Updated: Aug 30, 2021
We here at Dexterous Organizing believe in the power of zones. No, we’re not talking about getting in “the zone.” Although focus is important, we’re talking about organizing categories into zones. We know other professional organizers feel the same. If you haven’t heard the term “zone” used in the professional organizing field, allow us to enlighten you! Zones are focal areas where specific items live.
For example, you might have a zone in your bathroom where you keep all your skincare products. Or you have a zone in your kitchen where you keep all your baking supplies. Zones are super helpful and can elevate a home from chaos to order.
Since many of our clients are avid consumers, a professional organizer colleague of mine would refer to zones by the store you’d find it in. For example, Health and Beauty items would be the “CVS Zone” while tools and houseware items would be labeled the “Home Depot Zone.” It’s helpful to remind clients to shop from their own backstock or storage zone first before skipping off to the store when the tube of toothpaste on the bathroom counter is running low.
Here are the two types of zones you should be organizing categories into
Most of the items you have in your home can be broken up into two zones. They are:
The “in use” zone
The storage zone
Two zones may seem like a lot, but in fact, they help keep things even more organized. The main difference between these zones is their location. The products and supplies will be similar, they’re simply kept separated.
Zone #1 — The “in use” zone
The first zone is what we like to call the “in use” zone. When organizing categories, this is where you keep all your daily used items. They’re accessible, easy to find, and constantly — you guessed it — in use. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Think about your makeup collection. Consider the products you use every day. For some, it’s a lot. They might use concealer, bronzer, blush, eyeliner, eye shadow, and more. But you might only use eyeliner, mascara, and some concealer.
That means you store all those daily used cosmetics in the “in use” zone. You can keep these in a makeup organizer on your bathroom counter or a divider in your drawer. Whatever it is and wherever it is, it includes the items you use on a daily basis.
Another room where your “in use” zone is important is your kitchen. What are the main items you use every day? More than likely it’s:
Coffee pot or tea kettle
2-3 pots and pans for cooking
Salt and pepper for seasoning
A couple of cooking utensils like knives, tongs, whisk, or spoon
Unless you’re making an elaborate meal that calls for specialty equipment, I can almost guarantee that you use the same pots and pans when cooking. So it should come as no surprise that these are the items you need to keep accessible.
If you don’t use a specific product that often, move them to your storage zone. We’ll cover that below. If you don’t bake that often, the ingredients you keep in your main cabinet could be moved elsewhere.
What you have to do when deciding what goes in your “in use” zone or storage zone is to ask yourself, Do I use this on a daily basis? If you don’t, it’s safe to move to a storage zone.
Zone #2 — The storage zone
The storage zone is exactly what the name entails. It’s where you keep storage, your backup, and your excess. This zone should be set up somewhere out of the way of your daily used items, but still accessible. Some popular locations for storage items are:
Under stair storage
Let’s go back to the makeup example. Consider how many palettes of eyeshadow you have. Are there any you wear on occasion? Do you normally wear lighter, neutral tones and save the darker ones for events like date nights? If so, the darker palette should go in your storage zone.
Although your storage zone has more products, you still want to keep things organized. When organizing categories in your storage zones, keep like items together. Store backup bathroom items in a nearby linen closet or in drawers you don’t usually use.
Storage zones are where you would put extra toothpaste or hair products. If you buy in bulk, the storage zone is where all of that stuff will end up. But as we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to throw items into random locations.
Storage zones should be kept in or near the room where those items are going to be used. You wouldn’t want to store extra toothpaste all the way down in the basement, would you? The term “storage” in this context is different from other storage you might be thinking about.
You store holiday decorations for the season, right? Just like you might store holiday kitchenware like decorative plates or tea towels. But your kitchen storage zone will house baking ware that you don’t use all the time. Muffin tins, pizza slabs, waffle makers. These are the items you should keep in your kitchen storage zone. This way they’re out of the way but nearby when you do need them.
See the difference?
And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the importance of labeling these zones. You may not need to label your “in use” zones because by habit you know where everything is. If you return those items to the same spot every single day, knowing where they are comes naturally.
But your storage zone should be labeled. Organizing categories is one step of the process. Labeling is a vital step that shouldn’t be skipped. And since labeling is such an important part of the organizing process, be sure to check out our blog post about it here.
When deciding what goes into which zone, you have to take into account your personal lifestyle. If you don’t wear makeup that often, there’s no reason to have a large collection in your “in use” zone. If all you need for work is a laptop and your phone, why clutter your desk with file folders or paper clips?
Determining your zones is all about how well you know yourself. Don’t waste valuable space in your kitchen by having something there that you don’t use. Store it away. Fill a basket with backup items and slap a label on it.
These zones are meant to enhance your organizational systems. Don’t overthink what item should go where. Simply ask yourself, What do I use on a daily basis? and keep that nearby. Anything else can and should be stored away in a place that’s still accessible but not right beside you.
Organizing categories can seem a bit daunting at the beginning. Your focus when approaching this time of organization is to make sure you’re tailoring your zones to YOU. Not to what you see online or how a friend does it. We all live differently, which means we use items differently. So make sure you are organizing categories in a way that suits you and your lifestyle.
We help our clients with basic organization projects like categorizing and rezoning. If you’re in need of help, contact us today. Tell us about your project and we’ll let you know how we can assist you.