DROP EVERYTHING : CREATE A FUNCTIONAL AND ORGANIZED DROP ZONE
I think I might win the world record for most objects balanced in one’s arms whilst trying to open the front door.
I stubbornly juggle groceries, lunchboxes, purse and sports bag, refusing to make a second trip (how could I possibly walk those 10 feet again?) So you can imagine that after the battle to unlock the door and not drop my daughter’s clay masterpiece (balanced precariously in my armload), I am ready to DROP MY STUFF.
Thus, the family “Drop Zone” is born.
What is a Drop Zone?
The drop zone is the place in your home where belongings are discarded upon entering. AKA — the spot your kids fling their shoes and lunchboxes. Even if you don’t have a designated drop zone, chances are you are putting your stuff down SOMEWHERE.
What belongs in the Drop Zone?
Here are some of the things that make sense in your drop zone:
Backpacks, bags, coolers, lunchboxes, purses
Mail and packages
Things that need to be returned
Loose change and receipts
Paperwork, school papers, coupons
Sunglasses, hats, scarves, umbrellas
Dog walking items
This will be the list you reference when you organize your drop zone. You’ll want to address each category and have a space or solution for it.
Here are some things that try to sneak into the drop zone — but should live elsewhere:
Off season clothing
Backup anything (store extra lunchboxes, school supplies etc. elsewhere) Limit items stored in your drop zone to the MOST frequently used.
Papers and junkmail that you are avoiding
Shopping bags you have yet to unpack
Any manner of random objects that should never have been in this area to begin with (is that a bowl of noodles next to a jar of glitter glue???)
How to Set Up Your Drop Zone
1: Pick your spot
You likely already know where your drop zone should be. If you have a built in mud room or foyer in your home — great! Use it! However, if you know that you always enter through the back door — make your drop zone there. It won’t work if it’s not where you enter the house.
2: Purge from what’s there
Remove anything and everything from the area that you aren’st using RIGHT NOW. You can swap things out as time passes and your family’s activities change.
3: Address what’s left
Try making a list of categories that your family needs in the drop zone. If your kids are school-aged they probably need a hook for backpacks. If you have a dog — you might need a dog-walking zone.
4: Add structure and products
Add only what you need. Try it out for a few weeks and make adjustments. Here are some of our go-to solutions for storing common drop zone items:
A hook for each family member to hang a bag.
A dish for keys.
A basket for items that need to head to the car.
Cubbies for lunchboxes, rain gear or sports bags.
A bench to sit and put on shoes.
A rack for most commonly worn shoes.
A mail sorter for incoming mail or school papers.
Optional: If your drop zone is functioning well and you have the space — consider setting up a family calendar on the wall. Use this area to plan your family’s schedule as well. This way they can check the calendar and know what gear to grab.
An inbox for each family member — to-do items, homework to be signed, etc. goes here.
A family calendar on the wall.
A family chore chart or project chart. Be sure to include rewards!
How to maintain the the space
Let’s be honest, as we actually USE this area, it gets messy, quick! How can you keep on top of such a heavily trafficked area?
Get the family on board. Gain some family buy-in by letting your kids pick out their own baskets and hooks.
Do a weekly sweep of the area. You’d be amazed home much can pile up here in just a few days. Have your kids help by grabbing a couple laundry baskets. Sort items that need re-homing into the baskets. Race to see who can get their basket put away first.
Seasonally, change out shoes and outerwear to fit the weather. Swap sports gear as needed.
Purge regularly! Especially unneeded paperwork.
Reward good habits. Encourage your family with small rewards for things like hanging their backpack on the hook or putting their shoes in the basket. A chart with stickers is an easy and effective visual motivator of behavior. Hang one in your drop zone!
Now that your space is set up — it’s time to see it in action. If you are intentional about what you store in this space (or any space in your home) you can stay organized.
Before long, you and your kids will be in the habit of hanging up your bags, checking the calendar, dealing with the junk mail and living a more organized life!
Reprinted with permission of Kirsten Fisher, Imagine Home Organization