Table the Clutter: Organizing a Shared Space

Put a piece of masking tape across the dining room table and designate the side farthest from foot traffic as “Mom’s Desk,” giving your family a visual boundary that their stuff shouldn’t violate. Empty a nearby cupboard to store a caddy for your office supplies (charger, stamps, pens, and so on), so you can set […]

Put a piece of masking tape across the dining room table and designate the side farthest from foot traffic as “Mom’s Desk,” giving your family a visual boundary that their stuff shouldn’t violate. Empty a nearby cupboard to store a caddy for your office supplies (charger, stamps, pens, and so on), so you can set up and stow your “desk” easily before sitting down for a special dinner.

Examine the detritus on the table, and do your best to designate alternative homes. Kids’ backpacks? Use a large basket on the floor near your front or rear door. Coats? Get a coat tree. Mail? Set up a mail-sort station in a cupboard or tall secretary. Purchases? Establish a system in which nothing is purchased that isn’t imminently needed. With fewer items coming in, and alternative homes for the rest, the dining room table won’t become everyone’s dumping ground.

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