Thursday, December 29, 2011

Be Calendar Ready for the New Year

By now you probably already have your calendar purchased for the next year and have started recording meetings and "to dos." But before the new year really gets underway, take some serious time now to set up your calendar for the coming year.

Take your current calendar and go through it month by month. Record all of the birthdays and anniversaries into your new calendar. I like to do this in red so that it really pops out when the calendar page starts to get crowded with other items. If I plan to buy or send a gift or card, I also put in the calendar "buy gift" or "mail gift" a week or two before the actual event.

Now, go through your new calendar and record all standing appointments like that networking meeting you have every Wednesday morning or that Weight Watcher meeting every Thursday.

Take this planning a step further. Put in projects you are planning as well. I mark at the top of each month the zone I will be organizing for that month. I have Office Zone marked for January and Spare Bedroom Zone marked for February. I also list actions that I plan to do during that month. In January I plan to clean out my birdhouses. In February I have a note that the payment for my deposit box at the bank will be deducted from my account. I list when I plan to make doctor appointments and when I plan to renew my passport or driver's license. On the notes part of my calendar I record when I pay for charities or organizations. January shows that I plan to renew the Nature Conservancy and ASPCA. I also have recorded when professional dues need to be paid. I have found in past years that these notes are very helpful. When an agency starts to send me renewal notices (usually many months in advance) I can look at my calendar to determine when I really plan to write that check.

Now you are truly ready for what the new year is going to bring. Just keep that calendar maintained and up to date and don't forget to look at it daily.

Happy New Year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

As we do the last preparations for Christmas day, we may be rushing around quite a bit but let's take a few minutes to recognize the winter solstice. This is the beginning of winter and the return of the sun. The shortest day and the longest night of the year have passed. The days will now gradually begin to lengthen. This is the traditional time to celebrate the most important things in your life - family, friends, your home - and to look forward to a wonderful new year. Take time to light a candle. Have a hot drink and count your blessings. This is a celebration of rebirth as the sun grows stronger in the sky. Be blessed in this day.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Harried Holidays

It's almost Christmas! I look at the calendar and am at the same time excited and frantic. I am so looking forward to having my grown boys and spouse visiting. I am still looking forward to some parties, gatherings, and church events. I am enjoying the holiday foods and music.
But, whoa! A lot of things are still not done. The cards have not yet been mailed. One of the gifts I ordered is back ordered and may not make it on time. I still have more baking to do. The house is still in disarray from some recent events. No gifts have been wrapped.
I must remember my vision for the perfect holiday. How can I still make this happen? How do I deal with my schedule setbacks?
OK. The cards that are not finished can go in a bag with me in the car. When I need to sit and wait for an appointment I'll have them with me. I'll have moments here and there and if I just do a few each time, I'll make it.
The back ordered gift will not make it but I can cut out the picture from the catalog and put it in a card with the promise of the gift when it arrives. After all, it will not be his only gift.
Some baking may not get done and the most important items can be done next week.
The house can be tackled in small increments. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Sunday I 'll put on some music and wrap the gifts. It will be fun.
I plan to take time this weekend to see some friends and go to a church event. The holiday spirit will be there. By the time family arrives, all will be good. It doesn't have to be perfect. No one will care.
Enjoy your holidays!!!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, December 2, 2011

3 - 2 - 1 Blastoff! Merry Christmas!

Wow! Christmas is coming up fast. Here are some quick holiday survival tips:

1. Keep your spending in check. Have a list and a budget. Keep tight reins on impulse spending.

2. Do not over commit. Have a family meeting and decide what events are going on the calendar - and be sure to write those events on the calendar.

3. Set priorities. You can't take advantage of all the opportunities for the season. Check in with your vision of a perfect holiday and choose wisely. Save some time just for you.

4. Make a list. Keep a master list of all you want to accomplish. Put holiday chores like baking, sending cards, and shopping on your calendar as well as the events you plan to attend. Don't just write the chore down, but also block out how much time you think the task will take. By looking at all of this on your calendar, it can save you from trying to commit to too much.

5. Combine errands. With your list in hand pre-plan your errands.

6. Delegate. Ask for help from family and friends or hire help for some chores.

7. Streamline and simplify. Eliminate all traditions you don't enjoy. Don't put out every decoration you own (remember they will all have to be packed up and put away later.)

8. Take care of your self. Rest, exercise, eat right, and treat yourself to something you love.

9. Donate. As you bring out holiday items and winter clothes or clean out your pantry, share your excess with a local charity.

