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I have a really bad habit of rushing out the door every morning and forgetting something, or consciously leaving behind my cell phone because it’ll take too long for me to remember where I put it. But, I'm getting better these days as I've given each of my belongings a "home" so I won't misplace them. I've designated a zippered pouch for USB cables, and a trunk for all my yarn. Trays have become my most preferred organization tool, though. They work in every room and every style, and allow you to keep oft-used items in view, while keeping things tidy.

Placing a tray within a tray creates a layered look. Corralling various perfumes together brings some order to a bedroom dresser.

These porcelain dishes from West Elm are intended for soap, but can be used for other things, too. Rest your jewelry down in the same spot every day so you won't have to go hunting for that tiny piece that may have rolled off somewhere.

Anthropologie's delicate-looking Saguaro Tray and Tuscan Evening Tray both have nice little details, making them perfect for jewelry.

The brass Fez platter and tray from West Elm remind me of the trays we use at home to serve sweets during the holidays. Use them to keep votive candles and matches in one place, or to gather accessories.

Clear acrylic trays are very popular, too. Grouping pretty stationery together on a desk means you'll see what you have available to use at any given time.

To customize a tray, line it with wallpaper or fabric for a hit of colour, or even paint the inside a contrasting shade. These large acrylic ones by Jonathan Adler feature graphic prints.

Placed on an ottoman (or pouf!), trays become resting spots for drinks and miniature vases. How lovely is this look!? The napkin protects the tray, and the handles make it easy for moving about. Cuppa tea, anyone?

You can easily create a minibar set-up on a console table in a dining or living room.

This oversized rattan tray from Pottery Barn is large enough to gather all your food and drink supplies for a patio. Arrange a tray before guests arrive for easy entertaining. Sturdiness and handles are both a must for trays that you plan to carry.

When not in use, trays can be stacked, like Jonathan Adler's Carnaby Nesting Trays, available in multiple prints. His Hollywood Divided set is intended as dinnerware, but you can also place other objects inside. If you plan to place food directly on a tray, it's a good idea to find out whether it's food-safe first.

Trays are fairly versatile and can eliminate arguments about who had the TV remote last, cut the time spent worrying about where you placed a piece of jewelry, and tidy up dumping grounds for keys and mail. So why not pick some up?

For more organization ideas, visit our Storage & Organizing section, and read about decorating with apothecary jars.

Photo credits:
1. Lonny June/July 2010, photography by Patrick Cline
2. West Elm
3. Anthropologie

5. Rue Magazine

6. Jonathan Adler
7.
Lonny June/July 2010, photography by Patrick Cline
8. Lonny August/September 2010, photography by Patrick Cline
9. Pottery Barn
10. Jonathan Adler

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