We all have them. Those surfaces in our homes that seem to attract clutter no matter what we do. In our townhouse it was the dining room table. It was so easy to just walk in the door and drop whatever was in our hands on the table to deal with “later.”
In the new house it’s our kitchen island. It’s a big, flat surface in the middle of the house, and seems to collect clutter like crazy. And since there was always so much junk in such a central location, it really made our whole main living area feel messy and cluttered, and I really didn’t like that.
How to Get Rid of Clutter Piles Once and for All
One day when I was cleaning off the island for what felt like the 10th time, I decided that I had had enough. There was no reason that one spot should be such an organization pain point. I decided to enact a simple rule for our family, and though we’re still a work in progress, it has seemed to help a lot in my quest to get rid of clutter piles so far. So what is this magical formula?
It’s the One Touch Rule.
Now I wish I could say I was the oh-so-genius person who came up with this rule in the first place. I wasn’t. It has been around for a while. But it is so simple and so smart at the same time, and it’s something I really want to work on putting into place in our house this year.
Grab our free organizing guide, 7 Simple Starting Points!
This quick guide gives you 7 simple, practical ways to begin to tackle an overwhelming organizing project. (And once you get started, the momentum will help you keep going until it's complete!)
So what is the One Touch Rule?
Well, it's pretty much what it sounds like. Instead of throwing down a pile of stuff on the empty surfaces in our home to be dealt with "later," we instead immediately take each item to its designated spot in our home.
If it's the mail, we sort through it, throw away the junk right then and there, and put any bills or paperwork that need to be processed in the "inbox" that Donnie scans and files digitally a few times per week.
If it's the boys' school paperwork, we throw away anything that we no longer need, display any pieces that they're especially proud of, and file any "keepsake" type pieces in the file box we keep upstairs. (You can read more about how we handle kids' paperwork in this post.)
If the Cs are finished with a toy, instead of just throwing it on the counter and moving on to the next one, they put the first toy away and then choose their next item.
If I'm bringing in shopping bags, I unload them right away, finding a designated spot for any new items instead of just throwing them in a pile to deal with later.
Sounds easy enough, right?
It is easy, but we also have to be pretty intentional about it. Let's be honest, sometimes I feel tired and don't really want to walk all the way upstairs to put something away. Sometimes I'm really tempted to say "Oh, I'll just do it later. It's not a big deal." And sometimes it's not. But many times it opens the door to keep piling and piling until we again have the cluttered mess that we were trying to avoid.
It also takes cooperation. If I'm the only one in my house committed to the One Touch Rule, then I end up getting frustrated because I'm spending a lot of my time picking up everybody else's stuff. Everyone has to be on board. (For more info on getting your husband and kids on board with organizing, see this post.) We all have to agree that it's much nicer to live in a house that is uncluttered and organized (where you can always find what you need because it's put away in its designated spot!).
So while the concept of the One Touch Rule itself is easy, the implementation may take some work, some changing of habits, and some teamwork. We're definitely not perfect at it in our house by any means, but as we work at it more and more, we find that we are able to better enjoy our living spaces and our time together.
Looking for more ways to get rid of clutter? These posts may help:
Have you ever implemented the One Touch Rule in your home? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!
Have a wonderful day!