5 Common Clutter Problem Areas & Solutions

Before-and-After-Pantry-Organization-Clutter-CountdownLast week I presented a workshop on decluttering at a local library. The library is conducting a yearlong series on resolutions and organizing was part of the agenda! Some great ideas came out of the workshop and I was excited to see everyone so engaged and offering their own suggestions along the way!

We first talked about the importance of setting your goal. Your goal should be the overall vision for why you want to get and stay organized. Here is a worksheet that you can use to help define your goal. Once you have a goal, I’d recommend saving it electronically. By keeping it in a place you use frequently like your computer, smart phone or tablet, you can refer back to it often as a reminder without having to worry about a physical piece of paper to track down.

Next, you’ll want to compile your list of organizing projects (or objectives). Use this worksheet to jot down your list and then rate them on a scale of 1-5 based on how each impacts your day-to-day life. The objectives with higher scores should be prioritized first.

5 Common Problem Areas & Solutions

Mail Clutter

Problem: Mail comes every day and we all get so much junk mail it can become overwhelming. We often just do a quick glance through for things we’re interested in and then throw the rest on an ever growing pile.

Solution: Create a daily routine for sorting mail. Keep a trash can or shredder in the place where you typically read the mail so you can readily weed out the things you don’t need to keep. File the rest into a “To-Do” folder and a “To-File” folder and check those files weekly to clean out.

Kid’s Paper Clutter

Problem: Kids come home with a ton of papers from school, some things are deadline based and require action, and others may be artwork or other precious keepsakes.

Solution: Invest in a refrigerator command center with pockets. Keep a pocket for “To-Do” items and “To-File” items, similar to your mail files. Make sure to note any important deadlines on your calendar. As you complete items from the “To-Do” folder, move them to the “To-File” folder to recycle them. For keepsakes like artwork, keep a plastic file box with folders for each year (1st Grade, 2nd Grade, etc.) and drop those treasured items into the appropriate folder.

Entry Way

Problem: The entry way is the gateway to our homes and can be a source of stress due to the various items that clutter the space. Shoes, bags and coats pile up, as well as seasonal items like umbrellas and mittens.

Solution: Get a shoe cubby! I like cubbies better than other shoe organizers because they are easily accessible and the shoes are visible so everyone can find what they are looking for easily. I like to put a mat next to, or on top of, the shoe cubby for wet shoes. Hooks make it easy to hang coats and bags instead of having to deal with hangers. Invest in baskets for seasonal items like gloves and scarves in the winter or small items like swim goggles in the summer. Label a basket for each family member so they can keep all their items in the same place.


Problem: Toys, toys, everywhere! They have a habit of overrunning the entire house!

Solution: Create designated areas for toys in each living space where they are used and include baskets or a chest to store them in. This will make for easy tidying at the end of the day. For large scale toys like doll houses, train sets, etc. establish a home base where they need to stay or go back to at the end of play time. Encourage your kids to help pick up their toys but understand that some days will be easier than others and sometimes you’ll have to tidy on their behalf or let things stay messy until they pick them up.

General Storage/Pantry/Drawers

Problem: Out of sight, out of mind. We don’t take time to organize the things people can’t see but we struggle when we can’t find things easily.

Solution: Containers, bins, and a label maker are your best friend! Group like items and always toss or recycle what can be thrown. Once you get these areas organized, be mindful of putting things in the right spot, and not stuffing things that don’t need to be kept in drawers.

Remember, the most important thing is to recognize that no one is perfect and that it takes effort and routine to keep up on clutter. If you tidy daily and schedule a one-hour organizing session on your calendar each week, it can be very manageable.

Finally, don’t forget to ask for help! You can’t be expected to do it all alone. Get your family on board for doing their part and recruit friends for larger projects!

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