You get home from a busy day of work with just enough time to check on dinner in the slow cooker and make sure your kid is ready for soccer practice. You’ve got about 10 minutes before you need to leave for practice and, as is typical at 5:30 p.m. in the middle of the week, the house is a bit of a mess. There’s a bunch of clutter near the door, on the kitchen counter, in your closet and the laundry room. These areas, where your family deposits their sports gear, backpacks and workbags, dirty clothes, mail and shoes, are called “drop zones.” If you don’t have an organization strategy for these various spots, they’ll quickly become unwieldy and cluttered. Here’s how to organize four drop zones around your house. Entryway/Mudroom The entrance used most frequently at your home or even by your front door—whether it’s a mudroom or the entryway off your garage—naturally becomes a spot for coats, work and school bags, shoes, sports equipment, lunch boxes and anything else your family uses daily.
Over the course of two or three weeks in December, my husband and I received 10 to 15 unsolicited catalogs, a bunch of sales fliers, some holiday cards and at least five or six requests for donations to charitable organizations, plus our typical bills. Obviously, we opened the cards first. The bills went into a pile and were opened and filed quickly as usual … but everything else just sat there for a few weeks until I finally reviewed items—glossy catalog by catalog—and threw everything in the trash. What a waste of paper, time and companies’ money.
While your garage becomes a place to find some respite from the cold as you shovel your driveway, spread salt and snow-blow the sidewalk as well as store your skis and sleds, spring and summer bring different uses for the space. It’s the spot you hold garage sales, where your kids host lemonade stands and where you store your bikes, house outdoor furniture and keep pool and beach gear. It’s also where you might keep your lawnmower, gardening gear and car accessories. And if you’re organized, maybe you can even fit the car in there. Yes, your garage serves many purposes throughout the year, but it can really shine during the summer months. But not if there are piles of stuff everywhere and your garage is dusty and dirty.
The idea of decluttering your entire walk-in or reach-in closet might feel overwhelming. You know there are clothes lurking in the corners of your closet that you haven’t touched in months—maybe even years. There are extra hangers crowding your closet rod and each time you rummage through your drawers for a fresh pair of socks, you inevitably pull out one or two orphans or a pair worn thin. Before you take on cleaning out your entire closet, which, we admit, does take a chunk of time, here are some odds and ends you can get rid of in just a few minutes to instantly make it feel a little more open.
Your mudroom or entryway is a major drop zone where everyone in the family likely puts their stuff when they enter your house—and they expect it to be there to pick up when they leave again. From coats, rain boots and umbrellas to tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks and baseball gloves, your family’s frequently-used belongings need their own storage spot in your mudroom so everything is easy to find when you need it.
Whether you’ve got an extra corner in a room you’d like to get more out of or your house doesn’t quite have enough space, creating a dual-use room can help you get the most out of each room.