exit-zoneOnce you have purged the stuff in your home down to a manageable quantity, there is no more important practice to stay organized than to establish DEDICATED ZONES.  These are areas in your home (or office) that are dedicated to one purpose and nothing else.  The stricter you are, the easier it will be to stay organized.  Perhaps the most vital dedicated zone of all is the exit zone.

I realize the word “strict” has the negative connotations of a schoolmarm with tightly pulled back hair and a ruler at the ready to whack you across the knuckles when you step out of line, but “strict” can be your friend.  I firmly believe in the paradox that limitations breed freedom.

Take the example of the exit zone.   Near your front door you may have a small table, shelf, or counter, like the one pictured.    This is prime real estate, not to be squandered.  Tchotchkes, clothing, and incoming mail can all go elsewhere, but there is no better place to collect items that you want to make a point of remembering before you exit your home.

This area should include small items that require a permanent residence like cell phone, sunglasses, pocket book, and keys.   It should also include more temporary items like overdue library books, and borrowed kitchenware.    If these temporary items stick out like a sore thumb, GOOD!  That awkwardness is more likely to compel you to action.  Get these items out of your exit zone and back to where they belong.

Adhering to your exit zone STRICTLY means you always have things like your keys, cash, and cell phone reliably in any situation, including emergencies, which expands your options and your freedom.  If, however, you grant yourself the “freedom” to put your pocketbook wherever you please, you may find yourself losing it, losing several hours of comfort, and losing the freedom to do anything else until you find your pocketbook!