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September 03, 2012

Organized Drop Zone Gives Stuff a Place to Land

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In last week’s Quick Tip email, I covered the concept of creating a drop zone in your home, which is an intentional landing spot for the items in our arms and hands when we come through the door of our home. Jennifer took action on this idea, and shares her story with us in today’s blog post.


We walk in the door and kick off our shoes. Right there. The kids slide out of their backpacks and lay them down. Right there. We put down the mail, keys and sunglasses. Where? Yep, right there. OK, your “right there” is probably different than ours, but maybe you have the same problem?


Backpack-shoes - simplify101

We come into the home with the stuff of the day – whatever supplies we needed for whatever we’ve just been doing. Even if that stuff has a more permanent home somewhere in the house, it was never practical for me to expect myself or anyone else in my family to take it directly there. I’m not going to walk directly to my bedroom closet to put away my bag and shoes, and then head downstairs to place bills in the office, all the while toting around a bag of groceries to put away in the kitchen. We all know that’s not real life!


So, items are placed in a more (hopefully) temporary spot in the meantime. Right? And for however long that meantime lasts, that can feel like some serious clutter around the house. But like Aby says, the easiest way to solve this problem isn’t to try to change the habit of dropping what’s in your arms, but rather, to create a drop zone for these everyday items. 


When I took a look at what needed a place to land, I recognized it was primarily the kids’ backpacks and coats or jackets, kids’ shoes, the mail, and my purse. I took a look at how we entered the house and our traffic pattern. (That was pretty easy to figure out… Just follow the trail of stuff!) Whether we came through the garage or front door, the hall closet was ideal.


But inside the closet, there was no good place for the kids’ backpacks. Plus, they can’t easily reach the hangers to hang their coats. So, we installed these double hooks right at their level for their bags and jackets. Inside the closet, there’s also a shoe rack. I also found this was an ideal place for important reminder notes. I scored these cute, dry-erase wall stickers at the dollar store. Perfect!


Drop zone - simplify101

For me, I needed a place to tuck my purse, so I generally use the over-the-door hook for that. I love having a central place to keep it where it’s out of the way but also convenient for all my comings and goings!


Just a few steps away from this closet, we have a hall table that is the most popular spot for our stuff to settle.  That actually makes a lot of sense because it’s centrally located. But obviously, I don’t love the look of a stuff-covered table just inside the front door! I put clutter bins on the bottom of the table to corral the kids’ belongings.



We also ran chargers into the drawers so that they have actually become charging stations for phones, mp3 players and such. And a decorative tray looks lovely when empty, but also contains the mail, keys, and other clutter for a bit.



I love these ideas, but I’ll be honest with you‑ good ideas don’t mean anything unless you put them into action. And like anything new, it definitely requires forming a new habit! We’ve been consistent, though, and I’m happy to report that this is really working for us.


What is the stuff you need to contain in a drop zone?

Jens signature black

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! "Take action" is something I say a lot in my online workshops and instant downloads.  I couldn't agree more that good ideas are not helpful unless we act on them. In fact, great information and wonderful ideas can really just add to the clutter in our minds unless we act on them. So here's to "taking action!" 



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I did the same thing with our coat closet--I put hooks at kid-level for them to hang their jackets. It worked great till the door closed on the zipper of my son's winter jacket, wrecking it. So just be careful of that--maybe keeping the backpack on the side you have it on in the picture is the solution. In my case, I was lucky to have another spot to hang hooks so we've been able to apply the same principle. It's much quicker & easier for all ages to throw a jacket over a hook than to fuss with hangers!


I'm lucky enough to live alone, so it's only my clutter that I have to worry about... but I found that EVERYTHING got left on the shelves in my entryway. I simply added a plastic 99 cent basket to my shelf... having a place to put my keys (and random other small items that collect in my pockets over the course of the day) made a huge difference in containing the visual clutter. Also in my command central binder, I created a divider labeled "needs attention." It's a great place to stash the "non-junk" mail that I don't have time to get to right away. Another divider is labeled "upcoming events" for flyers or invitations. I make cleaning out my binder a part of my cleaning schedule so things don't sit in there forever!


Great tips Nancy and Shanon! Thanks for sharing. :) ~ Aby


Shanon, love your "needs attention" tab in your command central binder. Good idea! Nancy, thanks for the warning. We will have to watch our for that. ~Jen


Great ideas! I do this as well in my own home, and I don't have any kids. Shoes, work bag by the front door. I will try and find an adequate drop zone, because I hate the clutter! Thanks for posting!


I agree, Cecilia, that drop zones are for anybody! So glad yours helps you keep the clutter at bay. :)

personal home organizer

Wow that came out fantastic!

organizer home

Awesome post..

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