Your number one kitchen organizing tool, as with all rooms, is a clear work surface.  When you have a clear island and clear counters in the kitchen, you can do three things. On a clear surface you can spread out, prioritize, and process. Where there’s process, there’s progress. Clear work surface should be reserved as a processing tool, never squandered on storage. In such a high traffic area as the kitchen, the challenges is to provide alternatives for surface stealers. Here are three strategies.

1. Circulation Prevents Accumulation

This is actually my best strategy for staying organized everywhere, but especially in the kitchen. What this means, is having a plan for movement in a series of manageable  reliable steps. Dishes are a great example. You reliably find them in your cabinet.  Then they come to the counter for plating, and then table for eating. From there, they go to the sink for washing and then the drying rack for drying. Finally, they return to the cabinet, ready to circulate again. I like this example, because this is an item most of us are able to circulate reliably. The point is that everything needs to circulate like this to stay organized. Also, this plan for movement is what keeps your surfaces clear.

2. Frequency Merits Facility

Simply put, the more often you do something, the easier it should be. This may seem to make perfect sense, but the challenges come from de-prioritizing the surface competitors. For example, if you have coffee daily then the coffee maker certainly deserves a regular spot on your counter. The coffee and cups should be in a nearby counter, but prepared to deprioritze some other items. Do you really need those decorative containers, that say “flour,” “sugar,” “coffee” on the counter? Could you move the rarely used keepsake mugs to a higher shelf? And could the special cups you use for entertaining be stored more remotely? It all adds up to a clear work surface.

3. Showroom vs. Stockroom

The strategy of showroom vs. stockroom ups the ante on the Frequency Merits Facility strategy.  In a clothing store, the showroom is open, inviting, and well lit.  Things are generally displayed from eye-level down. There is a limited amount of inventory on the showroom floor, but a lot of activity.  This is how you want your kitchen to be. When you run out of inventory in the showroom, you go to the stockroom. You worry less about  what the stockroom looks like. You can take more advantage of the vertical storage and the space may feel more closed in. As a result, you can fit more inventory and there is less activity.

In the home, your “stockroom” might be the basement or garage. It might even be a pantry in your kitchen or even an upper shelf.  The point is to reserve this less convenient space for less used “inventory.”  This includes rarely used appliances, back up supplies, seasonal items, entertaining supplies, and keepsake kitchenware.

A clear work surface does not just look nice. It is nothing less than your number one organizing tool. By recognizing it as such it becomes easier to employ strategies, that will continue to keep it clear.