52 Weeks: #8 Keep Flat Surfaces Clear

Nothing says calm and serene like a cleared surface.  I absolutely love how allysgrandma worked on clearing her dining room table off last week.  Check out her lovely after picture:

To me nothing beats a cleared surface.  As soon as my surfaces start getting cluttered I start getting twitchy and it’s not pretty.  I become some sort of crazed lady plowing down anyone in my path.  For the sake of my family I try to avoid the twitching stage by staying on top of the clutter that seems to come from out of nowhere to mock me.  I can almost hear it saying na na na na na na.

Go away clutter!

Seriously it’s fine to talk to your clutter, I do it all the time and no one calls me crazy.  Oh wait that’s so not true, many people do….lol.  Okay, well so what.  So it might make us a little odd but hey whatever works right?

You clutter, have no business here!

So speaking of kicking that clutter to the curb, I read an awesome article last week written by Consumer Reports called Tips for Getting Rid of Practically Anything.  I get asked all the time about ways to get rid of various household items and this article provides some great suggestions to do just that.  Use the links on their left hand sidebar to scroll through the entire article.  Hope you find it helpful!

I don’t know if this will come as a surprise to you or not but I’m not big on spring cleaning.  I can just hear you now, “really Laura, who is?” but I don’t just mean I don’t like it, I mean I don’t do it.  I just can’t imagine saving up large undesirable tasks to do in large chunks of time.  No thank you.


credit image: shutterstock

My tactic instead has always been to do it as I go, to make it a part of my regular cleaning routines.  I’ve gotten into the habit of giving any space I’m organizing a thorough cleaning as I go.  Since my organizing process usually involves moving furniture around I take a little extra time then to clean the nooks and crannies.  It just makes it so much easier on me in the long run.  If I see something that’s dirty I clean it and if I do it before it gets bad, then it takes no time at all.  Just a little something to consider as you go about your 52 weeks of organizing projects.

If, on the other hand, you like to be a little more scheduled with your spring cleaning well that’s okay too and I’ve got a great resource to tell you about.  Taylor from Household Management 101 has a 40 page free ebook she is offering full of cleaning printables you can use in your home management notebook all year long.  Click on the graphic below for more information.

house cleaning lists and schedules for your home

I am really enjoying reading your comments each week.  You are all doing an amazing job and I love sharing in this journey with you.  Keep up the great work everyone!!

Questions to Ponder:
1.  Do find cluttered surfaces make you a little crazy?
2.  Are you managing to stay on top of your 52 weeks list?
3.  Are you being motivated by your successes yet?

Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments.  You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation or to a post of an organizing nature that you feel will help and encourage others in their quest to get organized. Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.

One other thing to consider: by including your link below you, you are giving me permission to use parts of your post including pictures as a spotlight in future 52 Weeks of Organizing posts. Proper credit and links will of course be provided. If you are not okay with this please do not link up. Thanks!

Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing


56 Responses to 52 Weeks: #8 Keep Flat Surfaces Clear

  1. 1
    Handy Man, Crafty Woman says

    Oh, I can’t stand the idea of “spring cleaning” either, yuck. I do a little at a time all year round. the one thing I have to do in the spring, though, is wash windows. They get SO grimy over our winters!

    and yes, cluttered surfaces drive me crazy. I have to have clear kitchen counters. Have a few kitchen-y things on them, but no clutter. I always try to keep the table clear, too…but OTHER people seem to love putting their stuff there, lol! 😉

    • 1.1
      Laura says

      Isn’t that always the way it is 🙂

  2. 2
    Elisabeth says

    ” For the sake of my family I try to avoid the twitching stage by staying on top of the clutter ”

    Oh, is that ever me, too. With 6 kids messy spots can happen fast. I can only handle it so long and then that’s it – everybody better watch out. Mama’s on the war path. lol

    Spring cleaning doesn’t really make sense to me either when it’s just as easy to do through the year. On the other hand, it is nice sometimes to have a checklist to help you remember to look at areas you might otherwise miss.


  3. 3
    MonicaB says

    I’m right with you – cluttered surfaces make me crazy. I just can not think with the clutter and I get crabby. We have a few areas that are always a big problem for dumping items, so I’ve been taking time each night to get those areas cleaned off so they don’t get out of control.

