How’s Your Staging Area?

Staging Area

When you hear the word “staging” you might think of selling a house: getting your home in order so that everything is in its place and looking ready for sale. This concept is also important for everyday living.  A staging area is the place where you can put everything you need for the following day.  By establishing and then utilizing this area, you maximize your chances of having a smooth morning.

When setting up a staging area, be sure to:

  • Assign a separate zone for each family member. Mom’s zone may be in the dining room, an elderly parent’s might be on her dresser, a teen’s is probably in his room.
  • Find a place that is “safe”, where no food/drinks/dog paws can reach.
  • Dedicate this space (it shouldn’t be an area you need to repeatedly clear in order to perform other tasks)
  • Provide adequate space to accommodate what you typically take along (e.g. briefcase, backpack, phone, purse)
  • Remember to maximize the space you have. If you don’t have shelving/countertops/floorspace, consider a row of hooks.


Staging area
photo credit: Katanaya Green
  • Place reminders here for items you think you might forget. (e.g. “grab lunch out of the fridge” or “bring phone charger today”)
  • Use it consistently! Check it every night to make sure it has everything you will need.

Once you get in the habit, you will be able to rely on this space to hold all the essentials. This can be a lifesaver for those days when you wake up to the “unexpected,” such as a sick child, no electricity, a broken hairdryer, etc.

This same concept can be expanded for when you are planning a big event, such as a vacation. Set up a vacation staging area in the corner of your bedroom a of couple weeks before you plan to leave. This way, when random thoughts come to you about what you need to bring (“I need to remember to bring hand warmers this year”), you can act on the idea while it is fresh… simply grab the item and put it in the staging area. This is helpful because, when working up to a big event, we often recall items out of sequence – at random times other than the time we have set aside to pack or prepare.

If you are the one at work responsible for bringing the “detailed back-up”, you may wish to stage space for various upcoming meetings. Again, when you come across items you need to bring (the interview transcript, the trade show brochures, the model assumptions, etc), you will have the perfect place to put them until it is time to go. You can even have an electronic staging area on your computer where you can temporarily park files affiliated with a specific, upcoming event or client. As with all storage, be sure to clearly label piles or folders to avoid confusion.

A staging area is an easy way to bring order to a complex and/or chaotic schedule, and to minimize the regret of showing up unprepared.

How do you organize for a smooth morning?

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26 thoughts on “How’s Your Staging Area?”

  1. I absolutely love this idea Seana! I am pretty good with knowing and remembering what I need for the day but my husband isn’t so I’m gonna do this for him and I’ll let you know what happens! Haha. He’s often running late because he doesn’t prepare his stuff during the night, like today when he was looking for his money and I found it for him. Awww husbands! Hehe 🙂

  2. I pile all my stuff on the dog kennel right next our door out the garage… it’s not pretty but it works! And for things that can get cold, I try to go ahead and put them in my car as soon as I think of them. (Like… library books to return, package of diapers for the babysitter, etc.)

    1. I love the dog kennel, Sarah. It’s exactly the right kind of space — safe, convenient, easy! I also put things in the car – so much easier to remember and then its right there when you need it!

  3. I love that idea of a staging area for vacation! I usually think of things and then put them on a post-it note! Eventually I learned to put them on a staging area – which is this papasan chair we my husband always threatens to get rid of because it only acts as a staging area! No one ever sits in it!

    1. Personally, I can’t think of a better use for the papasan chair than a staging area! Just call yourself creative, Tamara, finding an innovative way to use an item most people would only think to sit on:)

  4. Great idea. My husband was in the military and he’s always talking about staging areas. I never thought to take it a step further and have a staging area for each family member. That makes more sense. Thanks for the info.

    1. That’s so interesting about your husband, Carla. Makes total sense that the military would have perfected this idea! Thanks for stopping by – hope it works out for you:)

  5. I love this idea. I have something similar for my children but we definitely aren’t using it the way we should. That may be my mission this long weekend…get it in order and teach them to use it!

    1. So glad you found it helpful, Stephanie! I’ve had a lot of comments about people using staging areas in other venus, but not necessarily for themselves at home. Good luck this weekend setting it up -I love a long weekend for tackling a project:)

  6. I love this idea Seana. I sort of currently do this. I’ve been thinking about how I use spaces in my home lately. I like to blog in my hearth room and I have a basket I can move around with all of my notebooks, pens and blog related things. When we go on vacation I usually set things in my spare room until I’m ready to pack. I’ve never really thought of this as staging areas, but your post has given me a new perspective.

    1. Well great, Dawn. I love it when something I write triggers a new thought – that’s the ultimate compliment! Sounds like you are having success with the idea already, so gold star! Your hearth room sounds very inviting to me:)

  7. Hi Seana,

    These are really great tips. I was not good when it comes to organizing stuff around my table and usually my wife would help in that. But with time I have really improved. Now it is still messy but I manage to reorganize in a very short time.
    I like the concept of zoning and I will try to use it now to improve my desk productivity.

    Thanks for sharing these tips 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ashvini! Sounds like you are lucky to have such an organized wife! Congratulations on being able to reorganize quickly — that is truly a sign of being organized: having a way to quickly restore order. Hope you like the zone idea!

    1. I’m having so much hearing about the various places people are using as their staging areas — on the TV stand is perfect! What a great idea, Susannah — a space that is out of the way and unlikely to be needed for another purpose. Thanks for your comment!

  8. I love this idea Seana! I did this with my kids when they were growing up. They put their book bags in the same place every night before going to bed(they even had a check off list)…homework, lunch/lunch money, cell phone(when they got older of course), i.d., etc. That system prevented many hectic mornings for sure! Thanks for sharing…have a wonderful week!

    1. Ah Michell, such lucky children to have an organized Mama! A checklist is a terrific idea for children… I used to have a flip chart on a key ring to show which “special” activity they had each day (e.g. gym, library, etc.) so they would bring the right supplies. Kindred spirits, right?

    1. You can’t always tell how kids will be when they are adults: the teen years especially are fraught with chaos, so sometimes even organized people can feel disorganized at this age. But a staging area is just easy to start using – no nagging/fuss:)

    1. It’s all about having a system, Brittnei! Single person or large crew, it always feels good to have exactly what we need, right:)?

  9. I just LOVE this idea Seana!!!! We have a few ‘staging areas’- I have a bench with all their school stuff, and then by the garage door, I have another bench with shoes and socks and that is where those ‘things’ go that need to be remembered!!

    1. A bench is perfect, Chris! Exactly the kind of spot for putting items you don’t want to leave the house without. Thanks for this comment!

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