As summer winds down, we savor the last drippy popsicles, impromptu dips in the pool, and days that don’t get dark until 8:30. The school year is right around the corner, and it’s going to be the first day before you know it. To make this transition a bit easier to navigate, you need a “drop zone” in your home.
No, not that kind of drop.... allow me to explain.
What’s a "Drop Zone"?
Some homes have a dedicated “mud room” located off of the garage or an exterior door. Historically this was a place where you could take off your muddy boots without tracking dirt through the house. Now, they’re equipped not only to handle that aspect, but come with storage for all of the things that you need coming and going to school, work, and other activities.
But what if your home doesn’t have a mud room?
Create your own Drop Zone!
Even if your home wasn't built with a space specifically designed for this, you can carve out an area that will serve the same purpose, and will handle the heavy lifting of organizing for you!
Another benefit? Drop Zones keep all of that clutter out of other areas in your home, which means the mail, backpacks, lunchboxes, and keys are no longer all over your kitchen. Bonus!
Location Location Location
If you’re creating your own drop zone, think about where your family typically enters and exits the home. Normally, it’s not your front door, instead, it's near the garage entry or an exterior back or side door. This area is the perfect spot for your Drop Zone, because it’s in the natural flow of your daily comings and goings.
Ideally, a space that’s about 5 feet wide is a great start - two people can comfortably sit in this space and move around each other. And don’t forget the vertical space! It's another way to maximize the space that you've got, and creates more opportunities for storage.
Get in the Zone!
Here’s exactly what you need to create your own Drop Zone:
One of the hallmarks of the Drop Zone are places to hang things: coats, sweatshirts, backpacks, tennis rackets, purses – you name it, it can probably hang it on a hook. And don’t forget your smaller things, like keys, dog leashes and your favorite little wristlet. Plan for more than you think you’ll need!
2. A bench with built-in storage
You need a place for the kids to sit while putting on their shoes and grabbing their coats and bags, but also a place with closed storage to hide the myriad of shoes, sports or activities gear that appear with each new year.
Choose either a bench with doors or one that can accommodate sturdy bins or baskets – one per child lets everyone have their own space for their items and keeps it separated and organized.
(This bench from West Elm has doors that open to store shoes, boots and other Drop Zone essentials.)
3. Mail and paper organization
Eliminate mail piles in your living spaces by using a mail sorting system in your Drop Zone. Create a system for sorting your mail as soon as you get home into categories that you can act on later.
The easiest way that we've found is to create dedicated folders or cubbies in your Drop Zone. If you don't have built-in space, utilize the vertical space on the surrounding walls and mount file folders on your wall so that you have dedicated spaces for each type of mail that you receive.
Clearly label them with categories that work for your family to keep things organized and actionable. You can start with these categories and tweak them to make them work for your family:
Action Needed: These items need action – things like bills that you can’t put on an AutoPay system, activity slips and school forms. Clear these out each Sunday so that you’re set for the week!
File: File anything that you can’t get back to electronically. Note that this DOES NOT include bank statements or utility bills. You’re free to shred those, and … you’re welcome.
Shred: Much of your mail is likely to end up here, (including those utility bills and bank statements). Invest in a shredder to prevent identity theft, and recycle those shreds! Even better, go paperless where you can!
Coupons: Any of the Bed Bath and Beyond and J Crew Factory coupons that you get in the mail can be filed here, and are ready to grab before you head out the door.
4. A calendar and message board
Sure, there are a ton of shared calendar apps out there, but there’s something inherently tactile and satisfying about writing out the week’s activities, and not relying on a screen for a bird’s eye view of what’s upcoming in your family.
Whatever your style is - old school chalkboard or modern whiteboard – a monthly calendar view that you can wipe clean and fill in each month is key to this view. That way, everyone in the house knows what the plan is for each day.
Carve out a little spot for family members to write messages to each other, or doodle an inspirational quote for the month!
5. Use catchall trays
For those things that you drop at the door, like wallets, phones, and loose change (if that’s even a thing anymore?), a handsome leather catchall is another trick to corralling the clutter.
6. Add a mirror
For a quick check on your way out the door, a close-by mirror is a nice little bonus feature! If you’ve got the space, hang one in your Drop Zone and make sure you’re good to go before you head out!
Now you're all set for smoother morning routines and less clutter around your home. Go forth and organize! And if you still find yourself needing some help, book a Discovery Call with us, and we'll design your perfect Drop Zone.