    I’m really enjoying the 52 weeks because it’s keeping me on task and not saving it all up. I was raised in a Spring/Fall Cleaning Family, so yes I do the big cleaning. I’m trying to spread it out but it’s hard when you have lived that way for so long.

  4. 4
    Heather says

    Questions to Ponder:
    1.  Do find cluttered surfaces make you a little crazy?

    Cluttered spaces NEVER used to make me crazy. Now, I almost can’t stand it, and people are beginning to notice. My son’s grandma made a comment on how great my spaces are becoming and my 3 year old said “Mommy doesn’t like messy toys”, I guess he gets it!
    2.  Are you managing to stay on top of your 52 weeks list?

    Sure am! Took on a huge closet project this week, and instead of buying more hangers to make sure all my clothes fit hung up, I purged until it fit. I ran out of hangers for 12 items and got rid of 12 to make them fit! 
    3.  Are you being motivated by your successes yet?

    I’m so happy with my success. I can honestly say with every task I do, it makes my life a little less stressful. What a great feeling!

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      So happy for you!!!!

  5. 5
    Tricia @ This Happy Home says

    Cluttered surfaces didn’t make me twitchy…until I started keeping a neater home. LOL Especially in the kitchen. We recently moved and our new kitchen doesn’t have a lot of counter space. So it quickly becomes cluttered. And then when I need to prep meals, I have no place to do it. So I have to be very diligent on staying on top of those counters.

    I am not staying on top of my list well. But I just made a planner sheet for it. I’m going to try that for a couple weeks and see if that helps. I’m having trouble pinpointing where I am really struggling. But I’m not giving up!!

    • 5.1
      Laura says

      Oh no please don’t. Try not to get discouraged, life continues to happen around us so these things happen. Remember any little something is better than nothing.

  6. 6
    Shannon says

    Cluttered surfaces really bug me but both hubby and I are “messies” so it’s kind of a fact of life in our home….I am working on it though!!

    I contine to really enjoy the 52 weeks of organizing because it really makes me re-evaluate everything in my home. This week I organized an extremely tiny area but it’s a win all the same!

    • 6.1
      Laura says

      Tiny is better than none so way to go!

  7. 7
    Janene says

    I hate cluttered surfaces. I wish my home had a workspace other than my dining room table because it seems like that is where the clutter collects. Plus, as soon as I allow a little bit of clutter on a flat surface it seems to take off and “grow”. Even if I’m not the one to put that book, box, letter, magazine, cup or whatever on my table or counter, it seems like as soon as it is there it attracts all sorts of other things like a magnet.

    I found that I decided to do a lot of the “easier” organizing tasks first and now I’m starting to be left with the “bigger” projects – Guess it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get into some more noticeable projects!

    • 7.1
      Shonda says

      My dining room table is the same way!

    • 7.2
      Laura says

      Clutter is definitely a magnet for more!

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      That’s awesome April!

  8. 9
    Sharisse says

    Yes!! Cluttered surfaces drive me nuts!! My parents were/are packrats and therefore I am REALLY traumatized by growing up in clutter. Like you I am a woman on a rampage plowing down anyone in my way. Garbage days are usually my favorite, the night before I go around the house throwing away anything and everything I can. When my family and I live a simplified life, we are calmer & have more time to spend with each other & less time stuck in the house cleaning.

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      Amen to that!

  9. 10
    Living the Balanced Life says

    Flat surfaces are the bane of my existence. I cannot seem to keep them clear lately. I need to utilize the trashcan more liberally I believe.
    I love the picture of the table at the top!
    8 ways to find joy everyday

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      I’m going to be talking more about how to keep the cluttered surfaces at bay. Looks like it will be a popular topic! 🙂

  10. 12
    Linda says

    Off the subject, how do I get the code for the 52 weeks button. I just used the Org. Junkie one for now. Thanks!

    • 12.1
      Laura says

      I couldn’t seem to get the code working but if you right click and save to your computer and upload it to your blog post the same way you would a picture that should work for you.

  11. 13
    Enjoy Birth says

    I am totally being motivated by my successes. I was standing in my kitchen today, being amazed at how great it feels.

    Any GREAT tips for keeping flat surfaces clean. That is our biggest problem. Especially our dining room table. It is almost always half filled with stuff. I figure if by the end of the year that is always cleaned I will have come a long way!

    • 13.1
      Laura says

      I’m definitely going to be talking more about this specific topic in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!

