Linens and things in organized baskets and cubbies

One of the primary tenets of organization is that everything must have a “home” – a place to “live” when it’s off-duty, being archived or just tucked away. I list this principle as the first tip in my guide “Top 10 Tips to Live a More Organized Life” because I think nothing is more important than adhering to this step if you want an organized home or work space.


Is paper taking over? Create homes for it all so you can take control. Establish a space on the kitchen counter, entry hallway table or office for your mail (especially if someone else needs to review it), with trash, shredding and recycling bins nearby. Dedicate an inbox or folder for action items like bills to pay; assign separate folders for each child to manage incoming paper from school (field trip permission slips, calendars, flyers or artwork to archive); have a place to drop receipts and other paperwork to be filed or scanned.


Is memorabilia contributing to your mania? Sort those memories into categories: photos, kids’ artwork, special correspondence or birthday cards. Place each category in a storage system, out of your active living/work space areas. A short-term solution could be a file box with folders that is easily accessible to deposit new mementos. This box serves as a holding pattern for long-term solutions such as creating photo books/scrapbooks, adding these memories to baby books, or moving items into archival boxes in a distant location.


What about tchotchkes? Unless it’s precious or meaningful to you, let go of those freebies like stickers, handouts or pins you may receive at conferences, store promotions or sporting/community events. If you’re a parent, you know all too well the threat of those little plastic toys and games that insidiously invade your household. Train your children to exercise judgment: do they really want it (a subject for another post!) and if so, it goes in their special box/basket/bin – in their room, out of your main living space.


Toys? Relegate all to the playroom, a bin in the living room or to the child’s bedroom. Impress on your kids that they must walk their toys back to the proper place when they’re done playing with them.

Tools of the Home

Where are the remote controls? If that is a common complaint (like it was in my household), find a home where they can always reside when not in use. That way, the next TV viewer or video gamer can find what they need, especially when they so desperately want it. Daily household instruments also need their own homes: scissors, glue, tape, letter openers, screwdrivers, etc. Establish a drawer or counter-top organizer to contain these items so that the you know where to go when you need to change the batteries in a toy or get glue for a school project – and you know exactly to return it.


Shoes! Backpacks! Coats, oh my! If you have a mudroom or entry hallway, that’s a great place for those items to live: kick off those shoes into cubbies, hang up coats on hooks and unload backpacks of homework and lunch boxes. If you don’t have that dedicated space, create a nesting place for these items so they are not strewn across your house. Find a system that is convenient, preferably on the way in/out of the house and, most importantly, stick to it.

Be a Tour Guide

Finally, be sure to give all members of your household or office a tour of these new “homes” and where you want these items to go – that way, they’ll be on point with the plan and help maintain the systems you have established. Calm & order are at your beck and call! No wonder people always say, “Home Sweet Home.”


Cary Prince is the owner of Cary Prince Organizing, a business that helps busy, creative people bring order to their lives so that they can focus on the things that matter to them: family, business, artistic endeavors, life. She offers insights, strategies and action plans for organizing any environment – from homes and offices to unique creative spaces – and helps individuals such as time-challenged executives or over-scheduled families gain control of their lives.

What items are currently taking a walk around your house, cluttering your counters or becoming a constant challenge to find? Park your problem in the comments section below – maybe I or one of our fellow readers could offer a suggestion to you!

6 replies
  1. Regina Lark
    Regina Lark says:

    Well done, Ms. Cary! Good tips that are short and easy to read. I especially like your use of the term. “Home Tools” – I’ve never thought of remotes, scissors, etc., as the tools I use at home so I appreciate the reference and will be using it with clients. Also – formatting is so smart. Congratulations on starting your blog!!

    • admin
      admin says:

      So many thanks, Regina! So pleased to hear you like the term, as those “home tools” definitely keep our house humming! I also appreciate your feedback — you’ve been a great inspiration to me.


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