The Drop Zone

 

You don’t have to be a detective to figure out exactly what I’ve been up to when I first come in the door to my apartment. My shoes will be kicked off somewhere near the door; my keys will be on the nearest flat surface I can find. My purse gets stashed just about anywhere (which, believe me, can cause a great deal of panic if I don’t remember exactly where that is). No matter how clean I leave things, when I come back in everything inevitably looks like it’s been in a tornado. (You should see what it looks like when I try to get out the door in the morning- it’s like a tornado in reverse.)

There’s only one good explanation for why this happens to me and why it might sound familiar to you as well: I (we) don’t have a drop zone.

At least, I call it a drop zone. You could call it anything really: a mudroom, hallway, entryway, foyer, or nook in your house (that’s preferably near an entrance). Any place that acts as a transition area between your life indoors and your life outdoors is your “drop zone”. We have so much gear and equipment that play an integral part in our daily lives. Creating an area where we can store these things in ways that are useful and accessible to us is imperative to an organized, productive and stress-free day.

Here are some of the things that you may want to include in your own “drop zone” (when seasonally appropriate, of course):

  • keys (and a spare set, just in case)
  • leashes, treats, waste bags, or towels for pets
  • reusable grocery bags/tote bags and bins
  • sand toys/beach bags
  • gardening tools for quick access (i.e., gardening gloves, trowels, spades, pruning shears)
  • sunscreen, sunglasses and hats
  • lunchboxes/reusable food containers and water bottles
  • winter accessories (i.e, hats, gloves, scarves and mitts)
  • umbrellas and other rain gear
  • shoes and shoe repair accessories (i.e., extra laces, shoe polish, replacement heels, protective spray)
  • first-aid kit
  • bus passes, bus tokens, membership cards, spare change

Storage is not the sole purpose of a “drop zone”; it’s also place that can act as a “command central” for all of your errands and activities (especially if you’re the kind of person who needs visual cues as reminders). You could use it as a place to store your stuff in the morning if you need to get out of the door in a hurry. Other items you may want to leave as reminders could include dry-cleaning, mail, library books, or borrowed items that need returning. In the past when I have had a drop zone, I used it to leave myself lists of things I wanted to pack in my bag in the morning, or things I want to double-check before a weekend away.

Don’t take my word for it, though- here are some people out in the blogosphere that are totally rocking it:

I’m so jelly for Jennifer’s remodelled mudroom over at Style & the Suburbs.

I never knew I needed Dutch doors until I saw Rebecca’s mudroom on Boulevard West.

I love Teresa’s solution for transforming the narrow hallway in her home into something pretty and functional on Sweet Farmhouse Dreams.

Tina from Inspired Reality turned her tiny entryway into something really classy.

Becca at Embracing the Simplified has proof you don’t need a huge budget to create an organized entryway.

What changes have you made to your mudroom or entryway to make it more functional for you? I wanna know all of your secrets (with pictures please!). You can send them to keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with the link to your blog so you can show off your mad organizing skills with everyone else.

Having problems getting out the door in the morning? I’ve got some solutions here to make your mornings more stress-free, and how to stress less when you’re running late. For more inspo on a drop zone that’s both fashionable and functional, check out my Pinterest to see what I’ve been digging up.

 

5 Organizing Dilemmas That Have Me Puzzled

KBB_organizing_dilemmasIn my social circle I am known as a “fixer”- people often come to me for advice when they’re struggling either personally or professionally (one of the many reasons I ended up getting into the freelance business).

So it’s pretty frustrating for me when I come across any organizing dilemma- as few and far between as they may be- because it challenges my belief that almost anything can be organized. I’m not one to strive for a perfectly organized home but I do believe in finding solutions that ease and comfort to your lifestyle. One of the keys to good organization is finding a place for everything in your home, but there are still a few challenges I face when organizing my home that I’m afraid to admit have me stumped.

1) Batteries- Storing a fresh pack seems like an easy enough task, but where do you store the dead ones that are waiting for disposal? (In Toronto, dead batteries must be dropped off to a facility to be recycled specially. There are drop-off containers in most stores where batteries are sold, like electronics and office supply stores.) How do you not mix up the two? I honestly can’t decide on the best place to store them.

2) Hangers- What do you do with hangers not in use in your closet? Seeing a closet of empty hangers drives me up the wall. I try to stash the ones that I’m not using on a shelf towards the back of my closet, but keeping up this practice requires a lot of maintenance and honestly makes me feel a little anal. (Stop nodding your head yes.)

