Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Elderly and Clutter

Sometimes I help empty out houses of deceased parents. The children left behind are often astonished at the amount of clutter left behind. This accumulation does not really fit with the mother or father they knew growing up. They wonder what happened.

Possible reasons for clutter in the elderly:
  • They are weaker physically
As parents age, they often develop physical difficulties that they might not share with their children. It is harder for them to move around. Putting things away may be difficult so they leave the items out on the table or counter "just for now". They may think they are going to get better and they have visions of giving parties and entertaining again, so they continue to buy and keep cooking paraphernalia that they never will use. They may have difficulty doing laundry and when the laundry becomes overwhelming, they may just order new clothing. During the holiday seasons it is easier to just buy a few new decorations rather than pull down and use what they already have.
  • They don't see the clutter
The buildup of clutter may come slowly over time. They adjust to what is in their home and stop seeing it as clutter. The same may be true of odors that have developed because cleaning is now more difficult. If they were shown a picture of their living area, they would probably be surprised.

  • They have mental issues
They may forget that they have items and so continue to buy more of what they already have in abundance. As dementia sets in they also forget to put things away, eat properly, and take care of other living skills. Things accumulate around them. Anxiety and depression are also common in the elderly. They may shop just for the social contact. They may worry about not being able to get what they need later so they overbuy now.

  • Fear of want
Because they are on a fixed income and no longer have a regular paycheck, they worry that their money will run out. When they see a good deal on canned food, light bulbs, soaps, paper products, they buy in bulk. There is not usually a good place to store all these products, so they are placed here and there, often on the floor. If an item becomes broken, they hold on to it with the idea that it can be fixed someday.
  • Gifts
Perhaps the parent was once a great cook and loved to throw parties so still now they are gifted with cookbooks and cooking paraphernalia they do not need. They may get gifts of throws for the couch, scented soaps, or because they loved dogs, figurines, pictures, and books about dogs. The parent does not want to give away or throw away someone's gifts, so they just accumulate. 

There are many reasons why the clutter accumulates but the crucial point is that children should be in contact with their parents and go to their homes to visit. Having parents come to their home or going on a cruise with them will not tell the whole story. 



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Zone Plan: Organizing Your Entry Hall



I work with a Zone Plan to organize and deep clean my entire home. In the spring I like to concentrate on my back-entry hall and one storage wall in my laundry room. Although most of my guests enter through the front door, there are times when they do come through the side door off the car port plus this is where the family usually enters so I want this area to be warm and welcoming. I want this area to make people smile when they enter my home. I have hung and placed whimsical art in this area just for fun. This is also an area where incoming and outgoing items are held. Current outerwear is left here on hooks. Cloth grocery bags, when unpacked after a grocery run, are hung here until the next person makes a trip to the car. Outgoing mail is laid on the bench until the next run to the post office. While this is a staging area for incoming and outgoing items, nothing is allowed to stay long. At the most items may linger a day or two. The vision is to have fun accessories and not clutter in this area. Right outside the door there are two planters and a whimsical frog to welcome you.

The storage hall in my laundry has many purposes. I have an elfa wall unit to hold overflow from other areas of my home. This one wall holds entertainment supplies, recycling bins, a cat box, extra litter, bird seed, tool kits, cleaning products, extra file crates from the office and a hanging rod for clothes taken from the dryer. What a hodgepodge! Surprisingly, this zone works well. However, as I go through this zone, I look closely at what is there. I am sure some of the items can be purged, like that container of cat food the cat will no longer eat. Some items get dumped in here that really belong in the storage shed so now is the time to move them to their final destination. When I am finished, there will be less clutter and more open spaces.

At the end of the month, I will reward myself by buying some blooming flowers to place in the pots outside the door.

For more help on organizing your space, order my workbook, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.
http://timespaceorg.com/order_book.php


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, April 20, 2018

Priorities




Your life is very busy. You don't know how you'll get it all done. Your calendar is booked months out. And then you get the phone call from a close friend's daughter. She wants to give a surprise birthday party for her mother - in a few weeks and in a town 5 hours away!

What do you say? You say, "Wonderful! How can I help?".

Friends are one of the most important resources that we have. I got together with other friends from my area who were invited, and we put together a delightful scheme. I invited myself to my friend's home for the weekend. She was delighted that I wanted to come for a visit. The daughter reserved a villa for the other out of town guests and a restaurant for Friday night. The gang from my area planned on bringing in food for 2 brunches and a dinner. A cake was ordered and was going to be delivered by another friend who lived near the town of the party. We all pulled it off! It was a delightful surprise and meant a great deal to our friend.

And you know what? I came away from that long weekend happy and relaxed and even more ready to tackle all the tasks and chores that awaited my back home.

It's important to remember our priorities and friends should always have a top billing.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Using a Team Approach to Decluttering

Every now and then I have a project that makes sense to use a team. I love this model and wish it came up more often. Some jobs I am the team leader and some jobs I am working under another leader. I enjoy both scenarios.

When does the team model make the best sense for a client?
  • A huge project that needs to happen quickly. Ex. An estate trying to empty a cluttered house or a family moving with short notice and needs to downsize.
  • A person overwhelmed working on a project and now just wants it done. Ex. Several moves later there are still boxes hanging around from the first move.
  • A house renovation where the house needs emptying and then items brought back form storage and put away.
  • A hoarding situation where the client is now ready to clear out items from the home.
At first the team model may seem expensive to the client but when they realize how many people will work for many hours and they see how quickly real change happens, they are delighted. A team of three or four experts can tear though a project much faster than one organizer.

