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