Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Setting up a Gift Zone

Quite a few times I have worked with a client organizing an area and we will come across a gift they had purchased and never sent. I'm all for buying gifts ahead of time. Sometimes you are out shopping and you see just the perfect gift for your brother but his birthday is past and it's a long time until the holidays. Go ahead and buy the gift but then what do you do with it when you get home?

I recommend designating one or two places in your home to stash these gifts. If you have children you may need to get a bit creative to hide their gifts. I like to tag the items with the name of the person I had in mind when I made the purchase. I tend not to buy large items so I use a drawer in my guest bedroom for my gift zone. I have seen clients use a shelf in their basement, an under the bed storage container, or an area in a closet. These spaces do not have to have super easy access because you will not go there often. However, they should be easy enough to get to that you are not tempted to just lay the gift down "just for now".

Another advantage of having a gift storage area is that when you do buy something and go to put it away, you can see what you already have. This keeps you from buying five things for your sister because she is so easy to shop for and only one item for your brother (another book?). It also keeps you aware if you are overbuying. It is great to have a couple of hostess gifts tucked away so that you can shop that gift zone before heading out to the store.

If you do not already have a zone for gifts, take a walk through your home now and see what place or places might work for you.

Happy shopping!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tips on Organizing Your Attic or Basement Zone



November is a great time to organize and clean out your attic or basement zone. It is not as hot or yet too cold for comfort. it is also a zone where many of us store our holiday decorations.

As you prepare to work in this zone, make a list of all the items you store there. The list might include:
  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans or heaters
  • Extra household items you are not currently using but want to keep
  • Toys or items to pass on to family or friends
  • Out of season clothing or sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Archival papers
Plan where each category will be housed. Items you do not plan to use in the next year are best stored furthest from the entry. This might include the extra items you are not now using and some of the  archival papers.

Attack the attic or basement zone by zone. Remove everything from the one zone you are working on and sweep down the area and look for any structural damage or infestations. As you place items back into their area, if you come across broken, unloved items, or multiple items (how many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel much lighter when they are gone. You will have more room to move around and when this zone rolls around again next year, it will be a much easier task.

Leave space between each zone so you can safely maneuver to retrieve or store items.

Label all containers. Use large labels that you can see from some distance. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is inside if the lighting is dim.

It helps to locate different holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations. Still label the containers with primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or crèche you want to use early in the season. Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and in-decorating a much easier chore.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gratitude



This past weekend we had a mini-family reunion at my sister's home to celebrate my son's 50th birthday. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for my family.

My sister, Ann, opened up her home for this event and her son, Tod, and his partner, Richard, also opened up their home for overnight guests. Ann, Tod and Richard also spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing food. Husband, Rob, also spent time in the kitchen cleaning up.

My son, Ben, came to this event even though his lovely wife, Kellie, was not able to make the trip. He flew in and met up with my brother, Jim, and his wife, Mindy, at the airport late Friday night and left again on Sunday evening. Jim and Mindy were on about the same schedule and were still fighting jet lag from a trip abroad. Even the family that were local had to really work their schedules to carve out this special time. I really appreciate that effort.

We spent a lot of time catching up, telling stories, and laughing. These times with family are the best vacations ever. I am forever grateful for my family.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Free Holiday Cards, Gift Wrap, Calendars and More!

This time of year junk mail really revs up. I really hate it  when charities I give to send me free holiday cards, gift wrap, and/or free calendars. All of these items either end up in my recycling bin or are given to an older friend who does enjoy them. I hate that the money I donate is being spent on sending me items that I do not want.

Unwanted catalogs, credit card offers, and donation requests swamp us at this time of year and if you are not vigilant they can really clutter up homes and offices. Yesterday alone 6 catalogs, 3 donations requests, and a set of free holiday cards came into my home. Some of the catalogs and donation requests came from groups that I have never used. Many companies send this mail because they have bought our information from a data broker.

More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are mailed to U.S. households each year, including 12 billion catalogs! That's a lot of trees! Over 100 million trees are cut down each year to produce our junk mail and 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened and only half that much junk mail (22%) is recycled.

So, what to do? I always recycle but that is not enough. There are several sites to help you stop your junk mail. Catalog Choice helps stop catalogs. You have to set up an account and it is easy to use but takes a bit of time to find your catalog in their long lists.

Another option is to call the number on the back of the catalog and ask them to remove you from the list. By law, they must honor this. It would not take too long if you did each one when it comes through.

Charites are more difficult. It helps to donate to charities with a demonstrated commitment to donor privacy. Find charities that make a promise not to share, sell, or trade your personal information. Also look for charities that are financially efficient. If you support a charity that sends out too many mailings, call that charity and tell them how often you want to be contacted. Audubon now only sends me a donation form annually. I have another charity that automatically gets a monthly payment.

It is a good idea to pick a few favorites and give more heavily to them and refuse the others. I love to support wildlife and nature organizations. Consequently, I give to way too many. Now is a good time to really study each of those groups and decide which one or two I want to support.