10. Breathe. Enough said.

Enjoy this holiday season.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving has long been a time to give thanks for a good harvest. It has been celebrated in times of plenty and times of need. Often extended families gather at the matriarch's house.

Today there are so many options on how to celebrate the day. In my family, the tradition has changed from going to grandmother's house, to going to mother's house, to going to a restaurant, and this year - going to my sister's house in Florida for a combination Thanksgiving/Family reunion. My sister has stated that this day is beginning to have the feeling of a flash mob as I think she is now beyond 30 to feed and sleep. Relatives are coming from as far away as Washington state and a few close family friends are also being included.

However you celebrate, it is a day to remember to give thanks and be grateful for all that has come your way.

What are you thankful for? For me the big 3 are family, friends, and good health.

Enjoy your holiday!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sending Holiday Cards - Joyfully!

I love getting holiday cards! Each day I prance to the mailbox to see what came. I display my cards on my bookshelves.

Every year, almost 2 billion holiday cards are sent to bring warm holiday wishes to those we love. The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged good will messages to celebrate the New Year and to early Egyptians who ssent greetings on papyrus scrolls. So, this is not a new thing.

For me this is often the only time I connect with some of the people on my list. I catch up on a year's worth of happenings with this card exchange.

Sending out cards can be very time consuming and therefore add to our stress. So how can we make this tradition less stressful and more joyful?
  1. Schedule time on your calendar to send out the cards. Do not try to do them all in one fell swoop. Instead, schedule multiple 45 minute blocks and set your timer.
  2. prepare a basket with all the materials you need to send out your cards. Pull out this basket on your scheduled times. Fix a hot beverage. Listen to some music. Reflect on the people to whom you are sending the cards. Tailor the card to the recipient.
  3. Write a line or two that is personal to the recipient unless they are friends you see often.
  4. Have some extra cards available so that you can reciprocate all cards you receive.
  5. Consider getting help from others in the family even if it is just putting on return addresses and stamps.
  6. Plan to send early to ensure timely delivery. This is especially true for those cards going abroad.
  7. Buy special stamps early. Count up what you think you will need so that you only have to make one trip to the post office to buy them.
  8. If you just can't find the time before the holidays, you might consider sending out New Years cards.
Happy Holiday! I'll be looking for my card from you ;-}

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Monday, November 7, 2011

Attic Attack - Not Panic Attack

It's that time of year again. You look into your attic or basement in preparation for getting out holiday decorations.
You look and .... you just want to close it up again and walk away. I mean, seriously, how much would it cost just to go out and buy all new decorations for this year?
OK. I get the picture. The storage area can be overwhelming. So, where to begin?
Begin with a vision and a plan. How do you want your attic/basement to look and function? What do you want to store in that space? Make a list of all the categories of items for this area. Look at the overall layout of your space. Think how you could divide this space into zones. When you set up the zones, it will help you to place items rather than just tossing them into any available space and often blocking the paths to the back of the storage area. Zones also help you to find items when you go looking for them.

Some possible zones:
  • Holiday storage
  • Archival paperwork
  • Furniture/accessories you are not using but plan to keep
  • Household items used seasonally - ie. fans/humidifiers/space heaters
  • Off season clothes
  • Sports equipment
  • Memorabilia like baby clothes or old toys
Now that you have a brainstorm list, make an actual plan with times on your calendar to implement your plan. You don't have to do this all in one day.
Put signs around your space designating the different zones. Then start matching up items to signs. Negotiate help from others in the family.
Put frequently accessed zones nearest the entrance and storage zones to the back. Use labeled containers to hold items. Purge as you go. If something has gotten damaged or no longer looks like something you still want or love, let it go now. Free up space for the important items. When you get to that archival paper, make a date to review it and see what has been held long enough and can now be trashed or shredded.
Plan a reward for yourself when this task is complete! You will feel so much lighter when this is accomplished and next year when this zone rolls around again, it will not be nearly so difficult.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Monday, October 31, 2011

Preparing for Holiday Cooking: Organizing the Pantry

This time of year is great for organizing the pantry. It gives you a chance to organize your food items to see what is on hand for the increased cooking that comes with the holidays. The purging of unneeded items as well as organizing what you are keeping will open up space for the extra items you bring in for special holiday dishes.

It doesn't matter if you have a very small pantry of only a few shelves or a large walk in pantry, after a year things will have gotten out of order and need organization.

