The Zone Plan – Organizing the Master Bedroom

Once a month I choose a zone in my home to organize, declutter, and deep clean. During one of the spring months I choose to work in our master bedroom. It’s a wonderful time to review the winter wardrobe and clean or repair any favorites before I store them away and to discard anything that I no longer want to wear. It’s also a time when I like to clean the windows and let the sun shine in.

When I start to work in any zone in my home, I start with a vision. Because I share this room with my husband, it needs to be a shared vision. We want this room to have a welcoming presence. We want a calming, relaxing feel and a place to feel happy. We like soft light but still have enough light available to read. My husband meditates here so the room should have an uncluttered, peaceful feel.

I use the whole month to work on this zone and I divide the tasks into four sections. I schedule time on my calendar to complete each task.

One week I organize the closet. Rob stores his hanging clothes in his office closet, so this is a job I do alone. I pull out all m clothes, shoes, and accessories and sort them. I get rid of the ones that no longer fit or that I no longer want to wear. I wash the interior of the closet and then replace all items.

Another week, Rob and I clean out our dressers. We take out every article and toss anything that is damaged and put into a donate box anything sill in good shape, but we don’t want. Winter items go into the lower drawers and summer items come up to the top drawers. Meanwhile, the dresser is washed and waxed.

Still another week we work on the wall where the bed and end tables live. I strip the bed down to the frame and wash everything. The duvet goes to the cleaners and then is stored in the closet until it gets cold again. All extra reading material is removed from the end tables, so we only have what we are currently reading. The end tables are also washed and waxed.

The last week I finish up anything that might not have gotten done. It might be the windows or the overhead fan. It might be dusting down the walls and ceiling or cleaning the throw rugs.

By the end of the month, the room will be sparkly clean and welcoming. I will put out fresh flowers and admire our work. I feel we will sleep even better in the clear, clean bedroom.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Helping an Elderly Parent Declutter

Your mom or dad is now living alone in their own home. Each time you visit you see more and more clutter build up and less and less cleaning going on. You want to help but don’t want to embarrass or upset your parent. This has been the situation with a couple of my clients.

The plan:

  • If possible, invite someone to the home with you who can get a fresh look at the situation. Because this clutter has grown over an extended period of time, you are probably missing some key components. 
  • Analyze why certain areas are cluttered. As parents get older it takes more effort to pick things up from the floor. If something gets dropped or spilled it just may stay there. They may do most activities from one or two places as it is more difficult to move around. They may not see the clutter.
  • When you start to attack the clutter, keep the parent involved. Get permission before moving things around or getting rid of anything. Talk it out before doing any work. 
  • Work in small bites. Don’t overwhelm the parent by doing a lot at one time.
This past week I was invited by my client’s dad to come into his home. I came as a friend who had helped his daughter with some organizing. Her dad had noticed some of the work his daughter and I had done together when he was at her home on a recent visit. My client had shared with me that her dad was now having back pain and some headaches. He had fallen this past winter. She was very concerned about his environment but did not want to disrespect him or overwhelm him.
He is an artist and likes to look through magazines for ideas. When he works from his chair in the den, pieces of paper drop to the floor. Magazines are stacked up waiting for his attention. Some food wrappers are dropped. His studio shows signs of things having been stacked but are now toppled. We chatted together about getting a sorting system set up for his cut-out pictures and a trash can by his chair. He liked the idea and his daughter will get those items for him.
After the visit, my client and I brainstormed other tasks that could be tackled over time. With permission she could remove a couch that is now blocking the bookcase and is never used. She might find a basked to hold the waiting to be worked on magazines. A huge fire extinguisher (still in the box) could be replace by a smaller kitchen sized fire extinguisher. Another day she could hang the pictures that have been leaning along a wall for years (surprisingly neither daughter nor dad really noticed the pictures or had thought of hanging them). Then later still, remove the exercise bike that has never been used. The idea is to let her dad get used to each change before adding another. When the clearing of the den is complete, a day could be spent cleaning. Then they could move on to another area.
While each case is unique, I feel the most important premise is to respect the parent and make them a part of the decluttering experience. 

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Attic/Basement Zone

November is a great time to organize and clean out your attic or basement zone. It is not so hot or yet too cold for comfort. Also, many of us store our seasonal decorations in this zone.

As you prepare to organize this zone, make a list of all items you store here. The list might include:

  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • Extra furniture and household accessories
  • Toys or items to pass on to children or grandchildren
  • Out of season clothing
  • Suitcases
  • Sports equipment
  • Archival paper
Plan where you want each of these categories to live. Items that you do not plan to use in the next year or more should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, accessories, toys, and archival papers.
As you place items into their areas, if you come across broken or unloved items or multiple items (how many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when they are gone and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will be a much easier task.
Leave space between each zone so that you can safely maneuver to get or store items.
Label all containers. Use large labels that you can see from some distance so that you know what is in each container. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is in it if the lighting is dim. It helps to locate holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations, but still label the container with the primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or crèche you want early in the season.
Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and undecorating a much easier chore.
Happy Holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Ah, the Romance of Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is a day for romance. It is a chance to spice up the relationship and show the love.

