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Get Organized and Calm Morning Chaos with a Home Exit Strategy

You're running late (again) and in a panic, you're trying to get your kids and yourself out the door to school and work. Everyone is running around frantically to find what they need to leave the house with . backpack, cel phone, address book, hat, gym shoes . Does this sound familiar? This was the scene at our house a few years ago too. What we needed in our home, and now as a Professional Organizer, I find that most of my clients need as well, is an' exit strategy' and a 'drop zone.

' This is an area where items live that need to leave the house with you, as well as where appropriate items 'drop' when you arrive home. Items that need consistent homes in this area are: o A checklist for leaving the house o List of errands to run o Keys, cel phone & PDA o Purse o Backpack o Lunch box o Coats, boots, hats, gloves, etc. o Briefcase, laptop o Merchandise returns, charity drop-offs, post office run items o Umbrella o Dog leash o Sports equipment / musical instruments o Towels for wiping dirty feet and paws o Trash can for dropping junk mail as you enter the house To establish your own exit strategy and drop zone, make a list of all the items that are regularly brought into the house and all the items that typically need to leave the house with you each day. Next, determine the best location (home) for these items to live, in close proximity to the door that your family typically enters and leaves the home. In many clients' homes, I have arranged baskets to hold cel phones, PDAs, keys.

In addition, hooks as the home for backpacks, umbrellas, dog leach, keys. What has become popular in many homes is a locker system where each family member has their own "cubby" or "locker" for holding their own belongings needed. Where space and budget allow, I have often brought in a closet contractor to construct a locker/cubby system for my clients.

A helpful tool for storing hats, gloves, scarves for all family members is to add a vertical over the door shoe holder (typically used to hold shoes). This way items can easily be seen through the clear pockets. With all the electronics we carry daily, it is also important to have a consistent home to charge electronics, like cel phone and PDA. There are now docking stations available for purchase that allow you to charge all your equipment in one station. After you have identified and strategized what needs to be located in your exit / drop zone and where the best home is for these items, it is critical that you communicate your new system to all family members.

When everyone knows that there is a plan, and where the home is for their belongings, they will be more likely honor that system. When there are no consistent homes for belongings, clutter ensues. Make a checklist for leaving the house and keep it next to the door where you exit your home. This becomes your daily checklist and reminder so you don't have to depend on memory when you're rushed. The key to creating and maintaining these areas is to know what you need to store, make the space, establish consistent homes for the items, and communicate the system to all family members.

Soon the stress and chaos of the morning exit and afternoon drop will be a thing of the past. Copyright (c) 2008 Simplified Spaces.

Janet Nusbaum (AKA the Organizing Genie) is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Speaker & Author of 'Mom, Can I Help Around the House?' A Simple Step-by step System for Teaching your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in & Picking up, who helps individuals, families and businesses organize life and navigate transitions. Visit to receive a FREE preview chapter of her new book & family chore system.

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