Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day - a day for romance! A chance to spice up the relationship and show some love.

You look around your love nest. You notice the piles of shoes by the front door. Then there are the piles of papers and magazines cascading off the coffee table and the CDs and DVDs scattered on the floor. The living room is going to have some serious work done to look romantic. Maybe just scoop it all up into a box that you stash in the spare bedroom and deal with it later.

But what about the dining area where you want to put out that romantic meal? It seems to be covered in projects, bills, used plates and silverware, along with clothes to fold and put away. It is definitely not ready for that special meal. Another box or two?

On to the bedroom for a hard look. More scattered clothes along with stacks of books and magazines. And all those cosmetics on every surface. This room is not ready for that special night even if the lights are low and you use candles.


OK, do what you can to salvage tonight but then go back and look around the common areas in the home. If you want a peaceful romantic feeling what are you going to have to do to inspire that romance?

Remove everything from those zones that do not match your vision. Have specific places for everything that does belong in that room and put those items away. If you are short on space, let some things go or look for another storage area.

Now, clean and polish those newly exposed surfaces. Put out some flowers and candles. Play that special music.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Being organized
Is romantic, too.

Enjoy your special day!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Organize Using the Zone Plan

I keep my home organized by using a zone plan. I divide up my house into 10 zones. Each month I work on one area except for July and December. By the end of the year I have touched everything in my home and decided if it is still important and if it is still stored in a logical place.

January, I worked in my office zone. 
In February I work in my spare bedroom. My spare bedroom has a closet that stores office/business items I need but rarely use and some archival files. When I work in my office zone in January, I purge items that I need to keep but don't want in my office. These get dumped in the spare bedroom. by the end of January my spare bedroom is a mess with items stacked on top of the dresser or dumped on the bed.

It is very common when doing a big organizing session to have things that you want to keep but would best be stored elsewhere. This leaves extra clutter in other areas as you clean out and organize one zone. This is not a problem if you then move on and organize the space that has gotten messy due to the last project.

The closet in the spare bedroom is full before I start to work in this zone. The first step then is to reorganize and clear out the closet. As I pull out items, I decide if they still serve me. I may substitute items I had previously kept for a better version of the same thing. I purged some nice green notebooks from a shelf in my office zone. I donated some miscellaneous notebooks that had been stored in the closet and replaced them with the green ones. I clear out items that I have not used in the past couple of years as my style of presentations has changed. I pull and shred some client folders from my archival crate in the closet to make room for ones from my office that are not active now, but I feel might connect again at some point in time. I consolidate some office supplies, donating some of the excess. Then I wipe down the shelves, wipe the wall, and clean the floor. I put everything backs including the items that had gotten dumped in this space.

To finish the spare bedroom, I reorganize the dresser which holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. Then all that is left is to deep clean the room.

By the end of the month, I have completed this zone and will move on to the next one. All this room will need until next February is weekly cleaning maintenance.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What's in Your Bookcase?

As an organizer, I help my clients determine what they want to organize and what they want to let go. Some things are relatively straight forward. Extra furniture that no longer fits the house, extra kitchen items that are no longer used, clothes that are dated or no longer fit, and old electronics are usually not too difficult to let go. But when it comes to books, there is a large group of people who feel like we are asking them to choose which of their children they should throw out into the cold.

While I never tell a client what to get rid of or what to keep, I do often suggest that what is kept have a place to be stored. So, if you are saving 500 books, let's have containers - usually bookcases - to store them so they are not stacked on the floor or strewn haphazardly around the house. Honor what you keep.

I once went to do an assessment for a potential client who had several rooms with bookcases that went down the middle of the rooms as well as along the sides. Think public library stacks. It worked for him and the books were contained. He could and did part with a few and had his plan to honor and store the rest.

I have a client who has an enormous collection of professional books he has never read and probably never will. He reads the covers and some bits to see what the book is about but prefers to do actual reading on the topics from articles on line. He is preparing to move so we are having the discussion of looking at each book and deciding if some can be donated and how to shelve the ones he intends to keep. When I asked him why he kept buying so many books that he knew he would never read, he stated that he liked the idea of having his own library.

I recently worked with another professional who was feeling overwhelmed by the heaviness of her small office. She had 3 shelves of books that were hanging over her desk and stacks of items on her desk and under her desk.  As we pulled down her books and sorted through them, she could see that she had some that no longer needed to be in her library. She sorted her books into categories: trash, donate to charity, donate to Friends of the Public Library, put into a small lending library outside her office, put on shelves out in the main office that is shared by all who work there, a few to take home, and the rest back on her shelves. After the session, she had touched and reacquainted herself with all her books. She now only needed two of those shelves and had space for some decorative items as well.

As far as my own bookcases (one in my office and one in the kitchen) I sort through them once every year, dusting the books before replacing them. I usually have accumulated a few books through out the year either as a purchase or as a gift. After I have read a novel, I rarely feel the need to keep it. I would much rather pass it on to a friend or donate it so that someone else can enjoy it. My professional books are also re-evaluated.

For me, the bottom line is you keep what you love and use and those things that you do keep should be maintained and honored.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How to Use a Body Double

Many of my clients use me as a body double at least part of the time. One client uses me as a double most of the time and told me that he was so happy that someone had come up with the term "body double" as he likes it a lot better than "babysitter".

As a body double, I am near the person who is doing the project. Often that is all I need to do. My presence helps the client focus and stay on task. I am just a tool that allows them to get important tasks accomplished. I can even do this virtually using Facetime.

At first, some people are embarrassed by this arrangement. They realize that they are doing these chores all by themselves while paying me to sit there. They know they can do the work but at the same time they realize that they won't if I am not there. This is especially true of ADHD clients.

Sometimes I am a combination of body double and assistant. I may sort the mail, open it, and hand it to the client one piece at a time. The client then does the task that is needed and hands it back to me to file if appropriate. We may chat a bit about what needs to be done but the client actually pays the bill, makes the call, or discards the paper.

A body double does not have to be a paid professional. A friend or family member can do the work of a body double if they understand what is expected of them. If they realize that they are being the best help by sitting near the person but not intruding. They can read a book or work on a crossword puzzle but just by being there the person will continue to work. I have had one client use her sister as a body double while she was the body double for her sister. One lived in Georgia and the other in Texas. They would connect by phone and for one hour would work on projects with just a word or two as they worked to make certain each was on task.

Once a person accepts that a body double can be an important tool to help hem, it can be a relatively easy way to move a project forward.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Importance of Flexibility

We all are aware that if a tree is not flexible in the storm, it will break. So, it is with us.

When the storms come, we must have the ability and the willingness to change or compromise our plans for the upcoming day or longer.

My husband is now recovering from a cancer. The radiation has made it very difficulty to swallow much food and so we are doing tube feedings for nutrition 5 times a day. This means both of us have had to adjust our schedules accordingly and this has not been easy. This will be temporary and in time the tube feedings will diminish and finally be a thing of the past.

Usually we don't have such big things that change our day to day life, but frequently little things can require flexibility if we don't want to become upset or stressed. Almost weekly, I have some client that needs to change their appointment with me. Almost always it is a very good reason. Sometimes it is just because of their lack of planning but then again that might be something the client and I are working on. The bottom line is that my day's schedule must now be changed. I have the choice of what to do with that "found" time. I can choose to write. I can also choose to read. I can work on a project. What I don't want to do is squander this time.

Most of us have had to deal with such schedule changes due to a car not working, power outage, broken appliances, colds and other illnesses. Instead of stressing about the situation, look for a way to use that time. I find it helpful to have a list of tasks with an idea of how long that task will take. If I only have 15 minutes, I can clean out a drawer or take a short walk. If I have 30 minutes I can work on a blog or read.

The key point is that when events disrupt our lives, routines, and schedules, don't shut down. Practice flexibility. Discover other directions and not squander this time.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Organize Your Office Zone

A new year is beginning. It feels like the right time to set up the home so that it is open to all the new offerings the year will bring.

The reality is that it would be overwhelming to tackle the whole house, so this January I will begin with my office. I have been using the Zone Plan for many years and by the end of this year I will have touched everything in my home. (

Over the past year, my files have gotten overfull, project bins need to be updated, new items have come into my office and now the office is feeling a bit crowded. Now is the time to follow the program and work my plan on the office.

1. What is bothering me in my office zone?
  • Loose paper that is not filed
  • Project bins that hold old projects and new projects lying around 
  • Files too full
  • Items lurking on my desk and in the back of my credenza all shouting "Do me!"
2. How do I want my office to look and feel?
  • Look and feel inviting - a place that I enjoy
  • Empty spaces in files and on surfaces that allow for growth
  • Clean and uncluttered
  • Feel productive and energized by the space
3. What do I need to do to make this vison come true?
  • Clean out files
  • Shred and archive papers
  • Clear out desk drawers
  • Purge project bins and update them with current projects
  • Deep clean the room
4. Schedule time for each task.
  • Review calendar and see what times are available
  • Schedule reasonable times for each task
  • Write times to work on the calendar and honor that commitment
By the end of the month, I will call whatever has been accomplished "good enough" and move on to the next zone. The office is now ready for regular maintenance until next January. I always reward myself by buying a fresh flower for my desk.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! But, wait, what is so different today from yesterday? I still have my cold and I'm overweight. My bank account is the same. My house is still a mess from pulling down holiday decorations and not yet getting them boxed up and to the attic.

The only thing that has changed is an increased attention to savoring life. Instead of eating and running off to the next thing, I will savor my well-prepared food. I will enjoy and savor the clients I have learned to care about and welcome to the fold any new clients who are ready to work with me. As I put away my decorations, I will linger over them, remembering how they came into my life, and blessing the people who are associated with them.

I will reinstate my morning ritual of a gratitude journal, and before I have that first sip of coffee in the morning, I will take a moment to notice its aroma and really enjoy that first sip. I will spend a few extra moments cuddled up to my husband in the mornings before we go our separate ways.

To keep me grounded, I am setting my timer for five times a day and when it goes off, I am going to check in. Am I savoring or squandering my time?

It's going to be a great year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer