I am not a world-class organizer. There are PLENTY of days where I’d be embarrassed to let anyone see the inside of my house. And my organizational system for my own work and projects seem to be “leave the papers all over my desk and hope I notice them there and decide to do something about them.”
That said, there are a few things I’ve implemented that work really well for our family, so in the spirit of the Nester’s 31 Days to a Less Messy Nest, I’m sharing them here.
All of these systems stem from the basic principle that 99% of clutter is things that don’t have a home. So the real way to deal with clutter is to look around your house, identify those homeless items and find a home for them.
This is a large rubbermaid tote that lives on the top shelf of my coat closet. It houses all the items that don’t belong in my house in the first place. Currently it holds:
- a gift that will be given at a birthday party in a few days
- a few items I bought and then decided they didn’t work – next time I go near that store, I’ll pull them out of here and return them
- a book left here by a visiting child (will return it when I see them)
- a tupperware container that my mom brought food over in
If it weren’t for the outbox, all of these items would be sitting on countertops or floors or would disappear into little hands and their little hiding places. This way, when I head for the right destination, I’ll know exactly where to find the item that needs to be returned. Maybe someday I’ll make it pretty, but right now I’m just happy to have a designated place for these things.
2. LIBRARY BASKET
Simple concept, but keeping library books separate from our own books makes it much easier to find and return them on-time.
3. STAIR BASKET
One at the base of the main stairs, and one at the top of the basement stairs. These hold all the items that need to be carried up (or down). Each time I go upstairs, I grab something out of the basket and put it in its rightful place.
4. KITCHEN ORGANIZER
We have no mudroom, and no options for adding one. When we enter our house we are standing right in the middle of my (tiny) kitchen – so where do you think backpacks, boots, lunchboxes, artwork, and the like ends up? (the correct answer here is “on the stove” since that’s just about the only available flat surface). I am working on making better use of my pantry (I know, supposed to be for food, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got). Here’s what the back of the pantry door looks like:
Hooks down low so kids can hang their own jackets, and pockets above. I love these clear plastic shoe organizers. In the summer, this one holds sunscreen, sunglasses, and the like; in the winter it is stuffed with hats, mittens, etc. It also holds things like barrettes for last-minute hair fixes, Box Tops for Education, which my son collects for school, and other random small things that need a home.
5. MY THOUGHTS ON LAUNDRY
Nester says you should just get used to the fact that there’s going to be laundry in your line of vision all the time – but that was making me crazy. It would get washed and dried – sometimes even folded – but then if it didn’t get put away, it would end up all over the floor when someone went digging for their favorite shirt. So, I’ve designated two days a week as laundry days. Five days a week I don’t even think about laundry (we have a chute so it just piles up in the basement). The other two days, I’m not allowed to go to bed until every last piece is washed, dried, and put away. I chose days where there’s a good tv show for me to watch, and I just fold it all during a show, then put it all away and head to bed. And I don’t have to think about it again for 3-4 days. This works much better for us than constantly having a basket of clean clothes calling out “fold me! fold me!”
Any great ideas about system that work for you?