A Home for Every Item

If you want to be organized, every item must have a home. You can’t put something away if it doesn’t have a home. If you do, you’re just stashing stuff, and you’ll probably never be able to find it again.

Having a home for an item should mean that there is only one logical place for you to look for it. For example, there should be only one place that you keep your old tax records. There should only be one drawer where you would find your socks, and only one place where your child will find favorite puzzles or stuffed animals.

Look around your home or office. Those items that are lying around adding to your clutter are likely those items for which you’ve never determined a home.

Here’s an approach to help you determine a home for all the groups of items in your home or office.

“Corral” similar items together.

The most essential aspect of organizing is to FIRST group similar or related items together.

  • You’ll make one decision about how to store the whole group, rather than making a decision about each item individually.
  • Seeing them as a group helps you visualize how much space they need, and how they should be stored.
  • “Corralling” also makes it easier for you to remember where you put things, since all similar items are in the same place.

The steps are simple:

  1. Look for related items and gather them together.
  2. Dispose of unneeded or duplicate items.
  3. Choose containers for each group of items.
  4. Choose a home for each container.

For example, examine the paper clutter on your kitchen table or the “stuff” in your child’s room.

  • Look for related items and gather them together.
    • Categories of items in paper clutter might include coupons for food and household products, business cards, tickets for upcoming travel or events, unpaid bills, or financial statements.
    • Categories in a child’s room might include clothing (further divided into shirts and tops, sweaters, underwear and socks) as well as toys, school papers, and books.
  • Dispose of unneeded or duplicate items.
    • Expired coupons and financial statements whose information is duplicated on a quarterly or annual statement can be recycled (shred documents with personal information first).
    • Clothes that are too small and toys that have been outgrown can be boxed or bagged to donate or store for a younger child.
  • coose containers
    Choose containers.
    • Paper items generally belong in a file, envelope, or notebook. A file folder or 3-ring binder works well for financial statements or other documents that are generally 8-1/2 by 11 inches. A pocket folder or envelope will work better for a collection of odd-sized items such as coupons.
    • In a child’s room, bulky items such as stuffed animals store best in cargo nets, open shelves, or other large containers. Shelves are the best way to store books without damage and with easy access.
  • Choose a home for each container.
    • An envelope with fast food coupons might be kept in the car. A file folder containing unpaid bills should be close to your supply of envelopes and stamps.
    • Containers that a young child needs to reach for himself must be on the floor or low enough for the child to reach. Toys should be stored close to where the child plays. School books and materials should be stored where homework is done.