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 - - 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