Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

As the old year comes to a close, we often hear people say things like, "I hope the new year is better than the last one," or "I sure didn't accomplish my goals last year, or "I hope this one goes better." Most of us had some bad things happen in the past year, but I encourage you to take a few moments and list the good things that happened. What made you grateful? What did you accomplish? What made you smile? Once you get started on that list, you will probably be amazed at how fast it grows.

Looking forward to the new year, instead of making a list of "shoulds" - I should lose weight. I should spend less and save more. I should organize my files - set an intention or two for the coming year. Develop a vision of this coming year. Gratefulness, harmony, or joy might be part of your vision. Put together a vision board and post it where you will see it. I like to use Christine Kane's word of the year tool - http://christinekane.com/word/.

Once you have developed your vision - share.
Happy New Year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

This time of year we often find ourselves caught up in the swirl of holiday activities. During this joyous season we may find ourselves tired and depleted.

Take a few moments to recognize the winter solstice. This year that event comes on December 21. It is a time to celebrate. The shortest day is finally here! After this date, the days get longer and the nights shorter.

Throughout the ages, the winter solstice has been a time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. It is a traditional time to celebrate the most important things in your life - family, friends, your home - and to look forward to a wonderful new year.

Create your own meaningful ceremony or celebration. Take time to light a candle. Have a hot drink and reflect on your blessings. This is a celebration of rebirth as the sun grows stronger in the sky. Allow yourself to be blessed on this day.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Organizing Your 2014 Calendar

By now you either have your new calendar for the upcoming year or are seriously thinking about it (if for no other reason than you are tired of sticky notes or crunching notes on that small one page planner for the next year in your old calendar). Sometime between now and the new year take the time to really set up your 2014 calendar. I really enjoy this annual ritual. I sit down with some nice pens and a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. I put on some holiday music and take my time to reflect and plan.

1. I review my current calendar. Month by month I note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times (networking meetings, weight watchers, etc.). I also note medical appointments that are already set for the upcoming year.

2. I transfer these dates onto the new calendar in red. I want them to stand out from all the other appointments and meetings that will crowd my calendar as the year goes by.

3. At the top of each month I note what zone I am going to work on in  my house (see former blogs on my zone plan). January will have "office zone", February will have "spare bedroom zone", and so forth throughout the year. In the margin of the calendar I will write in actions that I usually do in that month. For example, in January I have "clean out birdhouses."

4. Also in the margin of each month I keep track of when I pay yearly obligations, renewals of subscriptions, donations, or memberships. Then when I start getting letters to "renew" something 4 months in advance, I can easily flip through my calendar and see when they are really due.

5. Finally, I write in any known scheduled events for the upcoming months such as client appointments, presentations, and upcoming adventures (Carnegie Hall in May, Paris in June).

Once I have the known events in place, I feel ready for what the new year is going to bring.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Controlling Your Holiday Budget

It is easy to get involved in all the excitement and joy of the holidays and get caught up in the flurry without stopping to take stock of our behaviors. We tend to overeat, under sleep, and way over spend.

Having a holiday budget is the best way to outsmart the overspending chaos. Much of our spending is tied to a combination of emotion and family traditions.

Before things get out of hand, do two things. First, develop a vision of what is really important to you this year. Then decide how much you can spend to make this vision happen. Once you come up with your big total, break it down into categories. Start with the categories that are really important to you and your vision. Is decorating your home a really big part of your vision? Is baking and giving your goodies as gifts a part of your holiday tradition? Is it important that gifts are a big ticket item? Would you like to give gifts that help make memories - like tickets to the Nutcracker?

Decide how much money you want to spend in each area. You may have to play with this as you go along but keep your eye on the big final total. Consider ways to make your budget work for you. If you like to give more expensive gifts for your family, you might arrange a system where you only buy for some of the family. Our family has a tradition among the siblings of only buying for one sibling and their family. We do this on a rotation system where we buy for a different member each year. When our parents were alive, we pooled our money for a big ticket item and then individually bought some small stocking stuffers.

After your budget is determined, really keep track of all expenses. Save all receipts and if there is not a receipt, write the amount on a piece of paper. Keep a running total as you go through the season. This keeps you on track and prevents you from stressing out about cash. Keep your priorities in order.

