A few years ago, I hit on an idea that remains one of my all-time favorite improvements to my living situation. Every time I take advantage of this innovation, I’m grateful that I made the switch.

What was this momentous change? I moved my laundry stain remover.

OK, I’m exaggerating, but less than you might think. I used to keep the stain remover downstairs, next to my detergent on a shelf above the washing machine. It seemed like the logical spot. But my family has a single hamper, which we keep upstairs, near our bedrooms. So to deal with stains, I would either examine our clothes as I loaded them in the washer—a laborious process that didn’t give the stain remover much time to work—or walk downstairs to retrieve the stain remover each time I needed it.

Then I had my lightbulb moment: Why not store the stain remover upstairs, next to the hamper? Now if our clothes are stained I just spray them on their way to the hamper, give a quick rub, and let the stain remover do its job.

It really pays to think about where you put things—or in many cases, to rethink where you put them—because it can make your life a lot easier.

Here’s another example. When I moved to our current house, I put my file cabinet across the office from the desk where I do my paperwork. It was only a few feet away—my office is small—but you know what? I did not file. I jammed papers into a letter holder next to my computer monitor and tackled them once or twice a year in long, painful sessions. Finally, I rearranged my office and moved my file cabinet just behind and to the right of my desk chair. Now all I have to do is swivel the chair, open the drawers, and drop my papers where they need to go. Because the process is so quick and easy, I do it right away. Since I made this switch, I’ve stayed on top of my filing.

There are no rules about where things belong. I just advised a client to store her family’s coats, gloves, and hats in a closet near the door to her garage—the way her family normally enters and exits the house—instead of the “official” coat closets near her rarely used front door. Put your stuff where it makes the most sense for you, based on your own habits and preferences. I keep my filing cabinet in the traditional location—an office—because that’s where I handle my papers. But if you do your paperwork at the kitchen table, you need a different solution. You might want to try a portable file drawer for your most frequently used files; you could carry it to the kitchen when you need it or maybe even keep it on a counter or in a cabinet.

Think about your own home. Would it make sense to move some stuff? You could make big changes, like moving furniture. But even a small change can make a difference, as I learned with my stain remover.

Have you had any lightbulb moments about where to keep your belongings? Please share your tips in the comments!


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Nancy Vorsanger loves how her organized home makes her family’s life easier. She opened her own organizing business to help other families get—and stay—organized, with practical, no-fuss strategies tailored to their own needs and lifestyles. Nancy also loves coffee, word games, blogs, her husband, and her children—not in that order. She lives in central New Jersey.

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