Organizing Odds and Ends

Professional Organizer, Kelly Pratt has some solutions to deal with odds-and-ends that clutter everything from the bathroom to the front seat of your car.


For a really quick clutter-clear, take a few minutes in each room of your house to gather items that belong elsewhere and replace them in their original location(s). Doing this will help in your organizing because you won’t inadvertently leave items out of the organizing process.


The small stuff of the bedroom usually finds its way to either the top of the dresser or nightstand and includes everything from notes and receipts to spare buttons to business cards to spare change. How do you rein in all the stuff and still find it at the end of the day?

Top of Dresser

Most bedroom clutter really belongs somewhere else entirely; dresser clutter tends to find its way there because we are simply too tired at the end of the day to put everything where it actually goes. To help you keep the dresser clear, something as simple as a small tray or basket to hold the miscellaneous stuff can be all the solution you need, provided that you also create a simple system for yourself so that every few days you empty the contents into the other areas or systems in your home where they belong. If you have an extra drawer, you can use it for the same purpose as you would a tray or basket, just keep in mind that stashing top-of-dresser contents in a spare drawer can be more problematic than helpful for some people. Out of sight really is out of mind, and you can end up with a mess that takes a couple of hours rather than a couple of minutes to resolve.

Spare Buttons

Ah, the buttons. Such a good idea, but only if you actually know where they are and what they go to. To create a simple storage system, staple or tape the button bag, card or button to an index card, note which clothing item the button goes to on the card, and store the cards in a recipe or index card holder. Tuck the box into a drawer or on a shelf for storage.


The bathroom is a veritable wonderland of little stuff. Multiple personal care items can quickly, and literally, take over your space. Let’s address a couple of solutions for two common clutter culprits: kids’ hair accessories and spare cosmetics.

Kids’ Hair Accessories

If you have ever tried to use a vanity drawer or even a bank of drawers to house kids’ hair accessories, you know that you can have a jumbled mess on your hands in no time. For a simple, self-contained solution that’s easy to store, use a tackle box for all of your little girl’s hair bands, bows and ribbons. The box is waterproof, portable (think great for travel), has multiple compartments and is durable enough to last through all your kids.

Spare Cosmetics

Between free gifts, lipstick colors that didn’t quite work and special occasion cosmetics, you can find yourself deep in clutter territory with no way to really find or use what you want and need. Let’s address the most popular cosmetic item: lipstick. One consumer study found that 75% of women purchase lipstick, and if you’re like most women, you have more than one tube. Make that more than one OPAQUE tube. How do you save yourself some time trying to find your favorite shades? On a white piece of paper, make a small mark of your lip color. Cut out the piece and affix it to the outside of the tube with Scotch tape. No more opening five tubes to find the one you want!


The kitchen and bathroom are in a dead heat for the most-used room in the house, so it stands to reason that we find clutter traps in both. In the kitchen, it’s all about lids and gadgets.


Everyone has Tupperware. Even if you don’t cook or ever, ever eat leftovers, you have Tupperware. And because you have Tupperware, you have lids. Or not. Or you thought you did. Or darn I can’t find the lid that goes with this container! If you are tired of lid hunting, try one of these solutions:

• Start by doing a ruthless purge on your plastic. Go through every container and if it doesn’t have a lid, pitch it. If you prefer to keep the container and use plastic wrap or Glad Press ‘n Seal to seal the top, use a marker to write “NL” on the bottom of the container so you know you don’t have a lid for that container and won’t waste time looking.

• Contain your lids. A $1 plastic shoebox will do wonders for your lid organization—and sanity!

• Choose plastic storage containers with the same size lid. For less than $20 at Wal-Mart, you can purchase a set of plastic storage containers that comes with three different sized bases but the same size lid. Problem solved!

• Get rid of the small Tupperware. No kidding. If you only use plastic storage containers on rare occasion and the lids are causing you no end of grief, you may find sanity in using heavy-duty Ziploc bags for leftover storage or opt to purchase “disposable” food storage containers on the occasion when you really NEED a small container.


One of the biggest kitchen containing mistakes is to put all the kitchen gadgets into one drawer with no separation. Not only can you never find what you need, but you can wreck your drawer and get hurt looking for a spatula. To pare down your gadgets and get them contained, you can—

• Follow Peter Walsh’s advice: take all the gadgets out of your drawer, place them in a box on the counter, and every time you use an item over the course of a couple of weeks, you may THEN place it in the drawer. At the end of your time, whatever is left in the box goes, and the rest gets organized.

• Separate your gadgets into “frequent use,” “occasional use” and “sharp” categories. Create a concrete division of these categories in your drawer either with a drawer divider or plastic trays or containers.


For odds and ends clutter on-the-go, your purse is a treasure trove. Receipts, gift cards and punch cards deserve some special attention.


We all know that having a jumbled mass of receipts floating around our bags is just about as good as good as having no receipt at all when it comes time to make a return. If you track finances and purchases via receipt, you can make your life easier by choosing to effectively contain them. And while a baggie will work, if you want something really fantastic, the receipt and coupon holder from our local company Swankadot is the ticket. Not only are these holders chic, they are also ultra-functional. When you order, you can specify how you want your dividers labeled (e.g. grocery receipts, possible returns, etc.) so you can really personalize your storage.

Gift Cards and Punch Cards

Gift cards and punch cards are only useful if you know you have them. And one of the best ways to know what you have is to actually use a wallet that allows you to see them. Before you wallet shop, empty the contents of your wallet to see exactly what you have and what you’ll need room for. Then, make sure that the wallet you choose will accommodate all of those items. It sounds elementary, but you will save yourself a great deal of time and frustration having everything accessible. Or, if you prefer a single-pocket wallet style, the Swankadot receipt holder can also be fitted with labels for punch cards and gift cards.


If your home away from home is a bit out of control, you’re not alone. Your car can quickly become a repository for a little bit of everything: returns, magazines, mail, receipts, cosmetics, business cards—the list goes on. Rather than leaving all of these things spread across the front (or back) seat, you can find some containing help at your local auto supply store. Pep Boys has a wonderful front seat organizer with compartments to hold everything from extra pens to receipts to a stray magazine or two. If your glove box is your primary clutter-catcher, you can find a glove box organizer as well. Just make sure with these great gadgets that you don’t try to store more on-the-go than you need and use.

For more information on getting organized go to:
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