Getting Organized: "Tray Chic!"

Ah, the new year! This is the time of year when I participate in one of my favorite sports of all time—and I say this with absolutely no sarcasm at all—getting organized. I love it. I feel at peace when everything has a place and is IN that place. I want to find things I need and not be up to my ears in clutter. Ugh! I can't function that way. Not everyone likes this task—I absolutely get it. But you see, I'm here to help. Lean on me, friend.

When people ask me how I stay so organized, my general mantra is "A place for everything and everything in its place"—a quote which is attributed to both Benjamin Franklin and Isabella Mary Beeton from The Book of Household Management circa 1861. Setting up little "systems" around the house has the biggest return on your initial time investment. It may seem like the last thing on earth you want to spend your time doing, but it really pays off on the other end when you can focus on your life and getting out of the house on time. To help you, I'm going to offer organization ideas in little weekly chunks. This is the way to succeed at any big task, right?

One day recently, I simply needed to put a new box of plastic bags in this kitchen drawer and it was a mess. I got so annoyed and cleaned the whole thing out (plus a tray in the garage that held the overflow) in about 20 minutes. And that is how this post was born.
1. Buy a drawer bin/organizer
for all those small, common things you need all the time: pens, tape, scissors, post-its, rubber bands, etc. I just found a cool silver cookie tin in the holiday stuff that I never used.
2. Only keep what you need in that drawer.
Here I just kept a notebook, some food container labels and a neat pack of these letterpress wine bottle gift tags for when we are running off to a dinner party with a bottle of wine.
3. + 4. Make essentials easily accessible.
I keep all the bags and wraps needed in the kitchen here and tear the tops off so I can just reach in and grab them. I also keep frequently used medications and vitamins in the kitchen drawer (the room where we take them, anyhow).

We can never fully obliterate clutter, but we can easily keep it under control and not let it take over every working surface in the house. I had this tray out during a holiday party and decided to keep it there in the corner of our L-shaped kitchen island. Whenever there are things that are waiting to be fixed or put away, they go on the tray. It's in view, but the mess is corralled. I love this idea for any room in the house. This tray above is from IKEA years ago, but I have plenty of other favorites:

Sources: Wood
01. Herman Miller Select Nelson Tray
02. Fold Tray by OFFI 
03. Birch Tray by Pia Wallen (no longer available)
04. Vintage Danish Teak Trays

Sources: Metal
05. Alessi Tralcio Muto Tray by Marta Sansoni
06. Stainless Steel Bar Tray
07. Georg Jensen Continuity Tray by Henning Koppel
08. Kaleido Trays by Clara von Zweigbergk for Hay

Sources: Laminate & Lacquer
09. Marimekko Trays
10. Lacquer Trays from West Elm
11. Vitra George Nelson China Cup Tray
12. Angela Adams Trays
13. IKEA Stockholm Tray
14. Dolores Colores Tray by Maria Holmer Dahlgren

Good luck and do your task this week! You will feel better, I promise.