You'll thank yourself as the New Year rolls in.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Organizing the Gift Wrap Zone

This time of year there are usually gifts to wrap and perhaps also to mail. It is sooo tempting to buy all of that lovely gift wrap that is displayed plus tissue plus ribbon plus gift bags. It is easy to lose track of how much of these goodies you have unless you organize all of your material into one convenient gift wrap zone.

I have recently moved into a new home and have less storage for these items than I had before, so I must really consolidate and purge. I rarely fall in love with any one storage product but this gift wrap organizer from the Container Store looks marvelous - plus it can hang in my front hall closet. http://www.containerstore.com/shop/giftWrapWonderland/giftPackaging/organizers?productId=10027132&N=80055&Nao=0

Besides using the closet, I have also seen gift wrap zones set up in containers under the bed, in tall trash cans in closets, or on workbenches in the basement. It does not matter so much where the area is but that it is all in one place. Along with your wrap and ribbon, also have tags, bubble wrap, tape, scissors and anything else that you routinely use to wrap your gifts.  When you know you are going to have a gift to wrap, visit your gift wrap zone before going out and buying anything. Get in the habit of shopping from your home first.

So now is a great time to make a sweep throughout your home and pull together all of your wrapping and packing materials. Look them over and discard any "tired" looking or tattered materials as well as those little scraps you saved that won't wrap anything larger than a jewelry box. Add to the mix a dedicated pair of scissors and a roll of tape. Contain it all in one place and now you have a convenient gift wrap zone that will make gift wrapping an easier, less stressful process.   

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Advance Gift Buying

Most of us at some point in the year buy a gift for someone and save it until the appropriate time (Wow, this is  just the perfect gift for ______!). The next step is storing it somewhere so that you remember you have it and remember where you stored it.

I have clients who have whole walls in the basement dedicated to gifts they have bought. Some clients have designated shelves in a closet, but don't always get the gifts to those shelves. The gifts then end up in boxes or bags throughout the house. I have seen gifts hidden under the bed or tucked into the master closet or perhaps into a drawer. Some people don't appear to have any designated spot - hence the "Oh, I forgot I had this" syndrome.

Suggestions for advance gift buying:
  • Don't buy anything unless you know who you plan to give it to and for what event. You can only store so many cute hostess gifts.
  • Have a designated area for all gifts.
  • As soon as you buy something - tag who is to receive it.
  • Keep receipts and write on the receipts a description of the gift.
  • Move the gifts along as soon as is appropriate.
  • Don't stock up gifts for a few people, no matter how adorable the gifts.
  • Never buy a gift for someone without first "shopping" at your home designated gift storage area.
Suggestions for storage:
  • Know yourself - determine how much space you really do need and set aside that amount.
  • Chose an area that is easy for you to access - otherwise you will suffer from the "I'll just leave it here for now." syndrome.
  • Consider having the storage near the gift wrap area.
  • Containerize small gifts into baskets or bins so that small items don't get hidden behind larger items.
  • Clean out the area once a year. Donate those gifts that are no longer relevant.
Buying gifts on sale are a great way to save if the gift actually gets to that person. No matter how much you save, it is not a bargain if it just languishes in your home.

Happy shopping!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Time is Near- Happy Holliday!

The holiday season is rushing toward us. This year we have quite a crunch with Chanukah starting on Nov. 27, Thanksgiving on Nov. 28, and Advent beginning Dec. 1. Our holidays become a long list of "things to do now." We end up exhausted by our over commitment, over buying, over eating, and sleep depravation.

How do we escape this madness?

