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Apply the Four-Box Method to your Entire Home

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/28/2011

In this series article, continue learning how to use the four-box method and apply it to your daily life. An organized home equals an organized office.

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    A friend of mine complains that when his young wife comes home from a full day at work and another half day at school, that she “explodes” in the entryway. In sixty seconds their pristine entryway becomes a combat zone, filled with a backpack, purse, mail, cell phone, key ring, shoes, socks, and coat. Sometimes included in the explosion are other items too: trash from the car, an empty fast food bag, a to-do list, various papers, an umbrella, a hat, and even groceries. The cats must greet her of course (and she, them), so there’s always cat hair on the floor, along with any mud she’s tracked in. It’s driving him crazy.

    While there’s likely no changing his wife completely, he can concede that this is a problem area, understand that he has a lower gunk-tolerance than she does, and make an attempt to work some “boxes” into the area that can keep things from escalating from “That’s getting on my last nerve” to “I want a divorce”.

    As you can probably tell, to her, the entryway is an extremely appropriate place to drop her things. She can access the items she needs very quickly now and in the morning, and she doesn’t have to deal with putting them away after a long day at work and school. To him, it’s the first thing people see when they enter the house, and he wants it to look nice all the time. There is a way to make peace though. He can organize the entryway using “boxes” from the four-box method, and work to incorporate these into both of their daily lives.

    “Boxes” can be created by entryways to organize what must come in and out of the house everyday. Depending on your particular circumstance, most of these will be short-term or long-term holding areas or holding areas where things can be moved to their appropriate places later. Here are some ideas for the entry area of your home:

    * A coat rack for coats, hats, purses, backpacks, umbrellas, and other hanging items. This acts as both a short-term and long-term storage solution, and keeps things organized, off the floor, and within reach.

    * Wicker baskets mounted on the wall or on a table for incoming and outgoing mail. This acts as an area to hold things (mail) until they are ready to be moved to the appropriate room, bill paying area, or mail box.

    * Wooden key racks on the wall for each person’s keys. If you can obtain one that also holds mail, cell phones, or other items, you’re making even more use of the space. This acts as a short-term holding area as well as an organizational tool. With a multi-purpose key rack, you can store DVDs that need to be returned, signed school papers, and checks that need to go to the bank.

    * A trash can for items brought into the house that should be immediately thrown away, such as junk mail, catalogs, empty fast food bags, and flyers that were placed on the door. This is the trash “box”, and being easily available, will usually work quite well.

    * A door mat both inside and outside the house to trap daily dirt on shoes.

    * An umbrella stand if you live in a rainy climate. You may want to consider placing it outside the door if the door is covered by a patio.

    * A shelf inside the door, a table, or a small stand, with wicker baskets or other organizational tools.

    * Plastic hooks halfway down the wall for children’s coats and backpacks.