A place for everything, and everything in its place

Without getting up from your chair, do you know exactly where:

  • your keys are?
  • your 2009 tax documents are?
  • your car’s registration is? (If you own a car.)
  • your winter gloves are?
  • your social security card is?
  • your flashlight is?
  • your phone charger is?

How did you do? Were you able to answer at least five of the questions exactly? All seven? One?

Except for your keys and maybe your phone charger, you’re probably okay with not knowing exactly where the other items on this list are currently located. However, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to waste time hunting for these items the next time you need them?

What do you need to do to find a place for all your possessions and have everything in its place? Do you need to file your important papers? Switch out your winter and summer clothes? Set up a reception station in your home with a place to store your keys each evening and charge your phone? Clean out your bedside table and make a storage place for a flashlight?

If you know where all seven items on the list are located, is there anything in your home that doesn’t have a permanent home that should? What items are constantly out of place in your home and might need a new permanent place to live?

42 Comments for “A place for everything, and everything in its place”

  1. posted by Michele Connolly, Get Organized Wizard on

    I love having a place for everything!

    To make it easier to remember the particular places I put particular things, I use these principles:

    1. Keep similar things together
    – eg all my winter accessories, including gloves, scarves, etc, are in the same drawer; all my torches, flashlights and light-bulbs are together; all the paperwork is in one filing cabinet.

    2. Match frequency of use to accessiblity of place
    – eg the only things in high shelves are rarely needed, like suitcases.

    These storage principles really help when I want to find something I haven’t used in a while!

  2. posted by Zack on

    Good post. Very true and something that I need to work on. It’s one of those things that I’ve needed to do for a while but it’s easy to put off. Thanks.

  3. posted by Adventure-Some Matthew on

    Woohoo! I know where all of those things are!

    Just about everything in my home has a permanent place. The only things that I seem to have consistent trouble with are items for school; they migrate with me as I work on different projects in different rooms. However, they’re all together and don’t take me too long to find. :D

  4. Profile photo of

    posted by Mimi on

    wohooo :) my decluttering-project seems to work, i know where all of these items are. sometimes, i “lose” my keys, but the more i declutter the faster i find them.

  5. posted by Anita on

    I don’t own a car but otherwise I’m 6/6. Yay!

    As for what’s constantly out of place or doesn’t have a home… only unfinished projects that are waiting for me to trip over them enough times to finally decide to finish them.

  6. posted by Emily on

    How funny…the phone charger is the only thing missing.

    My husband ferries them around the house and back and forth to the office and destroys my attempts at landing pads.

    Otherwise, I am 6/6.

  7. Profile photo of

    posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I know where all seven of those items are. We need to work on a much better system for tools, though, and my studio needs some serious help. The problem in both of those places is definitely lack of designated spaces for things.

  8. posted by deb on

    I know where everything on that list is, but my husband sure doesn’t. This past Sunday I cleaned the kitchen cabinets and fit everything back into place. When I was done I told my husband I was going to take photos of them, laminate them and post them inside the cabinet doors. Then, the next time he tries to find or put something away, he’ll know exactly where its place it. He actually thought that was a brilliant idea (yay!). I swear, 20 years with the same cabinets and dishes, and he still doesn’t know where the stuff goes.

  9. posted by vginiafille on

    Fortunately, I can report that I know where all of those things are.
    Unfortunately, it’s because I know where I left them in the piles of clutter, not because the house is uncluttered. ;-)

  10. posted by ErinMarie on

    Let’s see…

    Keys are in my pocket. My 2009 tax documents are unaccounted for as my parents do them for me (I’m in college). Registration is in the passenger side glove compartment. Winter gloves are in the second drawer down in the wire baskets I keep in the closet. My social security card is in a firebox behind my bedroom door. My flashlight is sitting on the second shelf of a little end table in the niche also by my bedroom door. Phone charger is plugged in at it’s regular station in my bedroom. 6/7! Yaaaaay!

  11. posted by Kara on

    I’m 7/7…well 8/8 if you count the fact that I have two flashlights and I know where they both are. (kitchen drawer and dresser drawer)

  12. posted by Elizabeth on

    What a great post AND a good topic of conversation for the supper table tonight. If you’d asked me these questions a few years ago I’d have been hard pressed to know where even a couple of things were, but I’ve worked on our systems so now I know where MOST of them are but we still have a ways to go.

