up in order to get to something underneath.

watch out that you don't get too near the max capacity of your storage space; if you then get something new, or buy some more storage containers to try and reorganize, you'll end up spending a lot of time rearranging stuff in order to get everything to fit. i'm not suggesting you measure everything, just be aware of when things are getting pretty full.

if there is part of the space with a height limit, it would be good to put large or misshapen stuff that needs to be at the bottom, at the bottom there, since you can't put too much on top of that stuff anyways. places where you can stack really high should have draws or drop-front boxes at the bottom, if possible.

you'll probably have to put non-drawers in the corners

be sure to leave space to access the drawers or drop-front boxes

deep drawers (in front-to-back, not height) are better for things you really don't want to risk getting dusty, like clothes; with shallow drawers they will often be brushing against the side and front of the drawers

if you have any drawers in which you store non-dry food, including fruit, you need to keep them relatively empty so that you can see if any pieces fall off so that you can clean them up before they rot

Drop-front boxes

These appear to be airtight, due to their magnetic seal.

They have a smell, maybe cedar. I don't appear to be allergic to it.

They are fairly wide; they are wider than most of the Container Store boxes.

I just started using these so maybe i am wrong about them.

Clear polystyrene drawers

These are very clear and open and close very easily. These are good for putting on your desk for things like papers that you want to see exactly what it is. They are stackable and hook together a little bit to the drawer beneath, but they are rather unsteady, and also they crack easily and seem like they can't support too much weight, so i wouldn't build a huge tower of them or on top of them, or put too much heavy stuff on top of them; i'd stack maybe 3 or 4 of them. They are not 100% airtight but close enough for the purpose of not letting dust get in.

3 sizes of clear polystyrene drawers:

If you don't know what to buy, get one small-sized one for office supplies and some large sized ones for papers and everything else.

7" x 12" x 4" h "Regular Shoe Drawer Clear"

These small drawers are good for storing (lots of) office supplies such as pens and pencils on your desk.

8" x 14" x 5-1/4" h "Men's & Athletic Shoe Drawer Clear"

These medium-sized drawers are good for storing random small junk. They can fit smaller books but not textbooks, and they are not big enough to fit 8.5 x 11 paper. The smaller size is better for office supplies, and the larger size is needed for papers. However i have a few of them that i use for large office supplies, e.g. rolls of packing tape, staplers, etc.

14" sq. x 8" h "sweater drawer"

These large drawers are great for storing boatloads of anything. I have a bunch on my desk full of papers, books, food, large-sized headphones, computer accessories, etc. If you put papers in them, they are pretty deep so they can store a lot of paper (so for this use case it would be better if they were slightly shallower; but whatever).

Transparent Polypropylene Stacking Drawers

These are not as clear as the "Clear polystyrene drawers" above but they seem much more sturdy; both less likely to crack, and more able to be stacked very high. They have a mechanism to prevent them from falling out when you pull them all the way out. When stacking, they 'lock in' quite solidly to the drawer beneath them. I stack as many of them as i want. Like the "Clear polystyrene drawers", these open and close very easily. Compared to the "Clear polystyrene drawers", these have slightly more space for air (and hence dust) to get into the drawer, but it still doesn't seem like a very large gap. I wouldn't leave something in these for ten years and expect it not to get at all dusty (although it would probably be only a little dusty), but i would leave something in them for a year or less.

They are fairly wide; they are deeper than most of the Container Store boxes and can't be stacked on top of them.

I just started using these so maybe i am wrong about them.

I use the 12-1/2" x 20-1/2" x 6" h Small size for books that i plan to look in the next few months, and the 12-1/2" x 20-1/2" x 12" h Large size for clothes that i plan to wear in the next year.

Transparent boxes

These come in many sizes and things of the same size (and often but not always, different sizes) stack with each other. They taper a little so the bottom is smaller than the top. They are not 100% airtight but close enough for the purpose of not letting dust get in.

If you don't know what to buy, get the Jumbo Box if you want to store a comforter, or the Deep Sweater Box if you want to store clothes or oversized books, or the Men's Shoe Box if you want to store normal/small sized books, or the Sweater Box for anything else.

The 35-5/8" x 18-1/4" x 6-1/4" h "Long Underbed Box" is good for storing rolls of wrapping paper.