When does this model not make sense?
  • The client cannot make decisions easily and team members must wait around for the client's responses.
  • The client is not pushed for time and would rather spread out the work ant the cost and learn by working together.
  • The client is nervous having people in her home working when she cannot see them all.
  • The client is not clear with her vision and expectations.
As professional organizers we want what is best for our clients and team work is just one more way that we can serve.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Organizing the Master Bedroom Zone

I love to organize and declutter my master bedroom in the spring. It's finally gotten warm enough to put away most heavy winter clothes. It is also a time when I like to clean the windows and let the sun pour in.

Anytime I work in a zone, I start with a vision. Because I share this room with my husband, it needs to be a shared vision. We want this room to have a calming and soothing feel and be a place that sparks joy and happiness. We like soft light but enough for reading. My husband meditates here so the room should have an uncluttered peaceful feel.

I allow one month to work on this zone and divide the area into four sections. The easiest way to do this is to assign one wall to each week. We look at our calendars and schedule time to do this project. Rob has his hanging clothing items in his office that is across the hall, so he will only have to schedule time to work on his dresser and end table.
  • Week One: I work on my closet. I evaluate all the clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories to see what needs to go, what needs some care, and what is kept. I use the backward hanger trick (every time I clear out the closet, I hang up all my clothes with the hanger facing the wrong way. The first time I wear an item, I turn the hanger back around to its normal position). Any clothes that still have the hanger facing the wrong way, get a long hard look. Why have I not worn it? It may be a special occasion outfit and that occasion did not occur - so I keep it. I may have similar clothing that I prefer to wear - so I get rid of it. It may make me feel uncomfortable - low neckline, too short, a bit too tight, makes me feel old - so I get rid of it.
  • Week Two: I work on the wall with my dresser and Rob works on his dresser that is on the closet wall. We take every thing out and toss out anything that is damaged and put into a donation box anything that no longer fits or that we no longer enjoy wearing. I take out my heavy sweaters and tops and put them in a container that is in the closet. While working on this wall, I clean the dressers and any accessories that are on that wall.
  • Week Three: I work on a wall that only has a window. I also do the window that is on the bed side wall. I clean the blinds, the frames, and the inside of the windows.
  • Week Four: I work on the bed wall. We clear our end tables. Over the year a lot of reading material has accumulated. We pull out all items we are not currently reading and empty and clean out the drawers. During this week I also clean the bed and all bed linens. The duvet is cleaned and stored away for the warm months. Any accessories that are on the end tables and wall are also cleaned. 
As a reward for completing this zone, I will allow myself a shopping trip to purchase a few items that will replace some of the tossed ones. Then I will put out fresh flowers and step back and admire the space. I feel we will sleep better in the clear, clean bedroom.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Just Start

You have this chore or task that has been on your "do" list way too long. Every time the scheduled time to work on this chore appears on your screen, you ignore it or reschedule it. You know it is something you must eventually do or at least "should" do but it is not urgent. It could be working on your tax paperwork or updating your web page or washing the windows. This past week on my Zone Plan Teleclass call one of the participants shared how she conquered this problem.

She decided to just start or prepare to start the task. She didn't actually do the task at that time, but she got everything out she needed to do the task. Her task was to make a repair. This had been on her list for months. A couple of days ago, she laid out all the tools she would need near the item that needed repair. That was it for that evening. Just laying out the tools. The next day when she had a break she looked at the tools all laid out and ready and thought, "This won't take too long. I've got everything ready." She did that repair and now could joyously cross that task off her "do" list!

So, today, pick one task that has been on your list for a while. Get out all that you will need to complete that task. That's it for now. See if that helps motivate you to complete the task. For me, this morning, I will lay out the bucket, rags, cleaners, etc. by my front door. I bet I'll have that front door and stoop clean by the time I go to bed tonight.

The trick is to just do the very first tiny step and see if that gets the project rolling. I would love for some of you to try this and send me some feedback on if it worked for you.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Organizing Your Storage Unit

Why do people (one in 11 American households) rent storage units? According to Wikipedia, industry experts often refer to the 4Ds of life (death, divorce, downsizing, and dislocation). Also, some homes do not have a basement or attic so a storage unit holds what homes with those attics and basements store there.

If you are one of those one in 11 American households that rent a storage unit, you will want to keep it organized and decluttered. Treat this unit like another zone in your house.

When organizing follow these steps:
  • Determine the purpose of the unit. Is it mainly to store seasonal decorations and party supplies? Is it storing items while your home is being renovated? Are you holding grandma's items there until you can decide on what to do with them?
  • Have an inventory of what is in the unit. 
  • Label all boxes and if possible use clear bins.
  • Zone out the unit so like items are stored together. If you are using the unit for holiday decorations, have all Halloween in one zone and all Christmas in a different zone.
  • Use shelving so boxes are not stacked on top of each other. Boxes will crush if stacked too high. If you want something from a stack of boxes the odds are it will not be in the top box.
  • Have pathways so that you can safely get to each zone in your unit. If shelving is packed close together, have rolling casters on the bottom of the shelving units so you can move one out into the hallway temporarily to get to what you need.
  • At least annually reassess the purpose of the unit and remove all items that are no longer needed or loved.
Do not use storage units just to keep things out of your house. If you are paying every month for storage, make certain that you know the reason why it is important to you. Then honor the items in the storage by keeping them organized.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer