Come In: Organizing Your Entry

First the snow, then the ice and now the melting mess! The warmer temperatures (although I love them) have started melting the mounds of snow and uncovering layer upon layer of sand and salt. Is all this coming into your home? Are you tired of stepping over piles of boots and shoes as soon as you come in the doorway? Well, here’s some help for your entryway:

1.  First try to trap as much dirt outside as possible by using a large door mat outside your door. If you often enter your home through the garage, it’s a good idea to put a mat there too. This will trap some of the dirt. Place another large rug or mat inside your entryway door to catch more of it. Make sure it can handle wet boots or use a boot tray. Vacuuming and shaking the rug outdoors will keep that grit where it belongs.

2.  Many families remove their shoes at or near the doorway. This really cuts down on the amount of sand and grit in the rest of the home. Having a shoe rack, boot tray or basket to contain the shoes gives them a “home” and keeps them together. The easier it is to put the shoes in a spot, the more likely the children are to do it. Assign a spot for each child and watch what happens.

3.  Once inside the door, the hats and gloves (or mittens) are the first things off. In schools, children use cubbies and lockers to keep their things together. Why not use the same idea at home? Cubbies or shelving units with baskets for each family member or as Donna Smallin (Organizing Plain & Simple) suggests use a clear pocket hanging shoe bag. This makes it easy to keep things together and to quickly find them.

4.  The simpler the process the more likely it will be done. To hang a coat on a hanger in a closet is a five step process. Think about it. Open the closet door, get the hanger, put the coat on the hanger, hang it on the rod and then close the closet door. Hooks work so much easier. I like the two or three prong hooks with rounded ends. Our hook rack is on the wall by the door. It’s quick and easy and keeps the coats off the kitchen chairs. Sure, they could all be hung up in the closet, but why work harder just so it looks neater? I learned early on that my kids did not care how “nice” I wanted the house to look.  I realized it was much more important for the house to function so that it could support the people living in it.  I cannot guarantee it but from what I have seen, easy beats complicated every time.

5. Since the entryway is also the “exitway”, it is important to have the other things you need when leaving your home like your keys, bag and cell phone nearby. Creating a place for these “necessities” is often referred to as a drop zone, landing pad or launch pad area. You may already be using an area as a drop zone without even realizing it. Look around. Do you see books or DVDs waiting to be returned, or is there always a pile on the first flat surface inside the door? Then this is probably a good place to set up a real system to handle the things that are temporarily being stored there. See our blog dated August 6, 2008 titled, “3 Tips to Organize for Back to School for more information on setting up a launch pad with children. Put the systems in to place and watch the clutter disappear. Your home will then function for you and your family and that’s what it’s really all about.

Need help organizing your papers? Come to the Tackle and Tame Your Mountain of Paper Workshop on Thursday, March 19, 2009 at the Norwell Middle School Community Room (328 Main Street, Norwell, MA). Starts promptly at 7pm. Please register to attend this free workshop by emailing your contact information to