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

Organize Using the Zone Plan


I keep my home organized by using a zone plan. I divide up my house into 10 zones. Each month I work on one area except for July and December. By the end of the year I have touched everything in my home and decided if it is still important and if it is still stored in a logical place.

January, I worked in my office zone.
http://timespaceorg.blogspot.com/20019/01/organize-your-office-zone.html 
In February I work in my spare bedroom. My spare bedroom has a closet that stores office/business items I need but rarely use and some archival files. When I work in my office zone in January, I purge items that I need to keep but don’t want in my office. These get dumped in the spare bedroom. by the end of January my spare bedroom is a mess with items stacked on top of the dresser or dumped on the bed.

It is very common when doing a big organizing session to have things that you want to keep but would best be stored elsewhere. This leaves extra clutter in other areas as you clean out and organize one zone. This is not a problem if you then move on and organize the space that has gotten messy due to the last project.

The closet in the spare bedroom is full before I start to work in this zone. The first step then is to reorganize and clear out the closet. As I pull out items, I decide if they still serve me. I may substitute items I had previously kept for a better version of the same thing. I purged some nice green notebooks from a shelf in my office zone. I donated some miscellaneous notebooks that had been stored in the closet and replaced them with the green ones. I clear out items that I have not used in the past couple of years as my style of presentations has changed. I pull and shred some client folders from my archival crate in the closet to make room for ones from my office that are not active now, but I feel might connect again at some point in time. I consolidate some office supplies, donating some of the excess. Then I wipe down the shelves, wipe the wall, and clean the floor. I put everything backs including the items that had gotten dumped in this space.

To finish the spare bedroom, I reorganize the dresser which holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. Then all that is left is to deep clean the room.

By the end of the month, I have completed this zone and will move on to the next one. All this room will need until next February is weekly cleaning maintenance.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Back to School – Have a Plan

It’s hard to believe that here in Georgia where temps are up into the 90’s that the new school year is about to start. Schools are opening the first week in August. So, even though it feels like summer, make a plan to have the transition into this school year the best one yet!

  1. Set the stage.
  • Have a positive attitude. Don’t go on about how hot it is and how you can’t believe they are starting school. Don’t express any worry or doubts you might have (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. Find out schedules and the 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.
  • Plan the best times for schoolwork. Know his peak times and his schedule.
  • Have a calendar in place to show special activities, appointments, and study times.
  • Chunk up big projects so they are not so overwhelming and so 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 so they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
  • Organize and minimize study supplies so 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.
  • Set up a file at home for all returned and graded school papers. Keep all 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 or 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 to make lists or write a letter.
  • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone and with quiet or in the hubbub of the kitchen where others are around.
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 be the best year ever!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organize Your Laundry Zone

Once a year I really spend time organizing and decluttering my laundry zone. In the past I have found that in August many people return from vacations and the laundry zone gets out of control with backed up piles of laundry. Kids are getting ready to start back to school and have school and sports clothing that need washing. Now is the time to make the laundry zone orderly and efficient.

Laundry zones can be large (a big area in the basement) or small (fold-out doors covering a washer/dryer combo in a closet size area) or somewhere in-between. Depending on the size of the laundry zone this area may have other functions besides doing the wash. If there is room, it makes sense to store ironing supplies in this location. My area is large enough to store pet supplies, recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and some over sized or underused party supplies. All that works for me.

The first step in organizing this zone is to develop your vision. How do you want to use this area? How do you want it to look? How do you want to feel when you are in this zone? Get rid of anything that is now in that zone that does not support the vision. Because my zone is roomy and near the back entry, it is easy to just drop something in there “just for now” because I don’t want to take time to put the item where it really belongs. Now is the time to gather up all those items and get them out of this zone.

Cleaning and laundry products can multiply in this space. Products that sounded so promising (will get rid of any stain) or “green” (got rid of no stains) or products that just have a nasty chemical smell or items that got shoved way in the back of the shelf or cupboard that you for got about and then bought another bottle of the little used product are now all taking up precious space and adding to the clutter. Get rid of all of these items and take the ones that are left and group them according to function.

One of my goals in the laundry zone is to keep the laundry moving. I don’t want to walk over mounds of laundry. Only bring to the zone the laundry you intend to wash that day. The rest stays in the dirty clothes hampers until you plan on washing them. Get the clothes from the washer to dryer or drying rack as quickly as possible. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their “home”. Having a different colored basket for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and take them to the proper room. Have family members put the items away. If an item needs repair or ironing, have a designated place to store those items and then schedule a time to do that task. You should not have your Christmas table cloth in the ironing bin in August.

Keeping up with the laundry is less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the mountain of laundry. It helps to have designated times schedule to do laundry instead of waiting until an item is needed (Mom, where are my soccer shorts?). An added bonus is that having a well organized laundry space makes it easier for family members to participate in doing laundry.

See picture of one of my family helping out.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Back to School Basics






It just doesn’t seem possible that the new school year is already here. However, like it or not, school is about to begin again. Everyone wants this new year to be as good of an experience as possible.

Here are some tips to make this vision happen:

  1. Set the stage for a great experience.
  • Watch your attitude. As parents you have a strong influence on how your child views the upcoming year. Don’t express doubts or worries you might have (I know that 3rd grade is tough.) but instead play up the positives (I understand there is a unit on dinosaurs this year.).
  • Take away the fear of the unknown. Visit the school together before school starts, talk about the schedule and the teacher in positive terms.
  • Provide a good example. Let your student see you enjoy reading or studying. Take trips together to a museum or science center.
  • Allow time for morning routines. Give extra time in the mornings to get ready. This is easier if bedtime is also earlier.
  • Teach your child to be self-sufficient. Have him do chores at home, develop checklists, have him lay out clothes and pack up for school the night before.
2. Develop good study habits.
  • Know peak work times and use them when scheduling homework.
  • Set up a calendar showing the study schedule.
  • Chunk up big projects so that the projects are not so overwhelming and so that your student can say “done” more often.
  • Use the calendar to show all commitments so you child is aware when he has after school activities, doctor appointments, music lessons and can then plan his studies and projects without setbacks.
3. Organize school materials.
  • Obtain and use a planner.  The planner should be checked every morning and evening.
  • Synch the planner with the calendar.
  • Organize notebooks, folders, and binders so that they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
  • Organize and minimize study supplies so that they are easy to carry to school and to use at home. Check with the school supply list. Avoid buying “fun” items that are a distraction to learning.
  • Choose the best backpack for you child. Check to see if the school has any restrictions before purchasing.
  • Set up a file at home for all returned and graded school papers. Keep all papers until grades come out. If the grade lines up with what you have, then purge most of them only keeping the ones that show growth and creativity.
5. Individualize study to suit your child.
  • Know your child’s learning style. Is he a visual, auditory, tactile, 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 to make lists or write a letter.
  • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone and with quiet or in the hubbub of the kitchen area where others are present.
For fun, start a “back to school” family tradition. Have a cookout before the first day of school or take a trip to a favorite place to eat where the children can order what they want. Talk about the joys and excitement of the upcoming school year. Have a surprise wrapped up for the children to open when they come home from school after the first day.
Let this be the best year ever!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Closet Redo for Spring

I hope warm weather is finally here to stay and that it is safe to swap out winter clothes for spring and summer clothes. If you are lucky, you may have a second closet in a guest room to use for the swap. If you are in a smaller home or your closets are already fully used, then consider under the bed storage containers or plastic bins at the back or top of the closet, or some drawers in a spare bedroom for storing some of the winter items. Then you can reposition your spring/summer clothes for easy access.

As you remove winter items, look carefully at each piece. Is it clean? Is it in good repair? Does it still fit? Do you feel good when you wear it? In fact, did you even wear it last season?

If it is clean and in good repair but no longer fits or you no longer love it, donate it to a charity. If it is torn or stained, throw it away. If it needs a good cleaning or some repair and you still love it, take care of it now before you put it away for the season.

Now, pull out your spring/summer clothes and hang them in the closet front and center. Again, give them a good look over. Is there a spot that won’t come out? Is it dated? Was it a bad purchase that you spent a lot of money on but hate to wear? Toss or give away all those items that you don’t love to wear.

Seasons go by and we find that certain items of clothing just languish in our closets, neglected and unworn. We may not even be aware of it. We may have 5 black tops but in reality only really wear 3 of them. A trick I have learned is to hang your new season clothes in the closet with the hanger facing the wrong way. The first time you wear the item, turn the hanger around so that it is hanging correctly. At the end of the season, really look at the clothes in the closet that still have the hangers facing the wrong way. Ask yourself why you didn’t wear those items. It might be that it is a really special occasion outfit and that occasion didn’t happen this past season. But it also might be that you have other items that you prefer to wear. Let go of all items that you do not need or love. Let the remaining ones have room to breathe. You will find it much easier to assemble your outfits if you don’t have to dig through all those unloved pieces.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Spare Bedroom of Bonus Room

Most of us are lucky enough to have that extra room dubbed as the Spare Bedroom, Guest Bedroom or Bonus Room. Often these rooms have multiple purposes. I have seen them used as offices, craft rooms, play rooms, exercise rooms, storage rooms, and even as dedicated guest bedrooms.

