14850Active projects need homes as much as passive supplies.  Anyone who reads this blog or has worked with me knows that I value a clear surface as the greatest organizing tool above all else.   For this reason, my first act of helping a client get organized is always to create a clear work surface.  This is act is often met with resistance when I try to clear an ongoing project.

Ongoing projects need to be organized as much as anything else.  In fact, they need the most special attention of all and leaving them out on the dining table just doesn’t cut it.  There, they are vulnerable to incoming clutter and processing.

Here are some common ongoing projects I run into and some easy solutions.

Bill Paying. Let’s face it, whether you like bill paying or not (and who does) it’s an ongoing project.  You must make a comfortable allowance for it.  When the daily mail comes in, extract the statements immediately and place them in a dedicated bill paying area. Never let them pitch camp on your dining room table.  They accumulate and get forgotten.

Kids Art projects. I’ve talked about storing kids’ finished artwork, but what about the ongoing projects? While it’s important to encourage your child’s creativity, it’s also important to have the dining room table open for family dinners.  Can you really have both? Yes.  The big requirement is a shift in thinking.  Unfinished art projects are not something that will go away once you “get organized,” so be prepared to make allowances for them.  Choosing the appropriate structure is the easy part.  I like these wire trays from The Container Store.  They’re large enough and make for easy storage and retrieval.

Long Term Projects. Planning a wedding or updating a website? There are a lot of small steps involved.  How do you stay on top of them all without spreading out the whole project on your table? I recommend a device I call Project Corrals. Read more about Project Corrals here.

Knitting Projects. Knitting a sweater doesn’t mean you have to keep every skein of yarn you own out at the same time.  Keep a visible inventory to choose from more remotely, but keep the current sweater in it’s own bag.  I recommend one that is both flexible but structured enough to stand up on its own.  That way you can move the project from coffee table- to car- to babysitting in a jiffy.

With all of these systems it is important to strictly dedicate them to their appropriate purpose.  For example, don’t start chucking odds-and-ends into the kids’ art trays just because they have nowhere else to go.  That creates clutter and defeats the purpose of project homes.

TODAY’S KEY TO UNLOCKING CLUTTER:  Don’t forget to dedicate space to ongoing projects.  They’re not only part of the organizing challenge, they’re a big part of WHY we get organized in the first place.