Savvy Basics: The Drop and Run Organizational Style


Savvy.FIDrop and run. Can’t you just picture this style in action? It’s exactly what it sounds like (and if you have kids, you’ve most likely seen it in action!)

Unfortunately, without a system to reel it in, the drop and run style is a recipe for clutter accumulation. Drop and run organizers:

  • may have systems, but don’t use them consistently
  • are unlikely to utilize systems that require multiple steps.
  • typically operate out of piles and stacks.
  • often need to retrace their steps in order to locate misplaced items.
Drop and run organizers see clear spaces as an invitation to temporary storage. (Photograph 057 by Ashley Schweitzer found on

Drop and run organizers see clear spaces as an invitation to temporary storage. (Photograph 057 by Ashley Schweitzer found on

Fortunately, there are ways to rein in the drop and run lifestyle.

  • Don’t issue an invitation. Do you have a surface in your home that invites clutter? A kitchen island? The dining room table? The floors in your kids’ bedrooms? What Type A organizers see as clear, open space, drop and run folks view as an invitation. Perhaps you’ve even added a container to corral the clutter, hoping your favorite drop and run family member would drop things into the container instead of onto the surface. Yeah. I tried that. And it took me (the offending drop and run person) a very long time to figure out that all that pretty basket did was give me permission to drop stuff there. I removed the basket and re-discovered my clean, clear space, which I have no desire to sully. I even got rid of a container that wasn’t earning its keep, so that everything that belongs on the counter has a home. If it doesn’t have a home on the counter, it has to live somewhere else. Which means we drop and run organizers need to…
  • Develop a new habit: Don’t put it down, put it awayEasy to do in the recently reclaimed spaces (because I remember how much work it took to get them to look that way!), but much harder in some other places that have become habitual drop points. When I taught this to my students in small groups, I gave them a laminated sign that said, Don’t put it down, put it away! Maybe you need a sign (some days I do!) Maybe you need to keep saying it to yourself over and over again until it sticks. Maybe you need both. As a recovering drop and run organizer, I feel your pain, but I’ve learned when I remember to follow it, I create a lot less clutter in the first place.

  • Set aside time to deal with the inevitable pile-ups. Life intervenes. Default styles take over. For the drop and run organizer, pile-ups are inevitable. The trick is to catch the piles when they’re small so you can dispense with them even when time is scarce. In addition, by creating style-compatible homes for as many things as possible, we drop and run organizers can make it just as easy to put things away as it is to put them down, which reduces the likelihood that the piles will win the battle.

Can you tell this week’s post was a little personal for me? If you’re a drop and run organizer, what are the key ideas you swear by? Share in the comments below!

For printable information sheets about containers and the styles, click here.

Copyright 2015 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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