Here's how to achieve "inbox zero" for your kitchen counter. 

For many of us, the kitchen countertop is one of the main clutter collectors in our households. Which means, if we let our guard down, step away, or so much as blink for a second, this surface will soon be overflowing with mail, spices, spatulas, and bottles of Sriracha. While it's natural for the kitchen countertop to become a dumping ground, culling the collection is an important first step towards an organized kitchen, where you actually have room to cook a meal.

Go through the list below, tossing out, donating, or relocating each item until you have only the essentials left on display. Consider this "inbox zero" for your kitchen counter.

Related Items

1 Mail

Unless you have a dedicated basket for collecting and sorting mail on your kitchen counter, it really doesn't belong there. Instead, get into the habit (I know, it's hard) of opening your mail every day, then create an organization system on your desk or in your entryway.

2 Cooking Tools

If you're not in the habit of cleaning up as you cook, it's easy for spoons, spatulas, and can openers to collect on the kitchen counter. When you're done cooking or meal prepping, do a quick scan of the kitchen, grab all of the used cooking tools, and toss them directly into the sink (if they need to be hand-washed) or into the dishwasher.

Invest in a canister or crock that's stylish enough to leave out on the counter, then fill it with your most-used cooking tools. Dedicate a drawer close to the stove for other important but less frequently used tools. They'll be easy to grab when you need them (and also easy to put away afterwards).

3 Condiments and Spices

To free up space on your kitchen countertop, order two turntables—one for your pantry, one for the refrigerator. Stash room-temperature condiments and frequently used spices on the lazy Susan in the pantry, and place chilled condiments on the one in the fridge. Instead of hunting for that bottle of black pepper on your cluttered countertop, you'll be able to grab it from the pantry with a quick spin of the turntable.

4 That Juicer

If you still have a juicer from that juice kick you went on a decade ago, now's the time to relocate it to a cabinet or the garage, or better yet, donate it. The same goes for all of the other appliances you haven't touch in the past 12 months.

5 Cookbooks

While you may want to keep your favorite cookbooks close at hand, it's best to clear them off the counter. Not only will you have more space for chopping veggies, but you also won't risk spilling hollandaise on your copy of The Joy of Cooking.

Where to keep your cookbooks instead? Move them to a shelf on your kitchen island, an open shelf above the counter, or a nearby cabinet.

6 Decorative Bowls and Vases

Leaving one or two decorative pieces on display can add style to your kitchen counter and make the room feel more personalized and less sterile. But this is not the place to display your entire collection.

For beautiful pieces you'd love to keep on display, relocate them to an open shelf or the top of the cabinets. Otherwise, move the bowls and serveware to a cabinet. Remember, you can periodically switch out which pieces get the coveted countertop.