Does anyone wonder if there’s some sort of force field that pulls loose papers to every horizontal surface in your house? There are the school papers, recipes, the mail, coloring pages, bills, check stubs, coupons, magazines…and those are things I actually need to deal with! Evenly distributed beneath and on top are old grocery lists, receipts, sticky notes, birthday cards, church bulletins, and old homework papers.
Now that we’ve covered the counter/desk surfaces, let’s talk about the floors: toys, backpacks, shoes, shoes and more shoes! Then there are the dressers and closets full of clothes that fit the kids, clothes that don’t fit anymore and socks that have no mates.
And that’s everything that needs to be put away before we even get to the real dirt underneath it all. So how do you keep up with the clutter? We employ strategic, preventative measures! Here are a few ideas, while not a total cure, a step toward elimination.
- Folders! Repurpose file folders you already have or buy cute, graphic ones that make your skirt fly up. Start with however many categories you come up with (i.e., bills, grocery salers, bills, coupons, important papers to file, recipes, papers that require action). Store these folders on a shelf, on a desk in a folder holder, on a wall in one of those file holders like they have on the doctor’s office exam rooms. Find a home for them somewhere convenient where you’ll use them!
- Mail. Institute a total ban on junk mail in the house! You go to the mailbox, you stop by the trash can and you dispose of everything but bills and correspondence. The bills go in their folder, the grocery salers go in theirs (last week’s go in the recycle bin), coupons go in their folder.
- School. Do whatever you can to do a quick sort so that anything that needs a “Wow! Great work!” can now go in the trash (or on the fridge if you’re not as ruthless as I am) and anything that needs a signature, gets it right there and goes back into the backpack. The point is to decide then and there what can be eliminated and what needs more attention.
The biggest demise of clutter is “a home.” If everything has a home, then every thing should go in its home. If something doesn’t have a home, then we need to evaluated whether it’s trash or whether it needs a new home. Be smart about your time and effort.
- Put a basket at the bottom of your stairs where things can be collected that need to go upstairs to their home (but make sure you empty the basket on your next trip up).
- Have another basket for library books, so that you aren’t scrambling to find them in the kids’ room on library day and in the meantime, they’re enticingly displayed so that they are read.
- One of my favorite tricks is one of those plastic or canvas door panels with the shoe pockets that hang inside on the inside of a closet door or the back of a door. Not just for shoes, you could put anything in those pockets! I have all of our gloves, mittens, scarves, hats and other snow gear in there. Easy to see, easy to access, out of the way until we need it.
- Keep a bag or several bags somewhere to collect clothes to donate, save for a sibling or friend, or sell. When you fold laundry, use that time to decide what goes to their room and what goes in one your bags–then put them there!
Enlist the whole family into your new system and don’t be discouraged if it needs some tweaks along the way. You’ve got this!
This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett, who inspired herself, just now, to renew the commitment to fight clutter!