  12. 14
    Shannon says

    Flat surfaces are the bane of my existence. Seriously, they collect everything and I’m the worst culprit. I need to work on this! Big time! I’m good with the dining room table…it took a while to get that under control. It was hard because it’s literally right inside the front door and begs me to dump all my crap on it when I get home…

  13. 15
    Kirsten says

    When I first read the title to this post I thought “oh no has Laura been to my house and seen my kitchen counters” This is a really hard one for me, it drives me nutty to go behind my three boys and hubby telling them to either move their stuff or taking care of it myself. They just don’t seem to see it. I clean the counter off at every meal and almost instantly it gets loaded back up again. Big “sigh”

    I have made great progress in my sewing room this week and did an unplanned bathroom organization as well. I don’t “spring” clean but the beautiful weather we have had is very motivating. My windows are open and the breeze is blowing through. Northern Florida is just gorgeous this time of year.

  14. 16
    Gilda says

    Cluttered surfaces drive me batty! That includes the open spaces of floor (what little we have in our home). What I did find though is if things are in containers (like on the kitchen counter), then they’re more at “home” and not as cluttery. That has saved my twitchiness from irritating the rest of my family (who seems not to care as much about surfaces being cleared off, things being put away or things ever going back to where they came from… augh!) and give them a little “clutter grace”.

    • 16.1
      Laura says

      Gilda that’s excellent advice and I totally agree with you. Containers really help reduce the visual chaos for sure.

  15. 17
    Aimee says

    I am not a naturally tidy person, but am getting much better with the flat surfaces. If one or two things land on my cleared-off counters, I know it will be no time before it multiplies, so I try to take care of it quickly. I will ask this, though: does anyone have a great system that really works for them for keeping track of all the kids’ school papers that come home and need to be dealt with? I need to keep some short term, and if I file them away, I will completely forget about them. But I sure don’t want them piling up on the counter either. If anyone can share some magic about this, I would be so very grateful. We mommies need to stick together!

      • Aimee says

        I love this! Just bought it and can’t wait till it shows up on my doorstep. I do have something similar, but it only has two pockets, no place for a label, and a clippy thing that doesn’t really work. With three kids in our blended family, this will be a lifesaver! Thanks so much, Laura. I’m a fairly recent fan of your blog, because I am not an organizing junkie, but admire those who are. I’m working very hard at creating an organized home for my family. I am making progress every day, and teaching my little ones how to keep up the systems I’m putting into place. Your blog is inspiring, and know that what you do makes a difference and we appreciate it!

  16. 18
    The Bearded Iris says

    Am I crazy because of the clutter or am I cluttered because of the crazy? Inquiring minds want to know!

    I was equally inspired by Ally’s Grandma’s dining room table and decided to tackle the same room in my own house. Feels SO good to see those clean flat surfaces!

    Only one problem… I’m just moving piles from one room to another. At some point in this process I’m going to have to get better at purging or my basement is going to explode!

    • 18.1
      Laura says

      It’s all about the decision making…don’t put it off. 🙂

  17. 19
    Karen Joyce says

    Love your blog! But… now I have bigger issues about getting my house & shed organized! LOL
    I just go ahead and twitch~ it’s good for my family!!!

    • 19.1
      Laura says


  18. 20
    Martha (MM) says

    I’m a bit behind this week, not in getting things done just in getting photos off my camera and getting posts up. Things are really getting down to crunch time here with doing it all with two different houses at the same time, and to top it off I came down with something, really sick, maybe the flu – ick!

    • 20.1
      Laura says

      Oh hope you feel better soon!

  19. 21
    se7en says

    Keeping up with my 52 Weeks? I laugh… I had a couple of simple little projects on my 52 week list and instead a decluttering monster of note has been unleashed in our home and is on a rampant march through every item from start to finish: Do you love it or not… and discarding half the house… not just a couple of books, bookshelves are headed out the door!!! I know we will fit better once we are done, I just never expected the project to take such a hold on us!!! Let alone that I would spend my summer conquering every corner of our home. Hopefully week #9 will be: “Taking a week off purging is healthy every once in a while.”

    • 21.1
      Laura says

      LOL, I love that I’ve got one more “hooked” along with me, that’s the goal! 🙂

  20. 22
    Heating Allen Town PA says

    Flowers can really make one’s place more beautiful! It’s so amazing of its use and effect! Also its scent makes you feel more relax, that’s why I also love to have flowers everywhere in my house.

