Most of us have some kind of inventory to manage. On the job it’s a tool crib, workshop or maintenance supply closet. At home you might have junk drawers, maybe a kitchen pantry, or a workshop in your garage. And when it’s time to relax? There's an inventory there too. For example, when's the last time you organized your tackle box? When it comes to these day-to-day inventories, we all have our own strategies for keeping our stuff under control. Here are some helpful tips for eight everyday inventories.
1. The Tackle Box
It’s easy for a tackle box to get disorganized. After a successful day of fishing, putting everything back where it belongs is not always a top priority. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Here are some tips for keeping a tackle box more organized.
- Sort everything in your tackle box by function. This just means store the poppers with the poppers, spinners with the spinners, bobbers with the bobbers, and so forth all by size.
- Lures should be stored separately and by function too. You can buy small utility boxes in a lot of different sizes to fit all kinds of tackle.
- Small compartment boxes can be used to store small flies and lures.
2. The Toolbox
Your toolbox is yours. It's personal. So instead of telling you how to organize it, here are a couple handy tips to think about the next time you purchase a new toolbox or just want to reorganize your current one.
- Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom of your toolbox. Cardboard acts as a nice barrier from moisture and can also soak up any grease that finds its way to the bottom of your toolbox. Another plus is cardboard is easy to replace.
- According to Bob Vila, putting a few pieces of chalk in your box absorbs moisture and helps prevent rust.
3. The Truck
Do you operate a fleet of service vehicles? If so, you already have your hands full managing several inventories coming and going all day. Government Fleet offers several benefits to standardizing your fleet from vehicle to vehicle, including lowering overall costs. Here are some tips for fleet management.
- Keep your inventory of tools and other supplies uniform for your fleet.
- When all of your vehicles are set up with a standard configuration, it’s easier to transfer from one vehicle to the next. Technicians can move easily from one vehicle to another without having to figure out where everything is. It’s also a huge time-saver when it comes time to check the inventory.
- Create a map of tools and supplies to post on the inside back door of your vehicles. This serves as a quick-reference visual of the vehicle's inventory for your technicians.
4. The Tool Crib
Centralized tool cribs are common, and often necessary when you have to stock a wide variety of items in large quantities. If your tool crib serves a large space, for example, a manufacturing floor, that space is often divided up by function.
Create smaller tool cribs with smaller inventories specific for designated areas where they are used the most. This keeps essential tools and supplies close to the task, which cuts down the back-and-forth traffic from workstations to a centralized tool crib, and improves worker productivity.
5. The Kitchen
Large, commercial kitchens are typically divided by zones dedicated to specific tasks, such as prepping, frying, baking and plating. The implements needed for these tasks are stored within easy reach so kitchen staff don't have to leave their stations. You can apply similar principles to smaller kitchens and even a home kitchen.
- If your kitchen doesn't serve a big restaurant or hotel, but it's a high-traffic space that serves many people on a regular basis, for example, a firehouse kitchen, it still serves a similar purpose to its larger counterpart on a smaller scale. If you're thinking about re-organizing or remodeling a kitchen, try to keep the concept of commercial zones in mind. Ask yourself if it's feasible to dedicate certain spots for certain tasks. If so, you can think about how to store the most-needed items closest to that area.
- If you're low on drawer space, but you have pans or other tools that you use often, consider using utility carts that can be moved around and then stored away at cleanup time.
- Knives can be kept in easy reach on the wall if you have space for a magnetic strip.
6. The Garage
The home garage typically does some heavy lifting when it comes to storage. There's a lot of inventory in a typical home garage. On top of the fact that it's used for cars, people depend on garage space for sports equipment and toys, lawn and gardening tools and equipment and pretty much anything that either they don't want in the house or which doesn't fit. It's no wonder garages can get cluttered and messy.
- Whenever possible, get stuff off the floor and use overhead space. Loft or ceiling storage racks work great for freeing up floor space.
- If you're lucky enough to be able to dedicate some space for a workbench, put your walls to work too. That magnetic knife holder you’re using in your kitchen also works great on the wall over your work area. Put two or three side by side and they make great tool holders. They also hold tight to smaller items like drill bits and keep them at easy reach.
7. The Pantry
Your pantry inventory changes throughout the year, with different menus, seasonal spices, foods and so forth. So whether you’re organizing a pantry for a commercial kitchen or one at home, here are some tips for doing it more efficiently.
- Store stuff you don’t use often up high and anything you need regularly within easy reach.
- Mesh baskets work well for stuff you need often. If you can store these under shelves, they're easy to pull out. You can also see everything, which is an added time-saver.
- If you use ingredient labels for canisters, use chalk labels so you can change them whenever you want.
- You can store small appliances you don’t use all that often in your pantry to free up space in your cabinets.
- Take advantage of pantry doors to store canned goods and other small items if space allows you to close them.
8. The Workshop
Just like the garage, the first step to getting your workshop organized is getting everything off the floor. There's bound to be stuff you don't use very often, but still want to keep on hand. Get it all out of the way with sturdy bins that you can label. If you haven't already done it, you'll need to create shelving. Whether against a wall or hanging from the ceiling, shelving can be done easily and inexpensively.
- Use a strong glue to affix the top of some clear glass jars to the bottom of your workshop shelves for storing different-sized fasteners. They're easy to see and easy to reach.
- Have any old ice cube trays laying around? They make great storage in drawers for nuts and bolts and other assorted fasteners. Egg cartons work well for storing small items too.
- If your workshop is in a basement or area where there are exposed studs, you can fit dowel rods between the studs to hang twine, rope, and tools.
How you manage the many inventories you use in your daily and professional life has a lot to do with how efficiently you manage a wide variety of tasks. Getting these areas de-cluttered and organized is not only satisfying, it can make work a lot easier too.
Grainger offers products, services and expertise to help you manage your workplace inventory.