It can seem overwhelming but even if we just take action to eliminate some of them the world would be a better place.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Health Hazards of Living and Working in Clutter




Recently I have had several of my clients cancel sessions because of respiratory problems and, yes, this may be an allergy but it could also be due to dust, dander, and even mold in stacks of papers and items throughout the house. I recently had some respiratory difficulties after working over five hours in a home with papers that had been scraped off the floor in another room. I could see hair, dust, and some trash mixed in with the papers. It is my own fault that I did not stop then to get out my gloves and mask.

Unless you clean your home on a regular basis, the clutter gathers dust. When you have piles of "stuff" you are not likely to move them in order to clean. This accumulated dust can cause lung irritation and allergy flair ups. Stacks of boxes that block vents also cause poor air circulation and lack of filtering the air.

I've also unpacked boxes of papers that have been stored so long there was evidence of black mold on the papers or books. You certainly don't want to breathe in mold and sometimes the papers are important ones that need to be kept.

Another health hazard I have come across is animal feces. If it is difficult for animals to get out the door or get to a cat box they are more likely to use the floor or go on the items stacked on the floor. Once an area is marked, animals will continue to use this space as their latrine.

Bugs and even rodents also love clutter. Mounds of material and paper make great nests. Bugs love paper boxes that have been stored on the floor for long periods of time. The presence of bugs and rodents is not a good combination for good health.

Tripping accidents and fire are also hazards I have observed. It's hard to navigate around piles of clutter and I had a client narrowly escape a fire in her home because of the clutter. Trying to navigate your way out of a smoke filled home with only pathways to walk is a very scary experience.

And while this is not as obvious, stress of living with clutter can affect health.

The bottom line here is that even if you are not close to staring in a hoarding episode, clutter can eventually harm your health. It's amazing how much better you will feel once you have your clutter under control.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Let's Throw a Party!

During the holidays chances are that you are either throwing a party or are a part of setting up a party. It might be a large Thanksgiving gathering, a choir or work party, a cookie exchange, or a gala New Year Eve party.

Since I love to give parties, over the years I have developed a plan that lets me enjoy my own parties. The plan involves backwards planning and looks like this:
  • Start with your vision. What is the purpose of this party? Where is it held? How will it look and feel if it turns out perfectly? Look over each component of the party and see it clearly - the local, the food, the people, the ambiance.
  • Choose a date for this event. Then at least six weeks out develop your guest list and send a save the date email followed by the actual invitation.
  • Take each component and decide what needs to happen for the vision to come true. For example, if the party is held in your home and it is a Christmas party, you see your home decorated and set up for the party. Make a list of every detail that needs attention between now and the party. If there is a decorated Christmas tree in your party space you will list decorating the tree, bringing out your decorations, putting up the tree, buying the tree - probably on four different days.
  • Develop your timeline. Put all the tasks on your calendar. Now follow your plan.
If you follow your plan you never have to worry about if you have time to get ready. If you are interested in the timeline I have developed for my Holiday 2017 party just contact me at jonda@timespaceorg.com and request it. You can see how I blocked out times for baking and most of one weekend before the party to prepare the house. This is what it takes to make my vision come true.
Enjoy!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Organizing Your Kitchen

Every October I declutter and reorganize my kitchen. I know that the next few months will involve a lot of holiday cooking and I want my kitchen to be at its best. There are a lot of food drives around this time of year and it gives me a chance to clear out any foods that I have overstocked or bought on a whim and not used. This opens up space for holiday supplies.

I like to work in my kitchen so I want it to be an inviting place that is uncluttered. I want open countertops that are ready for food prep or rolling out cookies or pie dough. I want all my basic stored foods and spices organized and fresh so that I can easily put my hand on what I want without missing a beat. I want to be happy in this warm space.

I look at my kitchen as it is now and see what I can streamline to open up more space. I only want on my counter tops the items I use daily and even some of them can be tucked away under the counter. For example, I use my coffee grinder once a day but it is light and easy to shift off the counter for more space.

Next I go to my cabinets. Am I really using all of the pots and pans stored there? Are some taking up space just because I once used them? And then all of those food storage containers - do they have matching lids? I like to use the glass containers but will put to the back of the cabinet some plastic ones that I can pull out to send home food with visitors. I will keep to the front the ones I use weekly.

In my food pantry I organize my foods by type. I have all my canned vegetables in one row, my soups in another, any canned meats or fruits in their rows. One shelf is for snack food and I like to put some of those in open containers that can be pulled out and then replaced. I also sore most of the cat food on a different shelf in the pantry along with some staples. As I am organizing I  am pulling out what to toss or donate.

I review my serving pieces to see if I am still using all of them. As I work I wipe out each shelf before putting back items.

During this month I also clean out my refrigerator/freezer, my oven, my stove, and my microwave. I make a list of all the tasks to complete for me to call the kitchen zone "done". Then I divide the list into four weeks and post it on my fridge. I put times on my calendar to work on each task and then cross them off when they are complete.

By the end of the month my kitchen is ready for anything I want to tackle over the holidays and I'll even have some room for a few holiday decorations.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer