Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Helping an Elderly Parent Declutter

Your mom or dad is now living alone in their own home. Each time you visit you see more and more clutter build up and less and less cleaning going on. You want to help but don't want to embarrass or upset your parent. This has been the situation with a couple of my clients.

The plan:
  • If possible, invite someone to the home with you who can get a fresh look at the situation. Because this clutter has grown over an extended period of time, you are probably missing some key components. 
  • Analyze why certain areas are cluttered. As parents get older it takes more effort to pick things up from the floor. If something gets dropped or spilled it just may stay there. They may do most activities from one or two places as it is more difficult to move around. They may not see the clutter.
  • When you start to attack the clutter, keep the parent involved. Get permission before moving things around or getting rid of anything. Talk it out before doing any work. 
  • Work in small bites. Don't overwhelm the parent by doing a lot at one time.
This past week I was invited by my client's dad to come into his home. I came as a friend who had helped his daughter with some organizing. Her dad had noticed some of the work his daughter and I had done together when he was at her home on a recent visit. My client had shared with me that her dad was now having back pain and some headaches. He had fallen this past winter. She was very concerned about his environment but did not want to disrespect him or overwhelm him.

He is an artist and likes to look through magazines for ideas. When he works from his chair in the den, pieces of paper drop to the floor. Magazines are stacked up waiting for his attention. Some food wrappers are dropped. His studio shows signs of things having been stacked but are now toppled. We chatted together about getting a sorting system set up for his cut-out pictures and a trash can by his chair. He liked the idea and his daughter will get those items for him.

After the visit, my client and I brainstormed other tasks that could be tackled over time. With permission she could remove a couch that is now blocking the bookcase and is never used. She might find a basked to hold the waiting to be worked on magazines. A huge fire extinguisher (still in the box) could be replace by a smaller kitchen sized fire extinguisher. Another day she could hang the pictures that have been leaning along a wall for years (surprisingly neither daughter nor dad really noticed the pictures or had thought of hanging them). Then later still, remove the exercise bike that has never been used. The idea is to let her dad get used to each change before adding another. When the clearing of the den is complete, a day could be spent cleaning. Then they could move on to another area.

While each case is unique, I feel the most important premise is to respect the parent and make them a part of the decluttering experience. 

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Clutter Awareness

Clutter Awareness week is the last week in March. Since procrastination and clutter go hand in hand, I am giving you a "heads up" so that you can schedule time to develop a plan to reduce any clutter that has accumulated in your space.

Often, we don't even see the clutter around us. We get used to it being part of our daily environment. Take a walk through your house.  Pretend you are showing it to sell. Notice surfaces that have piles of paper or other items. Are there objects stacked on the floor? Another technique is to take pictures of your rooms. It is amazing what you see in a picture that you didn't notice otherwise. The picture may show you that end table stacked with things to read and other bits and pieces. It may show you the kitchen counter so crammed you have to move things in order to prep food.

Clutter can impact your daily living. It can eat up your time as you look for needed items. Clutter can affect your health as it holds dust, dander, and even hides mold. You are less likely to cook healthy meals if your kitchen is cluttered. Clutter can also become a trip hazard. Clutter can cost you money due to overdue payments on bills you have misplaced or buying items you already have but can't find. Clutter can affect your social life as well. You may find yourself embarrassed to have people come into your home.

Now is the time to plan. Grab your calendar and choose one area of your home to declutter. Make a list of all the tasks you want to accomplish in that area and schedule a time now to complete the tasks. By the end of March, have that one area clutter free!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Beauty of the Zone Plan

Stuff comes into our homes all the time. Sometimes it is something we buy to freshen up the look of a room. Sometimes it is a gift. Sometimes it is an inheritance. All of this can be good. But often the item is just placed somewhere without a lot of thought and/or it is added to what we already have with nothing going away. This can add to a lot of visual clutter in our homes.

I have a system in my home and one I share with my clients that keeps that clutter under control. The system is called the Zone Plan.

This is how it works:
  • You divide your home into 10 zones. My zones include the office, the living room, the kitchen, the laundry room, the master bedroom, the baths, the guest bedroom, the attic, the storage shed, and the entry hall and storage closets. 
  • Each month, except for July and December, you work in one of these zones. The intention is to redefine your vision for the zone and note what is not working with that vision.
  • Then you brainstorm what needs to happen to change what it is now to what matches your vision.
  • You develop a plan and schedule times to work on the project.
  • You touch everything that is in the zone. You decide what supports your vision and stays, what goes, and what is moved elsewhere.
  • At the end of the month you celebrate your wins and move on to the next zone.
The beauty of this plan is that you know you are going to get to every area eventually. If you open your linen closet and see that it needs some work, you can just smile and say, "Your turn is in June!" and shut the door. By completing a zone project instead of zig-zagging through your house, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. 

For more information on the Zone Plan visit my website - http://timespaceorg.com/services/ - or send me an email at Jonda@timespaceorg.com .

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Memorabilia is defined as objects kept or collected because of their historical interest, especially those associated with memorable people or events. Most of our memorabilia are pictures and items that are personal and remind us of good times in our lives or remind us of our family history.

I have seen homes where memorabilia items are scattered throughout the house and resembles clutter. What to keep and what to let go is very personal. This is my personal take on the subject.

If you keep memorabilia you should look at it occasionally and bring back those good memories. If it is just historical memorabilia you might label it and put it away for your decedents. The question becomes, how much should you keep and how should you store it.

My memorabilia, except for some art work that is displayed, is stored in my guest bedroom. Once a year when I deep clean and reorganize that zone, I pull our my items and remember. I also reevaluate how much to keep. The older I get the less I feel is important.

Let's look at some broad categories:
  • Artwork made by your children  - I have by now very little of this. A few special pieces that I think my boys will enjoy finding - the handprints, a scout project, holiday decorations. I encourage younger parents to keep a few good pieces from each year and label the pieces. Later it is difficult to always even remember which child did the work let alone how old they were. 
  • Cards - My personal rule on cards is that I only keep ones that have a special note inside. As I have aged, I relook at some of those notes and ask myself, "Do I want my children to read this?". When my husband died, I kept almost every sympathy card I received. Now I am down to just a handful. The same holds true for some of the cards he gave to me throughout our marriage. 
  • Photos - My stash of photos falls into two categories. First, I have pictures of trips and events that are personal to me. Then, I have pictures that show family members having fun or pictures that show our family history. Each year as I go through the pictures I get rid of a few more. If I can't remember who these people are, why keep them? Those older pictures where I do recognize family and friends I label so my boys will know why these pictures were kept. I find myself throwing out near duplicates or bad pictures.
  • Pamphlets or brochures - These are usually from my trips. When I came back from some of my trips I had quite a few. Now I only keep ones that really have special meaning to me. I have tossed all old maps.
  • Ticket stubs, programs or invitations - If I kept a ticket stub or program from everything I have ever seen, it would take over a whole closet. I only keep ones where one of our family members is mentioned. 
  • Physical items - I have found that most of the physical items I have been holding on to are in pictures. I just got rid of a silver-plated drinking vessel that my husband and I used at our wedding. I have a wonderful photo of the event and no longer need the actual vessel. The same is true of a silver-plated picture frame that help a wedding picture. I kept the picture and ditched the frame.
As I noted before, memorabilia items are very personal. I only suggest that you honor the items you have kept by organizing them and labeling them for those who will need to sort them after your demise and that you really ask yourself why you are keeping each item.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Organizing Your Guest Bedroom or Bonus Room

Most guest bedrooms rarely see a guest but when company comes, it's great to have a space available for them to sleep. But, it's rare to have space for a room that only has the function of sleeping guests.

When I look at my guest bedroom and focus on the functions of this space, I note that there are many. The room has a closet used for offsite office storage and some personal pictures. There us a dresser that holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. There is also a cat condo (and who am I kidding, also the bed) that is used by my cat to sleep in the sun.