Organize your pantry like a grocery store. Have all pastas and grains in one area. Put all canned goods in another area, separating vegetables, fruit, soups, etc. If you have more than one can of green beans or tomato soup, put the newer cans behind the older cans in order to keep rotating your food. While going through the process of organizing the cans and condiments, take a look at expiration or "best used by" dates. Discard cans that are past their expiration date and donate cans of items you bought some time ago but have no plan of using soon. This will open up your shelves for holiday shopping.

Think before you stock up on large quantities on a sale. Will you really use all those cans before they expire? Do you have space to store the cans in a usable manner? Are you saving enough money or time shopping by buying in bulk to make up for the inconvenience of cramming your shelves or having to look elsewhere to store the extras? Next year will you find 10 cans of pumpkin in the garage along with the 20 rolls of paper towels?

Once organized, you will be surprised at how much space you now have for your holiday shopping.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, October 14, 2011

Surviving the Holidaze

Is it possible for your holidays to feel peaceful and stress free? To capture that Norman Rockwell feeling?
Thanksgiving is marketed before Halloween. Christmas ads show up way before Thanksgiving. New Year's Eve champagne party ads collide with Christmas carols. And Kwanzaa and Chanukah wedge their ads in between, over and under the big 3 - Turkey Day, Santa Clause, and the crashing crystal ball over Times Square. This overlapping of holiday marketing drives our spirit to tears.
The holidays become a time of long "to do" lists, overcommitment, overbuying, overeating, and sleep deprivation.

How do we skip this Holiday stress?
  1. Have a clear vision of what you want for your holidays - no, really, imagine exactly what your perfect holiday would look like and feel like.
  2. Discover the visions of other members of your family - they are probably different from yours.
  3. Have a family meeting and write down every one's goals - compromise - then put agreed events on the calendar.
  4. Put not only events on the calendar but also all projects like decorating, shopping, baking, and sending out cards.
  5. If the calendar looks overwhelming - again communicate and delete some items. Leave some empty space for the unexpected and some time just to enjoy your home.
  6. Follow the plan on your calendar but don't let the calendar rule you. You can change items. Remain flexible.
The most important idea here is that you need to know what you want and plan for it to happen. This can greatly reduce your holiday stress.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Organizing the Kitchen Zone

If you are following the zone plan, October is a great month to organize your kitchen for a couple of reasons. First, you will soon be in that kitchen a lot preparing foods for the holidays. How much easier this will be if everything is organized and at your fingertips. Secondly, this is a time for many canned food drives so while you are in there cleaning out your pantry, find foods that you have bought and not used (but have not expired) and pass them on to a charity.

You will also have zones within your kitchen. There will be a cooking zone, a food preparation zone, a dishes zone, a food storage zone, and a food serving zone.

The cooking zone includes the stove, oven and microwave as well as your pots, pans, bake-ware, and cooking utensils. As yourself when organizing in this zone if your lifestyle has changed. Are you still holding on to items just because you once used them? Are you doing as much baking as you once did? Are you still using the big pots and the roaster? If the answer is "Yes, but I only use them seasonally." then store these seldom used items with the seasonal decorations and clear up space in your kitchen for day to day food preparation.

The food preparation zone includes the refrigerator as well as cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders and measuring cups/spoons. As you sort like items together, continue to get rid of multiples and items you are no longer using. When organizing your refrigerator, set up zones there as well. Have a diary zone, a snack zone, a leftover zone, a fresh produce zone or whatever fits your life style. Having zones in your fridge helps you save money, time, and make the best use of your space.

Your dishes zone will include your sink and dishwasher as well as your dishes, bowls, mugs, glasses and flatware. Keep the items you use most frequently on the easiest to access shelves. Get rid of cracked, broken, or no longer used items.

Your food storage zone is the area you use as a pantry. Donate foods that have been hanging around and not used. Toss out expired items. Group your foods into categories the same as a store might. Have all soups together, pasta together, and group vegetables with vegetables, and fruit with fruit. This helps you see what you have and keeps you from losing items on the back of the shelf.

Your food serving zone may be partly in a dining area as it includes placemats, napkins, trivets, and large serving pieces. As you organize these items give away or toss unwanted or unused pieces.

