Do the flat surfaces in your house seem to be clutter magnets? Like every table, desk, dresser, and counter is piled high with mail, paperwork, random tools, things that need returning, and who knows what else?
If it’s been a while since you’ve been able to eat at your kitchen table or if cooking a meal is difficult because you’re working around the piles, this one is for you!
With a little effort, you can win the battle against counter clutter for good.
How Does Counter Clutter Get Out of Control?
Before we go through the simple steps of how to tame the clutter accumulating on your flat surfaces, it’s good to realize how it accumulates in the first place.
It makes sense that when you walk in the door with your hands full, you’re looking for a place to drop everything. If you don’t quickly take care of what you drop, it becomes a part of the landscape. You get used to it.
Once something has been sitting on my counter for a day or two, I tend to stop noticing it!
Plus, a lot of what gets dropped on the counter needs to be dealt with: paperwork to fill out, bills to pay, purchases it return… We want those things out in the open because they require immediate action, but we don’t have to allow them to pile up and cause clutter.
5 Steps to Conquer Your Counter Clutter
1. Clear it ALL off
Since we easily stop noticing flat surface clutter, the best way to start fixing it is to get rid of it completely.
Pick one flat surface, like your kitchen table, a section of kitchen counter, a dresser, or your coffee table.
Take everything off, even the things that you know belong there. Starting with a clean slate will give you a vision for a clutter free space.
Wipe down your area and spend a minute looking at it. Looks good, huh?
2. Put back what needs to be there
Now take out the few things, if any, that actually belong on that counter. The less that you allow on the counter, the better.
More things tend to accumulate more things.
If you only allow a lamp on your side table, it’s very easy to see when something doesn’t belong.
If you allow a lamp, a book, and a candle on the side table, you might find that the single book turns into a stack of books and that the candle attracts other small decor items. Before you know it, your side table is covered and cluttered yet again.
When I have out a few decorative items, like in the picture below, I try to group them on a tray so that they stay neat and turn into one item (the tray of decor) instead of multiple small items that look more clutter-y.
3. Put the rest away (make sure they have a proper home that makes sense)
Now it’s time to put away everything else that was on the counter.
Chances are that a lot of the clutter on your counter doesn’t have a home, or at least not a home that makes sense.
If you don’t a have a place to put your purse and keys right when you walk in the door, they’re going to get dropped on the nearest flat surface. If the proper home for your keys and purse is on the other side of the house, they’re going to get dropped on the nearest flat surface.
Think about your natural tendencies. Sometimes we need to develop better habits of putting things where they belong. Other times, we need to create homes for our items that work with out natural tendencies.
Take care of everything that was piled on your counter. Put it away or assign it a new home that makes sense.
4. Create organized drop zones for things to be dealt with
In our old house, I created a small home organization station in our kitchen because I always needed to pay bills and look at the calendar while I was in the kitchen. It was a pain to go upstairs to the office every time I needed to check something.
If you always deal with paperwork on one of your flat surfaces, try creating an organized drop zone so that what you need is in a convenient place without causing clutter.
You can turn a drawer into a mini office so that what you need is nearby without taking up counter space.
If there really is no where else to put things, a desk organizer can help you keep paperwork or other supplies in order without causing piles. The key is to actually take care of the things that need to be taken care of so that the desk organizer doesn’t end up crammed full.
5. Set an example and kindly “train” your family
The last step is to maintain your clutter free flat surfaces. If you’re used to dropping stuff everywhere, you’ll need to remind yourself to take the extra 30 second to put things where they belong instead of creating piles.
The best way to create change in your household is to set an example. Your family may need some “training” and kind reminders of where to put things instead of dropping them on the counter. I recommend doing this together or making sure that your own stuff has been cleared and put away before you ask them to do it.
There’s no magic solution to maintaining clutter free surfaces. It just requires that you spend a minute or two every day putting things where they belong until it become natural.
With a little work and the following five steps, you can get rid of counter clutter for good.
- Completely clear off the surface
- Only put back what belongs
- Put everything else away
- Make organized drop zones where necessary
- Create the habit of maintaining your clutter-free surfaces!