I know what you’re thinking. You don’t need me to tell you how to use a table. That’s true, but if you are having difficulty staying organized, I want to offer a professional organizer’s perspective on tables, that will help. This starts with looking at a table as a tool, rather than a piece of furniture. In fact, I believe a clear work surface is your number one organizing tool.

Perhaps the first culture to use a table was the ancient Egyptians. They used them to keep objects off the floor. According to Wikipedia “The Chinese also created very early tables in order to pursue the arts of writing and painting.” They could probably be considered the first desks. Of course, dining and food preparation have become important purposes for tables, as well.

Like the ancient Egyptians, many of us today are using tables (and all  surfaces), primarily to keep stuff off the floor, a lot of stuff. The problem with using surfaces for storage is that it limits movement in your environment. That compromises your ability to stay organized.

A clear works surface allows you to spread out a project, to prioritize, and then to process your project away, so that you can move on the next project or activity. When you can complete activities- whether it’s eating, folding laundry, or paying bills— things don’t accumulate in your environment and it is easier to stay organized. Circulation prevents accumulation.

Of course, for a table or work-surface to stay clear, you need to keep easily accessible storage elsewhere. The dresser drawers and file drawers need to open easily and there must be room inside. If the dishwasher is full, the dirty dishes will fill the sink, then they will cover the counters.

So yes, decluttering the excess and establishing storage alternatives do need to happen first, but an important goal for staying organized should always be to maintain clear surfaces for processing. A clear work surface is not just a piece of furniture, it is your number one organizing tool.