Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Minute Holiday Organizational Tips

Christmas is just around the corner. What can we do now to make this Christmas and the next a little less stressful?

As the Christmas cards come in, take the time now to check addresses and update your contact list. Plan now on how you want to handle the card you receive - especially those with personal pictures and notes. I do not keep cards unless there is a very special note or picture. Then the card will go into a memorabilia box. If you like to use favorite cards as gift tags for the next year, put those cards in a small box and label them "gift tag cards." If you want to keep some of the pictures, consider scanning them as they come in. Another option is to place them in your memorabilia box with other family photos. If you plan to answer notes in the cards, schedule the time to do this now or very likely they will be sitting in a bag or basket for the whole year. (This I know very personally.)

Wrapping Paper:
I encourage you to let go of those little bits and pieces of the roll that are left after wrapping your gifts. You might want to keep some smaller pieces to use as gift tags. If this is your plan, place the small pieces in an envelope or folder to protect them. Paper that came off gifts you received might be kept for next year if it is pristine. The same can be said for keeping and reusing gift bags. If you find that you have a lot of paper left from previous years, now is the time to decide what you really love and let the excess go. Tissue paper can be used to wrap fragile ornaments when packing up after the holidays. Do have one place to store your entire holiday wrap.

Start your gift list for next year now. What have you discovered that your friends and family really love? Make a list. Keep a list of all clothing sizes. Shop all year round and keep all gifts that you buy in one place. This shows you how much you already have when the holiday shopping season hits next year. Tag the items with the names of who you thought of when you bought the gift.

After Christmas, wrap up carefully all your decorations that you plan to keep and use next year. As you box them, divide them up so that it will facilitate putting them out next year. I have all early advent items in the top of one marked box. Others, who do more extensive decorating, mark boxes by the rooms where the decorations are used. Discard broken or unloved items.

As you receive gifts, now is the time to donate what you no longer need or love. If you receive a new coffee pot, donate the old one. If you got a new robe, let the old one go to charity. Have children participate in clearing out toys they no longer love to make room for their new gifts.

Have a happy holiday season!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Make Your Calendar Work for You in 2013

By now you have probably gotten tired of writing notes on the back page and putting sticky notes in your old calendar.

Let's plan how to set up your new calendar for the upcoming year.

Step One: Review your current calendar. This is the fun part. Go month by month to note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times. Also note doctor/dentist appointments that are already set for the upcoming year.

Step Two: Transfer these dates to your new calendar in a color that will stand out. As you go through the year writing in all the other appointments, you don't want to lose focus on these dates.

Step Three: On each month, either along the edge or at the top of your calendar, write in actions that you usually do during that month. For example, in January I have "clean out birdhouses" and "organize office zone." In February I have "deduct from checkbook deposit box expense" and "organize my guest bedroom zone."

Step Four: On each month, Make a list of when organizational dues are expected and when you make annual contributions to organizations. For example, in March I have "National Audubon" due and in April I have "Atlanta Botanical Gardens" and "National NAPO" due. Most of these organizations start to solicit months before the renewal is actually due. This side bar of information on when items are really due keeps you from guessing or having to check back into your files or checkbook.

I always enjoy setting up my new calendar. It is fun to review what I have done during this past year and to feel prepared for the upcoming year.

Jonda Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Annual Christmas Panic

OK, we are now really in December. Christmas will be here really soon.

Time to panic!


In spite of my best efforts, I have run behind on my timeline. In spite of my great plan early on, I have also over scheduled.

What should I do now to keep away that panic and stress?

Here is my current plan:

  1. Back to envisioning how I want this holiday to look and feel.
  • I want my holiday to include time with loved ones and friends.
  •  I want to feel happy and at peace with the world.

     2. Getting real about what can be done.
  •  I am still working on cards - but individual messages are going to be very brief and only to those I don't communicate with except at Christmas.
  • My decorations will be less than previous years.
  • My house will not attract the board of health, but this is not the time for any deep cleaning or organizational projects.
  • I will streamline cooking - eat out more - and keep foods for the party and the holiday meal simpler than in the past.
    3. Getting help.
  • I will ask for help from friends and family as needed.
  • I will hire help for some cleaning and yard work.
    4. Revisiting my calendar.
  • I will move some items around to accommodate my new commitments.
  • I will let some items go.
   5. Taking care of myself first.
  • I will sleep more.
  • I will eat healthy (well, at least most of the time).
  • I will do my weights and walk.
   6.  Laughing and smiling - a lot.
  • I will schedule time with fun friends.
  • I will go to uplifting events.
  • I will laugh at the absurd and ridiculous - and that means laughing at myself at times.
OK - Now, I have a Plan B. I feel better.
Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Presents

Buying and receiving presents is so personal. Every family has their traditions and even within the family there are differences.

One of the things I like about my family gift giving plan is that each year we give to a different family member. This year I give to my sister and her family in Washington. Next year I will give to my brother and his family in Ohio.

When I reflect on gifts I consider:

  • The gift should be personal. I like gifts that show you know the person. You are aware of their  interests and needs. I do not want a gift card unless it is for an event or an experience. As an organizer, I have seen so many unused gift cards floating around and I wonder how many just get lost. To me a generic gift card is just like giving money. You give me money. I give you money. This is not very special to me.
  • Gifting memories is better than gifting items unless the person you are giving to has some real needs. Using the gift money for a holiday get together or a special play or event beats a sweater.
  • Thought should be given as to if the receiver has a place for whatever you are gifting. A bread maker is not a good gift for a person with a tiny kitchen.
  • Consumable gifts are good. This might be special coffee, sweets, special soaps, or being taken to the spa or to a theater.
  • Once something is gifted, it belongs to that person to do with as they wish.
Now having said all of that, I do try to listen to the wishes of others in my family. If all my nephew wants is a gift card to Amazon - so be it. If my brother wants a gift card so that he can buy the books that he wants - OK.

I would love to hear comments on how you and your family handle gifting.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that is mainly celebrated in the United States and Canada. In the US we celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November and if we are lucky, we can extend the celebration through the weekend.

There are so many different ways to celebrate the day. When I was young, we visited my grandmother. When I was newly married, we visited my mother. After my mother died, my son and I would often go out to a restaurant to celebrate. This year, my son and I are going to a friend's house to joint with his family for the celebration.

However it is celebrated, it is a time to reflect on the many things for which to give thanks.

I want to give special thanks for my family. They are my bedrock and so very special to me. It is a great gift to know that my family is always there for me.

I also remember my friends. New friends and old are remembered. It is important to let these friends know how important they are and to set aside time to nurture and enjoy the friendships.

