What is one thing in your house that it seems you never can find when you need it? Tape? Scissors? Your car keys? Tweezers? The library cards? The library BOOKS?
How many times has looking for that thing caused you to fall behind in your schedule or be late to where you were going? What if I told you that never needs to happen again? With today’s organizing tip, it doesn’t have to.
One of the reasons you might have trouble finding something is because you have not identified a specific place for it in your home. Today’s organizing tip addresses that issue. It is one that may take awhile to fully implement but is SO worth the effort.
Everything that you use regularly (or often have trouble finding when you do want it, even if that’s infrequently) needs to have a specific place.
A place that is so well-defined that you could find that item in the dark or easily tell someone else where to find it.
This one is so old your gramma used to say it: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” But that doesn’t make it outdated. This tip is still one of the best ones out there when it comes to getting organized and staying that way.
But it only happens as you declutter your surroundings and reorganize your cabinets, drawers, shelves, etc. with sensible intent, fueled by tips and ideas such as those found in this series. And that is a big job. But the decreased stress as you are easily able to find and get what you need totally makes up for the work you put into the organizing.
Of course, it won’t work if you don’t put the item back into that place every time you are finished using it. So there’s that. But it’s a lot easier to remember when there truly is a super-specific spot for it.
Did you notice in Julie & Julia that Julia Childs had her pots & pans hanging on pegboard, and for each hook there was a drawn outline for the pan that was supposed to go there? I’m talking THAT specific.
How to determine where to store the item? This is related to the tip from Day 3, which is to put things near where you use them. It doesn’t help to create a specific spot that is removed from where and how you use the item. So it needs to be thought through carefully.
It may take some trial and error, as you realize that the place you thought would work well is not really that convenient for you after all. One way to tell is whether you are able to put the item away in that spot reliably after use. If you keep putting it somewhere else, it may mean you picked an inconvenient spot and need to find a different one.
The car keys, for example, should go somewhere on your path to and from the door to the garage. You could hang a basket on the wall right by the door, so they are the last thing you grab on your way out and the first thing you drop off on your way in. You don’t even need to put them in your pocket between getting out of the car and going through the door into the house.
I keep mine in my home management center drawer, because I pass by there ALL THE TIME. I tend to gather all the things I need for leaving the house — purse, computer bag, coat, shoes, keys — at the kitchen island in preparation, so the keys are right nearby when I need them. When someone else wants to borrow the car, they know exactly where to find them. If someone who wasn’t familiar with our spot needed to get them for me, I could tell them “front right divider in the kitchen drawer to the right of the stove, the ones with the green carabiner clip.”
Continuing the idea, the keys also need a specific place when you are out and about. You take them out of the car at your destination — what do you do with them? Do you throw them somewhere in your purse and then have to paw through it for five minutes when you are ready to leave? Choose a specific spot in your purse, or a specific pocket in your coat or jeans, that you will ALWAYS put them in. For me, the carabiner clip is how I store them — either clipping them onto a front belt loop or the strap on my purse. Easy to get at. Easy to tell someone where to find them if I collapse of a stroke while having to referee the kids. Or whatever.
Tape. Which drawer is it in? Which side of the drawer? Do you keep it with the scissors? Or maybe this could be another application of the “have several” tip from Day 4. Put some tape in with the wrapping paper and some with the scissors. Maybe give each of the kids a roll for their room. But wherever it is, put it there with forethought and have it be specific. And put it away in that same place when you are done with it.
This strategy applies big-time in the kitchen, although I confess to having a catchall drawer for utensils. BUT within that drawer I have a couple of shallow plastic baskets, and certain items go in each basket and around them. So if someone needs the cheese grater I can tell them it’s in the front left corner of the drawer. If they need the pizza cutter I can tell them it’s in the basket at the front, not the one toward the back. The back one has utensils we don’t use as often. We use the pizza cutter OFTEN. Just sayin’.
In the bathroom, have a specific place for each of your grooming essentials. My deoderant is in a crock on the counter. My tweezers are in the small basket in the top drawer on the right side. My hair spray is under the counter on the left side in front of the plastic drawer thingy that stores stuff I hardly ever use (like an ace bandage, for example). All of this detailed placement makes getting ready in the morning SO. MUCH. FASTER. because I can find it all when I need it.
I even use this strategy in my purse. My debit card, in particular, has a very specific slot I put it into every time I am done using it. That way I can always grab it easily when I am at the cash register getting ready to pay. The library cards also have their designated spot. And the checkbook. These are all things I use regularly and don’t want to have to hunt for. More about my purse organization here: How to Organize the One Thing You Use the Most.
And maybe by now you have already figured out that it would be exponentially easier to find the library books that should have been returned three days ago when you have a specified place where they should sit when they are not actively being read. If all the kids know that spot and are trained to keep their books there, then all you need to do is grab them all on your way out the door. Or each child could have a spot in their room for the books they checked out. Yes, it is still possible that the occasional book may migrate to the furthest dark corner under the bed, but this becomes a much rarer occurrence, lol.
This tip is MUCHO helpful. It will revolutionize your life. Even doing it with just the items you use most often will decrease your everyday stress significantly.
Take some time to think through where to specifically store items so that they will be handy and you can always find them. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again. Eventually you will find the best place for everything (or most of them, anyway 🙂 ). It’s a good feeling.