But when overnight guests arrive, this is their room. I want the area to be open and inviting to my guests. I want all my items out of sight but easily accessible.

I maximize my closet by using elfa shelving, but once a year I rearrange and purge items I feel I no longer need. I look through all my pictures and usually toss a few that are near duplicates or do not really speak to me anymore. I feel if I want to keep my memorabilia, I ought to honor it and look at it at least once a year. By purging and reorganizing, I allow space for items I have stacked on the bed that have been purged from my office zone last month.

My dresser also has zones within the drawers. I look at the clothing stored there and toss what I no longer think is necessary or I no longer love. I organize gifts and cards I have stashed in one drawer and look over any stored memorabilia. I set aside some empty space for a guest to use.

By the end of the month, I have this guest bedroom matching my vision for the upcoming year. I celebrate by putting fresh flowers on the dresser.

For help in setting up your zones, sign up for my Zone Plan Coaching Teleclass (Jonda@timespaceorg.com) or purchase my workbook - From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home (available on my website www.timespaceorg.com)

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Monday, January 22, 2018

Organizational Help for Those With Crazy Work Hours

Many people work hours that are not your usual 9 to 5 Monday through Friday schedule. People in the medical field or law enforcement, service industries like hotels, restaurants, bars, real estate agents, instructors in dance or yoga are a few examples. Then you have people who work more or less regular hours but also have to take care of children or their parents or both. Or there are those people who work and go to school or work more than one job.

These people may very well want and need some organizational help. They are looking for ways to streamline the paper that comes into their homes or to set up an easier way to meal plan, shop and cook. Perhaps they need help clearing up a bedroom so they can get a good nights sleep. But they simply don't have 3 or 4 hours in a block or an entire day to tackle these projects.

This is where virtual organizing can be a real help. With each session of virtual organizing you need to schedule one hour working with the organizer via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom and then one hour where you independently work on planned tasks to help you complete your project. Because the organizer is not traveling to your home in rush hour traffic, hours can be more flexible. As you continue to work independently you check in with the organizer via text message or email. This plan can be customized to fit your needs.

You don't have to worry about someone coming into your house because the organizer only sees what you want her to see in order to complete the one project you have chosen to tackle. If you have a large project, the organizer can help you break it down into manageable parts and you complete one section at a time at your own speed.

For more information on how this might work for you, please contact me through my website www.timespaceorg.com or send me an email at jondab@earthlink.net. We can then schedule a time to talk.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Accountability Partners

Having trouble keeping a commitment to yourself? Can't seem to get that project finished? Difficulty staying focused on your goal? These situations are so common and here is where accountability partners can really help.

An accountability partner is like a coach. They help you keep your commitment. They inspire you and keep you motivated. They are great for bouncing around ideas.

Where do you find an accountability partner or partners? For the past 10 years I have been part of a group that I call the goals group or the dream team. We meet once a month and review our wins from the past month and our goals for the upcoming month. We also feel free to call upon each other for advice, feedback, and brainstorming. Within this group some of us have partnered for different periods of time to concentrate on one goal where we felt we needed extra support.

As a professional organizer, I am often an accountability partner for some of my clients. Because we have planned times to work together the client is often motivated to complete a project or part of a project. They want to share their wins. They want inspirations to continue. They want someone they can bounce off ideas and know that their ideas are listened to and respected.

Some of my clients reach out to friends going through the same process and do regularly planned accountability calls. They set up a call and share their intentions for the day and then have a couple of check in calls to share their progress.

If you are looking for an accountability partner, look for someone who will be honest and straightforward with you. You want someone who will challenge you and not condemn or discourage you. You should look for someone who is a great listener and knows how to ask good questions. It also helps if the partner's strengths and weaknesses are somewhat different from yours.

I would love to have some feedback on how you have used or plan to use an accountability partner.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer