What is the first thing you do everyday when you get out of bed? Maybe you stumble bleary eyed into the shower. Maybe you toss on some workout clothes and go for a jog. Either way, it's part of your morning routine to do things in a certain order. When you can follow the routine without thinking about the process, it becomes a habit.
What is the first thing you do everyday when you walk into the house? Many people put down their briefcase/bag, toss the keys someplace and dump the mail on a flat surface. Later, when you look for the keys, you can't find them, because you're not in the habit of placing them on the same hook each day. Knowing your habits will help you as you strive toward organization. That's why Develop Meaningful Habits is one of the components of our Flexible Structure Method.™
Some people don't like the idea of creating homes for items and creating habits for themselves because they fear life will be too boring, structured or rigid. But you have habits surrounding your stuff whether you realize it or not. If you're overwhelmed with clutter and ready for a change, tweaking some of your habits will make a huge difference.
Meanwhile, let's take a look at the kitchen. Because it's another family common area, kitchens are often an activity center. Objects are moved and rearranged easily because so many people are using them.
Just like with any room, start in one corner. Start with one cupboard or drawer, taking all the items out and putting them on the counter. What belongs in that cupboard or drawer? What habits do you have in the kitchen for where items belong? Check expiration dates and toss old food items.
Think about your habits around using those utensils or dishes. If you have a strange baking object received as a wedding gift in 1981 and never used, it might be time to donate that so someone else can get some use out of it. Match plastic or glass containers with lids. Don't be afraid to let go of the stray lids or bowls without lids.
Clean the shelves and drawers as you go. Your kitchen will look and smell fresher for it at the end of this project.
As you put items away, think about your habits when purchasing new food items for cupboards. Do you check to see if you have any vanilla or do you just buy it each time you want to bake cookies? If you have too many things of vanilla, how can you arrange the four bottles so they are clearly visible, preventing you from making the purchase next time? Do you empty the dishwasher and toss the Tupperware into a cupboard haphazardly? If you are certain you will not or cannot change that habit, what can you do to make it easier to find a bowl with a matching lid?
Label the cupboards and drawers. Some people find this silly, but when your son/daughter/husband/wife is putting away the dishes, he/she may not know that you moved the "home" for the measuring spoons. Having labels makes it a no-brainer task and can help you develop meaningful habits for the chores next time.
The kitchen is a great place for a family calendar and/or message board. Use a white board and a big calendar to leave notes to each other and track activities, especially those that require driving your children someplace.