The average American Home has 100 drop zones. Ok, I just made that up but it sounds pretty accurate, right? The kitchen counter, the laundry room, mud room, spare bedroom, dining room table, the shelf outside that back door, the bench in the front hall, heck all of the front hall… you see my point?
When I first started organizing homes, each job was usually for a very specific room, like a pantry. As the years went on, the jobs became larger and often it was for the entire home and we would start room by room – the office, the playroom, pantry, garage and so one. Sometimes though, I feel like the most obvious place to start is with the piles – 0r unofficially the Drop Zones.
Like any other job, the way to tackle this challenge is one pile at a time. Pick the deepest pile and dig in:
- Sort: Drop Zones are often a combo of things belonging to many people, so sort these piles by person if necessary.
- Purge: Toss, recycle and deliver items to their rightful owner.
- Assign: Depending on the zone, maybe each person may need a space because it is a natural drop spot for stuff that is actually important. If it is a kitchen desk and this is where the keys, homework and ski passes land, recognize it and create a space for each person. If it is the stairs, place a basket on each step and sort things into them – OR even better, divert them to a close-by mud room with individual cubbies. If it is the garage, give each person a shelf.
- Containerize: Make sure there is a space to put things away that reflects the stuff that you need to store. If you have a tiny space in your mud room but each person has 5 coats and 5 pairs of boots, your need to adjust and create a space that works. Add more hooks or put away off-season items.
- Equalize: Minimize what comes into the house. Do you need new sunglasses? If so, toss an old pair. Space is sadly not infinite.
I could go on and on about this subject. But if you have spaces in your home that need some respect, like the kitchen counter that you would like to keep clear, create a space in that general area for your family to use instead. Make sure that they know where to put their things so that they can find them easily and reinforce the plan until it is habit.
The calm that you will feel as you move through your halls, stairs, laundry areas and trouble spots will be worth the time that you spent eliminating the clutter. With a bit of time – or bribery, your family will fall in line and support the process too.