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The Best Reason to Use the Zone Plan to Organize Your Home

You are probably familiar with the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Benjamin Franklin said this way back when. Of course, I don’t know what he was referring to at the time but there are so many applications. Think about a door knob. If it becomes loose, it’s a good idea to tighten the screws before the whole thing falls off. You don’t want to wait too long to attend to this task or you may have an even bigger problem to fix, right? Preventive maintenance is one of the best ways to keep little things that need to be fixed from becoming big problems. Let’s apply this thought to your home.  Specifically, I am going to use this expression to illustrate why it’s a good idea to use the Zone Plan to organize your home.

What is the Zone Plan?

We all know that a zone is an area, right? The Zone Plan, as it applies to your home, divides your home into areas. Ideally, you create 12 zones within your home and assign each zone to a specific month of the year. Every year during that month you focus your attention on deep cleaning and organizing the zone you assigned to that month.

Who created the Zone Plan?

My friend, colleague, and business partner, Jonda Beattie created the Zone Plan. We use this plan during our Clear Space for You sessions.

How does the Zone Plan work?

Let’s go back to the expression above. It says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This means that when you take care of something when it is a small issue or problem you prevent it from becoming a big problem.

Let’s apply this thought to organizing your home. When you spend a little bit of time organizing a small zone/area/ or room you reduce the probability that it will become hugely disorganized.

If you decide to follow the Zone Plan and spend one month organizing and deep cleaning in just one zone/area/ or room, you know without a doubt that it is organized to the best of your ability.

There will be nothing in that zone that doesn’t belong. Everything will have a home. Even better, everything will have been thoroughly cleaned. During the remaining 11 months of the year all you must do in that zone is maintenance. You know, the regular dusting and vacuuming. Of course, you also need to be mindful to put things back where they belong.

What is the best reason to use the Zone Plan?

The Zone Plan eliminates the need to clean the entire house during one week in anticipation of Spring.

No one wants to spend an entire week dusting, cleaning, vacuuming every square inch of their home – let’s not forget to mention washing the windows.

I understand the desire to remove the last traces of winter. It can be cathartic to throw open the windows, take rugs outside and beat the dust or sand out of them, and to wash outdoor furniture.

You can do these things. There are always extra tasks to do in a home. It’s rewarding to see the windows sparkle and to know there are no dust bunnies hiding under a carpet.

How to use the Zone Plan

When you use the Zone Plan, you divide the zone in which you are working into four sections and then schedule time to focus on one section a week during that month.

You decide what part of the zone to clean and organize during each work session.

By the end of the month, you will discover the things you no longer love or use in that zone and will release them. If there is something to repurpose to use in another room, you will take it there. Also, you will see if something needs to be fixed or replaced because you are looking closely at everything in the room. This is maintenance at its best.

Maintenance is the key to keeping anything at all in good working order.

When you apply a maintenance mindset to keeping the organizing solutions which work for you in good working order your home will consistently be organized.

The benefits of using the Zone Plan

The benefits here are huge.

You won’t wonder if something will fall out of a cupboard or closet when you open it because these spaces are overfull.

If a friend drops by unexpectedly, you can welcome them in with a genuine smile and open arms feeling confident that your home is warm and welcoming.

Do you think this is a plan you would like to try? Jonda Beattie and I run the Clear Space for You virtual clutter support group using the Zone Plan model. We start a new group at the beginning of every month. You can check it out here.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia



  • Seana+Turner says:

    What I love about this plan is it makes organizing and decluttering part of your regular habit. Over time, it ensures that you will address all of your spaces, instead of returning to just a few while ignoring others. Nothing gets too badly “out of whack.”

    I might have trouble tackling whatever zone falls in the month of December, though. I seem to have very little bandwidth in that month. Maybe I double up in January. 🙂

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Seana. Actually, Jonda skips December. It’s a good idea to give yourself a month off!

  • I love that you break down the zones. Another benefit of doing this is that you are more focused when the project is smaller. What an excellent service you are giving to people! Thank you for sharing the virtual clutter support group. I’m going to share it with my Facebook group. =)

  • This is brilliant! I live in an apartment, so if I split it into 12 zones, none of them will be a big job. No excuse for not doing what’s needed!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Exactly! The idea is to make dealing with every inch of your home as painless as possible.

  • The concept of the Zone Plan is wonderful! I can see how doing things regularly will make life less stressful. I love given special attention to areas, but I’ve never tried the Zone concept. Something to think about.

  • I never heard it called a Zone Plan. Great idea. I like the idea of having 12 areas in your house and working on one each month. It’s a good amount of time to accomplish your goals without needing to do it all in a short amount of time. It also seems that doing the Zone Plan would keep clutter at bay.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      Thank you, Janet. Zone Plan is Jonda’s name for this way of tackling the different areas in your home.

  • What a great system! I love that it helps take the stress out of organizing, but still results in a fully-organized home. I’m going to go brainstorm what the 12 areas of my home are…

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    I love Jonda’s Zone Plan, though I’ll admit I don’t think I have twelve whole zones in my apartment. I guess I can knock off for the summer and a few other months. But what’s this, “You know, the regular dusting and vacuuming” of which you speak? Man, I have to dust, too? Sigh. 😉

    Of course, you’re right. Making every project smaller and only having to focus on one area, and just do maintenance in the other areas, is key. And, of course, if you stick with the maintenance long enough, by the time some zones roll around, there may not be much to do at all. Except dusting. Sigh.

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