The 27-1/8" x 16" x 12-3/8" h "Jumbo Box" is good for storing comforters and pillows and other huge things. Don't buy too many of them, though, because they take up a ton of space. You can stack any of the 15-5/8" x 13-1/8" x X or smaller boxes (see below) on top of it; you can stack two Deep Sweater Boxes or Sweater boxes (see below) directly on top of it (plus more on top of them), or possibly more of the others. Because they are so large there are not many things you can stack them on top of.

The 15-5/8" x 13-1/8" x 13-1/4" h "Deep Sweater Box" is good for storing clothes, for extra large books (like art books), and for miscellaneous junk. Don't use it to store papers or normal size books, though, because when it is full of books it is really heavy and hard to lift, so don't do that except when you have to (like with the oversized art books).

The 15-5/8" x 13-1/8" x 6-3/4" h "Sweater Box" is the workhorse of the set. I have a bunch of these for all sorts of stuff.

The 14-3/4" x 10-1/8" x 5-5/8" h "Men's Shoe Box" is also a workhorse. I have a bunch of these for all sorts of stuff. Most books and also most comic books fit nicely into these.

The 14-3/4" x 10-1/8" x 5-5/8" h "Shoe Box" is too small for most things, and generally for the things that do fit in it, you'd rather put them in the "Men's Shoe Box" anyways along with other stuff. I have found a few uses for it; i have one on my desk to store junk that could go in your pocket but currently isn't, such as rarely used credit cards and loyalty cards, bags of change, etc, and i have one next to my medicine drawer to store medicines that are rarely used but not so rarely used that i want to put them in the closet.

The 7-1/2" x 6-1/2" x 3-5/8" h "Accessory Box" is too small for most things, and generally for the things that do fit in it, you'd rather put them in the "Men's Shoe Box" anyways along with other stuff.

Display box

The 8-3/4" x 3-5/8" x 12-5/8" h "Cereal Box Display Cube" (sic; technically this is not a cube). These are very clear. They are good for small nice things that you want to leave out so that you see them in your room but that you don't want to get dusty from being left out. They are not 100% airtight but close enough for the purpose of not letting dust get in.

When to throw stuff out

It's something that you have to learn for yourself, because it involves your own preferences. Here's what i've found though:

For things that you keep around because you think they might be useful someday, i've found that i often keep them around too long and i should have thrown them out. A friend once made a good point: if you NEVER find yourself wanting something that you threw anything out, you are probably not close to the optimal tradeoff point, and you should throw more stuff out. I have a ton of junk that i kept because i thought it might be useful someday, and now i think the time i spent organizing it wasn't worth it. Often ppl use a rule of thumb that if you haven't used it for 2 years (or, for some people, 5 years), get rid of it.

On the other hand, for things that you keep around for sentimental reasons or just because you think they are 'neat', just before i went to college i went on a purge and threw a lot of that stuff out, and i regret that.

So my advice is: for impersonal/useful stuff, if in doubt, throw it out (or donate it, if possible). For sentimental/'neat' stuff, keep it, and if you are going to throw it out, put it in a temporary 'to-be-trash' place for a year first to see if you change your mind.


stackable modular drawers are better than boxes: you can get to stuff at the bottom without taking everything out. translucent plastic is best and you can see what's in em. container store carries the like-it brand which is my favorite: after this, the best is drop-front boxes with a magnetic seal, eg (you could possibly buy a dropfront box without a magnetic seal and put magnetic tape on both sides of the lid. note however that plastic stackable drawers and (at least these) dropfront boxes are much more expensive than ordinary plastic stackable boxes.

the container store sells good translucent boxes: i bought a lot of these, but now i wish i had only bought drawers instead; also, the sterilite ones are half the price, and i bet just as good.

plastic seathru stuff is better than cardboard for longterm storage: you can see what's in em, bugs seem to be less likely to get into them (dunno why, but maybe it's because it's not perpetually dark, and the smooth plastic sides are harder to climb)

anything that emits fragerence even a little (candles, soap, dental floss, something that has been treated with fragrant cleaning solution) will over time emit a lot that will be concentrated in the encloseed box and make everything else in there smell. so isolate these things in their own box or at least try to give them their own semiairtight compartment (eg ziplock bag)


use shelf paper in shelves, DO NOT substitute paper towels (silverfish eat paper towels)


dont use indoor furniture outside, and dont use outdoor furnitue inside; and dont leave doors openn because birds poop on outdoor furniture, and birds come inside if the doors are open, and some ppl are grossed out by it