Organizing 101: Use Spaces for Which They Were Created

Bedroom closets are for clothes.  Linen closets are for bedding, towels & bathroom supplies.  Kitchen countertops are for food prep and small (kitchen) appliances.  Dining Room tables are for…. wait for it….. Eating!

This seems obvious, but the truth of the matter is that for so many of us, one of our main issues with clutter has to do with spaces being overtaken with stuff that doesn’t allow them to serve the purpose for which they were created.  How many of us have stacks of papers covering our kitchen counters?  Is your Dining Room table the landing spot for stuff when you get home?

There’s nothing wrong with spaces serving dual purposes.  In fact, I’d say that’s making good use of what you have.

In our stage of life, supper is the only meal that is eaten at the Dining Room table, which means that 23 of 24 hours out of the day, it just sits there.  So, the Dining Room table is also where the kids and I do activities like color and do (do? mold? play?) play-doh.  Using spaces for which they were created doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for anything else, it just means that whatever else they’re being used for can’t be the reason they don’t get used for their main purpose.  After we’re finished coloring or play-doh-ing, that stuff gets put away so that the table is clear for supper.

I have a small keepsake box that I keep in my clothes closet, which is fine because it’s not taking up space that I need for clothes.  My clothes closet can fit all of my clothes AND the keepsake box.  If I had all of my keepsakes in there and there were stacks of clothes on top of my dresser because I didn’t have anywhere else for them, that would be an issue.  Do you see the difference?

The root of this problem is often that those things that are in spaces where they shouldn’t be are there because we don’t have a place for them.  So they sit on a counter or table until we can’t stand it anymore, and then shove them in a closet when we reach our breaking point – or when people are coming over.  #let’sbereal

If this is one of your struggles, pick one of these “trouble spots” and decide what it’s purpose is.  Once you’ve done that, empty the space’s contents and make a pile of stuff that fills that purpose and stuff that doesn’t.  If the pile of stuff that fills that space’s purpose is bigger than the space, then you need to whittle it down.  Start purging.  Harsh reality, but what good is a linen closet full of bedding where you can’t get to the sheet set you need because you need the jaws of life to pull it out?  Fill your space back up with everything you have that goes in there.

Then, it’s time for the not fun part: Going through that other dreaded pile.  Ugh.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Always start by thinking about what you really need (more about that here).  Then, try to think of other places in your house that would be more appropriate storage areas for those items.  If you just can’t, then throw the rest of it in a shoebox or bin, and label it ‘Closet Misc.’.  Put it in your garage or under a bed – somewhere accessible, but where it’s not taking up space that you need for other items.  (Sidenote: If a year goes by, and you haven’t needed anything out of that bin, THROW IT OUT!).

The freedom you feel from being able to eat at your Dining Room table, not having to move heaven and earth to see your countertops and easily being able to get clothes into and out of your closet make the hard decisions and time you put into it worth it.  Try it.  You’ll see.

 

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