In the Zone

Are you sick of the clutter in your home? Well, I’m here to help because we’re in this together. I’ve come up with a method that works wonders to kick out the clutter and finally give you the peaceful, spacious, clean home that you and your family deserve. It’s called the Zone Method, and here’s how it works.


1. Divide your home into four zones. This is the no-fail method that I use for deep cleaning and de-cluttering. You divide your home into zones and then focus on one zone each week to do those odd jobs that we tend to put off until we move or the in-laws come for a visit. The trick to zone cleaning is that you assign one week to each zone and don’t focus on anything else in the house except the maintenance work (laundry, dusting, vacuuming, that sort of thing). After that week, you move on to the next zone and when you finish all four zones, you begin again with Zone 1.

Here’s what my zone chart looks like:


These are the zones I recommend, but if they don’t work with your home, then feel free to come up with a schedule that does.

* ZONE 1—Kitchen, Dining Room, Pantry
* ZONE 2—Living Room, Playroom, Den
* ZONE 3—Bathrooms, Bedrooms
* ZONE 4—Yard, Porches, Garage

And when you designate a week to work on each zone, make sure you mark it on your calendar, like this:


Okay, now that you’ve got that part done, move on to the actual zoning process:

*************** IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT **************
For all moms enrolled in the Mom Stress Cure, please take this one step at a time and don’t overdo yourself. Just focus on getting your zones set up. That’s it. Remember, we are tackling this with small steps–one at a time. If you get an overwhelming hankering to do some cleaning and decluttering, then just keep the task small and manageable. Okay? Okay!
******** END OF IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT (thanks for your patience) ********

Now, for everyone else, let’s move on and do some zoning…

2. Pick an area in the zone to de-clutter. Don’t bite off more than you can chew or you’ll give up before you ever get started. For example, in my kitchen, I cleared out the cabinet that holds my pots and pans, that’s it. The rest can wait until that zone comes back around on your calendar (after all, it’s waited all year, hasn’t it?)

3. Do the 6-Step De-Cluttering Cure. I know, I know, when you pull open that drawer or open that closet, it can seem a bit—um—overwhelming. So, here’s what you need to do to turn that mountain into a molehill.

* Step One: Dump it.
Go ahead, just toss everything on that shelf or in that drawer right out on the floor. You got to do it sometime, may as well do it now.

* Step Two: Sort it.
This is where you divide all that junk into three piles: throw away, give away, or put away. It’s that simple. Put the give away stuff into a bag and take it to the car to drop off at your local charity. Toss the trash. And now you’re left with the all the stuff to put away.

* Step Three: Group it.
Group all of the items that you are keeping into like piles to organize it. For example, if you are cleaning out the toys, you may sort them into toys with wheels, doll stuff, small toys, and action figures. Make your categories broad enough so we don’t get caught up in the details.

* Step Four: Contain it.
Now that you’ve grouped everything, find something to contain it so that it stays organized. For example, toys with wheels may go into a plastic tub and small toys may go into a small basket. And before you go buy anything, look around you house and see if you can use what you’ve got on hand.

* Step Five: Tidy it.
By cleaning up the area before you put everything back, you’re more motivated to keep it that way. You may want to put pretty shelf paper down in the closet, or scrub out the drawers with a sweet-scented cleaner.

* Step Six: Label it.
Don’t leave any room for confusion! Label that drawer or container clearly so everyone in the family knows what goes where. And that means everyone, even the pre-readers, so you may need to get creative and make picture labels for the younger kids.

4. Reward yourself. This is the trick that makes it worth your efforts! For every kitchen-sized trash bag of items you give away, reward yourself with a $20 purchase to go toward something that will beautify your zone. Twenty dollars is about the average deduction you can take for a bag of donations for charity, so it all comes out even (just keep your receipt so you can deduct it from your taxes). I LOVE this step because, like most moms with kids to feed and bills to pay, it takes a lot to validate a purchase for myself. This is my way of earning those awesome items that I have my eye on—new pajamas for cleaning out my closet, a new griddle for clearing out those old pots and pans. It works for me and I’m thinking it’s going to work for you, too!

It’s time for you to create the home of your dreams—right where you are. Each week, we attack one of the four zones. C’mon and join us! Just start in right where we are in the zone of the week. You’ll get the motivation and the drive to get your home in shape. It’s time, Mama—get in the zone and enjoy your home!

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