I am fortunate to have good health. I do not take this for granted. I do what I can to stay healthy but I also recognize that this is a gift and I am grateful.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day in your own way.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cutting Back to Grow

Vicki Norris in her book, Restoring Order, has a chapter on "The Pruning Principle." Vicki talks about how therapeutic it is to cut out dead branches and superfluous material in order to restore plants to better health. The pruning gives the plant a chance to produce more life and fruit.

Now, apply this to your life. We all have "stuff" that is superfluous and that just takes up our time, energy, and space. Some of this "stuff" is physical items, but a lot of it is commitments and time gobblers that keep us from growing and devoting our time to things we love and places where we excel. Vicki points out that our priorities should drive our commitments, not a sense of guilt or obligation.

Vicki goes even further than eliminating the deadwood. She states that further pruning back of living plants will cause the garden to flourish. The pruning will cause resiliency and will focus the life energy. New life comes from the cut back stalks.

I think we can all see how this applies to our lives. The excess belongings and obligations keep us from moving froward and growing stronger. Once we start removing the excess, we can use our energy to grow in the direction we want. We can become more proactive and in control of our lives.

I highly recommend Vicki's book, Restoring Order. The pruning principle was only one of Vicki's great insights on organization. 

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Storage Area - the Zone Plan

OK, it's time to get back into the attic, basement, garage area, or wherever you store your seasonal decorations.

While you're there - look around. What else is stored in this area? Since you're here, now is a good time to evaluate what is lurking in the corners (or what you are tripping over right at the entrance). It is such a temptation when putting items into storage to just dump them wherever there is some space. This leads to difficulty maneuvering in the area and actually finding that special box when you want it.

Make a list of all the categories you have in this storage space. Are you keeping out of season clothes, archival papers, furniture and household accessories, seasonal house items like fans/heaters/humidifiers, toys to pass on to grandchildren, as well as all of your holiday decorations?

Group all related items that you find. Put like with like and designate a space for each category. Put up signs to clarify the zones. Put the categories that you rarely want - like old furniture - the farthest from the point of entry. Put them most frequently used zones nearest the entrance.

Label boxes if it is not clear what is in them. Moving forward, it helps if you use holiday colored or themed boxes to store your decorations. Mark the boxes with the primary items. If your boxes are well labeled, you will not have to dig through every box to find that advent wreath or creche that you want early in the season.

If you run across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years - get rid of them now.

If you work on this zone once a year, it will never become a nightmare.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Calendar - Your BFF for the Holidays

I have talked before about the importance of defining your vision for the holidays and then making plans to fit that vision.

How much is too much? What is really important to you?
After developing your vision, and then brainstorming all you need to do to make your vision come true, actually placing those tasks on your calendar, makes it real.

I use a paper monthly calendar to get the whole picture. I  color code the tasks. I use the categories of  major events (black), traditional holiday rituals and chores (green) , baking or other food preparations (red), and the giving of a party(blue).
Remember that all of these tasks are on top of what you normally do. It can get pretty scary seeing so many of the blocks on the calendar get filled in.

Major events will include all parties, plays, church events, plays, concerts, etc. that you wish to attend.

Holiday rituals and chores will include time for sending out cards, buying gifts and wrapping them, mailing gifts,decorating your home, and hauling out the holiday CDs.

Food preparation will include finding recipes for, buying ingredients for, and actually preparing all special holiday baked items, special meals as well as dishes you take to events.

Giving a party will include making your guest list, sending out invitations, planning the menu, shopping, decorating, and extra cleaning.

Is this what you want? If it is too much for you, what can you let go? Decide this up front and have a family consensus. This will keep you from impulsively agreeing to doing too much.

The lovely thing about having it all down on the calendar, is that you don't worry about when you can possibly get it all done - you have a plan for it.

Just be sure you allow some free time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and some extra "wiggle" time to allow for life's unexpected events.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Refrigerator Organization

Some people might feel that organizing a refrigerator smacks of OCD but in actuality this organizational task will save you time and money. You will know where everything is located. You will maximize your shelf space. It will keep meat juices from running into your saved salad and your cheese from drying into a hard and/or green block.

 An organizational plan:

1. Remove all items from the fridge and group like with like. Have all your cheeses together. Group meats, snacks, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

2. Purge any item that is past its expiration date, unidentifiable, fuzzy, or has been cross-contaminated ( see meat juices in salad above).

3. Wipe out the fridge. You don't want to put your good food back into a nasty fridge.

4. Utilize containers. Put snacks in see through containers. This allows you to find food when searching in the fridge and keeps items from being tipped over.

5. Put food in designated drawers, such as vegetables in the crisper and luncheon meat in the deli drawer. One exception to this is eggs. Keep them in their original container for a longer life.

6. Organize foods by how frequently you use them. Put healthy or quickly perishable snacks towards the front.

7. Put taller items in the back. This way a small item doesn't get hidden.

8.  Place condiments and salad dressing in the door. Do not place items like milk or tube foods in the door as they will spoil more quickly.

9. Monitor monthly for maintenance.

Stand back and enjoy the appearance of your freshly cleaned and organized refrigerator. Celebrate by having one of those fun snacks.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Holidays! Ready or Not

The holiday marathon is right around the corner. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanuka, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve - all with ads that overlap, collide, and remind us of the myriad of details that we should be taking care of.
The holidays become a long list of "things to do now." We end up with overcommitment, over buying, overeating, and sleep deprivation.

What to do?

1. Take some time - right now - and decide how you want this season to look and feel. What has been bugging you the last few seasons? What do you want to change? What do you love about the season? Write a list. Then share it with family members and get their input.

2. Brainstorm a list of all that you feel must happen to make your vision come true. Christmas baking or ordering goodies? Decorating? Parties? Events?

3. Block out times on your calendar. Don't just put events on the calendar. Also schedule shopping times, baking times, time to put up the tree. If that calendar looks overwhelming after putting all the projects down, see if there are any you can delegate or eliminate.  Leave some days blank. Surprises happen and down time is good.

4. Designate zones in your house for holiday activities. Set up a gift storing/wrap area. Set up an area for working on cards. Designate a staging area for house decorations.

5. Come to my workshop on October 19 - Surviving the Holidaze Workshop at Alpharetta, GA. The Workshop is 10:00 - 11:00. It is full of great ideas, a chance to eat holiday cookies, and win door prizes. Call 404-299-5111 or email jonda@timespaceorg.com to register.

What ever you do, visualize this holiday season so that you experience the joy and not the stress.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Organizing Your Kitchen for the Holidays - Zone Plan

October is a great time to organize your kitchen. This prepares your kitchen for all the extra holiday cooking. It also gives you the opportunity to donate to the various food drives all the food that has built up over the past year through impulse buying or overbuying.

