Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Back to School - Have a Plan



It's hard to believe that here in Georgia where temps are up into the 90's that the new school year is about to start. Schools are opening the first week in August. So, even though it feels like summer, make a plan to have the transition into this school year the best one yet!

  1. Set the stage.
  • Have a positive attitude. Don't go on about how hot it is and how you can't believe they are starting school. Don't express any worry or doubts you might have (I know that third grade is tough) but play up the positives (I understand they are teaching a unit on space study this year).
  • Take away the fear of the unknown. If your child is going to a new school, visit it ahead of time. Find out schedules and the teachers names and talk it up in positive terms.
  • Teach by example. Let your child see you enjoy reading, learning, and enjoying new experiences like art exhibits, concerts, or museums. 
  • Allow time for morning routines. Plan for extra time in the mornings to get ready. This is easier if bedtime is also earlier.
  • Encourage your child to be self-sufficient. Have him do chores at home, develop checklists, have him prepare his clothes and backpack before going to bed.
2. Develop good study habits.
  • Set aside a designated study area.
  • Plan the best times for schoolwork. Know his peak times and his schedule.
  • Have a calendar in place to show special activities, appointments, and study times.
  • Chunk up big projects so they are not so overwhelming and so your student can say "done" more often.
3. Organize school materials.
  • Obtain and use a planner. In the beginning check the planner with your student every evening and morning. Then encourage your child to do this on his own.
  • Synch the planner with the calendar.
  • Organize notebooks, folders, and binders so they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
  • Organize and minimize study supplies so they are easy to carry to school and use at home. Check the school supply list. Avoid buying "fun" items that are a distraction.
  • Choose the best backpack for your child. Check if the school has any restrictions before buying.
  • Set up a file at home for all returned and graded school papers. Keep all papers until grades come out. If the grade lines up with what you have, then purge most of the papers only keeping ones that show growth or creativity.
4. Individualize study to suit your child. 
  • Know your child's learning style. Is he a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Use his strengths to help him learn new material.
  • Make learning real. Use new skills in real life settings. Use math to shop or cook. Use reading to follow directions or enjoy a funny story. Use writing to make lists or write a letter.
  • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone and with quiet or in the hubbub of the kitchen where others are around.
For fun, start a "back to school" family tradition. Have a cookout before the first day of school or have a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop. Talk about the fun and excitement of the upcoming school year. Have a surprise wrapped up for the children to open when they come home from school on the first day.

Let this be the best year ever!




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer Time is Party Time

I love to throw parties and I am doing two parties this summer. One this weekend and one next month. when I tell people that I really enjoy hosting a party I get a variety of responses - everything from "You must be crazy!" to "Me, too!" A lot of people fall into the "Well, I'd like to give a party, but I just don't have the ______" (fill in the blank with time, money, energy, etc.).

If you think you would like to throw a party but are worried about all that it entails, consider these points:
  • Visualize. What would your ideal party look like and how would you want to feel? Would you be happiest with an impromptu affair that would involve people dropping in and bringing a dish - either at your home or at a park? Are you more comfortable with a planned party where you are in control of the food and you know in advance how many people are coming? Would you like a sit down formal party that you either host in your home or in a restaurant?
  • Choose a date. Unless you are doing the impromptu party and who shows up is not important, you will want to give people enough warning to keep the date open. I usually send out a save the date email about six weeks before a party. I may check with my besties to see what dates would work for them before deciding on the date.
  • Brainstorm what needs to happen to make this party a fun one for you as well as for your guests. Write down everything you can think of. This list can be edited later.
  • Develop a time line. This is what makes giving a party fun for me. I take my list which includes such things as getting my yard up to snuff, having my house clean, as well as a menu and decorations. I may have 20 or more items on this list but if I spread out the tasks, none of them are overwhelming. When I have every task scheduled on my calendar, I can relax knowing everything will be great.
  • Enjoy your party! On the day of the party don't overdo. Be ready to roll with whatever happens and know that when your friends start to show up it's time your you to enjoy their company.
If you are interested in having a peek at my party timeline, send me a request via email (jonda@timespaceorg.com) and I will send you a sample.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Organizing Projects for the Summer

Summer is here, and it is hot outside. Our energy level is lower, and we would love to just relax with a book and a cold drink. It is a difficult time to get excited over big organizing projects. Still, we don't want our home to backslide.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on a few hot spots instead of big projects. Walk through your home and note a few things that could use some work. Maybe the towels in the linen closet are all askew. That cutlery drawer in the kitchen is a mess. You know some of your cosmetics need to be tossed. You're pretty much keeping up with bills, but filling has fallen behind. Make a list of some of these small projects that could be either knocked off or improved in an hour or less.

Choose one day a week - say "Let's get started Monday!" or "Let's wind it down Friday!" and schedule an hour to do one of these projects on your list. It is amazing how good it will make you feel that you have accomplished this small project and how much fun it will be to reward yourself with that cold drink and a delightful book.

Happy summer!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Importance of Taking a Vacation

Our work and our life style often leave us tired and a bit stressful. Getting away for regular vacations lets us leave our everyday stress and gives our bodies and minds a break. The change in our routine and getting more rest helps our body recharge.

For me, vacations allow me to spend more time taking care of myself. I tend to walk more, eat foods that are more varied, and have more down time to read and rest. I feel healthier.

When I return from a vacation, I feel I can focus and concentrate better. I get a clearer perspective on projects I have been working on. It helps me revisit my priorities and just step back and look at what is really important.

The time away from home is also good for strengthening family relationships. My husband and I have more quality time together and this last trip also included other extended family that I had not seen for a some time.

Vacations are fun! They make me happy. Not only am I happy during the vacation but also during the preplanning and imagining and then the looking over pictures and recapping the experience with my husband.

Do yourself a favor. Make yourself a priority and take some time off. It can be a long vacation abroad or just a long weekend away from home. Enjoy!


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Organizing the Bathroom and Linen Closet

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your house but it is also one that is heavily used and holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a plan for how you want to use this place and how you want it to look. Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Think about what you use daily in this zone. You may not have room to store back up supplies, first aid items, or cleaning materials.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store the items you use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. Use a bin, small basket, or drawer for cosmetics you use almost daily. A medicine cabinet above the sink can store toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for hair might be stored in a container under the sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink.

If you have drawers or shelves, designate each area as a container for like items. One drawer or basket might hold everyday make up, another might hold eye products, and a third hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you are no longer using or are past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both places are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items responsibly. Do not toss medicines in the trash and Never flush them into our water system.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store any duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don't need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don't have a linen closet, use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra towels, wash cloths, and toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized and decluttered, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Then the next time you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Cautionary Tale for Professional Organizers


I was doing a phone consultation with one of my clients the other day and we were talking about things we should not tolerate. Out of the blue came "I don't like working with organizers."

Whoa! Where did that come form? Had I done something that hurt her?

Well, as it turns out it was not me that set this off but some of her other experiences but as I listened and made notes, some of what she said hit home - especially in my early career.

Here's her list:

  • They don't really listen to what I want to happen in the session. If I am asking for help in finding homes for my belongings, I am not asking them to purge or mess with things that are already working. If I already have a home for many of my items, it is not right for them to move those things. For example, I have some tools and household items stored on some small shelves in my bedroom closet. These shelves are even labeled. Why would they spend their time going through and rearranging those items?
  • They argue. If they suggest I need to toss something (and remember, we were not even talking about purging) and I say I want to keep it, they continue to push their point. They say things like "if you are not using it now, toss it" or "how many calculators or pairs of jeans do you really need?' or "if you are not going to mend that now, you should just toss it". I feel they are not really listening to me and are disrespectful of my wishes.
  • They don't respect my values. If I indicate that I recycle then they should not toss recyclables into the trash. After the organizers left I noticed my glass jars for recycling were missing. This made me mad, so I crawled through the dumpster to retrieve them. While making this dig, I also noticed some small toy pieces from my child's toys and some paper that was mine. Now I can't find a check from my mother and my season pass to the aquarium and I wonder.....
  • They insult me. One organizer suggested that I paint a piece of furniture with slate paint. It was my grandfather's chair. I felt she had insulted me and my furniture. She was not invited into my home to do interior decoration but just to help me clear the clutter.
  • They don't take ownership of their mistakes. When I talked to one of the organizers about my dissatisfaction, she said that she was sorry for the miscommunication. If feel that I was very clear on my communication. 
Now, I am not so naïve as to suggest that this was all the organizers fault. We all know that there are two sides to every story. but the scary thing was that I have said some of these things myself and I wonder if I have upset clients but they were just not willing to confront me.

So, if you are an organizer, read this and see if any of it resonates. If you are a client, read this and know how important it is that as you work with us and things are not going the way you envisioned, that you stop us right then and there and tell us what you are experiencing. The last thing we want to do is hurt someone or be disrespectful. 


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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