Are you ready to clear the clutter on countertops and tables 1Is your kitchen table or counter top a landing strip for miscellaneous stuff – bills, keys, chargers, junk mail, school notes, bags, tags, receipts, newspapers, toys, thingies and more?  

You are not alone in this challenge; the kitchen counter is one of the most cluttered spaces in homes.  It is such an convenient place to drop things when you walk in the house that it naturally gathers ‘stuff’.

Have you tried putting a basket there to gather the stuff, only to have the basket quickly get filled up and overflow?  Have you yelled and nagged to all the family to clear the crap, only to have them ignore you?  Have you spent hours cleaning the space up to look clear and calm for a bit, only for it to fill back in?

Are you ready to tame that counter top chaos?

Here’s some steps to help you do it:

Step 1 – Understand What it is -  First you have to understand what all the stuff that is gathering is.  Sorting each item into like piles so you can actually visually see what it is.  You may have piles such as junk mail, school notices, newspapers, receipts, makeup, cords, glasses and any number of other stuff.  It is important to really see what it all is, that becomes the base of any organizing system.

Step 2 – Eliminate the garbage – Take a look at your pile and see how much of it is garbage.  Often a lot of stuff that gathers is stuff that just did not make it to the garbage or recycle bin.  If this is the case then keep in mind you need to have a garbage close to this area, even if it is just a little bucket garbage can for papers as they come into the space. 

Step 3 – Create a Home. Take a look at what is left, this is where you will get the ideas for what needs organized.  Creating a home and a system for this stuff is the key to keeping the clutter under control.

Are there a lot of things that have a home elsewhere in your house but just did not make it back there – like toys or electronics?  Create a temporary space that holds all these misplaced things.

Have a basket for each person in the house where their stuff gets placed in it for them to clean up and take care of. Make it a habit before meals or before bedtime to hand everyone their baskets to go put things away…or if daily is too much, do it once a week. Giving a home to this stuff and a system to get it off the counter will take some habit breaking and remaking but it can be done!

When my kids were young and we had more stuff laying around, I actually had a whole drawer for counter top junk.  I would dump all the stuff left on my counters into this drawer, so when anyone was looking for their junk that they left lying around they knew where to look. Once a month I would clean it out, they were all warned to go through the drawer and get their stuff out…otherwise I was going to throw it out or give it away.   My drawer was a big one and I had a few baskets to subdivide the stuff.  It’s funny now as I look at that drawer and wonder where I put all the kitchen things that are now in it, the reality at the time was it was more important to have a space for all that junk to save my sanity then it was to have the baking dishes that are now in it. This is where you have to make decisions on the best use of your space for where you are NOW…knowing as things change so can your space use.

file organizerStep 4 – Tame the paper.  Paper is often a big issue on counters.  A lot of people, if they do have a filing system, have it someplace like an office or basement desk area.  Unfortunately, the bulk of paper comes into the main space like the kitchen and more often then not gets dropped there ‘for now’ and never leaves.  I suggest you create a paper system that will work where the paper actually flows into.  Having a place to put bills, school notices, coupons and other stuff will stop it from getting dropped on the counter and creating counter clutter. A table top file container works wonders as does a bulletin board for notices and such.

Clutter is just unmade decisions. Kitchen counter and table clutter gathers when you drop things there ‘just for now’. Creating an easy to use system can make it easier to decide what to do with that clutter. Dedication to use the system can help keep that clutter at bay. It may still gather occasionally but if you have a place to put it, the time it takes to tidy up will be reduced!  In this busy world we live in saving time and brain power is a necessity!

Now go tackle that clutter and send me a picture of your clear counters or of you actually having a meal at your table!  

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Bonus Tip: One way to keep the clutter off the table is to decide to eat at the table everyday…so you HAVE to keep it clutter free. Some clients I have actually keep their table set all the time in order to break themselves of the habit of putting other junk on it.  A table that is already set will gather no clutter as it is already in use, and it looks pretty too!

table is set