Organizing the Office Using the Zone Plan

It is the beginning of a new year and January is Get Organized Month. I would love for my whole house to be magically clean and organized. However, the reality is that I am the one that has to make that magic happen and it would be crazy to think that I could do it all at once. That is why for years I have been maintaining my home using a Zone Plan. This plan has me touching everything in my home at least once a year. ( 

The first zone I work on each year is my office. In the past year files have gotten overfull, project bins are hanging around even after projects are completed. New items have come into my office and it is now feeling a bit crowded. Now is the time to follow the program and work my plan on the office.

1. What is bothering me in this zone?

  • Clutter and unfiled papers
  • Projects not in bins
  • Files too full
  • Too much laying around and screaming “DO ME”
2. How do I want my office to look and feel?
  • Look clean and uncluttered
  • Look and feel welcoming
  • Have empty spaces to allow for growth
  • Feel productive
3. What do I need to do to make this vison come true?
  • Sort and label all loose papers
  • Clear out all desk drawers and desk surface
  • Purge files and put into a project bin all I will need for taxes
  • Shred and archive papers
  • Declutter and organize bookshelves and the storage credenza
  • Set up bins for current projects and purge old projects
  • Deep clean room
4. Schedule times to do each task
  • Pull out calendar and see what times are available for work
  • Schedule reasonable times for each task and dates/times to work
  • Write on calendar the dates and times 
By the end of the month, I will call whatever has been accomplished “good enough” and move on to the next zone. The office is now ready for regular maintenance until the next year. I always reward myself by buying a fresh flower for my desk.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Dream Folders

While helping clients declutter and organize paperwork, I often come across brochures, newspaper clippings, or magazine articles on various topics. These papers accumulate on desktops or counter tops and don’t seem to have any real “home.” Most of these have been read but are papers the client still wants to keep. The clients just don’t quite know where to put them. So they lay about, “just for now.”

I suggest that these papers are organized by topics and then stored in dream folders/notebooks or topic folders/notebooks. Some topics I often see on counters are: financial advice, home decorating ideas, landscaping ideas, vacation ideas, health/exercise topics, and recipes. If there are a lot of recipes, I suggest making folders or notebook dividers for each category (i.e. appetizers, soups, main dishes, etc.) Sometimes the clients are researching on bigger projects like a daughter’s wedding or a retirement home. A better solution to bigger projects are project bins with internal folders.

The idea of the folders is to keep the paper clutter corralled and off the desk/counter top surfaces and to organize the paper so that it can easily be reviewed. I keep my folders on a shelf in a bookcase. They can also be kept in a file drawer or box. At least once a year, skim through these dream folders. Then you can note what still interests you while tossing the rest. you may even find that you have implemented some of the ideas and now no longer need the original inspiration.

So, gather up your papers and make your dream folders. Enjoy those dreams and make them happen.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer