A Simple QR Code Based System for Organizing Your Boxes

Recently we had our second child, and that meant digging through a bunch of boxes in the basement to find leftover baby clothes and gear. After not being able to find a few things we were pretty sure we still had I realized that there had to be a better way.

Now, there are a bunch of solutions out there on the market that do this, but they all had subscriptions to use them. I was really tempted to write my own app… but then I started thinking about how I could create a system without doing any programming and in a few minutes. Time being precious with a newborn in the house.

I knew that a QR code could point to a url, so I just needed some sort of hosting that would give me a unique url for parts of a document. For the briefest of moments I thought about creating something on my website to do it… then I remembered that we already use Google docs for all sorts of things, maybe they would work here.

Then a little more experimenting with the mobile apps, and the various offerings and I realized that Google Slides was the best option I had. First, I didn’t have the app on my phone. This was crucial because the app doesn’t correctly navigate to a slide when you click a slide specific link in the browser. Slides also are a nice form factor for a list of items, and other information and can link back and forth to each other.

Ok, so here are the things that you need to make this work.

  1. A Google Slides presentation
  2. the-qrcode-generator.com/
  3. A laptop
  4. A printer
  5. Some Tape

Now that you have those things let’s get started.

First, create a new slide in your presentation. Now, grab your box. Title the slide with a name that makes sense, and then type out a list of all the things that are in it, to whatever granularity you want.

Now, with the slide up on the screen you can copy the URL (from the URL bar of your browser, make sure you grab the whole thing), and head over to the-qrcode-generator.com/. Select the option for URL and paste it in. The QR code will change on the right of the page! Click save and save the image off for printing.

This is where you can do one of two things. You can print the code right now, cut it out and tape it to the box, or you can repeat these steps for a few boxes and print them in a batch. As I am typing this I am realizing you create a slide for every box you want, create QR codes for the links and then fill them in as you tape them on the box.

Either way… that’s pretty much it.

Now you can scan the QR code on the front of the box (on iOS just turn on the camera app, point it at the box and then click the notification that drops down from the top) and be taken to a list of its contents. If you have boxes behind other boxes I added links to the box in the back from the box in the front to make it easy to know what is there.

In the future I’ll be adding a photo of the box, and a small map of the basement showing where the box is to the slides. That will make it really easy to search for an item in the slides (ctrl+f for the win!) and know where that box is in the basement without having to dig through every box, or even scan every box.

Happy organizing!

Published: 16 Feb 2020 | Tags: organization , low tech high tech , mvp