    One thing I’m proud of is my beautifully laid out supply drawer of batteries (some of every common size), flashlights, candles, matches, and camera battery chargers. I set it up with dividers a few years ago, and it’s been so easy to maintain.

  13. posted by Dawn F on

    A+ for me! :)

    This is an excellent post today – I MUST forward this to lots of my friends and family members!

    I think it’s important that your significant other knows where these items are, too – just in case… My next-door neighbor’s husband died very unexpectedly and she literally had NO IDEA where anything was. It was a terrible, devastating time for her and the family – mourning the loss and having no clue where anything in the house was.

    I suggest to my fellow Unclutterer fans – Let your significant other and/or someone you trust know where important things are in case of an emergency (and hopefully they will remember).

  14. posted by elizabeth on

    …everyone in my family keeps a flashlight in their underwear drawer …. all five will get used this weekend for trick or treating too!

  15. posted by Sue on

    I know where everything is except my SS card, which I know I lost a few years ago. Does knowing that it’s misplaced somewhere in my house count?

  16. posted by Guen on

    I’m 7/7! (Well, 6/6 since I don’t have a car.) Although, I feel like I’m cheating on the flashlight location. I know where it is (on my bedside table) because I never got around to finding a “proper” spot it, and it’s been there so long it’s simply become it’s home!

  17. posted by Marie A on

    OK, I’m 7/7. I’m not at all sure how that happened. The gloves are a fluke because I came across them in the dining room corner when I was searching for something else this past weekend, and rather than putting them “away”, I just left them where they were. Whether I’ll remember that when it gets cold is the question.

  18. posted by Kate on

    I know where all of those things are… yay!

    The one thing I always have trouble figuring out where to keep is gift cards/certificates. If they’re ones that are just “for me” (i.e. b-day gifts, thank you gifts from work, etc) I’ll keep them in my wallet, but “family” gift certificates like restaurants, book store, etc. that either of us might use are a little more tricky. Suggestions?

  19. posted by Judi on

    6/6 in our house, only because I’m not completely certain about the Social Security card.

    @kate: We struggled with gift certificates too, until recently. I began keeping a household notebook (lots of day-to-day stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else), and now we have a sheet protector in the “money” section where all store-specific items live. The idea is that we’ll look at our list of monthly bills and upcoming income (my husband is a freelancer) before we buy anything, and it’s helped! We actually used a couple of discount items in our normal shopping routines over the past couple of weeks that we would have lost track of before this.

  20. posted by chacha1 on

    7/7. Fun little mind game. :-)

  21. posted by Dawn F on

    Kate:

    I have a second coupon organizer (small, accordion style) and have the sections labeled like “Car Wash”, “Hair Salon”, “Movies”, etc. and when we receive gift cards, gift certicates and/or retail store coupons I place them in the appropriate section.

    Quite often we flip through that organizer and look over the gift cards, etc. before we out to the movies or to the bookstore, etc., and to make sure nothing is going to expire soon. Very rarely do gift certificates hang out too long at our house – we love to use them fast!

  22. posted by Jen on

    @deb – that is a great idea. when my husband empties the dishwasher (i know, i should just count my blessings that he does it at all), he always leaves at least 2 or 3 items out on the counter because he didn’t know where they are supposed to go and didn’t want to put them back in the wrong place. while i appreciate not having to hunt all over the place for them later, i’d really rather he just learned the correct place for them! and i’m not talking about some really obscure, used-once-a-year type item either. ugh!

  23. posted by Cynthia on

    I did well. I know where every one of those items are located. However, I’m thinking the same as Dawn F. that it would be important if spouses/partners are made aware of where these items are located.

    And this probably relates to encouraging our family members such as parents to start doing the same. I would hate for something to happen to both my parents and then not know where all their important documents are.

  24. posted by priest's wife on

    OUCH! I’ve got work to do (but sometimes it isn’t my fault- I found my keys in the cooler in the garage the other day- courtesy of baby)

  25. posted by Karen on

    I’m 7/7, but I’m not going to brag, because even though I know where the phone charger is, I can’t find the phone.

  26. posted by Nana on

    Yep…I know where these things are. OTOH, when I rearranged furniture and changed out decorative items, I had to find a new spot for my keys. I was accustomed to dropping ‘em into a bowl in the breakfront right inside the front door. Took a while to decide I could put a different bowl on a shelf in a different piece of furniture…and that works just as well!

  27. Profile photo of

    posted by ninakk on

    Currently yes, tomorrow it might be down to 5/7 or something similar.

    The flashlight, which btw doesn’t use batteries but is manually charged, hangs where it should – beside the fuse box. Once I have these kinds of “yes of course, why didn’t I think of that one before” moments, the things usually find their permanent places. I just wish that all our things would have such homes already… Seems my brain has got some real work to do.

  28. posted by Mary Anne on

    I know where they all are, and except for the tax forms I can find them all in the dark.

  29. posted by Val on

    I got everything but the car paperwork (I don’t have a car) well, assuming I can count my headlamp as a flashlight. I don’t have a normal one. I moved recently and that helped a ton with having a place for everything, as they started out put away.

  30. posted by Fiona on

    7/7! I am absolutely elated – a year ago, I’d have been lucky to find 1/7. I’ve been following those posts you linked to closely and it has changed everything around here!

  31. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I’m 7/7 and I had to laugh at the 2009 tax documents – they’re right beside me.

    The Australian financial year is 1 July to 30 June and we normally have until the end of October to lodge our personal income tax returns (extra leeway if you had an accountant do it for you the previous year). I lodged mine last night so I guess I should put that folder away in a drawer. :-)

  32. posted by gypsy packer on

    Tax docs are scanned to hard drive, then loaded on portable hard drive and on thumb drive, a lesson learned after the demise of a motherboard.
    SS card was stolen, as were two copies of birth certificate, one an oldie, stolen in the 90’s, the other a reprint stolen with the SS card. ID thieves never forget, even when the credit and the house are gone.

  33. posted by Don on

    People still need to produce their social security card? I know where mine is but only because I haven’t had to move it in a decade. The only reason I know of to have to produce it is for an IRS form I-9 and there’s 7 other documents that can substitute for it and a half-dozen that keep you from needing any of those at all.

    Do most people produce it when taking a new job?

  34. posted by Zac on

    7/7, although I DO need to clean my bedside cabinet drawer – a small but consistent source of hidden clutter as it essentially serves as misc overflow from my “landing strip” (extra keys, change, receipts, yuck!).
    I use a three drawer metal filing cabinet as my bedside table. It holds all my docs (including the SS and TAX), in addition to that pesky top drawer, and provides the table top for my alarm clock, glass of water etc. I’ll have to get on that tonight.

  35. posted by Renee F. on

    7/7 !!!
    Children’s things – any or all. I have a place for them, but the “owners” can’t remember the place. In my decluttering this year some of those things have regrettably gone to other homes.
    Gee, I don’t know – did you look where it belongs?!
    The point is that I am more comfortable in my house, it does look better and lots of people are benefitting from my donations.

  36. posted by Academic2 on

    @Deb and Jen: My wife has the same problem. Five years in the same house and STILL doesn’t know the order the pans go in or where stuff goes in the fridge. I’m going to float the idea past her. It makes me feel better that other people’s spouses don’t get it either.

  37. posted by Christine on

    Six out of seven. (No winter gloves necessary in AZ!)

  38. posted by Storitz on

    I need a filing cabinet SO badly :-/

  39. posted by Nicky on

    This was a fun one because I did well. :) I knew every one of them (2 pairs of winter gloves, and three places with flashlights.) :)

  40. posted by Ann on

    Don: Although it irks me (because social security cards, by law, when they were set up, weren’t supposed to ever be required for identification purposes), I’ve had to produce my social security card to open a new bank account within the last few years, my sons needed their to apply for jobs and for several college-related things, and I’m not sure, but I think we needed them for passport applications. Additionally, I think my husband needed his for a foreign Visa when his company sent him to Russia for a couple weeks.

    Ann

  41. posted by Abby on

    Ok – this is not good. Just now realized that I had it much more “together” when I was single and 22. Now married and 29 by comparison… let’s just say that I can only remember where I “used” to keep these things. This… cannot be good. (LOL)

  42. posted by Denise on

    Winter gloves in pockets of winter coat!

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