3) Food storage containers- I’m sure the parents and lovers of leftovers everywhere have the same lament- how do you store them? Where do you store them? How on Earth do you keep track of the lids?!? There’s nothing worse than scooping up your food in a stray container only to find its missing the lid. Tell me this has happened to you, too.

4) Dirty cloths and rags- I try to use these as much as possible instead of paper towels, but I wish I had a dedicated separate place to store the soiled ones while they await laundering. With a tiny kitchen and no dedicated laundry space, however, this dream of a space for super dirty laundry seems like a dream that’s pie in the sky.

5) Photo negatives- This move to the digital age has allowed the sharing and storage of photos to become easier, but now that film has fallen out of favor I’m torn as to what to do with my old negatives. With (most) of the original photos in tact and scanned as a digital back-up to my computer, do I really need to keep these? Am I doing it out of nostalgia? Paranoia? Negatives are just another item on a long list of things I like to hoard.

There’s an old saying about shoemaker’s children not having any shoes, and the same can principles can be applied to an organizer’s home. Despite being able to tackle problems in other people’s home with ease, it can be difficult to gain insight into your own challenges when certain obstacles seem permanently stuck in your way. Is it lack of space? Awkward configurations? Maybe you’re like me and have trouble letting go, or could be the fear of making any change that prevents you from finding a solution. Either way, if your barriers are physical or mental, it’s comforting to know that even the most talented organizers (ahem) have their own unique hang-ups that can also be solved by a glance from a fresh pair of eyes.

KBwB-BFlower-50You’ve heard my organizing confessions; now I want to hear yours! Write to me at keepingbusyb[a]gmail.com or comment below and let me know what’s been on your mind. Or maybe you’ve got a solution to one of my dilemmas. In that case, you’re my new best friend.

Sometimes I talk about other ways I like to organize too. You can find them all here on the Busy section of my blog.

 

Delightfully Organized Digital Photos

KBB_editing_your_photo_collection

Psst! I’m so happy that this post was re-blogged on Nostalgic Image Photo News. For all the readers who’ve discovered my blog from there, welcome! Many thanks to Dawn Ainsworth from Nostalgic Images for taking the time to share.

10,000 photos.

Yes, you read that correctly. That’s the number of photos I deleted off of my hard drive when I initially started organizing my digital photo collection. It’s amazing how much we take our digital storage space for granted. It doesn’t seem like a lot on a massive hard drive (after all, it takes up no physical space to us) but unloading 10,000 photos still felt like unloading some kind of psycho-RAM. It freed up all sorts of space on my hard drive for more things that I love, made my computer run faster, and most importantly, it brought me one step closer to having a beautifully organized digital photo collection that I can treasure and share with my family and friends.

The argument for an organized digital photo collection is compelling, but the task itself appears pretty daunting. Unless you rarely take photos, this will not be the type of task that can be completed in just one afternoon. Plan on spreading out your project into bite-sized chunks that can be carried out over a period of time, depending on how much you have available.

Before you do anything, make sure you have some method of backing up your files- discs, thumb drives, external hard drives, clouds, whatever. You should always, always, always have an alternate means of backing up any kind of precious digital data in the event that is somehow lost. Data recovery can be costly and is not always 100% guaranteed. Don’t worry about making it look pretty- you can always replace your old files with your pretty, organized ones later.

The most organized system is an intuitive one, so it’s important to consider how you will peruse your photo collection once it’s been completely organized. You may want to group your photos by date, by subject matter, by event, or a combination of all of the above. It’s best to start with a strategy in mind so that the way your current and future photos are stored is simple, convenient and consistent. Disregard any advice that doesn’t fit into your methodology. Don’t have a mind for numbers? Sort your photos in folders according to subject matter. Try to be specific and concise as possible with your sorting strategy. A search through a folder of photos marked simply “Grandma” can seem daunting, but a folder named “Grandma’s 80th Birthday Party” is explanatory enough that you can find the photo you’re looking for- even if the files inside are not meticulously labeled.

Start by sorting through your most recent photos first (they’re the freshest in your mind!) and use them to establish a method of uploading all of your photos on your computer and filing them on a regular basis. Resist the urge to dump new photos in a general photo until you get around to filing them later! Remember those 10,000 photos?

Yeah, I’m never doing that again.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have an organizing dilemma or a brilliant organizing solution? Share it with me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or on Twitter. For a constantly growing list of organization inspiration and other ways to keep busy, click here. And if you’re looking for some serious eye-candy, my Pinterest addiction has me filling boards with houses too pretty for their own good.