Bringing Lasting Order to Your Most Cluttered Areas
In my previous article on how to get rid of clutter, we discussed some over-arching principles to get you organized. This week we will tackle the areas of your house where clutter loves to gather.
The area near your front door can sometimes seem like a dumping ground for everything that walks in with your family members: shoes, keys, umbrellas, school bags, library books, sports equipment- you name it! In order to actually find these things when you need them, and hopefully to impress (or at least not scare) your guests, you need a system of organization. Since I do not have an actual entryway, I purchased an organizer that blends in with my living room furniture:
Each basket corrals different items that would otherwise get thrown all over the sofa. Matt and I stash our phones, umbrellas, spare keys, sunglasses and other essentials in the top basket. The two middle baskets house all of our electronic gear (camera, iPods chargers, cords) and reusable shopping bags. The bottom basket holds our toddler’s shoes, toy cars, hats, sunscreen, and games. When I am ready to run out the door, everything is right there waiting for me. Next to the organizer I keep my diaper bag and another basket where we toss our shoes. In empty slots I don’t need, I have decorated with photos and other items. As our family grows, I will be able to add more baskets to organize the additional things we'll need.
If you have older kids who have more stuff, you may want to try a locker style organizer like this:
Photo from Target.com
Each of your kids has a specific spot to stash their backpack, shoes, athletic equipment, instruments, etc. If you don’t want all of their stuff at the front door, you can use locker style organizers in the laundry room or by the back door, which will keep everything organized and out of sight.
Another type of entryway organizer is a bench:
This gives you seating with storage below for all of your essentials, and you can also mount additional storage above it such as shelves or coat hooks. If you have the space, this is a great choice!
The Junk Drawer
Admit it, you have one - the drawer where you throw all of your homeless stuff. The problem is, there is so much stuff in there, you can’t find what you need! Like the entryway, your junk drawer should be a “one-stop shop” for everything that you need around the house. Start by taking out anything that you don’t use on a regular basis, and putting back only things that you reach for regularly. Next, buy drawer dividers (or be creative and use containers you already have!) and put back the things you need.
What should your junk drawer contain? Here are some essentials:
- Candle lighter
- Bag clips
- Pens, a sharpie marker, and a highlighter
- Small-size screwdrivers
When these things are at your fingertips, it will save you time and frustration.
If you ask most Moms where their organization breaks down, they will tell you it starts with the mail. Everyday a pile of magazines, bills, junk mail, invitations, and cards threatens to clutter up your pristine surfaces. Even if you manage to sort through all of it, your kids get home and add permission slips, newsletters, fundraiser order forms and homework to the pile. Here is a three-step plan to organize all that paper.
1. Go through the mail and immediately throw out (or better yet, recycle!) all of the junk mail and excess envelopes. You are now left with only the things that are important.
2. Display cards and invitations attractively where they will be easy to find. Here is my solution:
I purchased an office organizer and used super glue to attach large magnets to the back. It now functions as a giant “magnet” on my fridge where I can keep nice cards and invitations close by. I also add photos and quotes that inspire me. I love to pause in my day and look at the photos, quotes and cards from people I love. One caveat: never display an invitation to a surprise party! Even if you think there is zero chance the person will visit, don’t take any chances!
3. Next you need to find a functional place to keep everything else. I have found nothing works better than a three-ring binder. I keep mine in my kitchen:
You can get binders in all kinds of fun colors and patterns to liven up your space. Using dividers with pockets, each section becomes a place to keep all areas of your life organized. You can have sections for coupons, bills, menus, instruction manuals, insurance information, taxes, etc. You can also have section or even an entire binder dedicated to each child. Imagine needing a document and knowing exactly where to find it.
It might seem that you don’t have the time to get organized, but the amount of time you will save by having everything you need within easy reach far outweighs the upfront time it will take to get organized, leading to a calmer, happier home.
Becky Cella is Mommy to Gavin, ten months, and wife to Matt, a school teacher in Philadelphia. She taught high school English for six years prior to earning her Masters at Cabrini College and becoming a student teaching supervisor at Philadelphia Biblical Unviersity. In her free time she enjoys helping out with her MOPS group at church and writing about the experiences of being a new mom.