For all of my rock star organizing ways in the linen closet,
the kitchen drawers
and other spaces around the house there was always one mess that I could not seem to contain…paper clutter. I’m by nature a serial paper stacker which hasn’t kept the conversation bar in the kitchen as neat and tidy as we would like. I would literally be on a wild cleaning spree and stack loose receipts, magazines, mail and catalogs on one corner of said conversation bar. I’m totally embarrassed to admit this but in the past sometimes it would sit there for an entire week before I addressed the clutter. I know!
A few weeks ago in anticipation of the kitchen makeover, I vowed to find a way to not only cut paper clutter but to keep items that are coming in and out of the house more organized as well. This idea led me to the one place it all starts – the car. Here are a few things you can do today to keep the clutter out of your house by organizing your car…
Step 1: Determine your needs – Keep in mind these tips will be different for everyone based on the needs of your family. One of my sisters winds up with a car full of dance and soccer equipment. The other winds up with a car full of Legos and sippy cups. My car is used for treasure hunting and grocery shopping yet we can all benefit from an easy system.
Step 2: Find an appropriate storage container – I use three clear plastic bins in the back of my car for three purposes. One bin is for the treasures I bring home. Sometimes they’re wrapped in paper and sometimes they’re placed in a bag but keeping them in one container helps to corral them all. Another bin is for groceries. Obviously, you don’t want to put too much in one container or you could hurt your back so if we have a haul that is bigger than what we normally get at the farmers market we use multiple containers. The third container is for items that I want to donate. When the entire container is full I know it’s time to head to the local charity shop and drop it all off.
Step 3: Use a basket/bin/folder system to go through your mail in the car – I know if you have little ones you won’t be able to do this but sorting your mail in the car will really help to cut paper clutter inside. This means directly placing mail fliers, sorters, catalogs or magazines you have no interest in reading in the recycle bin before you even walk in the house. It also means having a system in place with multiple files or cubbies to delineate one person’s mail from another if you have more than one mail recipient living in your household.
Step 4: Once you bring your basket/bin/folders inside address the contents immediately. Use a paper shredder for the mail you don’t need but can’t recycle, pay your bills, flip through the catalogs, put away the groceries/sports equipment/sippy cups/treasures. Basically, you want to put the contents of the bins back in their “home.”
We have a built in desk in the kitchen area that serves as a command center. Given this space is set up to house receipts, important papers, cards or letters already we know right where to put those items as soon as we get home. The mail that doesn’t belong to me is taken to a designated area in the home office.
Step 5: Place the empty basket/bin/folder back in your car. This one is probably the toughest because it requires both action and accountability. The containers you have chosen are not meant to be used as storage any more than the laundry basket is meant to take the place of your dressers. Take the time to put the items in the bins away to help set yourself up for success all week.
Using bins with lids makes it easy to close the containers if visual clutter drives you bananas.
It also makes it much easier to stack them especially if they’re sharing space with larger items. That being said, I can completely understand they’re not as attractive as baskets can be.
It does take a little bit of time to put these steps into practice but I know it will help cut down on the clutter in your car and your home too. It’s all about taking proactive steps to help make your life easier and more manageable.