The Kitchen Counter
A Magnet For Paper

The kitchen counter is like a butler,
waiting to relieve you of your burdens
as soon as you walk through the door.
“May I take that mail for you, Madam?”

“That homework looks heavy, Sir. Allow me.”

But, while the counter may serve well in the moment–when you’re in a rush or tired after a long day–the handy, horizontal workspace will never ever put that stuff away for you. And so a heaping eyesore begins to grow… Statements, receipts, newspapers, magazines, reminders, and various invitations all pile up on the kitchen counter, until the baking mood strikes you one day and you realize that there’s no room to roll out a pie pastry or cookie dough.

In many homes, this is a familiar scenario. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are a few simple ways to declutter your kitchen counter.

Throw away junk mail as soon as it arrives. Have a recycling tote or a paper bag near the entrance of your house. Many of us come in through the garage, so that’s a good place to start. Just pause for 30 seconds to discard any junk mail or unwanted catalogs before they even enter your home. Not letting clutter into your house in the first place will make a huge difference.
Relocate bills to the place where they’ll be paid. If you don’t already have a desk or other designated area for paying bills, make one. Put your bills in this location immediately and then, not only will you have a cleaner counter, but those important papers will be easy to find when it’s time to take care of them. If you pay bills in the kitchen, keep your stamps, envelopes, checkbook, and other necessary items in a drawer, all in one place, and then park your bills there too. If you pay bills online, put a special collection basket beside your computer.
Create an action center. This can be a basket, a shallow bin, or just a designated spot in a drawer; and any items that need attention within a week should go here. Schedule a little time to go through your action center on a consistent, weekly basis (maybe Sunday morning when your family is sleeping in or some evening when commitments are light). Make this a habit, and an action center will help to ensure that RSVP’s and other important things will be addressed in a timely manner.
Paper is the #1 problem in many of the homes I visit. So take 30-90 seconds a day to follow these three simple steps and you will be well on your way to taming those unruly piles of paper.

Happy organizing!

– JoAnne

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