As beautiful as spring, Easter and Passover are with their messages of renewal and hope, in the back of your mind is one date: April 15th. Remember you have to pay by the 15th but you can file an extension if you simply can’t make time to tally up those columns for your tax preparer.

The secret to an easy tax time is to have a Cracker Jack file system. There must be a place for every tax-deductible receipt that comes your way. Yes, I know, your mother told you that when you were 5. She was probably talking about your toys but the advice holds true for all the ‘stuff’ in your life. (Next month is Mother’s Day. Be sure and call mom and tell her she was right all along. That statement will mean more than flowers and candy!)

In all of my ‘One Year to…’ books the creation of a file system gets a lot of attention. I’ve got you covered should you need direction in that area. But for this month’s column, I decided to offer you tips on a simple organizing task. Every home has this challenge. It’s a nice physical project for a month that will no doubt leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted.

What does every home have? Here’s a hint: it’s usually in the kitchen. Give up? It’s that catch all drawer that holds every small item you have no idea what to do with and can’t bear to toss. We lovingly refer to it as ‘Ye Olde Junk Drawer.’ Your home may have one in several different rooms!

Here’s the solution:

  • Empty the contents on a clear work surface. Don’t dump everything and create a new mess. Take items out one at a time matching up categories. You are most likely to find: pens, pencils, nails & screws, multiple tape measures, post it notes in various sizes, a hammer, a screw driver, chopsticks and of course some packaged condiments.
  • Toss as much of this debris as you can.
  • Move as many items as possible to more appropriate locations. For example, the hammer and screwdrivers should live in your toolbox. You need a few pens & pencils; you don’t need enough to accommodate a first grade classroom. You get the idea.
  • Wipe out the drawer.
  • Line with a drawer liner. I like the thicker liner that’s washable. Here’s a link to it at The Container Store. This will keep items in place when your project is complete.
  • Using an assortment of drawer organizers return items in organized groups. You can find these containers in clear acrylic (my favorite and oh so easy to wipe out), white or black plastic, mesh or bamboo. You can get fancy and key into your kitchen’s décor. Here’s a link.

BONUS: You can use this method and these products to bring order to every chaotic drawer in your home. The ‘junk drawers’ is a good place to hone your new organizing skill. By the way, are there children in your home just itching for a chore? Put someone in charge of the newly organized ‘miscellaneous drawer.’ There isn’t any reason mom has to be the organizer and the one in charge of maintenance. Everyone benefits from order. And everyone should be involved in creating and maintaining it. If mom will be happy to hear you appreciated her advice, one day your kids will call home thanking you for teaching them how to be organized.

New York City native Regina Leeds has brought order to home and work environments across the United States since 1988 when she started her company, Get Organized! by REGINA. Currently based in Los Angeles, her clientele run the gamut from movie stars to business people and housewives. Regina regularly travels throughout the United States to assist her clients. Regina is the author of two books: The Zen of Organizing; Creating Order and Peace in Your Home, Career and Life and Creating a Place Without Losing Your Space: a Couples Guide to Blending Homes, Lives and Clutter.