It is a lot of work to be organized, but it is so much more work to be disorganized. So why not take small and simple steps to bring more order to your home?

Let's start in the kitchen. It is one of the most active places in the house and often is in a state of confusion and clutter. After all, you eat there several times a day, gather there for conversation and fun and walk through there many times on your way to and from other activities.

How can you help your kitchen help you? First, focus on clearing off the counters. With empty counters, the kitchen seems to expand in size. All at once there is more space for cooking and working on other projects. In addition, the kitchen becomes easier to keep clean. Most kitchen counters are "decorated" with small appliances, trinkets, a spouse's treasures, children's school work and an assortment of other clutter. Decide what items can be cleared off permanently.

You might ask: Is this item a friend or freeloader? Friends are kitchen tools that are frequently used. These belong on the counter. Other tools should be stored in the cupboard or on a shelf because they are more trouble to keep out than they are used.

Freeloaders, which are infrequently-used tools or trinkets, should be stored elsewhere or even sent to charity. They will not be missed.

A "honey keep" drawer is a wonderful way to keep a spouse's treasures, keys, change and wallet handy while keeping the counter top clear. Simply empty a drawer near where the treasures have been regularly deposited. When the treasures appear again, suggest they would just as well be safely kept in a drawer, thus allowing for more free counter space. If they continue to be deposited absentmindedly, they can be slipped safely into the "honey keep" drawer for later retrieval.

"In and out" plastic trays, which can been purchased from an office supply store, can organize papers of all kinds. There should be one tray for each member of the family. Mom's tray usually goes on top because she tends to handle a great deal of paper. Trays are labeled with each family member's name. School papers, phone messages, mail, and other papers that come into the house will have a "home" where they can go. This immediately reduces the paper clutter so often found on the counters.

Finally, decorate your kitchen with trinkets that can be hung on walls or cabinet sides instead of placed on the counters. The glamour of having a trinket on your counter is soon lost to the chore of keeping it clean. How much nicer it is to have the counters empty.

As the counters become more cleared-off, you will notice how much easier it is to work in your kitchen. This is an essential step to helping the kitchen help you!

Marie C. Ricks is a motivational speaker and the author of "House of Order" handbook, "Master Menu" cookbook and other home organization material. To order her materials or offer comments or questions, contact her at or visit: © Marie Calder Ricks/My House of Order