Solving the ‘Drop Zone’ Problem (Part 1)

Our kitchen has many problems. For now, let’s ignore the fact that our fridge is avacado green, our cabinets are laminate, and the floor is….well, dingy. We hope to gut it someday in the future. But the problem functionally, is that it’s so small! We have limited storage, it’s awkwardly shaped, and like many homes it is the entry, exit and hub of the house.

I specifically bought a high-top kitchen table so that it could act as another counter while cooking. But, instead, it has become the ‘drop zone’. And, really… it is my fault. We have with no mudroom and limited space in the garage. As I walk in from a busy day I usually unload my work bag, Isaac’s bag, lunch bags, coats, shoes, mail, the paper, groceries, and whatever else I have in my hands.  So the challenge: get my kitchen table back.

Here is a real-life picture of what it looks like on a bad day:

Part 1 of this project is to clear the clutter and assess what is piling up. Each item needs a home and a system to get it home on a regular basis. I’ve learned that just cleaning the table is not enough. The pile reappears as soon as a busy work week starts up again.

While Isaac was napping one Friday afternoon, I moved each item to the dining room table and organized like items with each other. I wanted to visually critique my mess. WHAT is there and WHY is there instead of someplace else? Here’s what had accumulated…

org1Let’s take a closer look…


Left side of the table:
2 bowls
red card box
seatbelt for highchair (project)
grocery list & coupons
candle tarts (gift)
dirty bottle
screws (project)
picture CD
Isaac’s bath toys
Isaac’s book
food drive list (project)
reminder note to buy bins
small group book
Isaac’s shoes

None of these items belong on the kitchen table. They are either on their way out of the house, on their way back in or waiting for time to do a project.  Isaac’s things can go to his room, dishes and lunchbag can be put away in the kitchen. The card box belongs in the dining room closet (which is like my misc spot/office). From looking at these items,  I think I need an “in process” container and a “projects” container somewhere, so those items don’t sit on the kitchen table for weeks until I have time to do them.


Middle of the table: 
blank paper
mug of pens
post-it pad
loaf of party rye (project)
iphone accessories
Isaac’s log (blue)
coupon organizer (black)
bill organizer
paper clips
packing tape

Keys belong in a tray on the microwave. Chapstick and phone accessories go in my purse. Nail polish goes to the bathroom. Office supplies to the Dining Room closet. Beyond that, these items, mostly paper or organizers with papers in them are constantly hanging out on the table. They need places to live.  I do not want to see them! I also need to be able to easily grab office supplies and easily put them away.

org4Right side of the table:
Misc bags
Misc papers to be filed
Diaper changing pouch
Mommy hook
Wipes pack

Gloves hang out in my purse. The large Mommy Hook, changing pad and wipes go to the car. Bags go in the garage. The misc. papers need to be filed in the dining room closet.

Have you noticed a pattern here?

OK, so I have been holding back on you. I do have a clue as to why these items, a lot of them paper, are accumulating on the table. My closet in the dining room is worse than this table. It is my misc spot and it is out-of control!!! So, there you go all you people that think that my house is perfectly organized. I have monsters in the closet just like you. The reason they are literally in the closet, has to do with a certain 17 month old. Now that he can get into everything on the bottom part of the house, I’ve had to move, hide and store things differently. The dining room closet has become the misc. safe place for alot these items. Ready for the scary picture?

closetItems falling out as I open the door. Paper piles that are growing. More projects in a bag, I cannot even see the files! Oh, it is time!! 

So, there will be a Part 2 of this project. It is contingent on creating some space in that closet. Assessing what was landing in the ‘drop zone’ has prepared me to create some thought-out, systematic, and organized zones in the closet. Ooh, it gives me chills just thinking about it. Again, my goal is to create new habits and maintain a clean kitchen table.

Oh, let’s at least enjoy the picture of the clean kitchen table…ahhhhh.

MY LIST of Items that need homes:
1. Misc. project items  — > in the closet, bigger items to the basement
2. In process items – like mail, bills, etc. —> in the closet
3. Location for coats, shoes, purse, diaper bag, and work misc. —> closet and other?

Hang in there. There are a lot more nap times of work in my future. I will fill you in soon.

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