Hot Spots...tending the embers Keeps them from burning out of control

Let's talk about hot spots. Hot spots are those spaces in your home, office, car where things seem to come and stay, crowding your clear counters and precious real estate. I hate to tell you, but it's up to YOU to remove things. They will not leave on their own.

Never was it so important to remember the golden rule (or guideline) of one in, one out than in these spaces. I could even compare it to planting mint in your garden. Anyone who has made the mistake of planting a pretty little 4 inch pot of mint in their kitchen garden has learned that mint spreads like wildfire and will NEVER leave no matter how often you pull it out.

Our hot spots are like that.  You set your keys and mail down as you enter the kitchen, and then someone asks when dinner will be ready, and the dog needs to go outside, and the phone rings and by the time you get back to the pile of mail, it may be buried under three more days of mail. You may also have spent time looking for your keys. Are you getting the picture yet?

I would like to offer a suggestion. Simple really and many of you already do this. Yay you! Keep a basket or box near your front door for your car keys and set the keys in it as you enter your home...every time. You will never misplace them if you create this habit.

Secondly, mail collections, wherever yours is, seems to be a common hot spot. My rule of thumb, is to handle paper that comes into your home as few times as possible. I sort my mail in the kitchen when I bring it in and immediately dispose of the unwanted recyclable material. This leaves me one or two useful or important items that need further handling. These few envelopes take up a lot less space than the giant pile of mailers and advertisements. Unless you are a coupon clipper and actually use your coupons, do NOT keep this kindling for later. And, yes, there are ways to have yourself removed from mailing lists. There is information regarding this on the internet, but you and I both know that doesn't keep it completely at bay.

Another common hot spot is your car and handbag or wallet. Make it a habit to remove garbage from your car each day and dispose of it immediately.  You are going to thank yourself the next time you get into your car and it is clean and doesn't smell like yesterday's take out! Remove receipts from your wallet and put them in the box on your desk for data entry. Then when you sit down to look at your spending, the receipts are where you need them.

A third hot spot, and one you may not have considered, is wherever you leave your laundry. Anyone with teenagers knows what I am talking about. But adults are not immune to this either. It is amazing how quickly laundry can take over a bedroom. Many people have laundry baskets near or in their bedrooms, but I prefer that it be taken directly to the laundry room. Bedrooms smell fresher and laundry gets handled more quickly. At least that is what works at my house.

Laundry already in the laundry room, means there is a load ready when I start my morning routine. That is not to say that I won't collect the few items scattered on my kids' floor as I pass their rooms. But, the key word here is "few." Before I leave for the day, it goes into the dryer. Everyone has their own basket for clean folded clothing and they know to check there first before asking me where I hid something. This has been a life saver and keeps those piles at bay!

One final, noteworthy hot spot that many of us recognize, is the kitchen table. For some reason, we are quite comfortable dumping books and bags and groceries and projects and notes from teachers and, well,  just about anything can come to rest here.

I have learned to accept that there will be a few things on my kitchen table that have nothing to do with our dining experience. But what helps at our house is that each person has their designated spot and can only use that spot. Now when there is a note that I need to read, my kids will leave it at my spot on the table. I will read and sign it or whatever the case may be and return it to their spot and that's it. And, since the table gets cleared for mealtime, the piles cannot take up permanent residence.