Creating a Drop Zone

Picture this: you get home for work, laden down with multiple bags, packages, mail, lunch bags…you get the picture. All of that stuff gets dropped onto the nearest flat surface, and continues to grow throughout the week, until you have a massive mess to clean.  The place that collects the most “stuff” is our dining room.  As soon as we come home, our things end up on the dining room table.  When we have guests over, we have to hurry up and pretend we have a clean house.  We have an IKEA bookcase in the dining room that collects piles of mail, coupons, shopping bags, and anything else that we try to squirrel away before guests come to visit.
I was tired of looking at the hot mess that was our dining room, so I did some research on how to create a drop zone.  Here are some simple steps that I followed to get our messy areas organized:
1- Figure out what you have.  My first job was to sort through all of the stuff to figure out what it was.  I put these into different categories: paperwork, dog accessories, magazines, coupons, home decor, and trash.
2- Choose how to organize it.  Once everything was separated into piles, I had to think of how it should be stored: baskets, file folders, containers, etc.  However it was to be stored needed to be functional and cute.  I’m not a huge fan of buying something just because it’s pretty. It needs to be functional as well.
The dog accessories went into one of the cubed IKEA baskets.  Next, I found an old magazine file to sort out the magazines we get in the mail.  We can access them easily and they will actually be read!
 All home decor that was not being used, mainly candles, were also put into another IKEA basket.  Our mail was put into a cute brown gift box that I found at Target.
Now any mail that needs to be filed or saved for later can be put into the box.  Lastly, I really hated the way the dog cookies looked on the top shelf in the plastic container.  On a recent Target trip, I saw the cutest ceramic treat jar that matched the colors in our house.  Functional AND pretty? Check!
3- Create a system.  Create a system for when you need to go through your paperwork.  We know that roughly every two weeks, we need to go through the paper file and either purge, pay, or file away.  We will re-evaluate if this system works within the next few months.  If it doesn’t, we may need separate file boxes for each of us, possibly a file box for coupons/ receipts, but time will tell if the extra boxes are needed.
Now that everything has a place, it is easier for us to keep our house tidy and to keep ourselves organized.  Does this mean our house is going to look perfect all of the time?  Doubt it.  But this does make it easier to find things as we jet out the door to go to work, or find that missing document we need for our taxes.  I hope that this small organization project will help motivate you to create a space of your own!