Organizing systems

Dear Kathi,

I am a housewife but my partner is the organizer in the family. I can’t seem to function in the pre-imposed systems. When I try to follow my partner’s systems in the kitchen everything becomes awry. I am constantly wondering where things are when they get relocated. Should I be using labels each time the drawer contents change? How can I cope?

Mia, San Marcos


You and your partner need to come to terms with who is using the kitchen. Ideally, the person that creates a system should be the one who uses the system. If you are organizationally challenged and your partner isn’t, perhaps you can spend an afternoon together creating order with a method that makes sense for both of you.

Realize that there is no perfect system. There is, however, a system that will function well for all parties involved. Try to store objects closest to where they will be used. Use the triangular kitchen grid that I discussed in my column published last January. You can read this column by visiting

If you cannot agree on a system during your organizational meeting, it might be best to hire an outside professional. A Professional Organizer will be able to create a system and organizational strategy that works for both of you.

An outside expert is invaluable when family members cannot agree on strategy. As a professional, they are not involved with dramas or past history. They will focus solely on optimum organizational solutions for your space and what will best serve the household.

Labeling your drawers is certainly an easy way to define what is stored in each drawer. I use this method when client reorganization is dramatic. Clients can remove the labels when they learn the new system or keep them permanently.

If your partner insists on creating new systems frequently, ask if you can receive a descriptive tour of the change as it occurs. If you have an explanation of why things are moved, it might help you to understand the concept behind the reorganization. This will, in turn, help you to remember where things are stored.

Organization is never an accident. If you have difficulty staying organized, keep practicing and devising new methods. With trial and error practice, you might find yourself developing the perfect systems for your household. Perhaps your partner will never feel the need to reorganize the kitchen again!

Please submit your questions to:

San Diego Professional Organizer

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