However, if you trip over piles of shoes while entering the front door or have papers cascading off the coffee table, and CDs and DVDs scattered on the floor, your living room is not ready for prime time romance. If your dining table has projects, bills, and used plates and silverware, along with stacks of clothes to fold and put away, you are not ready for that romantic meal. If your bedroom has stacks of books, magazines, clothes, and cosmetics on every surface, you are not ready for that special night.

Look around the common areas in your home. How do you want these areas to look in order to inspire romance? How do you want to feel in these areas?

Remove everything from these zones that does not match your vision. Have a specific place for everything that belongs in the rooms and put the items away. If you are short on space, let some things go or put them in a temporary storage area elsewhere until you can deal with them.

Now, clean and polish those newly exposed surfaces. Put out some flowers and candles. Play that special music.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Being organized
Is romantic, too.

Enjoy your special day!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Zone Plan – Master Bedroom

For organizing and decluttering my home, I use a Zone Plan. Every month I choose a different area to clean, declutter, and organize. During the month of May, I concentrate on the master bedroom.

Whenever I work in a zone, I start with my vision for the space. Since I share this room with my husband, we must form this vision together. Last year we decided that we wanted our room to have a soothing, calming, and supportive look. When we are in this space we want to feel secure, relaxed, and happy. We like soft light yet still have enough lighting for reading. In the past year we have painted this room a very soft yellow to help capture the light and changed some of our artwork and accessories to meet this vision. We will continue to explore and when we find an item that builds on our vision and gives us joy, we will bring it home and place it.

I use four weeks to complete this zone.

On week one, Rob and I clean out our dressers (and clean the walls where the dressers stand). We take out every article and toss anything that is stained, stretched out of shape, or holey. Then we donate anything that we no longer need or love. I change out my heavier tops that were stored in a drawer for lighter ones that were in a bin in my closet. I clean and wax the dressers and light a candle.

On week two, I work on the closet which stores only my clothes. I pull our all the clothes and sort them on the bed. I get rid of anything that does not fit either my body or my lifestyle. I also do this for my shoes. This closet also stores my suitcase and a duvet.

On week three, we tackle our end tables. This means purging or rehousing a lot of reading material that has accumulated. I also clean one window, and clean the bed and all bed linens. I clean the wall behind the bed.

On week four, I finish the room. This means cleaning one more wall and window, brushing the ceiling and the ceiling fan.

As a reward for finishing the bedroom zone, I buy fresh flowers and stand back and admire our clean, uncluttered space. I know we will sleep well here.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Living Room for Spring

I follow a zone plan for my home. My home is divided into 10 zones and every month (except July and December) I tackle one of these zones.

March is the month that I organize my living room zone. Spring is around the corner and I want my living room fresh and ready.

The first step in organizing the room is to review my vision for this zone. As this is a shared room it also needs to have a shared vision with my husband, Rob. At times we both use this room singly. I start my day here with coffee and the paper. Later when I am in my office, Rob often sits in his chair with coffee and paper. Together we often connect in this room. We plan our day, week, and future here. For entertainment we work on the daily jumble and crossword puzzle. On a more passive note we often listen to music or perhaps watch a DVD or television. If we are having a light meal, we will often eat here. We entertain family and guests in our living room. We welcome people from our front door.

We want this room to be welcoming and warm. We want this room to be relaxing but yet have positive energy. We want to feel comfortable, secure, and happy in this room. We want our friends to feel comfortable enough to kick off their shoes and stay awhile.

After revising my vision, I scan the room to see if the space is living up to that vision. We have soft comfortable seating and warm accents. Are there things in the room we no longer need or love? This past year we obtained some new CDs and DVDs We need to pare down our collection and pass on those that we have enjoyed but will not likely play often. This makes space for new opportunities. I will make certain that our magazine basket only holds current issues. The accessories and candles will reflect the season. Gone is the nut bowl and poinsettia plant and out are the pastel candles and spring flowers. We will also purge the clothes closet of any extra outerwear or anything we no longer enjoy.

As I go through every zone, I clean and polish as well. By the end of the month, the room will look and feel bright and ready for spring. I will celebrate with fresh flowers, a lit candle, and a nice glass of wine with Rob.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Spare Bedroom – Place for Guests or Dumping Spot?