Now your kitchen should feel less crowded and you will enjoy using it to prepare your holiday treats.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Do Lists

How do you manage your "to do" lists? As I work with clients, I see a variety of tactics. Some people have the little sticky notes or small pieces of paper everywhere. Others have small lists on envelopes, sheets of paper, or anything handy. Some keep running lists in a notebook. Others have lists on their computer or in their calendars. Almost everyone, including me, gets frustrated by the unfinished lists of "to dos."

I often help clients set up action files or folders for their "to do" items. Usually we set up two folders. One folder is for items that need to be done very soon and the other one is for items that are not so urgent. The trick is that sometimes there are important but not urgent items in the second folder that work their way up to "need to be done very soon" and if that second folder is not monitored, those items can get missed. I am beginning to think there should also be a third folder for things we would like to do someday but that aren't essential at this time. This could be more like a bucket list or dream folder.

For immediate "to do" items, I encourage putting only one item on an index card or paper. Place these papers in the folder. Don't worry about forgetting the tasks when the papers go into the folder because the crucial time related tasks should also be recorded on your calendar. When a task is complete, that paper can be thrown away. ( I have one client who likes to put her completed tasks in a jar to see how much she has accomplished!) For the other folder, you can either use single sheets or lists.

Now, here is the important part. Once a week - it could be a Friday or Sunday evening or a Monday morning, items should be taken from that "Urgent To Do" folder and actually scheduled on the calendar. I recommend scheduling 3 major things each day to accomplish that will move you toward your goals. When I try for more than 3 big things, I usually run into grief from over-scheduling. At least once a week, the secondary "To Do" folder should be reviewed. Schedule a couple of items from this folder if possible. At the very least, be aware of what is lurking in that folder.

Now, everyday when you open your calendar, the important "to dos" are already scheduled. At the end of the day, if an item did not get done, because life can intervene with the best of schedules, go ahead and move it to another slot immediately.

No system is perfect. I'd love to hear what has worked for you.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Project Meltdowns

It is very discouraging at times when you really want to complete an organizational project and it just isn't going the way you plan.
Sometimes it is just that life has become more complicated. Or perhaps this project is taking a lot longer than you thought it would. You feel so discouraged and are tempted to just give it up.
We all know that change is hard. We also realize that the disorganization in our life didn't happen overnight and neither will the change.
When this meltdown happens, it is really important to go back to your original vision and ask some questions.
  1. Why did I want this project done in the first place?
  2. Is my vision for the end result still true?
  3. Is it worth the effort?
  4. Do I need to rework my timeline and expectations?
Maybe you are trying to do too much too fast. Life does need to go on while you are working on this vision.
List all the things you have accomplished so far. Focus on this instead of what has not yet been accomplished.
Think about breaking some of the tasks into even smaller parts and reworking your timeline.
Check to see that old habits aren't slipping back and slowing the progress.
Reward yourself often as you move through the project.

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." - Jim Rohn, speaker and author

For more insights, check out the chapter "Roadblocks and Setbacks" in my book From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.
The book is available on my website -

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick! Where does it go?

Sit back and look at your desk top. If it looks like mine right now, it would make a good "before" picture.
Daily it is a struggle to conquer the mess on the desk. Yes, I know and I preach that every task should be put away before the next one begins. And often I do just that but sometimes ........
I have action files and that does make clearing my desk much easier when it does look like this.
Everyone's action files or desktop files may have different headings.
Mine are:
  • Read
  • File
  • Do
  • Pay
  • Pending/waiting for
  • Communicate
I also have my calendar, project bins, a trash can, and a shred box in the office.
So here is what I recommend. Set the timer for 15 minutes and put every thing on your desk in the correct spot.
Now what might be on a desk and where might it go? Always think what will be the first action with that item.

note scribbled on post-it note from last phone call - File
client info about rescheduling a session- calendar then File
notice of a committee meeting - calendar then Project bin
info on upcoming workshop I might want to attend - calendar then Pending
invite to a party - calendar then Pending
ideas for newsletter - File
phone message from auto shop - Communicate
notes from potential clients - Pending
ideas for an article - Do
solicitation for a new credit card - Shred
credit card bill - Pay
article pulled from magazine - Read
CD from workshop - Read (yeah I know, but that's where I would put it)

Now the desk is clear. I don't need to worry about forgetting items because all crucial items were first posted in my calendar.

What is on your desk? Quick! Where does it go?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, September 9, 2011

Decatur Book Festival

Last weekend was the Decatur Book Festival. This is one of my favorite yearly events in Decatur. Judith Kolberg, Diane Quintana, and I had a booth that offered organizational help, book coaching, and of course a chance to buy our books.
Judith, Diane, and I also had an opportunity to do a book signing at the booth of Eagle Eye Book Shop. Eagle Eye is so supporting of the local authors. They also carry our books year round.
I also enjoyed chatting with all the people who stopped by our booth to buy our books, look at our before/after pictures, share their organizational challenges or victories, talk about book ideas , or ask questions about the local NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) group. It was great to see and reconnect with people that I know and to meet new people who may become friends, clients, or colleagues.
It was also fun to visit the other booths. It is exciting to see the diversity of books and services that are offered. I also revel in all that good food and good food smells, the sound of people enjoying themselves, and the children's parades.
If you missed the opportunity this year to go to the festival, there is always next year. I am already looking forward to it.
If you missed the opportunity to buy our books they are available not only at Eagle eye but also at Squall Press My book is also available on my website -

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Workshop/Garage Zone

If you follow the zone plan of organizing one area of your home every month, September is a great month to tackle the garage or workshop area. It's getting a little cooler. It's time to think about putting away summer equipment and evaluating your current zone placements.
Start by listing all the zones this area has. Some possibilities might include yard/garden storage; tools and workshop area; storage of home repair projects; recycling center; storage of extra household purchases like paper towels, cleaning materials, or soft drinks; storage of items for outdoor entertainment; sports equipment storage; and if it is your garage, maybe even a zone for parking your car!
Next envision where to logically place these zones. For items that you use regularly, you will want your zones near the entrance. I want my bike near the front entrance for example. On the left side of my workshop one wall is all gardening/lawn equipment with the lawn mower near the entrance.
As you group your items together, look for containers that can hold your smaller items. All seed packets go in a clear shoebox or all gardening gloves in a basket or all small gardening tools store together in one container with a handle.
Utilize shelves, pegboard, and hooks to keep items off the floor. Don't stack items on top of each other because, for sure, you are going to want what is on the bottom. Keep wide walkways so that it is easy to access every zone, otherwise you will wind up just dropping items at the entrance instead of walking back and placing them in the proper zone.
Now grab a big black trash bag and purge in every area. Goodbye to old seeds, dried paint, gloves with holes, rusty nails. Use your broom and duster to clear away the heavy dirt and cobwebs as you go.
Once you are finished with this zone, reward yourself. Admire your clean, organized space. Now hop on that bike and ride up to the coffee shop!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Raft on Your Back

At our last NAPO conference in San Diego, Julie Morgenstern was the keynote speaker. I deeply admire this woman. Her book Organizing from the Inside Out was my primer when I first started organizing and I still refer to it regularly.
Julie told a story as part of her presentation that I would like to share.
A traveler comes across a swollen river that he needs to cross but the current is too strong for swimming. He builds a raft that carries him safely over. On arrival at the far bank he picks up the raft and carries it on his back for the rest of his life in case he has to cross another swollen river.
Let's look to see what we are still doing and keeping that which served us once but is no longer appropriate and yet we hang on to "just in case."
Our fears, our coping strategies, our attitudes, and what possessions we hang on to need to be reevaluated.
Julie went on to remind us to "let something go." She uses her acronym SHED
S - Separate the treasures
H - Heave the trash
E - Embrace your identity
D - Drive yourself forward

So what are we all carrying that was important but is not important now? what are we keeping "just in case"?

The reason Julie's presentation came to mind is that I have just learned she is presenting some workshops in October. If you are an organizer and are interested check out-, or call 212.586.8084

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Friday, August 19, 2011

Death and Digital Assets

If I kick up my heels tomorrow on 285, what happens to all my emails, online accounts, documents, pictures, blog, website and all the other goodies on my computer or in the clouds?
Who knows all that I have and where it is stored? Who knows my passwords to open these accounts?
If I don't make plans for the disposition of my digital assets, my sons will have to deal with time-consuming and expensive searches to find them - if indeed they even know what to look for.
Integras Partners ( has given some guidelines. Domain names, once registered, become my personal property and my websites and blog content are mine. These would be transferable to my heirs (through my will). But, email accounts, Facebook, twitter, eBay or PayPal may not be classified as my property as I am merely given a license when I agree to terms of service. Some sites, such as YouTube will allow people with legal power of attorney to access my accounts. Other sites such as Facebook, will put my accounts into a "memorial state." Many sites will terminate and permanently delete my accounts upon notification of my death. Integras Partners strongly suggests that I read and understand all terms of service and make any legal arrangements so that my heirs can access my accounts.
So what should I do now?
According to Integras Partners, I should consider including my cyber assets in my estate plan.
  1. Identify my cyber assets.
  2. Understand which assets are transferable and which are not.
  3. Inventory my cyber assets - note where they are located, how they are accessed, what I want to happen to them and who will be responsible for carrying out my wishes. The inventory should be referred to in my will but not included in the will as wills become public.
  4. Include specific bequests of valuable cyber assets and execute powers of attorney for those accounts that require it.
Sounds like a lot to think about. Not wanting to tempt fate, I'd better get started on it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, August 12, 2011

