Organizing Your Kitchen Zone

When October rolls around I feel it is the perfect time to organize your kitchen zone. November and December will generate a lot of special cooking and baking. Before all of this gets underway, I want my kitchen clean and organized. I want all clutter eliminated and as much free counter space as I can arrange. Food drives begin to show up so this is a great opportunity  to donate any food that you have overstocked and clear out the pantry for your holiday cooking supplies. 

Kitchen Strategy:

  1. Motivation –  My main motivation for doing the kitchen now is to get it ready for all of the extra holiday cooking. I need all of the space I can find on my counters, in my refrigerator and freezer, and in my pantry. It’s time to throw out the mystery meat in the freezer and the year-old pecans in the pantry.
  2. Create Vision – I am going to spend a lot of time here in the next few months so I want this zone to be as inviting as possible. While in the heat of food prep, I want to immediately be able to get my hands on that special spice and have room on the counter to roll out pie crust and cookie dough. I want to feel comfortable when others are in the kitchen working with me.
  3. Brainstorm – Once I figure out my vision, I want to list everything that will need to happen to match that vision. Some tasks on that brainstorm list are: cleaning and clearing out the fridge and freezer, giving the oven a good clean ( I hate it when someone comes in and says, “something smells good” and you are just preheating your oven), replacing old spices and other cooking ingredients, better defining my kitchen zones (food preparation, cooking, dishes, food storage, an food serving).
  4. Write Out Goals – Writing out goals helps keep me focused. I make my goals specific and measurable. I print them out and post them on my fridge to cross off when completed.
  5. Develop Timeline – This is where your calendar becomes your best friend. Look at all the available times you have to work on your goals. Be reasonable. Instead of writing “clean the fridge” I break it down to clean the interior of the fridge, clean the interior door shelves, clear out the freezer, pull out the fridge from the wall and clean behind it and wipe down the outside surfaces. I plug in a time for each of this mini-tasks. 
  6. Follow the Timeline- Honor the scheduled times you have set aside to do the tasks that are on your calendar. If life intervenes and you can’t do that intended time, immediately reschedule.  By the end of the month you will love your newly organized and clean space and feel ready for the holidays.
  7. Reward Yourself –  When the kitchen zone is complete, I give myself a reward. It may be flowers on the table or a nice candlelit meal.

For more details on following this plan, visit my website and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home .

The picture above shows a workshop on organizing the kitchen. Contact me to arrange a workshop on organizing your kitchen zone or any other zone in your home. ( or sign up for my Zone Plan Teleclass program where I guide you through a new zone each month. 

Are You Ready for Back to School?

It seems impossible that summer break is over and that school starts next week here in Georgia. Even though the thermometer outside is reading in the 90’s, make a plan for your budding students to transition from vacation mode into school mode. 

  1. Set the stage for a great experience. 
    •  Keep a positive attitude. Don’t express any worry or doubt you might have about the upcoming year (I know that third grade is tough)but play up the positives (I understand they are teaching a unit on space study this year).
    • Take away the fear of the unknown. If your child is going to a new school, visit it ahead of time. Go to the orientation meetings. Find out schedules and teachers’ names and talk it up in positive terms.
    • Teach by example. Let your child see you enjoy reading, learning, and enjoying new experiences like art exhibits, concerts, or museums.
    • Allow time for morning routines. Plan for extra time in the mornings to get ready. This is easier if bedtime is also earlier.
    • Encourage your child to be self-sufficient. Have him do chores at home, develop checklists, have him prepare his clothes and backpack before going to bed.
  2. Develop good study habits.
    • Set aside a designated study area. This can be in his room, or in the kitchen or dining area. Just keep it consistent. 
    • Plan the best times for schoolwork. Know your child’s peak times for best work and his schedule.
    • Use a calendar. Have one visible to show special activities, appointments, and study times.
    • Chunk up big projects. By breaking down the big projects into smaller parts, the project is not some overwhelming and your student can say “done” more often. 
  3. Organize school materials.
    • Obtain and use a planner. In the beginning check the planner with your student every evening and morning. Then encourage your child to do this on his own.
    • Synch the planner with the calendar. 
    • Organize notebooks, folders, and binders. Have a home for each item so they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
    • Organize and minimize study supplies. Containerize them so that they are easy to carry to school and use at home. Check the school supply list. Avoid buying “fun” items that are a distraction.
    • Choose the best backpack for your child. Check if the school has any restrictions before buying. Keep in mind what he will be carrying each day.
    • Set up home files. Keep in a file all returned and graded school papers until grades come out. If the grade lines up with what you have, then purge most of the papers only keeping ones that show growth and creativity. 
  4. Individualize study to suit your child.
    • Know your child’s learning style. Is he a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Use his strengths to help him learn new material.
    • Make learning real. Use new skills in real life settings. Use math to shop or cook. Use reading to follow directions or enjoy a funny story. Use writing skills to make lists or write a letter.
    • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone or with others around. Does he work best in a quiet atmosphere or one with background noise.

Just for fun, start a “back to school” family tradition. Have a cookout before the first day of school or have a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop. Talk about the fun and excitement of the upcoming school year. Have a surprise wrapped up for the children to open when they come home from school on the first day.

Let this school year be the best and most productive ever!