Catch all, because tables, like any flat surface, are an inviting place to lay things down
How Often Should You Clear The Kitchen Table?
Ideally, your table should be generally free of clutter at least at one point of the day, daily.
If you do deal with the clutter on the table on a daily basis there will not be time for it to accumulate and become overwhelming. Therefore, although the first time you clear off the table may take longer, if you do it at least daily it really will begin to be a quick task.
I actually find it best to clear off the table after each meal (obviously), and then again as part of my end of the day routine when I'm cleaning up the kitchen for the evening.
You can clear off the table as part of your daily tidy up routine. Find out more about this vital routine, that helps you maintain clear flat surfaces and keep things from getting re-cluttered at the link.
Your Table Doesn't Have To Be Bare To Be Clutter Free
While you should clear off most of the table daily, that doesn't mean the table needs to be completely bare.
By all means put a pretty vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit, etc. on the table and keep it there.
Just make sure those types of decorative items don't take up so much room other functions cannot occur.
Further, things like placemats, salt and pepper shakers, a napkin holder, etc. also may have permanent residence on a still decluttered table.
In fact, some people purposefully add decorative, but still functional items to their table, such as placemats, to keep themselves from re-accumulating clutter since the surface isn't empty. It's up to your personality to know if that will work for you, or not.
The Biggest Part Of This Decluttering Challenge: Making It A Habit
Clearing your table of clutter one day of the year is great, but it won't make a permanent impact in your kitchen unless you do it daily.
I've already shared that I try to clear off my kitchen each evening, before bed.
Do it whenever you need to that makes sense for you, but making it a habit is so very important!
Below I've gathered pictures from readers who've done this decluttering mission, including several before and after photos.
Thanks to Bry from Team Collard who shared her cleared off table picture.
In addition, below is a photo sent in by another reader, Ellie.
Ellie said, "I finally did it!!! The mail and catalogs were the reason my kitchen table was unusable. But I FINALLY did it!!! Two projects in one!"
I suggest for all paper clutter, that along with checking out the Paper Organization Series listed above, that you declutter, shred, or file your paper piles 15 minutes at a time. It's a frequent mission as we deal with paper clutter during the Declutter 365 missions. Here's the article about decluttering paper piles 15 minutes at a time.
It looks great with the tablecloth and placemats already added, ready for the family to eat together.
Here's another set of before and after photos, these ones from a reader, Tracey, who also added placemats to her recently cleared off table.
Tracey said of the before photo, "Our table is a catch all. Right now craft supplies from a school project, mail, junk, boxes of Christmas stuff..... It'll take me a lot more than 15 minutes!! Lol maybe I'll have an after picture later today! Wish me luck!"
She must have had some luck, or really some persistence, because she did send in the after photo later that day, and said, "OMG!!!! I did it! Finished before the kids got home! I feel VERY accomplished!!"
My Table's Clear Because I Pile My Junk Somewhere Else!
Heather sent in this photo, and said, "My kitchen table is good but my bar catches all!"
That's a really common issue Heather. A similar issue is shifting items off of one flat surface to clear it, but then just moving them elsewhere, without really putting them away.
This can feel really frustrating for people when doing these missions, and I hear you!
Ideally, as you remove things from your kitchen table, or island or bar area, or wherever you've got your catch all space, you should be getting rid of things, donating, recycling, or putting them away elsewhere.
However, depending on how cluttered your kitchen or the rest of your house is, there may not be room right now for you to properly store these items elsewhere.
If you encounter this problem, don't despair! Instead, know the answer to the problem is that you're going to have to do a couple of layers of decluttering in your kitchen, over many days.
Each day you declutter a new area of the kitchen, or your home, you'll be removing items from your home and slowly, but surely, that will free up more storage space and places for you to put these items.
You will also find though, when you deal with catch all types of spaces, that with time what once was important enough to lay down on the table, for example, is now old enough that it's just trash.
So the first thing to do is look for such obvious wins, like trash, items that go in another space, or duplicates of things where you can get rid of at least some of them, to begin the process of clearing these surfaces! It will happen, I promise, it just doesn't happen overnight!
Here's another set of before and after photos from a reader, Jennifer, who found that just a few minutes of work that she was dreading, really did pay off.
Jennifer said, "Thank you for the kick in the pants to get something done in 18 minutes that I kept dreading to do for weeks!"
Instead of just shifting things from one place to the next, try to deal with just a few of those things each day, finding them a storage spot in your home, or getting rid of a few of them, and it will soon improve!
When The Kitchen Is Clean Everything Feels Better!
Zoe sent in the photo above, and she said, "Here's my dining table.
I keep a lazy Suzan on the table with healthy snacks for the kiddos to munch on whenever they want. It keeps them from digging around cupboards and the fridge.
And the only mess is on the table - easy clean.
When the kitchen is clean, everything feels (and smells) better!"
Here's another photo from another reader, Lisa.
Lisa said, "My before is embarrassing because we ran out of the house late this morning and the kids left their breakfast dishes but that's reality around here. Took about 15 min because I switched out Christmas decor in center with normal and got out the furniture polish, too. Feels good to finally do one mission successfully! Now to stay on top of it!"
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!