I use a zone plan to organize and declutter my home. In January, I tackled the office zone and in February, I follow up with the spare bedroom zone. This makes sense in my home because the spare bedroom is used as offsite storage for my office. While cleaning out files in my office, some of the files end up dumped on the dresser in that spare bedroom. Now this area looks cluttered to me and demands attention.

My spare bedroom is also used as a place for guests to stay, a location to store my memorabilia, and storage for some off season or rarely worn clothing. My vision for this room is to have an open and inviting space for guests. I also want to have all items stored in this location easily accessible.

During this month I will clean out and reorganize the closet. Files will be updated and some truly archival files will head for the attic. I will toss out items that I have saved but now feel I do not need or love. I will clean out every drawer in the dresser and designate zones within the drawers so that each drawer has its purpose. All of this activity will open up space for any new items.

By the end of the month, I will have this spare bedroom matching my vision for the upcoming year. I will celebrate by putting fresh flowers on the dresser.

For help in setting up your zones, purchase my workbook – From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home (http://wwwtimespaceorgcom/order_bookphp)  Also watch for a newsletter telling about upcoming teleclasses on zoning and organizing your home.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing and Decluttering Your Bathrooms

If you are following my zone plan, this month is a good month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, you may wish to include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space.  Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room  to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house cleaning materials? Some of what you store in this bathroom now may go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink the place you store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. I have a small basket for the makeup I use almost daily. I have room in my medicine cabinet for toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for your hair may be stored in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink area.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer may be everyday makeup, one may be for eye products, one may hold hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you no longer are using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold larger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in September this year.  Check for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra bath towels, wash cloths, and extra toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Workshop/Garage Zone

The workshop or garage area often ends up as a dumping area. It is not in your main living area and it is sooo easy to walk in and dump something “just for now.” After a while it is very difficult to find things you think are there or even to freely move around. I suggest that once a year you schedule a time to really organize and clean out this zone.

Start with deciding the purpose for this area. Do you plan to:

  • park a car
  • store extra household items like water/paper products/oversized cookware
  • store garden tools and accessories
  • work on projects
  • store household tools
  • use as a holding area for recyclables
  • store sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear

After deciding on how you plan to use this space, determine your zones. Some zone suggestions are:

  • car parking and car related items
  • garden
  • recycling
  • household storage
  • entertainment accessories
  • sports equipment
  • tools

If you have an abundance of tools, you may want to subdivide that zone into plumbing, electrical, wood working, etc.

Decide where to logically place each zone. You will want to place items that you regularly access near entrances. As you are grouping your items  in each zone, look for containers to hold small items that are rattling about. A clear shoebox without the lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold gardening hand tools. Utilize shelves, peg boards, hooks, and nails to keep items off the floor. Avoid stacking containers because, for sure, you are going to want something that is in the bottom container. Label containers that are not clear.

Clear out each zone. Determine what you have not used ( that badminton set has not been set up in 3 years or more) or is broken, or expired (seeds, chemicals). These items go away. Knock down the cobwebs and sweep the floor before putting the items away that belong in that zone. You’ll be amazed at how much roomier the area is now that all items have been bunched together and stored away.

Now reward yourself. A hot shower and a cool drink  might be just the thing.

For more ideas on how to organize that workshop, view my YouTube video on Organizing Your Workshop.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Off the Floor and Out the Door

You’ve had enough of all the clutter lying around. You decide to take action – either by yourself, with a friend, or with a professional organizer.

You start the sorting process. This box I keep. This box I donate. This box is for items that I plan to give to specific people. This I trash. This I will try to sell. You are on a roll. But time gets away from you and you need to stop for a while. You know that you still have a lot to do. So, you just stack up those sorted boxes and get on with life.

Much, much later, you start in again – and then later you start yet again. Meanwhile, those sorted, labeled boxes are stacking up.


You don’t have to finish the whole job before getting those boxes out of your space.

Go through the keep box. Ask yourself where you would use these items. Take the items to that space even if it messes that space up a bit.

Put the donate boxes into your car and in the next day or two take them to your donation site. If you have time, inventory them for a receipt. If you have not had time for 2 years to inventory the items – just take them anyway.

Take the items from the box for specific people. As yourself when you will see those people next. Make a note to take the item to them at that time. If it will be more than several months, you might mail the item. Remaining items put in your gift holding area until the proper time.

Trash – well, you probably did do that one.

Go through the sell boxes. Decide now – are you going to consign them, take them to an antique shop or flea market, or get someone to put them on Craig’s list or EBay for you? Make those contacts and see what will sell. If after a couple of years of saving up stuff thinking you will eventually have an estate sale, ask yourself how much will you really make? Is it worth having your house look like a storage unit for the last few years?

Get everything you have sorted out of your living space. Then, repeat the process when you have the time. You can do this decluttering project in bites. Reward yourself after every round! Enjoy your open space.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer