What is zoning and how do you do it?
First of all, you can zone at different times, either when you try to solve an issue, or when you try to keep it from happening in the first place.
If you are having trouble getting things done because you feel overwhelmed, then choosing a smaller area is a good way to start, right? And there it is: you have zoned an area of interest that you can now focus on and (hopefully) disregard anything else. I know, this is not always the way it goes because organising that one spot will obviously have a domino effect on other areas, but you’ll have to start somewhere and just dealing with one zone will help you move forward.
But the bigger reason why zoning is so important is prevention. Prevention of clutter, disorganisation, frustration, overstepping boundaries, etc.
A typical place to make use of this concept is your living room, or any other room that serves multiple functions. What do you do in your living room? Watch TV, sit down with friends to chat and share a drink, study, work from home, supervise the kids playing, do your ironing, do one of your hobbies, … the list is endless. And when you think about it, all those things use the space in a slightly different manner: working from home requires an organised and quite area, supervising the kids tends to be a lot more chaotic and all-encompassing. Some hobbies require quiet, some require having lots of people around.
As you can see, a bit of planning is needed. For example, if you work from home, you’ll need a space that suits your work, and maybe you require others in your home to leave you alone. Zoning is about finding out what exactly is necessary and making sure you have everything set up as close to perfect as you can. All this requires a level of creativity, of course. If you only have the kitchen table to work on and the kids are doing homework there, maybe a bit of tape to separate your space from theirs is enough to create an invisible barrier that everyone can now start to respect?
If you have a little more room, a ‘work rug’ could do miracles: “when I’m sitting in this corner, you are not allowed to disturb me or walk onto the rug”. Hard to implement at first, but once the family understands, you may just have created a work zone for yourself.
It’s important to consider the mental effect on yourself as well: if you can bring yourself to switch to play mode when you are in the play area with your kids, then you’ll be in a better mindset to enjoy it and leave work behind for a while. You wouldn’t want your bedroom to be the family TV room and the kids playroom either, do you?
The lesson here is that by separating out certain uses of a space and clearly indicating that particular use to yourself and others, you’ll be able to more easily switch from one to the other. Coming back to the sense of overwhelm I mentioned at the outset (tidying up or organising something), if you have a clear idea what a particular area is used for, you’ll be more quickly able to determine which items belong there and which ones don’t. From here on in, it’s all about moving what doesn’t belong to where it needs to be.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.