Warehouse Organization for the Complete Amateur

For some, organizing is easy. It’s just ingrained in their nature and they’ve always had an organized, orderly mindset.

For others, including myself, it is not so easy. I can remember a few examples growing up. My room was always dirty; I never did laundry; my car had nothing but trash, clothes, and papers piled up everywhere.

I can remember in my 9th grade English class my teacher, to keep us organized, would have a “notebook check” every 9 weeks. It was a test to see how organized we could keep our binders. She would ask questions like “On November 3rd we took notes as a class on the reading of Romeo and Juliet. What does the heading at the top of the page say for our notes taken that day?”

As I scrambled through the pile of mess I called a binder, the girl next to me turned right to her notes for November 3rd that she had so cleanly labeled and organized and found the answer immediately. I was not as successful. I believe my grade for that test was a 25. Like a 25 E. Embarrassing.

I digress.

Organizing your warehouse, whether you have the knack for it or not, can be done. It just takes a little effort and guidance. Below are 3 simple strategies to organize your warehouse.

Clean, Prioritize, and Maintain.

1. Clean

This is the easy part. It requires very little thought. If you have trash throughout the warehouse, throw it away. Sweep up the dust and loose papers, and throw them away as well.

Simply taking out the trash makes a huge difference and it is so easy.

2. Prioritize

Take a look at all the inventory and material you have and determine: What do I get rid of? What do I keep? and Where will it go?

If you have a big warehouse this may be overwhelming. So allocate your warehouse into sections and work one section at a time. Start with one run of shelving, finish it completely, and move on to the next.

For example:

Let’s say you have a run of 5 shelving units. First, empty out all 5 units. Literally take everything off the shelves. Next, dust the shelves off and only put back the items that need to be there. For all the remaining items, put them off to the side to either be sold, scrapped, donated or relocated.

From there, repeat this process for all other sections of the warehouse.

The “what do I keep and where will it go?” may be the most challenging part. There’s always a possibility that an item “may come in handy someday.”

So here are a few tips.

Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time we used this?

  • When will we ever use this?

  • What is the worst case scenario if we get rid of this?

From there:

  • Keep only what is essential. And store seldom used items in a long term storage space.

  • Sell any items of value. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great for this.

  • Donate items to goodwill. Make sure you get a receipt. You can get a tax write-off for most all items you donate.

  • Scrap the junk. Just get rid of the items of zero value that are taking up space. It may seem hard at first, but it’s quite liberating. If it’s made of metal, take it to a scrap yard. Trash the rest.

3.  Maintain

As new items come into your warehouse, remember to keep them in order. Put them in the right place. If they need to be sold, scrapped or donated do it right away.

This part is also simple and easy. Just remember to stay on top of it.

That’s it. If your warehouse starts to get cluttered again, repeat steps 1 through 3. FYI I just did this myself with my warehouse. It’s nothing special, but it was a simple enough task that anyone can do it. And my goodness, it makes a huge difference.

Here are some before and after photos:

Hardware Shelving Before

Hardware Shelving Before

Hardware Shelving After

Hardware Shelving After

Tool Cage Before

Tool Cage Before

Tool Cage After

Tool Cage After