Boring Maintenace

Yeah! You've organized and set up your office space (closet, kitchen, garage - you name it) and you love it! You just want to stand in the doorway and admire it.
A week or two later, you stand in that same doorway and wonder what catastrophic event happened and could it be declared a disaster zone. Well, what probably didn't happen was following a maintenance plan.
You clean your kitchen, do your laundry, tend a garden, cook meals, and pay your bills over and over again. All of these tasks are necessary maintenance tasks. Likewise, it is also true of any organizational project, certain tasks must be done over and over again to keep the area organized.
Part of any organizational project should be to set up this maintenance plan. Checklists are a great help. Set up a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly checklist to match the area. I know this seems like such a boring tasks and takes time, but think back on how much time it took to get the project completed to begins with. After a while the maintenance gets to be routine - just like showering or brushing your teeth.
If you have difficulty setting up a maintenance plan you can ask for help (wink, nudge) or you can look up existing lists ( check out and modify them for your own circumstance.
If even with the maintenance, you have one area that just stays out of control, go back and do an analysis. You may need to make a major shift in your system to get this area under control. No sense trying over and over again to maintain something that is almost impossible to maintain.
Now go back to that doorway again and admire that lovely office.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, August 5, 2011

Taming the Laundry Zone

August is a good month to organize the laundry area. Vacation is over and the laundry has stacked up since return. Team practices have begun and caused extra laundry. Your laundry zone may be bursting at the seams!
Laundry zones can be located almost anywhere in a home. I can remember my mother's was in the basement and even had a laundry chute where clothes could be dropped from either level of the house and land in an open laundry basket. (I believe a cat or two also got a laundry chute ride as well.) My laundry area is in a small room off my living room that was once a porch. If you look at the picture, you can see my dryer is just a drying rack. My handy husband enclosed the area so when it is not in use, it is not seen. Wherever your area, utilize every square inch. Shelves can be added to give extra storage space. Make sure the area is well lit.
You'll want your laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain removers, sponges, and scrubbing brushes near your washer. If you buy your detergent in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and will less likely be spilled. Post a stain-removal chart on the wall.
Counter space is helpful for laying out items to treat or a place to fold clothes. I use a small table that is in the adjacent area. If you have room, you might buy a small table for your area.
A bar or bracket to hang hangers for shirts taken out of the dryer is useful. It does not have to be large but just enough to hold what would come out of one load (because, of course, you are going to immediately put them away ;-} )
Even if you have a dryer, a drying rack hung on the wall is handy for drying items you don't want to toss in the dryer. Have a container handy for tossing in the items you find in pockets or loose buttons. If possible, have your ironing board, iron, and water or starch spray bottles in this location.
A stack of colored laundry baskets is a handy way to sort clean clothes for each member of the family and for one for the bath/bed linens. When the laundry is taken out of the dryer and folded, immediately put it in the correct basket. Each family member can pick up their baskets, put their clothes away, and return the basket.
Have dirty clothes stay in the various clothes hampers in bedrooms or bathrooms until you are ready to do the laundry. That keeps the laundry area from accumulating heaps and mound of dirty laundry (which cats also love to hide in).

I would love to hear about any laundry zone tips you have tried.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Magic Suitcase - Less is truly more!

