Home Organization Ideas: Anticipating Your Put-Away Style

Posted on 11/18/14 by Mindy Starns Clark

The_House_that_Cleans_ItselfHere’s a big dose of reality for all who are housekeeping impaired: One of the most self-deceiving and self-defeating things we do around the house is set up systems that don’t take into account our own unique put-away styles. Your put-away style, or PAS, is the manner in which you usually put something away when you’re finished with it.

Think about it. For example, what’s your PAS when it comes to extension cords? When you finish using one, do you neatly wrap the cord up before you put it back in the closet? Or do you cram it back in there in a big messy wad, thinking you’ll straighten it out later? If you’re housekeeping impaired, chances are it’s the latter. Yet there’s also a good chance that the place you’ve created for storing extension cords is some sort of hook or small container that will only work if the cord has been neatly wrapped up first. 

My friend, it’s time for a little self-awareness check. As you turn your home into a House That Cleans Itself, you must always keep in mind your PAS whenever you are designating storage spaces for anything.

A cleaning expert might say, “Oh, come on, it only takes a second to wrap up a cord before putting it away.” But I say, if you were going to do that in the future, you would have already been doing it in the past. If your PAS means that nine times out of ten you cram extension cords away in a wad, then instead of denying reality—or beating yourself up about it—why not just face facts, anticipate it, and create a space for it? Then your usual action, your default PAS, will become the correct method for storage. Once again, you will have changed the house to fit the behavior, which is the goal of every House That Cleans Itself.

Years ago I kept my cords on little hooks inside the mop closet, which of course meant that most of the time they were getting thrust blindly into the closet to “fix later,” falling onto the floor, and creating a jumbled mess among the mops and brooms.

Once I learned to anticipate my own personal PAS, I ditched the hook system entirely. Now there’s a big bucket that sits on the floor of the same closet for just that purpose. We cram the cords into the bucket when we are done with them and pull them out from the bucket when we need them again. Our PAS determined our storage area, and it works just fine for us.

Another such item that might have a messy PAS for you is batteries. I have tried so many lovely little battery racks over the years, to no avail. When it comes to batteries, my PAS is to toss them into something, not painstakingly place them on a rack one by one. My solution was to designate a battery drawer. Inside that one drawer are packages of new batteries, loose batteries, and a battery tester. My neater friends probably have a much prettier system, but by analyzing my way of dealing with batteries and creating a space for it, I eliminated a source of mess in my home.

Where are you running into trouble with an unanticipated PAS?

    • Socks and underwear? Then use a drawer or container big enough that you can simply cram your socks and undies in any way you want, unfolded and unmatched. Who cares?
    • The garden hose? Then get a big outdoor pot and toss it in there in a wad. (Or do what I did and buy one on a big spool that you can retract by turning the handle.)
    • Spices? Then stop trying to use that fancy visible spice rack and toss your spice jars into a bin instead, one that hides inside a nearby kitchen cabinet.
    • Art supplies? Again, get a bin, one that’s big enough to scoop them into, and keep it in a nearby closet or cabinet. I still wish I could get back the hours I spent when my kids were small, separating crayons from markers and putting them into the cute little art supply holder I had bought them. Like it mattered!

What else has a messy PAS in your world? Think about it and then create a system that accommodates it rather than conflicts with it. By anticipating your PAS and embracing these home organization ideas, you can preempt—and prevent—mess all over the house.

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Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction (more than 750,000 sold) including coauthoring the Christy Award–winning The Amish Midwife. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. Connect with Mindy at www.mindystarnsclark.com.

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