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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

Pressing The Reset Button

Uncluttered ofganized bedside table

The Backstory

This past year, I started asking my clients a new question:

“How do you think your space should look when it’s not in use?”

Uncluttered organized dining room table

This question occurred to me when I was organizing a client’s new apartment. Each time I walked into her apartment, I noticed that the dining room table was cluttered. Although we were organizing another room, I took a moment one session to ask her how she would like it to look when she wasn’t using it. She thought for a moment and responded: She would like the table to have a few items in the center but, otherwise the table should be clear.

So we started by moving everything off her table and arranging her napkins, salt, and pepper in the center. We took a step back and sighed contentedly. Then, we took an hour of the session to investigate and problem solve the other items that were accumulating on the table. Her puzzle could be moved to the coffee table and placed on a special puzzle mat. Her mail could be sorted on the coffee table and any bills or to dos could be placed in the storage space there. Her keys and wallet were set on a pretty bowl on the hall table. The Reset was born and it was revolutionary.

How the Reset Differs From Traditional Organizing

At first glance, The Reset doesn’t look much different than ordinary organizing. But I knew I was onto something. Here’s how the Reset differs from traditional organizing and why it is so effective:

  • For the Reset to work, you must use a small space (i.e. a table, counter, shelf or shelves, perhaps a small closet).

  • The process is flipped in The Reset by jumping to the last step of traditional organizing and arranging items in the space the way you want it to look when everything is put away. This is super motivating.

  • The client needs to create a clear perspective of his or her space’s purpose upfront as well as a mental picture of the end result.


Intrigued? Try it yourself! Here’s how you apply the reset to your space:

Unclutterd organized kitchen counters

Step 1: Choose a small space that is accumulating clutter. Start with your own space. Not a shared space. We will discuss shared spaces real soon in another post. I promise!

Step 2: Ask yourself: What is the function of the space? Really challenge yourself to think about how you have used the space in the past and if you would like to use the space in the same way moving forward. Don’t forget to ask yourself how you want the space to look when it is not in use.

Some examples:

Kitchen counter:

Used for food prep

When not in use only items on counter are toaster oven and coffee maker

Office Desk:

Used for work and paying bills and dealing with mail

When not in use only items on the desk are laptop, a vertical file holder and pens

Step 3: Now take everything out of that space and only put back what you want in that space when it is not in use

Step 4: Look at the items that you removed from that space and sort through them. What categories do you see? Where do they belong at the end of the day? How can you problem solve so that it’s easy to put them away?

Note:This is a critical step or else these items will creep their way back into your space. Some items will be used to serve that space when “in use” and will be stored nearby. Other items don’t belong in that space and need to be stored in a different area. Don’t forget that some items don’t belong anywhere in your home and should be donated or thrown away.

In Conclusion

So next time you feel a heaviness descend on your soul as you walk past a cluttered counter or table in your home, consider pressing The Reset button. Were you able to transform that small space? Let me know how it goes….

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