If I had new kitchen dish towels and they would not fit in my drawer, I would find another spot for them. If a toy came in our home that did not fit in the designated toy area, we would find a new spot for toys.
Our culture functions this way. If our master closet is full, we start putting things in the spare bedroom closet. If the coat closet is full and we get a new coat, we find another closet for coats. If the refrigerator is overflowing, we get a second refrigerator for the garage. If our house is overflowing, we add things to the garage, basement, attic, or any other spot we can find.
Does that not seem pretty typical? Nothing is necessarily wrong with this approach, but you have to understand that when we think this way, we are letting each individual item be the determining factor of where we put things. That is backwards and it makes it much harder to remember where to find things and put things back in order. If you are afraid of an avalanche every time you open the closet door, it is going to be difficult to be motivated to put things away each day.
Instead, consider determining the space you want to allot in your home for certain types of things, and then make sure every thing fits in that space.
I have a designated toy area. If something comes in that does not fit, we cull the toys until everything fits. I have a designated drawer where all the kids’ shoes go. If it gets too full, I sort through it and see what needs to go. I have one drawer for kitchen utensils. If it gets too cluttery, I don’t evaluate how I can find another drawer for my utensils. Instead, I eliminate a few things. I have a drawer designated for the kids’ art supplies. When it gets too full, I sort through it and find all the dry markers and purge.
I determine how much space I want to give, and then I make sure that everything fits in that designated space. This approach helps me stay on top of the clutter on a regular basis. I know myself, and I know that if I do not keep up with it, things would quickly get out of control. As much as I would like for it to be a one-time purge and we’re done, it just does not work that way.
Tips for determining your space:
1. Be realistic.
It is easy to be overly ambitious and think you are going to give yourself one tiny shelf when previously those things have taken up an entire closet. Small steps are usually best for success.
2. Think about placement.
If you have a place too far out of the way from where it is used, you’ll probably end up creating a second place for that item for the day-to-day. Make the original spot the practical spot, and you will not need multiple areas.
For example, when I kept my kids’ shoes in their bedroom, I would always have to keep my son’s shoes in a different spot. Sometimes he goes outside when another child is napping, and I needed his shoes available. I ended up with two shoe storage places which was pointless. Now all the shoes are in a drawer in the living room. We do not have to remember to grab them out before naps, and we don’t have shoes in multiple locations either.
3. Be flexible.
As you are coming up with a good system, you might find that you gave yourself too much or too little space and need to adjust. Eventually, you will find something that works, but sometimes it takes moving things around a bit until you find a working system. If you have a convenient, logical space for your things it is much easier to keep things neat and de-cluttered. It is definitely worth being flexible and tweaking things until you find a working system.
What are your tips for keeping things neat and de-cluttered on a day to day basis?