Organizing categories and the Landing Strip

Organizing, to me, is split into two distinct categories: Locations and Concepts. Location organizing is what people think of right off the bat—getting their kitchen or garage or craft room all tidy and organized and functional. It’s about before and after photographs. It’s about tools and systems and getting a space, either big or small, organized.

Concepts are all about the mentality behind the whole thing. It’s about how we look at possessions and spaces and how we approach the world. It’s the place where organizing hits personality and where lifestyle hits logic.

As I write these posts, sometimes I’ll write about locations and sometimes I’ll write about concepts. A lot of times, they’ll be combined into one. And sometimes the organizing system that I talk about won’t work for you, but some of the concepts involved will work. And sometimes it might be the other way around.

But it was important to me that I make it clear that I view these two things as separate. Both of them are important. I’ll write about both. And I want to encourage you to look at what I present with the idea that even if the organization doesn’t really work for you and your space and the people in it, maybe there’s a concept that you can take away from it.

So, with all that said, Amy asked that I address either clothes closet ideas or the “high traffic area where things seem to accumulate.”  I’m really not ready to hit closets just yet because, wow, is that a difficult topic. I’ll come back to it, I promise. But today I’m going to talk about something else.

One of the highest trafficked areas in my house is the front door. Well, maybe not highest trafficked, but one of the areas that gets a lot of traffic where things really accumulate quickly. Because what happens at the front door? As soon as you come in, we start shedding things. Shoes come off, coats come off, purses and keys and backpacks are dumped. And when you leave? You’re looking for all these things again! Digging around for keys, searching for backpacks, pulling on coats and shoes.

So, I’d like to introduce to you the idea of a Landing Strip. (Just in case you haven’t heard of this before, it really isn’t something I just made up. Honest!)

Welcome to my house!

Entryway to our house
Entryway to our house

Inside our front door, we have a short, three-tiered bookshelf. We don’t wear shoes inside the house, so the bottom two shelves hold our shoes. Justin’s whole shoe collection, pretty much, sits on the bottom shelf. The middle shelf has my running shoes and sneakers and sandals—my dress shoes all live upstairs in my closet. And the top shelf has a small box.

Bookshelf landing strip
Bookshelf landing strip

On the other side of the door, we have a wicker hamper with a drawer on top.

Wicker hamper basket
Wicker hamper basket

When we come in the door, the shoes land on the shelves. My dress shoes sit at the bottom of the stairs until I head upstairs. Justin’s keys and other pocket items land in the box. Receipts go in the drawer. Change goes into the bowls on the top. The pool fob sits in another section of the box. My purse sits on the other half of the shelf.

Landing strip
Landing strip

If we have mail that needs to go out to the box, it’s in a clip on the back of the door. Our front door is metal so a magnetized chip clip works perfectly for this.  (Right not it’s on a bag of pasta or something and not on the door.  It’s very versatile.)

The wicker basket drawer holds frequently used items. Right now, there’s a hat and gloves on top, but once it’s warmer, these will end up in the coat closet. There’s a flashlight and a few umbrellas. Our swimming stuff (swim cap, goggles, etc.) are in there, too, for when it gets warmer. Our reusable grocery bags tend to end up in this area, too, or hanging on the doorknob of the door until we head out again. The lower basket collects all the towels from the kitchen.

We used to have a hook that held umbrellas with straps and jackets but it fell from the wall. We have a peg rack that I need to paint and then that will be a place for jackets to hang. We’d love to have a hat stand type of coat rack but they’re too expensive and a little too big for our space.

Okay. So for a couple with no children and a pretty big entryway, this works really well. But it obviously wouldn’t work for everybody—it wasn’t even something we could do at the apartment before we moved. But I wanted to walk you through what we have so I can go over the idea.  Also, it’s obviously not perfect.  Sometimes, we end up with 5 different pairs of my dress shoes at the bottom of the stairs before I haul them all up to the closet.  And the piling of reusable bags on the wicker hamper bugs me a little.

But the idea of a Landing Strip is to have a place right inside your home where everything that you take out the door has a place to live until you head back out again. If it has a home, you won’t be looking for it all the time—as long as you put it in that place every time. Justin used to leave his keys in his pockets and we’d be searching all over the house to find where he’d dropped them. Now he comes in the door, puts them in the slot in the box, and we always have them when we head out.

There are so many different ways to set up this sort of thing. In the apartment we had before moving to our current home, the entry was as wide as the door, but had a coat closet just inside. We hung a shoe rack on the inside of the coat closet and that’s where we dropped all our shoes and gloves and swimming stuff. Those multi-pocketed things are wonderful. We still have it, repurposed to another closet that I’ll show you another time.

The important thing about a Landing Strip area is to know what you have, what you need to have on hand, and how much space you’ve got to do that.

If your entryway is like our apartment used to be, with no space beyond what’s given to clear the door, than it’s time to think vertically. Do you have a wall behind the door? Hang hooks and other wall-hanging objects. Hooks can collect jackets, bags, backpacks, keys, hats, baskets, nearly everything you’ll need. If you have children, put hooks at their level so they can hang their own jackets and bags. Hang a basket on the doorknob to catch keys.

The only concern I have, as I’m thinking about this, is to make sure that kids understand that this is a “no play” zone. Hooks can be dangerous to little bodies.

People with larger spaces have a lot more options. Like, good gosh, where do I even start? When I was little, we had a mud room inside the front door. Each of us had our own little locker-like space that held all our coats and mittens and boots and everything. I’ve seen people who didn’t have mud rooms making little cubbies just inside the doors of their homes. This way every one has a place to put their shoes and their backpacks and purses and everything else.

And other houses don’t have entryways at all. My house when I was living with my brother, we walked directly into the kitchen. But I had a hook right behind the door, above the counter, where I hung my keys. My purse landed just inside my bedroom door.

The point is to have a place, preferably right where you come into your house, where you can drop everything that you’ll need when you leave again. Stop searching all over the place for your keys. Give them a home and make sure they always end up there when you come into the house.

Make sense?

How about some links to other people taking about it?

Declutterer (one of my favorite organizing blogs, by the way) talks about it HERE and several other times.  A very small, cute idea is mentioned HERE.

And here are some really beautiful pictures of ideas at DeClutter It!  Click ONE and click TWO.

Two things left to say:

The landing area at my house? Basically no cost involved. Everything we used was something we already owned. The bookshelf had been used for decoration. The box for Justin’s keys had been sitting unused on his dresser. The hamper had been in the guest bathroom in the apartment. The only thing that we’ve paid for is the paint I’m going to use to repaint the peg rack and the hardware to hang it. It is entirely possible that you already have everything you need somewhere in your house. If at all possible, when I’m talking about organizing spaces, I’m going encourage repurposing instead of spending.

Second—If you have any questions and would like recommendations on what you could do, or if you have things that have worked really well for you, I would love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment or drop me an email. Send me pictures! I love to know about ideas that have worked. And I love helping people look at their spaces and think up ways that might work for them. Drop me a note and let’s chat!

Oh, yeah! I should actually write something!


(Click on the picture to see a bigger version.)

I keep getting so disctracted by how beautiful my new website is that I keep forgetting to, say, update my website.  Oops!

Tonight is Thursday evening and I am very glad that it’s finally the end of the week.  It’s been yet another long week and I’m looking forward to my little errands that I run on Friday afternoons and sleeping in on Saturday morning and all the relaxing things (like cleaning house) that I do over the weekend.

I do try not to talk too much about work on here.  I don’t alway succeed, but it does take up a lot of my time and energy, so the brain’s got to put that stuff somewhere eventually.  We’ve been working on some major projects that should help make the paperwork for future projects be much more simple.  In theory, we should be able to take the paperwork for this one product and use it on another product that’s designed the same way.  It won’t always work because we create product that’s very customized a lot of the time.  But it should be reusable enough times that it’ll pay off in the end.

In theory.

But right now, all we’re getting is headaches and running around like a bunch of headless chickens.  We were supposed to have one of these (there are seven separate paperwork projects going with three different end-products) done last week.  And we didn’t get it done this week either.  Monday!  Monday we should have it done.  I think we might actually have one of the three for this one done, but we still have a loooooooong way to go yet.

And then, because these have been clogging up the pipes so much, all our other projects are getting more and more behind so we’re going to have a frantic scramble to see if we can make the rest of our deadlines after having these shift and shift and shift.

On top of that, I’m also involved in a Lean Six Sigma 5S project.  This is one of my choosing and one that I’ve had a significant vested interest in for the last month and a half.  We’re rewriting a form that is used cross-site, cross-departmentally to us in an audit to determine the current cleanliness level of different areas of the company.  The form we had before was gastly.  Really wretched.  So I rewrote it.  And then people edited it and I rewrote it again, putting in their suggestions.  We’ve gone through like 6 revisions now.  This morning, I was part of a 2.5 hour meeting with about a dozen people from four different sites talking about the form.  And we got 20 of the 25 questions completed.  We got everybody to agree that those 20 questions work for what we’re trying to do, for all sites, for all office departments.  They’re clear and concise and say what we mean to be saying.  Finally!  We’ll get through the next 5 questions on Monday, I hope, and then we should have a really good end product!  But it’s taken a lot of time and work and energy.  I’ll be glad to see it roll out and see if it actually accomplishes what we hope it will accomplish.

And that’s work!  Part of it.

At home, I’m finally feeling better.  I don’t know what was up with the nausia on Monday and the extreeme exhaustion, but after having rested most of the week, I’m feeling much better.  It wasn’t the flu–I never had the sensitive skin and aching muscles and feverish sweats that I get with the flu.  But it was some sort of bug that I’m glad to have booted to the door.

Oh, hey!  Thinking of, my shingles is all gone away now.  The meds really worked a number on that and it was gone really quickly.  I still had the little red spots on my hip for a while, but they’ve all cleared up now.  Such a strange thing . . . .

Trying to think of what else to write about.  I think I’m going to call lit a night, though, and go get some sleep.  I hope you’re all doing well!  Take care and I’ll see you here again soon!