My kitchen strategy:
  1. 1. Look at your motivation. What are the organizational issues with this room? Do you feel your counter tops are too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Make a list.
2. Create your vision. How do you want your kitchen to look and how do you want to feel when you are working there? Write out your vision. Your completion date for the kitchen zone is the end of the month.

3. Brainstorm. Now that you know what you want, jot down all that has to happen to make your vision come true. Some tasks might include:
  • Clearing out items you no longer want or use. If your counters are too cluttered, take everything off that you do not use at least weekly - maybe even daily. Look at the items you removed. Could you live without them? If so, donate them. Do you need them but just not often? Store them elsewhere. How many plastic containers or dishes do you really need? Donate extras and give yourself some much needed space.
  • Look for new storage ideas. I have used a small dish drainer to store lids and pie pans. Plastic bins or tubs hold like items together and make it easy to pull out the bin, select what you want, and put the bin back in its space. Consider hooks for holding items.
  • Organize items for more convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffeepot near the sink. Put the toaster nearby to make breakfast preparation easier. Put rarely used items on higher shelves. Find an attractive counter top container to hold frequently used cooking utensils and place it by the stove. Set up your kitchen into zones - food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.
4. Write out your goals that you developed when working on your vision and brainstorming list.

5. Develop your timeline. Write out and put on your calendar when  you plan to do each task. Be reasonable and allow some time  for events that pop up. Do a little each day and schedule larger tasks like cleaning the refrigerator over the weekend.

6. Now just follow the timeline and by the end of the month you will love your new kitchen space. You are ready for the holidays!

For more details on following this plan, visit my website www.timespaceorg.com and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ICD Conference in Chicago

Last weekend I attended the  Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) conference in Chicago. ICD is an excellent educational and research source for Professional Organizers. The theme for this year's conference was Overcoming Obstacles. The conference looked at obstacles such as procrastination, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, mental illness, aging issues, lingering grievances, and time management challenges.

180 attendees gathered to listen and share experiences. In addition to the powerful sessions, there was time to network and just talk to other organizers, coaches, counselors, move managers, students, and other resource people who attended and participated. Attendees came not only from all over the USA but also from Canada, Japan, Jamaica, and the Netherlands.

We received a valuable handout with research abstracts of ongoing studies as well as notes and handouts from the presenters. One of the presenters, Lois McElravy, who spoke on brain injury and ADHD, actually received a brain injury from an accident and was speaking firsthand about the experiences of living with this obstacle. Another speaker, Patrick Corrigan, PsyD, spoke on the stigma of mental illness. He suffers with this obstacle himself and could hare personal insights along with research.

I discovered new material during this conference and also received affirmation of the methods I am already using. I feel that taking time off from working directly with my clients to learn more about my profession is a very valuable use of my time.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clutter - Don't Fight It - Go with the Flow

Look around your home. Where are your hot spots - those places where clutter builds up over and over again? You have a plan in place but the next thing you know, you're right back where you started. Typically these places tend to be near the door, on the kitchen counter, by the bedside, on the dining room table, or on your desk.
Once you locate your hot spots, take a look at what has accumulated.
Much of the time, most of the stuff is paper. If you dump all the mail in one spot (or two) instead of taking it to that nice center you set up in your office, admit that the system is not working for you at this time. So just go with the flow. Set up a basket right there - right where the paper is accumulating. Put a trash can there, too. When you are ready to sort papers, you know right where they will be. At this point, the only sort you might do is remove and trash the junk mail.
If your night stand is really a nightmare - overflowing with magazines, books, catalogues, hand cream, tissues, your phone, and more - contain it. Put a basket by the bed for all reading material. When the basket overflows - clear out all items over 2 months old and start again. Put a small basket or have an end table with a drawer to hold the hand cream, tissues, phone, glasses, and the like. This will keep you from groping under the bed for your glasses and phone in the morning.
If you have the habit of doing your nails or working crossword puzzles while sitting on the couch, use and end table with a drawer or basket to hold the items you tend to just leave dumped on or by the couch.
Keep these three rules in mind.
  1. Keep an eye on these hot spots and when baskets or containers are overflowing and there is too much stuff lying nearby, use this as your cue to take time and clear it out again.
  2. Let the whole family in on what is going on and why.
  3. Keep the system as easy as possible.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, September 7, 2012

Working the Zone Plan - Workshop Area

September is a perfect month to work on the workshop or garage area. The weather is a little cooler. Seasons are changing. The equipment you use in your yard and for recreation and sports is changing. Now is a good time to look at what you have in these areas and determine what you have not used (that badminton set has not been set up in 3 years or more), what needs to be replaced (that trowel and pruner have had it), and what needs to be purchased ( I would love a weeding tool).

While organizing this area, first determine your zones. What exactly is the purpose of this space? Some possible zones are: yard/garden, grilling needs, tools and workshop area, storage for home repair projects, recycling, outdoor entertainment, sports, storage of extra household items like paper towels, water, or out of season cookware. If this is your garage, you might even save a zone to park your car!

Once you know the zones you need, figure out the logical placement of each zone. For items you use regularly, you will want placement near the entrance. Items used less frequently will best be placed near the back of the area. Strive to keep all like items together.

As you group like items, look for containers that can hold smaller items. All seed packets in a clear shoe box, all gardening gloves in a basket, and all gardening tools in a bucket. Utilize shelves, pegboard and hooks to keep everything off the floor. Keep wide walkways so that it is easy to access every zone. If it is difficult to put an item into the correct place, it will probably get dumped on the nearest surface as you enter.

Once you have finished this zone, reward yourself. Take that newly uncovered bike out for a spin.
Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Emergency Preparedness - Grab and Go Bag

While September is National Preparedness month, I am going to post a little early due to our thoughts on what is currently happening with Storm Isaac. When I see in the AJC “the rescued clutching what little they had left” I wonder what was in their hands.
We might be tempted to think, “I don’t live in an area like that. It will never happen to me.” As someone who was ordered to suddenly leave their house due to the possibility of a tree descending on it, I can tell you that we all need to be prepared for a disaster.
I have near my front door a Grab and Go Bag. I put this bag together myself based on the information taken from Judith Kolberg’s book, Organize for Disaster.  It is an extremely comprehensive book and easy to read and follow.  FEMA also has a useful site - http://www.fema.gov/ - but is not so helpful about paperwork.
I must warn you, however, that it does take a considerable amount of time to put the paperwork section of it together. I broke it down into segments so that it would not be overwhelming and then I update it each year.
It gives me great comfort to know that this bag has much of what I need in order to survive if I need to leave my home suddenly.
I recommend that you start today in putting together your bag and plan for your family. Make it a goal to have it complete by the end of September and then put it on your calendar to update it every year.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 23, 2012

OMG! Who trashed my office?

You look at your office and wonder if someone has trashed it! The you realize it's just that you have let stuff pile up for weeks and not taken the time  to do your due diligence maintenance. You have riffled through stacks of papers looking for that one you know you printed out a  couple of weeks ago - then you give up, dig back through your emails (which also need cleaning up) and find the form again and reprint it. While looking through stacks of folders, you have put some of them in a stack on the floor. Your clipboard is under the bench. Your shoes that you kicked off last night are under your desk - wait - make that 2 pairs of shoes.
Just imagine what your kitchen would look like if you went weeks without any clean up! Like any other area in  your home or business, your office needs regular maintenance.
I have found that checklists help. Below is one that I have developed for my office:
  • Clear desk 
  • File papers
  • Update calendar
  • Lay out first project for tomorrow
  • Check over projects - update timeline
  • Move forward on calendar uncompleted tasks
  • Set up basic calendar for upcoming week
  • Check all action files
  • Enter information into QuickBooks
  • Reconcile bank statement
  • Print out monthly goal sheet and contact sheet
  • Tally work completed and align with goals
  • Check budget
  • Revisit vision for office
  • Clear out all files
  • Deep cleaning of all areas
  • Reconfigure office to meet new vision
Now the final step is scheduling these tasks onto my calendar.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rewards of Downsizing

How do you start letting go of items you have collected all during your life? It is not an easy process to begin. Many times people equate their possessions with their identity. I have had clients tell me they keep things so that they can show that they were someone once. I encourage them to look forward to who they want to be now and in the future.

Downsizing is best done when there is no deadline looming - no pressure to make a lot of decisions in a hurry. When you look over your possessions and make your decisions at your own pace, you can feel in control.

Ask family members to help out. Take time to discuss your reasons for downsizing with your family and see it there are items they want to keep. You may well have been storing some of your children's possessions for years. See if they want them now.

Sharing your possessions and the stories behind them can bring you closer to your family. Reminisce as you look over items you may not have really looked at for years. Going through old papers and pictures can be a wonderful trip down memory lane. Then the decisions can be made - give away, shred, toss, or keep. A good plan is to chose a container for the pictures/cards/letters and then allow yourself to keep as many as will fit in that container. Also know that this process can be repeated again later and you will then be ready to let go of more items at that point in time.

When you sort items in your kitchen or family room you will probably discover that you have kept items that you have not used for years. What about that big soup pot, the clue game, or the VHS tapes? Do they fit your current life style or are they just hanging around because they have always been stored there?

Sorting your clothes and accessories will also be enlightening. If you haven't used something in the last few years, give it to people who will need and appreciate it.

As you continually go through this downsizing process, you will notice that less stuff gives you more freedom, more time, and less upkeep. You will probably feel happier in your open clear area than you have in years!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who me? ADHD?

Information about women with ADD/ADHD have fascinated me in my later years. I suspect that I have ADD but have not been officially diagnosed. ADHD is a condition that may develop in early years but continue into adulthood and often gets worse in post menopausal women.

As women get older and take on more responsibilities, they tend to get overwhelmed with day-to-day events. ADHD makes it difficult to focus and control behavior. ADHD people are often bright but can be challenged by simple tasks. They might be very creative with the big ideas but terrible with the details of follow through. They may work on many projects but complete few. They wonder what is wrong with them and often develop poor self esteem.

So what can women with ADHD or suspected ADHD do?
  1. Develop time management skills.
  • Set schedules for the day - decide what 3 things they would like to accomplish for the day and block out times to do them
  • Learn to question themselves about projects - "I have 3 big projects I want to finish. What should I do myself and what should I delegate or hire out? Should I landscape my yard and paint my deck, or hire someone else to do it?"
  • Use a timer - decide ahead of time how long they will devote to a task - set the timer for that amount of time and then quit when the timer goes off - reward themselves for what they have accomplished
      2. Set up systems for they way they function.
  • Determine their learning style and utilize their learning strengths
  • If they are a piler instead of a filer, accept that and set up piling systems
  • Use labels for files, containers, shelves
  • Put things where they would look for them - not where they think they "ought" to go
      3. Accept themselves and be proud.
  • Focus on their strengths and accomplishments - not their failures
  • Learn that perfection is rare and that "good enough" is a better goal
  • Speak up for themselves and their accomplishments
  • Take care of themselves physically and walk tall and proud
Criteria for a formal diagnosis are determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association. If women don't want a formal diagnosis at their later age, they might want to work with a counselor, life coach, or professional organizer to learn some coping skills.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Zone Plan - The Laundry Room

The month of August is a good time to organize the laundry area. Laundry has probably stacked up from vacation. New school clothes are being washed. Team sports have begun. You want this area under control before the fall season really hits. Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space.
Laundry areas crop up many places in homes. I see them in or right off kitchens, in hallways near the front entry, at the top of the stairs, in basements, and even off the main bedroom. What you don't want to see is laundry that migrates into the rooms nearby.

My laundry area is very small. I only have a washer, some shelves, and a place to hang my drying rack. Even though most people have dryers, a drying rack is handy for delicates and hand wash items. Shelves are necessary to store all washing/drying products. You can note in my picture that I also store other cleaning products here. You'll want laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain removers, sponges, and scrubbing brushes near your washer/dryer. A stain removal chart hung on the wall can be helpful. If you have room place a table to lay clothes on or to treat a stain or to use for folding clothes. I have a small table right outside this area for that purpose.

At least once a year, you want to look over your products you are storing here and consolidate. Did you buy a product that you did not like and it is still hanging around? Get rid of it now. Do you have spray starch that is 10 years old and you never use any more? Toss it. Do you have 2 half bottles of Woolite? Consolidate them. If you have a large container of soap powder on the floor, transfer some into a smaller container that is easier to handle. This will cut down on spills. While you are in here organizing the  shelves, it is a good time to give them a good cleaning as some of the products tend to leave rings.

Have a small container in this area for tossing the items you find luring in pockets or for the loose buttons that come off in the wash. I find this area is also a logical place for me to store my iron, ironing board, and water spray bottle.

To keep this area neat, only bring in the dirty clothes when you are ready to wash them. Let them live in the dirty clothes baskets until the actual laundry time. Mounds of dirty laundry are not enjoyed by anyone but the family cat. As soon as the clothes are dry, get them back to their original space.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back to School: Setting Up a Study Zone

Before school starts, set up a study zone with your student. Let him handle his new materials. Let him enjoy and help decide on his space. Make it a positive experience.

Determine where the zone will be located. Some children study well in a quiet area away from distraction. Others do better when other people are nearby. Some can work well by themselves but need background noise. Find an area that works best for your child. Be consistent on this study area.

Determine what will go into the zone to make studying as easy as possible. You don't want your child to finally get started on his studies only to find he needs to stop and locate something he needs. Standard items like pencils/pens, sharpener, paper, stapler/staples, paper clips, tape, glue, bookmark, timer/clock, reference books and computer should be at hand. If the study area is a shared area - i.e. dining table, den, your office - containerize the supplies into a basket or bin that can be put away in a nearby designated area once the study is complete. It is important that wherever his place of study, he should not be interrupted during his designated study time.

A calendar should be available to visually track long term assignments and non-school events that will cut into study time. Some projects have several deadlines to track. Some subjects like math or spelling might need work every school night but other subjects may only need work once or twice a week. Put on the calendar the weekly study schedule. Your child might have some nights that he reads and studies alone. Other nights he might need drill from a parent. He might also need times that he studies with a study partner. The calendar can help the student plan what to study, when to study, with whom to study, and how long to study.

Organization and consistency should cut down on homework hassles.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Books: How many is too many?

After : bookcase

Before: Bookcase
I have long prided myself that I only kept as many books as I had spaces to store them. My bookcases were my containers and if they got full, I got rid of less favored books.

Then it was pointed out to  me that it really wasn't that great to have my bookcases so crowded. Spaces that are completely full block the flow of "chi" (vital energy). Full bookcases block the flow of new information and knowledge. You can believe in Feng Shui or not but I will tell you that decluttering my bookcase helped me to have breathing room in my office and lightened up the atmosphere in the office.

I started thinking about why I have kept my books for so long. I came up with the following list:
  1. I haven't read the book yet.
  2. It was given to me be a friend or relative.
  3. It was signed by the author.
  4. It was a book that I referred back to for information or ideas.
  5. It was a book I wanted to have on hand for guests to read.
  6. I had fond memories attached to the book.
  7. I might want to read it to a grandchild.
  8. It was expensive. 
Then I came up with reasons I could let the books go or reasons why I really want to hang on to the books.
  1. If I haven't read the book after several years, I'm not likely to want to read it now.
  2. My books are not equated to liking friends and relatives. My friends and relatives won't care if I give the book away.
  3. If the book was inscribed to me and I was fond of the author, I would keep it. If it just had the signature  - so what? - let it go.
  4. If it's a book I refer back to often, I'll keep it.
  5. I will chose 5 books of various genres for guests to read.
  6. If a book has fond memories associated with it, I'll keep it. There aren't that many.
  7. I don't have grandchildren and this is not likely to change.
  8. It was expensive but so is the prime real estate that it is taking up. The book can go.
 Do you crowd your bookcases? Do you even have books stacked on top and on the floor? Are you really caring for and honoring those books? Think about it and share a comment.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Focus Tool - Your Timer

All of us have difficulty focusing on a task or project at some time or another. Some have difficulty holding that focus most of the time.

One trick I have learned while working with my clients is to use a timer.

Project Completion Challenge:
  • Decide what project you want to accomplish. If it is a large project, break it down into smaller components.
  • Set your timer. Some people set it for 10 minutes or even less. Others set it for 15 - 20 minutes. Let your attention span be your guide.
  • Start your first task.
  • When the timer rings, stop.
  • Ask yourself, "What am I doing right at this moment? Is it moving me forward on my task?"
  • If what you were doing was moving you forward, give yourself an "Atta, boy."
  • If what you were doing was not moving you forward, refocus yourself now.
  • Reset your timer and repeat until the task is complete or your allotted time to work on this project is up.
Some people post the task they are currently tackling on an index card or a piece of paper. That way they can glance up at it any time.

The next time you find your focus wandering, give this focus tool a try.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, July 5, 2012

10 Steps to an Organized Home

10 Steps to an Organized Home:

1. Divide your home into zones. Chose one zone to organize each month. Write the zone at the top of your monthly calendar; i.e., January-office, February-spare bedroom, March-living room.

2. Check in with your motivation for wanting to organize that area or zone. What organizational issues in that area are bothering you and why? What do you want to change?

3. Create a vision for the chosen zone. How do you want this area to look and how do you want to feel when you are in this area? Be very specific.

4. Put a date on the calendar for the completion of the project. This will become your "due" date.

5. Brainstorm all that has to happen to make the vision come true. Put down everything you can think of no matter how small or outlandish. This list will be modified later.

6. Write concrete goals for the project. You have a vision and a possible "to do" list. Developing written goals is your commitment. Write your goals so that they are positive, consistent with your vision, specific, measurable, reasonable yet challenging.

7. Revisit your brainstorm list and chose the items that you will implement to complete your vision by your due date. Pick out tasks that make sense and are doable this time around.

8. Organize the tasks on your list in a logical sequence. Put dates by each task. This is your timeline. Write  on your calendar when you plan to "do" each task.

9. Develop a maintenance plan to keep this zone organized. You have completed the project and your vision is realized. You want to keep it that way. Next year you can revisit the vision and do reorganization if necessary. In the meantime, put dates on your calendar to maintain what you have accomplished this time around.

10. Your project is complete. Celebrate!

For more details on how to organize your home, purchase my book From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home. The book is for sale on my website (www.timespaceorg.com).

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Impulse Spending = Clutter

You need some face powder. Your favorite brand is having a sale. You spend so much (about $10 more than the face powder) and you get this lovely cosmetic bag filled with free samples. You think - "I could use another lipstick."- so off you go happily to the cosmetic section of your favorite store. Now, you have your powder, a lipstick you don't need, and a bag with cosmetics that were not on your needs list. Hmmm. That is not a terrible thing, until you put your bag in your bathroom closet and notice that you have about 10 other bags there - mostly full - of previous "free" gifts.

You go to your favorite clothing store. They are having a sale. If you buy two shirts the next one is free or 1/2 off the regular price. Lovely! You bring the shirts home and try to squeeze them into your closet. You notice that you have quite a few shirts already in the closet with tags still on them. Oh, and you found a pair of shoes that fit you perfectly and were soooo cute. So you bought them in 5 colors.

You go to the grocery store. You have a coupon that will give you $1.00 off if you buy 10 cans of soup. You can also buy one bag of salad and get the next one free and there is a package of 25 rolls of toilet paper that looks like such a bargain!

Are we getting the picture here? Don't buy what you don't need or love.

Don't stockpile foods that you don't have room to store or that will pass its expiration date before you use the items. Having enough space to put your purchases away without crowding allows you to keep an inventory of what you have. It will also prevent waste and buying items because you have lost track of what you already have in stock.

Don't buy items unless you know how you're are going to use them and where you are going to put them. Impulse spending leads to disorganization and clutter, not to mention a strain on your pocketbook.

Think before buying that next great item.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flying Solo - Organizing Your First Home

How exciting it is to have your first home! How scary it is to have your first home!

When a child leaves the nest and "flies solo" for the first time, what does he need to know? Diane Quintana has an excellent book, Flying Solo: A Guide To Organizing Your Home When You Leave Your Parent's Nest. In this book she covers organizing the move, space, kitchen, budget, papers, and time.

Should the child rent or buy? What might a landlord require? What utilities will he need to deal with? What is the basic amount of furniture he will need in order to be comfortable, and how will he fit the furniture into a small place?

Once the child has found the place, how does he arrange it? How does  he go about moving what he already has? What room should he set up first?

Setting up a budget is crucial. Living within the budget is even more crucial. What are some ways to go about setting up the budget and keeping track of bills and personal spending?

Then there is the organization of all the paperwork that comes with living. Where does the daily influx of mail go? What kinds of files are needed? What has to be kept and what can be thrown away? Where does he keep all of this paperwork in a small home.

And probably the most important of all is the organization of time. Some things simply must be scheduled first - going to a job/and or school. Learning to prioritize what needs to be done and to be aware of how long it takes to do tasks takes work. Many people forget to schedule transition times. Also important are making long term plans and effectively using a calendar.

Diane covers all of this and more in her book. She also includes helpful checklists.

If you live in the Atlanta area and know someone getting ready to start off on their own, gather them up and bring them to our workshop July 20th at 10:00. The workshop will be held at SpaceMakers in Alpharetta, GA. Contact me (404-299- 5111 or jonda@timespaceorg.com) for more information or to register.

P.S. It is also a helpful workshop if you are thinking of moving or struggling with any of the above issues.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bathroom Organization

If you are working on the zone plan, this is the month to work on your bathrooms. I have only one small bathroom, so I include in this zone a linen closet that is in the hall right outside the bathroom.Start by defining your zones in the bathroom.

Make the medicine cabinet a place where you store items you need and use regularly. This will probably mean that your grooming supplies are in this area. I have an electric razor and charger, deodorant, perfume, lotion, q-tips and cotton balls in small containers, comb and brush, band aids, toothpaste, dental floss, and eye drops.

I have my medicines in bins on a shelf in the linen closet. Some families store their medicines in the kitchen. Either place, this keeps moisture from ruining them. I sort my medicines according to type and use and place them in multiple bins. One bin is for outdoors and contains items like bug spray, suntan lotion, Benadryl cream, and Neosporin. Another bin holds Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines.Yet another bin holds larger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash.

While sorting the medicines, get rid of old expired items. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them because they will get into our water system. The DEA offers a bi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back Day whir occurs around April and October. The next one is September 29, 2012. Check the website late n August to locate collection sites nearby. Go to http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/. Click on Got Drugs for more information on the National Take Back Initiative. Some pharmacies will also take back expired drugs.

Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items you use to fix your hair can be housed in a container under the sink. As you organize this tub, toss or donate those products that you purchased but are not using.

An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items as well as some cleaning products can also be stored in the under the sink area. This is where you would store items used regularly.

Drawers in the bathroom are a good place to store cosmetics. Sort and categorize your makeup so that you have like with like. For example, all eye products are stored in one compartment. As you sort your cosmetics, throw out items that are expired, do not look right, or that you just don't like anymore. As I don't have drawers, I use containers in my linen closet for my cosmetics.

I also use my linen closet for my towels, hand-towels, and wash-clothes. If you don't have a closet you may need to use towel hooks or shelving in your bathroom. Over the toilet shelving is a great place to store bath towels and wash-cloths.

The bathroom is usually a small, busy room so keep clutter to a minimum. Keep counters as clear as possible. Store duplicates of items elsewhere or in the back of a deep shelf. be ruthless about throwing out items. You don't really need 5 partial bottles of shampoo or 6 sample soaps that are gathering dust.

When you have your bathroom organized, work on a maintenance schedule to keep it that way and again a year from now go through the big organizing/decluttering process. 

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flying Solo - The First Home Away From Home

Are you a parent who is concerned about your child successfully setting up his first home away from home?

This is the time of graduating students, many of whom are setting off to start living on their own for the first time. They may be setting up a dorm room, sharing an apartment, or getting married and setting up their first home. They may have received very good training at home, but this is different. There is so much to keep in mind while setting up this home - as well as starting college, a new job, or a new life.

This blog cannot possibly cover all the information about managing your move and dealing with landlords and housemates. There is not enough space to cover setting up a budget, keeping up with paperwork, stocking the kitchen, or managing time. What I am going to do in this blog is make a recommendation that you take these actions.
  1. If you are in the Metro-Atlanta area, come to Diane Quintana and my workshop - Flying Solo, July 20 at 10:00-11:00. We will hold this workshop at SpaceMakers of America (11415 Old Roswell Rd. Ste. 300, Alpharetta, GA.) The $25 investment will allow you and your young adult to attend.
  2. If you are not able to come to the workshop, purchase Diane Quintana's book, Flying Solo: A Guide To Organizing Your Home When You Leave Your Parents' Nest. Her book can be purchased through her website www.dngsolutions.com or through Amazon.
There is something magical about flying solo, so give your child the best liftoff possible and something to hold onto when turbulence occurs.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Making a Schedule That Works For You

It's the end of the day. You look back at your schedule. So much has not been accomplished. You feel discouraged and wonder what is wrong with you.

Sound familiar?

How can you put together a schedule that works for you? One that gives you a satisfied feeling at the end of the day? 
  1. Be realistic. Don't schedule everything in the world that you want to do. Put in the big 3 items that you want to do in the day that will move you toward your goals. Be realistic about how long each task will take. If it is a huge time consuming task, consider blocking off only so much time to work on it today and plan another day to continue it. 
  2. Plan for transition times. Allow time between tasks to put items away and prepare your space and mind for the next task on hand. If  you need to travel somewhere for that task, allow aplenty of time for that travel and set up when you get there. 
  3. Plan at least one task that is important but not yet urgent. This will keep you from always working "under the gun." If you ignore important but not yet urgent tasks, soon those tasks will also become urgent and you will feel more stressed and out of control.
  4. When working on the tasks, quit when the task is good enough. Don't try to get perfectionism. Don't put more time into the task than it is worth. 
  5. Set up some accountability plan. This might be checking in with an accountability partner or keeping the goal in front of you by checking in several times a day with the questions, "Am I on task? Am I doing the best possible thing to move me toward my goal?"
  6. Reward yourself when you complete each of the big 3. Take a break. Give yourself some treat - maybe a short walk or a special coffee.
Still some days you don't get it all done? Don't beat yourself up. Learn from mistakes and know that tomorrow is another day.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Priorities - My Family

My son, Ben, successfully defended his dissertation this week. His dissertation has the catchy title of Using a Proxy-Oriented Genetic Algorithm to Find a Millisecond Scale Model of the Hippocampus. He is going to "walk the walk" May 20 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

This means a lot to me. I plan to go for the ceremony which will involve changing some things on my calendar, trying to get someone to cover for me on a Saturday obligation, getting my son Darin to cat sit, and then driving up on a Saturday and back on Monday.

When some great event like this happens, priorities quickly shift. Somehow this is all going to work and I will be there for the hooding ceremony. I am so looking forward to it!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Organize the Master Bedroom Zone

If you are following my zone plan, this is the month I organize and clean my master bedroom. I always start with my vision. I want this room to have a soothing, calming feel. I want this area to always remain uncluttered. This is the area where I want total relaxation and happiness.

Last year I did quite a bit of redecorating in this room. This year, the only change is in some art work - moving out the whimsical cats and birds to my office and putting in a piece of sculpture in its place.

The bedroom zone can be done in three weeks.
  • Week One: I start on the wall with my closet and a dresser. With the summer season fast approaching, this is the perfect time to evaluate the clothes in this space and see what needs to go, what needs some care, and to switch out winter clothes and put in summer clothes. This closet holds what I wear 80% of the time in any given season. I also evaluate the clothes being stored in the dresser. I do not want any of the areas that hold clothes to be overfull. I want to find things easily and I don't want items scrunched together. 
  • Week Two: I work on the wall with the tall dresser and follow the same pattern. This is an easy week so I plan it on a week that is rather busy.
  • Week Three: I work on the wall with the bed, window, two small tables, and the wall to the left of the bed that has no furniture. I take this opportunity to clean all of the bed linens. I also clean the fan above the bed and the air vent. The window and blinds get the accumulate dirt and dust removed as well. During this week I will clear off my night stands. I tend to collect books I would like to read and they often end up here. After a year I have quite a stack of unread books. It is time for some of these books to go and some to be stored elsewhere. Too many books stacked up looks stressful instead of inviting to me. A few books offer promise but too many begins to look like a chore.
As a reward for finishing my bedroom, I buy fresh flowers and admire my fresh, peaceful, well organized bedroom. I know I'll sleep well in here. 

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rightsizing Your Home

Remember the first time you moved? I could get everything in one car load. Where did all this stuff come from?

I know I went through an acquiring period when having silver, crystal, "good" china, a fondue pot were important to me. Now, not so much. I still have things in my home that I love but if something happened to them, would I be crushed? Probably not.

In my 60s I have really started letting go of items. My wardrobe is minimal. My house is smaller. I have less cookware. I have fewer needs. Every month when I clean and organize another zone in my home, I purposely let go of some items in that area. Do I still buy things? Yes, of course, I do. But since I am also letting go of things, my house does not feel overcrowded.

I feel I am pretty well rightsized for me right now but I know that there will come a time when even less will be right. All that we own needs care and maintenance. I have other things I like to do with my time than to take care of "things."

Consider your own home. Is it rightsized for you now? Do you love and need all the items in your home or would you enjoy some more breathing space instead?

Think about it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finacial Organization: Keeping Records Up To Date and Organized

April is Financial Literacy Month. Part of being financially literate is learning more about what you need to do to improve your financial state.

Step one is to organize your finances.
  • Keep a folder or basket for all your current bills and receipts.
  • Reconcile your bank and credit card statements monthly.
  • Keep a folder for all your tax information for the year.
  • Keep a folder for your recent copy of your credit report and your credit score.
  • Somewhere - in a folder or on your computer - have a list of all of your accounts. On this list also have your account numbers, online IDs, and passwords.
  • Have a list of all retirement accounts, investments, and life insurance policies.
  • Let someone know where your will, living will, and durable power of attorney documents are located.
  • Have a budget where you track your finances - either in a ledger, an excel sheet on your computer, or with a personal finance software program.
Step two is to set up a good filing system.
  • Have a desktop filing system for current items like bills/receipts.
  • Set up a hanging file system for other financial records.
Receipts that need to be kept for tax purposes
Paid bills that need to be kept for tax purpose
Bank statements
Insurance documents
Pay stubs
Medical costs
Car finances
Mortgage information
Social security and retirement information
Financial investments

Step three is organizing your time.
  • Set a regular time to pay bills.
  • Take time to reconcile bank statements when they come in.
  • Take time to reconcile credit card bills when they come in.
  • Set times to clear out financial clutter
Grocery receipts once recorded in budget
Old paycheck stubs once the tax year has been completed
Utility bills after recording unless you keep for one year to compare cost
Credit card receipts after reconciliation unless it is a big ticket item you wish to

Taking time to organize your finances may seem overwhelming, but if you take the time now it will save you time and stress down the road.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Safety First on Home Projects

Has your spring cleaning/organizing session brought up plans to install a new closet system, add shelves, install a new light fixture or fan, paint, or even fix that leaky faucet in the bathroom?

Before you take on any of these projects, take a few moments to analyze what will be involved.

Does your project involve drilling into a wall? Make certain you know what is behind that surface. Hitting pipes or electrical wires could not only lead to a possible injury but for sure would involve extra time and expense.

If you need a hammer, saw, or a screwdriver - make certain before you begin that you have the right tools in your tool kit. Don't try to substitute with the wrong tool.

If you are working on any project that involves electricity or water, shut off the electricity and close off the nearest water valve. Also make sure that anyone else in the house knows you have shut off the system and why. You don't want any surprises by a spouse turning the power back on before you are finished.

Know where your emergency equipment is located. Know where your fire extinguisher, buckets, mops, rags, and first aid kit are located in case something goes wrong. Have your phone with you or even better have an "assistant" standing by. I no longer climb around on tall ladders without a friend nearby.

Know and own up to the fact that there are times this is not a DIY project. If you get into a fix, don't be shy about asking for help. If a project is too big or overwhelming, bring in an expert. It will probably be cheaper in the long haul.

Don't take your safety for granted. Be extra vigilant. Tackle your projects safely or hire them out. Either way, you'll enjoy the new look or results when done.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Zone Plan - The Breakfast Room

This is the time of year that people traditionally do their spring cleaning. Instead of setting days aside now to spring clean, I use a zone plan. I divide my home into 10 zones and tackle one a month - skipping the months of July and December. Each zone is visited once a year. This allows me to touch everything in my home once a year and make certain that my vision for these areas is still true.

If you check back in my blogs, you will note that January I did my office. February I did the spare bedroom. In April I worked in the living room. This month I focus on my breakfast room. It is located at the back entrance to my home so for you it might be a mud room or any other small room in your house.

The activities that happen in this room are; overflow for parties, storage for some large cooking wares, all party supplies, food containers, china, silver, crystal, and on the top shelf behind sliding doors I store my suitcases. The cat box also lives in this room.

My goal is to clean and organize every thing in this room during the month of April. I will touch everything, clean much of it, and decide if it goes back where it came form or is given away. If I have food containers that have lost their lids - out they go. Party decorations that no longer move me are gone. If I have a suitcase I have not used in years - I donate it. My goal in every zone is to eliminate some of the items in the space. Usually through the year some new things have come in and I don't want my areas to be crowded or overfull.

At the end of the month I will put some fresh flowers on the table, breathe deeply, and move on to the next zone.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, March 30, 2012

Organizning Your Way to Healthy Eating

Everyone wants to eat healthily. We want to feel good and look good.

If your kitchen is cluttered and disorganized, you have a much harder time reaching that goal. A very organized and functional kitchen is important. You know what you have on hand. You have the necessary equipment ot prepare healthy, delicious food without feeling so frustrated.

Start by clearing out your refrigerator.
  • Get rid of unhealthy foods - start replacing items like soft drinks with iced green tea
  • Put good snack options towards the front of the refrigerator
  • Have clear containers to hold your favorite prepared snacks
  • Have labeled containers in your freezer with dates frozen so you can easily see what is available
  • Organize your refrigerator like a grocery store - have vegetables in one drawer and fruits in another - have snacks on one shelf and beverages on another - keep like with like
  • If you cannot see the back of your refrigerator, you have crammed too much into it
Next work on your pantry.
  • Get rid of junk food - if someone in the family enjoys foods that you should not be eating, put them where they are not readily visible
  • Store your foods like a grocery store - have all soups together, all pasta together, and all snacks in one place
  • Divide large bags of pretzels or snacks into single serving sizes
  • When you buy new items put them to the back behind the older ones that are already there
Tackle your countertops.
  • Have room for your cutting board and knives
  • Put out a fruit bowl
  • Have a blender handy to encourage smoothies and soups
  • Keep your countertop clutter free - put away deep fryers or bread makers
Wherever your store utensils and cooking pots - decide what you need to cook with or prepare healthy meals and place them "front and center." Some example:
  • Steamer
  • Strainer
  • Wok
Either in your kitchen or wherever you do your meal planning:
  • Set up a menu base for health meals - this can be on a computer, in folders, or with tabs in your favorite cookbooks - then do a weekly menu plan
  • Track your eating - write down what you eat, how much, and when - consider counting calories, or carbs, or weight watcher points
  • Keep a running list of what you need to buy - to make shopping easier, look up aisle charts for stores like Kroger
  • Weigh in once a week and keep track
  • Cut back on activities that crowd your schedule so that you allow time to plan and eat properly - if you are overtired, you will grab what is easy
  • Plan an exercise program that you enjoy - post it on your fridge
Now, go out and buy that new swimsuit!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, March 16, 2012

NAPO Annual Conference - 2012

Next week I will be attending the NAPO conference in Baltimore. This will be my 6th conference. I am really getting excited about it!
I always like to set some goals for myself before I head off. I want to get as much as possible from this glorious experience.

This year I want to learn about some of the latest trends, resources, and products in the organizing industry. I want to sit at the feet of some of the great experts in our field and use their knowledge to improve my services. I will listen to presenters not only for their information but for tips on how to improve my presenting skills. I will have a meeting with other organizer/presenters as well. I plan to meet and network with organizers from all over - some of which I chat regularity with on Facebook. I look forward to rooming with Jeri Dansky, an organizer from the San Francisco area.

I also plan to have some fun. I know I will have some social time with organizers from my own chapter - I believe more than 20 are attending and several are presenting. I also hope to have a chance to see some of Baltimore.

When I return, I will develop an action plan from this wonderful experience.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Law of Excluded Alternatives

I came across the "Law of Excluded Alternatives" several years ago when I was putting together a presentation on time management. As I was putting together tonight's presentation on Organizational Life Lessons it came up again.

Basically this law states, "Doing one thing means you are not doing something else." Well, duh! Doing one thing of course means you can't do something else. Because we have a limited amount of time, doing one thing means there is something else you will not be able to do.

Our ability to choose what to do and choose what not to do determines our life. It's a live of choices. So, when I choose to answer a phone instead of working on a project - I make a choice about what I am doing with my time. If I go on Facebook instead of emailing clients - I make a choice about what I am doing with my time.

So often we are not really aware we are making those choices. We just sort of go on autopilot. But at the end of the day, we wonder where that day went and why more didn't get accomplished.

My challenge to you is to think about what you are doing with your time. Think about what you are not doing with your time. Are you really making the best choices to move you in the direction you want to go?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lighten the Living Room

If you are following my zone plan for organizing your house, this is the month for your living room/ dining area. It will be great to have this area refreshed and organized in time for spring.

I always start the process by reviewing my vision for the area I am tackling. Has anything changed with my vision since I last worked here?

For my living room I still entertain, eat, read, listen to music, and work on some projects. Nothing major has changed in my vision since last year.

I want this room to feel inviting, comfortable, and unwinding to my friends who visit as well as when I am alone. I want the room to be embracing. I want to be able to exhale when I walk through the front door. I want my guests to put their feet up and their drinks down and relax and stay awhile.When I sit on my sofa, I want to see things that make me smile and happy to be here.

As I work through the different zones in this room, I will continually find those things that I no longer love or that no longer support my vision.

I will go through the closet, getting rid of a jacket here, a hat there, an extra umbrella. In the credenza that holds supplies for my parties and entertaining, I will toss out some candles I no longer want, a set of paper napkins that I don't need, some old Easter grass. My entertainment center will be purged of music CDs that are not played anymore.

Winter looking accessories like the nut bowl will be changed out for something lighter. The books on the bookcase will get the "once over" to see if they are still used or loved. Maybe I can open up more space for a new art object.

By the end of the month when I finish this zone, I will celebrate! I will have some friends over for dinner and set a beautiful table with spring flowers.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer