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