In February I work on my “Spare Bedroom” zone. I choose this month because last month I organized my office and a lot of stuff purged from my office landed on the bed, floor, and dresser of the spare bedroom. Now it is a disaster.

My spare bedroom has multiple functions. It has a closet that is used for offsite office storage (and it is packed full). There is a dresser that holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. This room also holds a secondary cat box as well as a cat condo and a cat bed. When overnight guests arrive, this is their room (and the cat stuff is temporarily put into my office).

I want this room to have an open and inviting space for guests. I want all items stored in this zone to be out of sight but easily accessible. I want to feel drawn to this room and feel calm and happy when I enter.

To make this vision come true, 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 or donate items that I have saved but now no longer need or love. Since I have a lot of pictures and memorabilia in the closet, I will open each box and scrapbook, have a remembrance time, toss some items, label some more items, and return the rest to the containers. I feel if I want to keep this memorabilia, I ought to honor it and look at it at least once a year.

I will clean out every drawer in the dresser and designate zones within the drawers. I will probably decide that 3 heavy sweaters stored there are about 2 too many and that some holiday clothing is no longer loved. This will open up space for any new item.

By the end of the month, I will have this guest 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, sign up for my Zone Plan Coaching Teleclass (jonda@timespaceorg.com) or purchase my workbook – From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home (available on my website www.timespaceorg.com).

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Time to Organize Your Workshop and Garage

In September the weather begins to cool down. We start to put away our summer equipment. This is a good opportunity to set aside some time to organize your workshop or garage zone. Even if you do this zone once a year, it can easily get disorganized and cluttered because it is so easy just to open the door and drop something “just for now.”

Before you start your project, take a good look at the way it is now. What is working (don’t mess with that area) and what is not working. How do you want to use this zone. Do you plan to:

  • Park your car
  • Store trash cans/recycling
  • Store gardening tools and accessories
  • Pot or repot plants
  • Work on projects and store tools
  • Store bikes and other sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
  • Store outdoor entertainment supplies
  • Store extra products
Now bring everything outside. If this is a large or very filled area, do it by sections. Sort like with like. Note what is broken or what you have not used in the past year. Get rid of these items or make a note to replace them. Get rid of expired seeds or old chemicals. Give away or sell tools you no longer use. Tool Bank is a great place to donate tools for community projects. http://toolbank.org/
Next decide where to logically place your zones. You want to place items that you use frequently near entrances. As you group your items in each zone, look for containers to hold small items together. A clear shoebox without the lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold gardening tools. Use shelves, pegboards, 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.
Knock down the cobwebs, sweep the floor, and start putting things away.. You’ll be amazed at how much  room there is now that all the items have ben bunched together and stored away.
Now reward yourself. A hot shower and a cool drink might be just the thing.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Your Attic or Basement Storage Areas

The attic or basement is the perfect zone to work on in November. It’s not too hot or too cold and very likely your seasonal decorations are stored in this zone.

While you are up in the attic (or down in the basement), look around before you start. Make a list of all the categories you store in this zone. You might store:

  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • Extra furniture and household accessories
  • Off season clothing
  • Suitcases
  • Archival papers
  • Sports Equipment
  • Toys to pass on to grandchildren.

Group all related items together and then designate zones for each category. Items that you do not plan to use in the next year or so should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, toys, and archival papers.

Leave space between each zone so that you can safely maneuver and get to items.

Label containers. It helps to locate holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations, but still label the container with 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.

While sorting, if you come across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when this is accomplished and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will be a much easier task.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Pantry Organization

This time of year is great for organizing the pantry. It gives you a chance to organize your food items to see what is on hand for the increased amount of cooking that comes with the holidays. The purging of unneeded items as well as organizing what you are keeping will open up space for the extra items you bring in for special holiday dishes.

It doesn’t matter if you have a very small pantry of only a few shelves or a large walk-in pantry, after a year things will have gotten out of order and need organization.

Organize your pantry like a grocery store. Have all pastas and grains in one area. Put all canned goods in another area, separating vegetables, fruit, soups, etc. If you have more than one can of green beans or tomato soup, put the newer cans behind the older cans so that you rotate your food and use up the older cans first. While going through the process or organizing the cans and condiments, take a look at expiration or “best used by” dates. Discard cans that are past their expiration date and donate cans of items you bought some time ago but have no plan of using soon. This will open up your shelves for holiday shopping.

Think before you stock up on large quantities on a sale. Will you really use all those cans before they expire? Do you have space to store the cans in a usable manner? Are you saving enough money or time shopping by buying in bulk to make up for the inconvenience of cramming your shelves or having to look elsewhere to store the extras? Next year will you find 10 cans of pumpkin in your basement along with the 20 rolls of paper towels?

Once organized, you will be surprised at  how much space you now have for your holiday food shopping.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer