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For most families, the kitchen is the busiest area of the house. The kitchen is often the hub where life happens, like meal preparation and cooking, washing dishes, cleaning appliances, doing homework, reading mail, unloading groceries, entertaining friends, feeding pets and many other similar activities. No wonder the kitchen can be the most clutter-prone room of all. How to control the mess?

Here are some helpful tips:

1) Decide what tasks can be done in the kitchen. Trying to do too many things (other than food prep and cooking) in a kitchen with limited space leads to the inevitable clutter. Tending to pets and plants, doing homework and school projects and performing other housekeeping tasks do not have to be done in the kitchen.

2) Define the workspace. Designate specific areas in the kitchen for the tasks you do there. Define counter space for food preparation and keep that area clear of appliances and utensils. When you’re contemplating acquiring a new kitchen appliance or gadget, remember that you can’t put it on that designated area for food preparation. Control clutter by enforcing what you can call “area restrictions.”

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3) Create storage solutions. Clutter happens when things are not in their proper places. Cabinets, drawers, baskets, bins, jars, caddies and assorted containers help control clutter by bringing together and organizing similar or related items. Further organize tools and utensils by creating dividers and small containers inside large cabinets and drawers.

4) Schedule kitchen cleanup time. Include a chunk of time in your daily routine to take care of the kitchen cleanup. Put away the clean dishes and utensils; return the boxes of cereal to their proper places; tidy up the condiments and spice rack; park the small appliances in their designated areas and wipe up the counters and stovetops.

5) Don’t let clutter come into the kitchen. Use recyclable shopping bags instead of paper and plastic, which only add to kitchen clutter. Before buying another kitchen gadget or utensil, ask yourself if you really need it and do you have the space for it?

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