  21. 23
    ctdaffodil says

    Yes, cluttered surfaces drive me bonkers – but there is so much to do I’ve had to live with some areas of cluttered surfaces….
    I’m ticking items off my 52 areas – slowly but surely…this week I got all the kids’ school papers/reportcards out of the office piles and filed in an orderly way in a filing container! Still have to sort the scrapbooking supplies but I’ll do that while they are at school and can’t rumage through my discards.
    Yes – success is a HUGE motivator!!!

  22. 24
    Colleen P. says

    I don’t have a blog so I didn’t plan on participating in this, but every week I go through all of the success stories and darn it, I just had to start decluttering! Not only that but my husband and son have gotten in on it as well and things are moving right along-the house feels SO much more welcoming now!

    We have decluttered:
    My sewing room and the closet in it
    The master bedroom
    The office and the closet in it (this was a BIG job!)
    The laundry room/pantry
    The kitchen cabinets

    Not only that, but as I have decluttered and tidied I have found items that I’d forgotten I had and made use of them-a broken lamp has been fixed and paired with a cute shade I’d gotten on clearance. Another lamp that had been using harvested parts from the broken lamp was also fixed, and now my bedroom has matching shades, harps and finials on both lamps. A single drapery sheer has been put up in my sewing room, an old curtain rod has been spray painted to better coordinate with it and new drapes have been made for the sewing room as well, from fabric that’s been sitting in the back of the closet, hidden. My husband replaced a broken wheel on his rolling wood rack and made me an ottoman from the 3 unbroken wheels and scrap wood, so now I can do my hand sewing in my big comfy chair with my new ottoman! I had two large plastic drawer units that I emptied in my sewing room, and my husband asked if he could have them to empty out some boxes and bins in the office closet-5 cardboard boxes, a 2 drawer filing cabinet and 3 lidded plastic bins are now gone, along with a huge lawn and leaf bag of trash and 2 bags to donate, with backpacks, briefcases, various computer components, etc.

    Not only that, but a friend of mine that recently bought her first house is getting several sets of curtains and valances that were found, again, in my sewing room closet (but I did ask first if they were colors and styles she could use! ) The remainder are going to a charity that will come pick up all the donated stuff (4 huge bags, and a file cabinet!).

    Purging doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of everything, it can mean uncovering things that might otherwise never get put to use. With all the stuff gone that I KNEW I didn’t need or want, I was able to have the space to work with the items I did want to use and keep.

    I just wish I’d taken pictures first of these spaces so I could see how much we’ve accomplished!

    • 24.1
      Laura says

      Hi Colleen, you don’t need a blog to participate. Commenting like you did is perfect. I enjoyed reading your story and hearing about your success. Way to go!!

  23. 25
    MemeGRL says

    Flat spaces are kind of my final frontier. Or eternal frontier. I grew up in a house with no clear horizontal spaces so while I appreciate them in the abstract, I have no experience in maintaining or enjoying them. And every time I think I make progress…well…I finally got all the holiday (first Xmas, then snowmen, then Valentines) off our bay windowsill, leaving just the houseplants. But I look up there now and there’s a water bottle, an ankle stabilizer, the change bowl and a huge pile of tissue paper from yesterday’s birthday party gift bag stuffing….how? why? Just have to keep plugging, I guess.
    Decluttering plan is a bit off the rails, but decluttering itself isn’t…a few things have presented themselves as more emergent, shall we say, than my original plan. Just trying to stick with it!

    • 25.1
      Laura says

      Hang in there…your list may need to be changed up here and there and that’s okay. Be flexible with it cause life keeps happening around us. You can do this!

  24. 26
    Angela says

    Okay, so seriously though, I have that cluttered dining room table that is becoming the death of me! I clear it off then it gets cluttered again, I clear it, clean it, sometimes it’s so bad I dump it & hid it when unexpected guests drop by, then I have to add sorting the boxes of dining room junk to the list; so here’s my question if the table is the central junk dropper how do I simply avoid this game of clutter & clear every month? It’s driving me crazy, I’m a fairly neat person & don’t know how it keeps happening, well actually I do. It’s school papers, mail to sort, bills to b paid, gifts people drop by, items to drop-off or return & so on… only problem is I have run out of ideas of how to prevent this madness! HELP!!!!!


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