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