Organize This: From Chaos to Calm, One Week at a Time

Organizing people, places and things has always been a passion. My mom said she found me in her room organizing socks at the age of two. All embellishing aside, that story illustrates my interest from an early age.

About two months ago I decided to add a feature to my blog and polled all of you with suggested titles. I’ve combined the two most popular titles into one overly long title for now, but will plan some additional tweaking as time goes on.

Organizing Garden Tools

I’m going to kick off the feature with some garden tool organization. I’ve been using this system for three years now, with great success.

In the past I would make do with the odd bucket or two-dollar tool caddy, but as you know, when your hobby grows, so to do your tools. I headed to our local hardware store and put together a system for ten bucks.

For starters, I wanted to personalize my new tool organizer.  I have nothing against Husky who made this fabulous system, but you must admit they have a grouchy-looking logo.  Since I’m organized at heart, I used a jewelry finding full of hearts.  I covered the grumpy husky with a permanent marker, then attached the hearts with a safety-pin.  Now I can change out the bucket jewelry when the mood strikes.

Husky Bucket Jockey

I hid the logo with a jewelry finding (with apologies to Husky®)

I use the inner pockets to store my hand tools, including spades, pruning tools, and hand saws. My garden fork hangs from an outer pocket, originally intended for a drill. I cut an unused garden glove to cover the prongs so I don’t scrape my leg on the rough edges as I carry it from place to place.

Bucket Interior

Bucket interior

Gloved garden fork

Gloved garden fork

Drill holder doubles for tools and gloves

Drill holder doubles for tools and gloves

The Bucket Jockey includes a strap attached to the exterior. I don’t know its intended use, but I’ve re-purposed it for twine. One of the tricks I learned on a garden tour was to cut several lengths of twine ahead of time so you have them at the ready when you need them. I threaded several pre-cut lengths of twine through a couple of binder rings.  They’re attached near the ball of twine.

Strap and Hook

Strap and hook attachment

Garden Twine and binder ring

Pre-cut strands of garden twine attached with binder rings

strap holds garden twine

Strap holds garden twine

"Bucket Jockey ®" for garden tools

Organized and ready to garden

Now all my hand-held tools and garden accessories reside in one easy-to-access, portable system.

Your Turn

I would love to hear your ideas for future posts. What are your organizing interests or challenges?

If you want to make a request privately, you can write to me using my contact form.

Here are a few general ideas:

Home Office/Small business:

Efficient use of email

Managing paper flow

Effective filing


Improving layout and work flow

Shopping and meal planning

Dealing with ‘granny gear’


Organizing the holidays

Organizing gift-giving


Socks, socks and more socks

Where should I store the cat food?

Drowning in magazines


I’m looking forward to your comments, below.

34 thoughts on “Organize This: From Chaos to Calm, One Week at a Time

  1. I like your portable organiser for gardening tools and equipment very much! I keep everything close to hand in my tiny garden in a clip top rubbish bin which masquerades nicely as a disposal bin…… I sometimes think I should decorate it and then I don’t.

    I currently have no requests as we are just getting on and coping with an extra person in the house – the animals are just fine, the humans are just fine and that is the most important thing don’t you think? 🙂


    • I like the idea of keeping your tools under wraps, especially in a tiny garden. Well done.

      Winter is coming, so perhaps you’ll dust off your outdoor paints and have a go at decorating your tiny bin. Would the suitcase markers for that?

      I’m so glad to hear you are living in contentment and that harmony prevails. xox

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, you’re good at this! I think your garden tote is brilliant–I never know where my tools are and spend too much time wandering around looking for them. Great tips! I don’t even know where to start with requests for organizational ideas–every aspect of my world is disorganized, or at least messy. I think pretty much anything you write about will help!


    • Hi KerryCan. (That is such a cool name). I’m so glad you like the garden tote. It was inexpensive and simple as many of the best organizing systems are.

      I’m guilty of misplaced garden tools myself, mostly because I often garden on the fly, then have to run out the door to gather my offspring from school or to make another appointment. The bucket works well, so let me know if you give it a try.

      Thanks for your input. I can write on a whole variety of topics.

      Have a nice weekend.


  3. You’ve inspired me to organize my gardening tools … now to find time away from the doors and calls to get to the garden!
    I adore that story of you organizing the socks!!
    I think of you every single day when I view my better organized email!! Such a simple thing (so to speak) has made a huge difference!
    Sure wish I could hire you to organize my basement! And oh the old photos, printed and in boxes…


    • Hurray for organized gardening tools. I’m glad the post inspired you. You inspire me. My mom loved telling that story. It is funny what we seem born to. I love organizing just about anything and never tire of the process. I worked with someone today and had a terrific time. She is a senior and suffers from ADD and depression. It’s slow and steady but rewarding.

      I’m so glad that email tip made a difference! I’ll write more on the topic as well as many of us struggle to keep it manageable.

      We’ll have to make a weekend of it one day. Sorting photos is another specialty of mine. I used to offer workshops. First, we’ll get you elected.


  4. How cleaver you are. Love the organizational skills you have. I could only dream of such organization in my sewing room. I try, am moderately successful at times but a busy day or two sewing and I am soon back to chaos! I suspect the secert is put everything back at the end of a sewing day. By then I’m usually rushing off to fix dinner or some other destination so things get shoved aside. An organization gene is just not something I received at birth! I guess I will always be struggling with this. The rest of my life is a semi organized enough to get by and keep me sane.


    • If you’re staying sane and enjoying life, that is half the battle. Sometimes small things can make a big difference. I think the nature of creativity is chaotic, not in a bad way, but in a ‘lets haul it out, look for this and that, way.’ The trick is to find a way to reign it back in on a regular basis so that you don’t become overwhelmed and give up.

      One thought is to set a timer for fifteen minutes before you plan to start dinner. Then simply use that last 15 minutes to put away your tools. When the sewing project is done, you can assess the remaining fabric and trim and determine if it’s large enough to save or should it be tossed. If you quilt, it can all go to good use, but if not, extra bits of fabric grow into unmanageable piles.

      Thanks for your comments.


  5. Oh yes, I need organizing Alys! I just have a small bucket for my garden tools but the one I want is always at the bottom! 😉 Something I still haven’t worked out how to organize is my extensive collection of herbs and spices in my very small spice cupboard, but I suppose I’ll work something out eventually… a project for a hot day in summer perhaps!


  6. Ok, I have to know. What is granny gear and do I need some? 🙂

    I like the bucket idea and have some and a round tool caddy from HD still waiting for use. Duh! Some friends from writing class gave me a gardening bag with some tools in it but it doesn’t stay upright and I left it out in the wagon where it filled with water.:(

    I require order and organization. The Virgo in me must have it and if I don’t, I can get quite testy. Ask Tech Support. He’s a clutter bug and mom’s not a happy camper. I think I have my e-mail organized but not sure. There are 586 still unread.:( Help!!!

    Did figure out how to finally manage the magazines. I don’t buy them anymore. I think you saw the post where I photographed the directions of things I wanted to keep and donated the magazines. 2 huge boxes gone already. More to go. Organizing takes time but it saves it as well. Now I’m going to go decorated my HD caddy and get my garden tools cleaned up. TS pulled weeds for me yesterday while I helped my daughter pack. (I did the packing) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My friend Howard coined the term. Granny gear is all the items you inherit from your grandmother, but that no longer serve a useful purpose. People often feel guilty if they give it away, but they don’t necessarily like it either. It takes up a lot of storage, causes feelings of discontent and can be emotionally overbearing.

      In short, you don’t need any granny gear. 🙂

      I used to have a similar garden tote, with similar troubles. It was too small and would not remain upright. Cute but impractical. The bucket and the nylon cover are sturdy and well suited for outdoors. Not as cute, but infinitely more practical.

      Oh dear, 586 emails. Stay tuned for a future post.

      Sorry to hear tech support is a clutter bug. That will make for some challenging living arrangements. Have you designated no-clutter zones? It’s a good idea if you can work it out together.

      And yes, it takes time to get organized, but far less time to maintain it, freeing time and money for other things.

      Lots going on in your life, Marlene. Pulling weeds sounds like more fun than packing though. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I feel better now that I know what granny gear is. I have none that I do not want. Each child was allowed one piece for memory sake, the rest I passed on. I plan to give everything away to the needy when my time comes close. No granny gear for my kids either. I’ll make them each one quilt, The rest goes. Pulling weeds or packing, all the same to me. quiet and meditative. No one bothers me then. 🙂


  7. Well done Alys. I used to have one of those buckets and it never made sense to me on its purpose. Brilliant. I need storage help with christmas decorations- some things i don’t use every year, luggage and useless tupperware. I should probably just get rid of a lot of stuff, but then as soon as i do i need it. Love your new gravitar. Its beautiful!!


    • Thank you, Diane. You are full of compliments today. Pauline took my Gravatar photo when we were on the Mall in D.C. We were lucky to hit the opening of the cherry blossoms. You would love them.

      Thanks for all the suggestions. I will cover all of that in a future post.

      Have a terrific weekend.


  8. Your tool organizer is amazing Alys. And to think you even redecorated the Husky ( I did the same thing with the awful logo on my yoga pants; much less noticeable now that I’ve taken a Sharpie to it). I could probably use email help. But I’m going to adapt your tool kit for my garden basket. Thanks!


    • Lisa, I can’t imagine life without Sharpies! They’re so darn handy.

      I’m so glad you found this idea useful. Thank you, too for input on email help. Have a terrific (garden-filled?) weekend.


  9. Clever girl, the husky bucket’s been hanging in there really well. I really have so few tools now. Our yard is pretty much landscaped for easy care. I did just by a steal/retractable lawn rake for leaves and lawn clippings though. I usually use two tools on my weekly cleanup, a clipper to tidy plants and a rake (hence the new one). I do go thru a number of garden gloves a season though and I’m in awe of yours so clean and tidy. Mine usually look like I’ve drug them behind my car after one wear. When they’re full of holes and grim that can’t be rinsed with the garden hose, I replace them. I’ve bought all kinds and now use the rubber ones in kiddy size otherwise the fingers are way too big. I used to save every plastic pot in a garden shed we had at the lake. Now, with just the two car garage, I recycle everything like that. I’ve gone very minimal.

    The one room I’m constantly cleaning and reorganizing is my craft room. OMGosh there’s a lot of stuff in that little room. I really want to do the closets, probably Ikea systems because they’re cost effective. I think it might be a winter project though, too nice to be inside now! Have fun in the garden love, hey?! are there birdies in your fountain yet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • How wonderful to make it around the garden with just two tools. I love that. You have the beauty of a garden without a lot of work. After all those years at the lake I’m sure you’ve had more than your fill.

      I too used to save small pots, but found I would only reuse one or two. Now that the potting plants come in recyclable pots, I too but them back at the curb. I’m also growing more from seed then I ever did, directly sewed in the garden, making for fewer pots. With this drought, I’ve done away with the majority of outdoor pots, putting several at the curb with a free sign. They were all gone in 24 hours.

      It’s so funny how our lives are always paralleling. I just bought a new rake last weekend. My first new rake in 25 years. The other one had simply had it.

      I think an Ikea system in your closets will go a long way. Crafting involves so many tools. Every time you get a new system, you have to think of ways to incorporate them with what you have. The other part of the equation is donating what you no longer use, and I think you’re good about that too. I wish I could pop in for a weekend and help you organize the Boom Room. Maybe some of your magic would rub off on me. xox


  10. Improving kitchen layout…. Organising it not one of my strong points, though fortunately I have a daughter who has such skills – clearly innate!

    Anyway, I love your tool tidy. What a great idea 🙂


    • That’s terrific that your daughter has that innate ability.

      As for any kitchen, we ask a lot from them. Some are quite small, and others not as well laid out. Even so, there is much you can do to make the space more workable.


        • Using vertical space when possible can help and using items that can double is sometimes useful as well. I also suggest storing off season non-essentials in another space when possible so you just have what you use daily at hand. I like ‘disguised’ storage as well.


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  13. Such a great way to organize garden tools, Alys! I’m definitely going to try it. With a place for each tool, it will be obvious if I accidentally leave a tool in the garden, only to be discovered days later covered with rust. Ask me how I know! I just discovered your blog today… and you have a brand new follower. I’m looking forward to catching up with your past posts for more inspiration. Wishing you happy days in the garden! ♡


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