Jump Start January: Week 2: Day 2

It’s Day 2 of Week 2 of Jump Start January, and today it’s time to declutter your household’s crash zone. The crash zone is what I call the spot where you dump all your stuff when you arrive home.

This varies from place to place, for example, in my house the crash zone naturally seems to gravitate to the dining table and chairs. In other homes it could be the hallway, space under the stairs, the side of the sofa, a kitchen counter top etc. Unless you can think of a really good alternative, it’s best to keep this natural spot as your crash zone and work with it.

jump start declutter crash zone

The declutter goes like this:

  • Gather up coats, keys, mail, shoes, umbrellas, bags etc and move them out of the way. If you have a lot of bills or unopened mail here, allow extra time to deal with it.
  • Clean the space (or spaces) that this leaves.
  • If you’re planning on using a new spot to use as your ‘crash zone’, clear and clean that too.
  • Add in storage and organisation: letter rack, shoe store, coat rack or stand, key holder, small table, shelves, box file, bag hooks, umbrella stand etc. If you don’t have these to hand yet, use labelled cardboard boxes for makeshift storage and ideally buy what you need before the end of this week.
  • Put your belongings into their new homes, and put anything that doesn’t belong there into its proper place.
  • Optional: add one or two pictures or ornaments. If the space looks good, it’s often easier to keep it nice and tidy. You can get inspiration for the new look from design magazines and blogs, or even Ikea catalogues.

I did a massive declutter on my home crash zone last year, clearing cupboard space for coats and scarves, adding a letter tray for mail, and setting up bins and boxes for immediate removal of paper for shredding and recycling. One year later, it’s still tidy, and the mess has not migrated anywhere else. Given the state of it before, I’m more than mildly amazed, but hey, it worked.

So I have decided to tackle my personal crash zone. This is my writing desk in-tray and a small area on the floor right next to it where papers, books, magazines, hobby material and freebies seem to pile up. It’s something to blast through in 20 minutes, followed by filing and putting away. I also resolve to use the tiers of the in-tray properly from now on: it should be ‘In’ (unopened) on the top, ‘To Do’ (seen but not actioned) in the middle, and ‘Out’ (file’) below that.

How’s your declutter going? Did you manage to make the crash zone look nice as well as be functional?


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  1. LOVING the South Park style graphics Penny! How did you do them??? I don’t have a crash zone in my flat – the whole flat is a bit of a crash zone! LOL! The coffee table is where things like the mail ends up getting dumped for long periods and my bedside table is where keys and purse get left at the end of the day so I’m going to make my JSJAN mission for today to tidy them up when I get home.

  2. I hate this zone and declutter it often. With my wife being a teacher it often gets cluttered with piles of paperwork and books. We’re both guilty of having too many shoes and coats etc which also clutters it up! Absolute nightmare!

  3. Hi Jackie – I have visions of you digging yourself out from under a pile of shoes and coats now! You could work around the natural crash zones to save hassle. For example, how about adding a letter rack to the coffee table, and a pot for your keys and purse on the bedside table?

    Hi Jamie – my other half often brings bits and bobs in after work, and so do I. We have ended up buying a couple of smart-looking storage boxes and baskets to keep them all together and basically to hide them in a nice way. You could decorate a nice crate for your other half’s papers and books so it fits in with your decor, maybe. Also, might be worth giving in and putting in some more coat hooks. There are good space-saving shoe cupboards for hallways in places like Ikea too.

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