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A Zone, Fitting Rooms & Housekeeping

First the questions. What the heck is an A Zone and what do fitting rooms have to do with housekeeping and home organizing? Years of coaching retail teams on how to best merchandise and present their spaces has taught me a lot on how these same principles can apply to our everyday lives. You are the customer of your home and how its merchandised or presented is how it makes you feel. If your home doesn't invite you in the same way a beautiful store front does then you certainly won't feel at home there.

Let's start with the A Zone and what it represents. In retail lingo the A Zone is the first few feet inside a store. This is where the retailer has an opportunity to capture your interest and draw you in. If the entrance is cluttered, messy and unappealing customers and sales are lost. The same feeling is true to your home. If the first thing you feel is mess and clutter when you step inside it's not good. Take a look at your entrance. Now take everything out of it and give it a good sort and purge. Closets can hold way more than we think they can and things get lost even in organized spaces. Purge the shoes that doesn't get worn and just get dusty. Limit the amount of umbrellas and winter gear to a reasonable amount per person. Now put back what stays and give it a home.

Now that you've set the pieces in their homes it's time to set the standards and hold all family members, including yourself accountable. When you come in the door put things away where they go. Don't let clutter linger in your entrance. It sets a new standard and it's up to you to lead by example. If something is perpetually out of place in your entrance consider the why behind it and work on solutions to give it a better home that is more likely to be maintained. Remember the goal is getting the clutter out and the calm in through an easy to maintain entrance. Maintain your A Zone and you'll instantly feel welcomed in your space.

Now let's talk about the fitting rooms of a retail environment and how they relate to your space. Is there a pile of clothes in your room? On a chair? In the corner? This is the clutter that I call the fitting rooms. When you put something on and don't end up wearing it where does it go? In that messy fitting room type pile. If you wear something for a short while and it's not needing to go in the laundry where does it go? In the fitting room pile. And who puts these piles away when you don't have staff like the ones that work in a retail store? So the lesson here is return your clothes to their homes when you're not wearing them to avoid the messy fitting room situation. I can tell you that things get lost in the fitting room pile. No one knows for sure what is in it and countless sales are lost to the pile of clothes that accumulates through out the day in a store. Don't waste your own time rummaging through your own fitting room pile. Get in there and put it all away. Even if it's something that you've worn for a bit, but not ready for laundry, put it away. This will save you time, guaranteed.

Housekeeping is the answer I give to retail teams who are super stressed out by a visit from head office. They won't know where every item in a store should be necessarily, but they will instantly feel if your space is not basically clean. The same is so true with your space. No one coming over to visit will know that your closet is in need of decluttering or your pantry isn't kept up with. Clean floors, clear counters, uncluttered surfaces, these are the things that lead to a feeling of calmness. Correct the chaos, take a deep breath and tackle the organizing projects in a methodical organized fashion. Make the housekeeping standards and stick to them. A few minutes a day of maintenance is all you need. I'm not talking about mopping the floor everyday, but a quick sweep or vacuum (I love vacuuming with my Dyson cordless) goes a long way. 10 minutes a day to do a quick declutter of the counters, surfaces and quick sweep of the floors goes a long way. Many people have the vision of always being able to accept visitors at a moments notice as their tidying goal. Good housekeeping will lead to this and give you motivation you need to big deep declutter and maintain it.

Years ago I was a brand new manager for Aldo shoes on Queen St in Toronto. It was middle of summer, Queen St sidewalks was full of shoppers. My store was packed and because I had just taken over the location it was a true mess. From the stockroom to the windows it was awful. I had just gotten word that Mr. Aldo Bensadoun, the ALDO of Aldo shoes, was coming by the store for an unplanned visit. I nearly died when he walked into my disaster of a store. He was so kind to me. I will never forget that he took outside, I thought he was going to take me out and just let me go right then and there! But he kindly took me outside and he said it all starts with one simple step. Don't try and do a million things but pick one thing and make it better and maintain it. Start with that. I will never forget that he didn't fire me that day but fired me up to start tackling one thing at a time. Whether its your A Zone, Fitting Room or Housekeeping. Make the impact and get motivated to dig deeper into your organization armed with a plan or better yet have a professional organizer by your side to ensure your success.

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