A true story:
Once long ago and far away in the structure of military land, there was as Army wife. She was dutiful, responsible, took care of the cleaning, cooking, mending, the schedules of her children, and was willing to more to any location the Army needed them. Life was filled to the brim ....with things to do. Life was so full of deadlines and interruptions. Except!!! ...when the family had to move.
Each family member was allowed one suitcase to pack. My suitcase was special. In my suitcase I only used my clothes to wrap and pack all the necessary items for our family's survival during the span of time from the day the moving van took our household abundance and the day the van delivered all that responsibility to the new place.
The first time I packed that suitcase it took several days of thought and if I were working a jigsaw puzzle where the only clue for fitting was the dimension of the suitcase. But after the first move, I had the absolute necessities down to a science. I always packed my favorite coffee mug last and took it out first.
With that minimal suitcase and a virtually empty house at my new destination, I was on vacation. I had no big household responsibilities. no real cleaning, no putting away, cooking was like camping. My time was my own. The children and I would explore the new environment - the zoo, the stores, the parks, the local attractions.
But when the van arrived I always came back from my vacation, put on my apron and rubber gloves, scooped up the dustpan and broom and went back to work with all the responsibility that come with belongings. I was back to normalcy.
This story is a snapshot of an extreme definition of downsizing.
Simply put, downsizing is merely getting rid of what you don't need in a given set of circumstances.
I dearly loved that suitcase. It simplified my life for the span of time our belongings were en route. It became a symbol of freedom for me. It took me years and years to realize WHY that suitcase was so precious to me. It took me a long time to realize that the more things I had, the less time and money I had.
I am a much happier person since I have started downsizing and to me downsizing is a continual process.
Less stuff=less mess=less stress.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, July 29, 2011

Organizing Memorabilia

Almost everyone has memorabilia of some sort. Memorabilia is a broad category and might include pictures, posters, letters, journals, ticket stubs, knickknacks picked up on vacation, or other items that have a deep meaning.
Sometimes we keep items because they had a meaning when we acquired them or we loved them at one time but time has now caused those items to be just there and taking up space. The deep meaning has disappeared. Sometimes we start to collect something that has meaning and then others hop on the bandwagon and gift you with similar items. Now you have a large collection that has lost its meaning. For example, if you collected a few demitasse spoons from countries you visited on a European tour many years ago - then friends gifted you with more spoons to help you "complete" your collection, now the whole collection has now become something that just takes up space and has lost its original meaning.
As you decide to organize your memorabilia, first ask some questions. Does this item still stir my heart or capture an important event? Do I need 10 items that capture that important event? Am I saving these items for posterity or myself? If I am saving items for the family, do they really want them or will they become a burden to them? If I am saving them for myself, do I plan to look at them on a regular basis or do I just want to keep them?
If you are saving items for posterity, make certain that the items are well labeled. Paper items like posters, photographs, and letters should be kept in acid free frames or containers and protected from direct light. Both paper and textile memorabilia must be kept dry and protected from bugs and rodents. Create a digital record of the items you are storing.
If you are saving items just for you, decide if you want them tucked away to pull out occasionally or if you want them on display or at least very assessable. Pictures can be placed into containers and just divided by years, events, or family members. They can also be placed into scrapbooks and placed in the main living area so all can look at and enjoy them. Other knickknacks or larger items can be stored in plastic tubs if tucked away or in attractive baskets or containers if you want them easily available.
If you are keeping journals or diaries, ask yourself if you want these saved forever. Do you want your ancestors reading them? A lot of local history comes form old journals but just give it some thought.
If you are truly organizing your memorabilia and just have the items you truly love, be sure to honor the items. A collapsed cardboard box in the attic or basement shows that these items are not loved and honored.
If you are using my zone plan, then wherever you place your memorabilia, you will revisit it and look through it at least once a year. This can give you a chance to reevaluate what you keep and do a finer sort and categorization . Don't get hung up on making it perfect on the first sort. The memorabilia should be for your pleasure - not a burden.
I would love to hear from others on how they organize their memorabilia.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zoning Your Office

Zoning your office can increase your efficiency. Organizing your office so that you have needed items at your fingertips can minimize the stress and frustration of not knowing where to locate that needed item immediately when you need it.
I recommend dividing your "office" into 4 zones. Some of the actual zones may not be in the same area as where you do your day in and day out work.

Zone 1: This is the zone that is right at your finger tips. You should be able to reach items in this zone without leaving your desk. In this zone you place the items you use everyday. Depending on what you do, a partial list could include:
  • computer
  • printer
  • phone
  • timer
  • pens/pencils
  • business cards
  • stapler
  • action files
  • current client files
Zone 2: This zone is close and accessibly. In this zone you place items you use weekly or at least often. A partial list might include:
  • reference books
  • 3 hole punch
  • extra paper for computer
  • label maker
  • extra file folders
  • manuals
  • file cabinet
Zone 3: This zone can be farther away and even in another room. In this zone you place items rarely needed. The list might include:
  • extra office supplies
  • extra business cards/marketing material
  • reference files
  • older client files
  • inspirational files
  • items needed for presentations or booths
  • rarely used references
  • last year's financing papers
Zone 4: This zone definitely should not be taking up any prime real estate. In this zone you place purely archival information. This list would mainly be old tax papers and very old client records. This could be in a basement or attic. Just make certain to clearly label the boxes.

Share with me how you zone your office for efficiency.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fear of Failure

No one likes to fail. If we fail we must have made mistakes, done something stupid, weren't good enough, etc.
But, if we never fail - if we always make our goals, what does that say? If we never fail we must have had very easy, attainable goals, not stretched ourselves, and not achieved a fraction of what we are capable of doing.
People through time have learned only through mistakes. Failure gives us a chance to learn and improve.
Getting from where we are now to our ultimate vision requires some missteps. But, these mistakes give us a chance to grow and push our limits.
You have probably heard the story about Edison going through over 1,000 combinations of gas and filament before he developed a workng light bulb that would last. After the light bulb began to be distributed, the science editor of a well known national publication asked him how it felt to have failed so many times. Edison responded with the fact that he had succeeded in producing the incandescent bulb. When the editor persisted, Edison framed the problem of getting to a working light bulb as one that had over 1,000 steps along the way. Had he thought of each step along the way a yet another fialure, the light bulb might never have been developed.
What do we want out of life? What is our vision? Do we listen to what others tell us and what we tell ourselves about the risks necessary to move toward that vision? When we begin to grow and expand our goals, we are going to experience a learning curve and some failures along the way. Failure is just a part of the process of expanding our lives.
Let's dream large and move forward.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vacation Priorities

I have been blessed to have a couple of vacations close together this summer. One thing I have learned is that taking a vacation from work is not the same thing as taking a vacation from self care and maintenance routines. I have been able to enjoy my time visiting with my family while still watching my diet, exercising even more than usual, and certainly getting more sleep than usual. I have also been able to continue to check in at Weight Watchers.
This doesn't happen by accident. I made plans and had my vision on how this was going to happen before I left home. I called my family and announced I was on Weight Watchers. I planned what food I carried with me on the trips so that I would be satisfied and not tempted to eat junk food. I held the intention to maintain healthy habits during my vacation while having a wonderful time with my family.
They, in turn, found a place for me to weigh in and were very supportive of my diet. They came up with outings that were interesting while providing exercise.
I came home from my vacations feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the real world again.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, July 1, 2011

Planning Kitchen Zones

I was working this past week with a client who had just moved. It was a pleasure to be able to set up kitchen zones right from the beginning. One of the secrets to a neat and organized kitchen is to utilize zones. If your zones are working, you should not have a lot of kitchen clutter.

I look at 6 zones in the kitchen.

Food Preparation Zone - This is usually the largest zone in the kitchen. It is either between the sink and refrigerator or the sink and the oven. This is where you would have your cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, food wraps, mixers, blenders, and measuring cups/spoons.

Cooking Zone - This is near the oven and stove-top. This is where you would have pots, pans, cooking utensils, pot holders, bake ware, recipes, and cookbooks. Many people now get most of their recipe's on line and can let go of a lot of their cookbooks. However, they may have some family favorites they just want to hold on to. In this small efficient kitchen, we determined that her cookbooks would go a step or two away into the adjoining laundry room.

Daily Dishes Zone - This is close to the sink/dishwasher. You would have your daily dishes, bowls, mugs, glasses and flatware here. Flexibility is key. My client's sink/dishwasher were on an island that overlooked the living room and there were no overhead cabinets. She just turned around and used the cabinet on the other wall for her daily dishes and her special occasion dishes were stored in a cabinet above her refrigerator.

Food Serving Zone - This is near where you eat. You would have your placemats, napkins, trivets, and serving pieces near this zone. A nearby pantry could store these items. Some families who eat in an adjoining room store these items in that room.

Food Storage Zone - This would be the refrigerator and pantry. If you do not have a pantry, you would use a cabinet.

Cleaning Zone - This is usually under the sink. This is where you would store household cleaners, detergents, rubbish bags, sponges, and towels.

The real key is to be somewhat flexible with these zones depending on your kitchen layout and space. If clutter starts to accumulate in your kitchen, it is very likely your zones are not well laid out, so take some time and reevaluate. Every item should be close at hand for each type of task so it is easy to reach and easy to return to its home.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer