Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Teaching Organizational Skills to Young Children

As a professional organizer, I spend a lot of my time teaching or transferring organizational skills to adults. Many of these adults have children who also need this help.

Diane Quintana (CPO, CPO-CD) and I have been aware of the importance of teaching young children organizational skills. Diane and I met when we were both working with the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) in the schools program. This was a program that went into schools and introduced elementary children to some of the basic organizational skills. We were sad to see this program fold.

Taking matters into our own hands, we co-authored two books - Suzie's Messy Room & Benji's Messy Room. These books were written for parents and children to share. We took some basic organizational strategies:
  • Break projects down into small manageable steps
  • Sort like with like
  • Cull collections
  • Assign a place or home for belongings
  • Reward for jobs completed
We then applied these strategies to the task of cleaning up a room. These same strategies are applicable to any project the children (or parents) take on.

We have gone on to develop presentations for parents on teaching organizational skills to their children and have developed activities for the children. We feel this is also something that should be taught in the schools as well as at home.

For more information, please contact me - jonda@timespaceorg.com or 404-299-5111.
To order books, check out my web page - http://timespaceorg.com/books/ .

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Michael Phelps and ADHD: A Success Story

Michael Phelps has been outstanding this year at the Rio 2016 Olympics. I believe he is the most decorated Olympian of all time.

What I recently learned is that Michael Phelps has been diagnosed with ADHD since he was 9 years old.

His mother, Debbie, who taught middle school for more than two decades, worked with Michael and his school to get him the extra help and attention he needed. When Michael struggled with behaviors and academics, his mother looked for ways to use his strengths and interests to find solutions. She helped him overcome his hatred of reading by giving him the sports section of the paper and books about sports to read. She got a math tutor that used word problems tailored to Michael's interests. She and Michael developed visual cues and signals to keep Michael aware of consequences of his behavior. When he was 10 she came up with the signal of making a "C" with her hand that stood for "compose yourself." Every time she saw him getting frustrated, she'd give him the sigh. She shared that she realized her really "got it" when he gave her the sign once when she got stressed making dinner!

Many people use physical activity to help control their ADHD. When you are physically active, your brain releases lots of neurotransmitters, which increases the attention system's ability to be regular and consistent by spurring the growth of new receptors in certain areas of the brain. This has many good effects like reducing the need for new stimuli and increasing alertness. (Michael Lara, MD in The Exercise Prescription for ADHD in CHADD's Attention magazine)

Michael Phelps has said that he found that swimming and competition helped him maintain his focus. Michael took something he loved and used it to shape his life. Here is a lesson where we can all benefit.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Would Virtual Organizing Work for You?

One of the services I offer is virtual organizing. Many people are not sure how this works and if it would work for them. Let's explore those topics now.

How does virtual organizing work?

  • First we have a free phone consultation to explore if this would work
  • If we decide it will work, you fill out a questionnaire that helps solidify your intentions and goals for the sessions
  • If appropriate, you send pictures of the areas we target
  • You develop your vision of what the area will look like and how you will feel
  • We brainstorm all that needs to happen to reach your goals
  • We set up a completion date and develop a timeline
  • Each session we refine the plan and you put dates on your calendar to complete the tasks
  • As the organizer, I hold you accountable, help you prioritize, and make suggestions as well as keep you motivated
  • Once the goal is reached, we develop a maintenance routine
Would this work for me? Yes, if:
  • You can work by yourself and are motivated but want/need some guidance and accountability
  • You realize that organizational help is important but you are on a budget
  • You are comfortable communicating via phone, email, skype, and can send emails with photos
  • You are creative and need custom-tailored sessions
  • You are not physically close to professional organizers but still want their help
For more information visit my web site http://timespaceorg.com/services/ or contact me by email (jonda@timespaceorg.com) or phone (404-299-5111).

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

August - Clean Out Your Laundry Room Month

August is the perfect time to tackle your laundry room zone because:
  1. You are coming out of vacation mode and are now washing and putting away those clothes
  2. You are going into a new school year and have school clothes and sports clothing that need washing
  3. You want your laundry zone to be organized and efficient for the upcoming season
Laundry zones can be large or small and located in many places. Some older homes have the laundry zone in the basement. Some are in a hallway or at the top of the stairs behind folding doors. I've seen them right off kitchens or next to the closet of a master bedroom. What you don't want to see are mounds of clothes that start migrating into other areas.

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the never-ending influx of dirty clothes. The idea is to keep laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone the items you intend to wash right now. Leave everything else in the designated dirty clothes hampers. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their "home". Delegate putting the items away to the family members who own the items. Even young children can sort and put items away. If an item needs repair or ironing, have a designated place to store those items and then schedule a time to do that task. You should not have your Christmas table cloth in the ironing bin in August.

Depending on the size of your laundry zone, you may also use this zone for purposes other than just doing the laundry. If there is room, it makes sense to store your ironing supplies there. My area is large enough to store pet supplies, recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and some large entertainment pieces. What is important is that you have a vision and a plan for how you intend to use your space. Then zone it out accordingly. What you don't want is something stuck into your laundry zone "just for now".

During this month, look at everything that is stored in this zone. Keep like things stored together. Toss out anything you no longer need, use, or love. If you have ended up with two bottles of Woolite, consolidate them. Now is the time to pull out your washer and dryer and clean behind them. By the end of the month, your laundry room should be clean and well organized.

Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry but it will certainly make it less of a chore.

I offer a Zone Plan teleclass that will walk you through organizing a zone in your house ten months of the year (taking July and December off

To learn more about my Zone Plan click on http://timespaceorg.com/services/.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Getting Prepped for Back to School

It seems unreal that it is already time for school to begin but yet it is indeed that time. Planning ahead will make the transition from school break to back-to-school less stressful.

School generates a lot of paper even though more and more of it is on line. Make a plan for it now. You will likely receive:
  • General school information such as calendar of events, school hours, rules, fees, team sports available, contact information, PTA news
  • Welcome letter from your child's teacher with her information
  • List of needed school supplies
  • Lunch schedule
  • As the year progresses, student work and art will also pour in
I have seen people do very well with having a notebook for each child holding their school information and schedules as well as report cards. Others have scanned forms and reports and stored them on their phone or computer. A bin is helpful to store papers and art work.

Always keep graded school work until the end of each grading period. If there is a question about a grade, you have something to carry into the conference. At the end of each grading period, cull most of the work keeping only the best.

When the school calendar comes in, immediately put important dates into the family calendar. You don't want to be caught short when there are teacher work days, early dismissals, known field trips, etc.

When the first general informational letter comes in, put into your phone important contact numbers such as the main office, the guidance counselor, or the nurse. Put titles into the contact list as well as the name (Nurse Sara Nightingale).

Set up a plan for all incoming paper your child carries home. Have a landing pad for all papers that you need to see such as field trip permission slips, picture day schedule, and item requests. At the beginning of the year, each day ask your child "Do you have anything that needs to be put in the basket for me to look over?" As the school year progresses you can fade out the questioning and let him become independent.

Most schools have planners where the children log in their homework assignments. At the beginning of the school year, check these daily. Have a calendar at your child's workstation where he can learn to schedule projects that take more than one evening. Weekly clean out the backpack and put all graded work and art into a bin.

The first weeks of school can be stressful so plan ahead. Start practicing the week before school waking up to an alarm and following a morning routine. In the beginning use timers so that your child can play "beat the clock". How much you break up the morning routine will depend on your child's age and maturity. Older children might just need:
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Gather all supplies to go out the door
While younger children might need:
  • Wash up
  • Brush teeth
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get ready to go out the door
Have an assigned place for backpacks. Make it a nightly ritual to have backpacks ready and in place for the next school day.

Establish regular routines to minimize the morning hassle. Shoes will be lost. The soccer uniform will not have gotten washed. The dog will throw up on the rug. So control what you can and leave time for life absurdities.

Have a great school year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Always Do Your Best

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been a favorite book of mine for many years. Each time I read it, I am in a different place and different sections of the book pop out at me.

Recently, I have been rereading the fourth agreement - Always Do Your Best.

I like that the book says "always do your best, no more and no less." It reminds me that my best on some days will have a higher quality than on other days and that is OK.

If we overwork something, we may sacrifice something else. If we can do something in two hours but spend eight hours on it, then we grow tired and wont enjoy the process and our life. Doing our best shouldn't feel like work because we should enjoy what we are doing.

If we do our best, we are going  to be productive. We are going to be good to our self. Our actions are going to make us happy. Doing your best is doing something because you love to do it, not because you expect a reward. If you take an action because you have to, then you will not do your best.

You can have a lot of great ideas, but you need to also have action. Without acting on your ideas and doing your best, there will be no results and no rewards.

Live in the now. Enjoy your life. Do your best!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips For Handling Those Tasks You Hate

I think we all have those tasks that languish on our "to do" list waaay too long. One of my procrastination tactics is the old cut and paste this chore until later in the week,  or better yet next Monday when I am fresh and the week is young.

For me, some of these tasks are phone calls I don't want to make (that client who keeps cancelling - the request to have someone review my book). I dread the possibility of rejection. Then there are  the projects I am working on (my digital estate plan, promoting my virtual organizing). These tasks seem both overwhelming and not as urgent as other tasks.

So, what to do?
  1. Acknowledge that I am doing this.
           Just verbalizing how I feel and why I keep putting off this task gives me some perspective. Instead of just feeling the negative thoughts, I can start to make a plan for action.

     2. Think about how I am going to feel once the task is complete and how I am going to reward myself.

          I know that I will be much lighter without this monkey on my back. I will feel free to do something I really want to do without feeling guilty.

    3. Look at the possible positive outcomes from doing these tasks.

         The client may be just waiting for my call as her nudge to action. People may be very happy to review my book. They just hadn't thought to do so. My projects are all ones that will give me peace of mind.

    4. Break down large projects into small parts.

         Stop putting on my "to do" list things like "work on visual organizing promotion."  Instead put down "brainstorm everything you need to do to promote." This is doable and then I can start to list each little task.
    5. Use if-then planning (got this out of Psychology Today article). 

         If I haven't finished (put in task) by 3:00 p.m., then I am going to file it away and work on (new task). If the client hasn't responded to my email by Wednesday evening then I am going to call her at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. According to the Psychology Today article, by deciding in advance what you are going to do and when and where you are going to do it, there's no deliberating when the time comes. If-then planning has been shown in over 200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200-300 percent on average.

OK! I have my plan. Let's just do it!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer