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