Ask the Organizer
Organizer-in-chief Susan Pinsky helps you get your house (and work space) in order.
TAKE BACK THE FLOOR
I am a recently divorced ADHD mom who has moved into a small
apartment with my ADHD teenage daughter. Her room is large, but there is
no closet. My room has two closets, one of which she uses. Between the
two of us, the room looks like a clothing bomb went off. I can’t see the floor!
something down without putting it away, drop it
on a table or chair rather than the floor.
QMy apartment’s kitchen is small, and part of the space is taken up by the laundry.
So the floor is usually buried under a pile
of clothes. I do have access to basement
storage, where I can store some kitchen
items. Should I use that space for large pans
and serving bowls? Kitchen appliances?
And how do I keep the laundry off the floor?
You have to stop thinking about being space-efficient and start thinking about being effort-efficient.
Storing kitchen items in a basement locker takes
too much effort to put them away, so they linger in
your small space, creating clutter. Instead, weed
through all your kitchen items until what remains
fits within the kitchen storage, and then be
resourceful and resilient about what is left. Toss
the fancy chip-and-dip server. On the rare occasions that you need one, you can improvise with a
soup bowl and a dinner plate. Think of yourself as
living on shipboard: You don’t have much, and the
things you do own are versatile.
As for the laundry, keep clothing off the floor by
never putting it on the floor. When you dump your
dirty clothes in the washer, place the laundry basket
on top of the machine or on a nearby chair.
Once clean, dry clothes are returned to
the basket, and the whole thing goes
back to the bedroom. That means no
storing or sorting of laundry in the kitchen. All
before and after,
are confined to
Yes, once the floor is buried, the room becomes
unusable and maintenance impossible. So although
it seems reasonable, sharing the closets is only
increasing the clutter while costing you the use of
an entire room.
Reclaim your space and take advantage of her
large room by placing an armoire with hanging
space and two chests of drawers in her bedroom.
Tall chests are space-efficient, but each of you needs
one low wide bureau with a mirror on top for hair,
makeup, and jewelry. Place a basket-style laundry
hamper in your daughter’s room, so she can manage
her own laundry. Most important, both of you
should weed your clothing until the remainder fits
comfortably into your bedroom storage. And for
you, Mom, that still means one closet. Use that
second closet as a utility closet for the vacuum and
select cleaning supplies, or storage for photos and
memorabilia. Let it work for you as a tool to
de-clutter the apartment, instead of being a trap
that tricks you into retaining more clothing. This
can all be managed without sacrificing the floor.
QI’ve read your book and have weeded and organized several rooms. Other than a
daily 30-second per room cleanup, how
do I keep things organized?
Look to the previous letter for some answers. Give
priority to keeping the floor clear! When I organize
a space, the first thing I do is clear the floor. It
makes it easier to do the rest of the project. Imagine
any room in your home with the floor cluttered and
the surfaces clear. Now picture this same room with
surfaces cluttered but the floor clear. Which space
seems easier to live in and clean? Your home will
be easier to maintain and enjoy if you can move
around without tripping. So if you have to set
Susan C. Pinsky
is a professional
organizer specializing in
ADHD. The mother of
an ADHD child, Susan
lectures frequently on
organizational issues on
TV, on the radio, and in
print. She is the author of
for People with ADHD
and The Fast and
Furious 5 Step