  1. Work on your vision right now of how you want this season to look and feel. What is really important to you over the holiday season? What are your big 3 items? What do you dread about the holidays?  What do you want to change? Make a "do not do" list.  Have a family meeting and let everyone share what they would like to do over the holiday season. Compromise and come up with a plan then make a list.
  2. Brainstorm all that has to happen in order for this vision to come true. Assign tasks to everyone. Get very specific and detail oriented.
  3. Block out times on your calendar. Don't just put in the events but also schedule tasks like shopping, putting up the tree, decorating, baking, and sending out cards. If the calendar looks overwhelming, see if there is anything you can delegate or eliminate. Leave some days blank for the unknown.
  4. Designate zones in your house for holiday activities. Set up a gift wrapping/card writing zone. Designate a staging area for house decorations.
  5. Come to my workshops on Surviving the Holidaze either on Oct. 10 at The Juice Box, 6300 Posers Ferry Road Nw, Atlanta, GA 30339 (5:00 - 6:30) or on Oct 13 at Atlanta Unity, 3597 Parkway Lane, Norcross, GA 30092 (1:00 - 2:00). The workshops are full of good ideas and tips and a chance to win a door prize. 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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Organizing the Kitchen Zone

If you are working on organizing your home according to my zone plan, October is the prime month for your kitchen. The holidays are right around the corner and the kitchen will become a very busy place. Seasons have changed so you are ready to put away the ice cream maker and pull out the crock pot. This is also the time of year that food drives kick into high gear so clear out the food that has accumulated this past year because of impulse buying or overbuying.

1. Stand back and study your current kitchen set up. What is bugging you the most? Are your counters too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Are some containers hard to reach?

2. Create a vision of how you want your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month.

3. Make a list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true. Some of the tasks on your list might include:
  • Declutter your counters. Take off everything that you are not using at least weekly. Put these items elsewhere or consider donating them.
  • Purge your cabinets. How many plastic containers or small saucepans do you really need?
  • Look for innovative storage ideas. Contain like items together to make it easy to locate them and to make it easy to pull out the container to easily reach what is stored in the back of your cabinets.
  • Organize for convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffee pot near the sink. Hang your favorite mugs nearby on the wall. Put rarely used items on higher shelves.
  • Set up your kitchen in zones - food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.
4. When your tasks are finalized and written out, schedule them on your calendar. Break up the tasks into manageable bits so that you don't get overwhelmed.

By the end of the month, your kitchen is ready for anything the holidays can bring to it.

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Quick! Where Does It Go?

It seems no matter how hard you try, your desk continually gets covered over by piles of paper. You riffle through the stack looking for a telephone number or an article you want to read for inspiration for a blog. As you churn your papers, you find a bill that is overdue and you panic. Why does this keep happening?

Most clutter on the desk comes from not making immediate decisions on what to do with the paper or from not having any system that lets you put paper away but still not forget about it or lose it (that old out of sight/out of mind thing).

So, here is where Action Files come into play. Pick up a piece of paper and ask yourself the question, "What is the first action I need to do with this paper?" Your response to that question determines where the paper is stored.

That phone number on your desk? You need to either call that person soon or record that number so you can find it later to contact them. Your answer to the question, "What is the first action?" will tell you whether to drop it into the "Call" folder or the "Enter" folder.

The article you copied to read for inspiration? If you have not yet really read it, it should go into the "Read" folder. If you have read it and know you want to write a blog using some of the ideas, it should land in the "Write" folder.

That bill will most likely to into the "Pay" folder unless you have a question concerning the bill. If you have a question, the bill will go into the "Call" folder.

The notes from the potential client you chatted with would go into the "Waiting For" folder. The new insurance policy print-out will go into the "File" folder while the reminder to get your oil changed will go into the "Do" folder. What files you put into your Action Files entirely depends on the types of paper that end up on your desk. So go ahead and quickly squirrel away every scrap from your desk into one of your Action Files.

Now sit back and enjoy your clean desk. All that empty space to inspire you and all that clear area on which to work. Wonderful!

But, wait! These are called Action Files but putting the paper into the files is NOT THE ACTION. These files MUST have a SCHEDULED time where you actually look into the files and complete those actions. Some files should be looked into daily, others weekly, and some like "File" on a less regular basis. Again, this is personal according to what are in your files but put those maintenance dates on your calendar and HONOR them.

OK. Now, relax and smile. Enjoy your clean desk!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Do You Want to be Remembered?

A family patriarch died this past week and I was privileged to be part of the enormous group of family and friends who gathered to recall all of the wonderful times we had shared with him. Although Lin was one who could and did give great sermons, what really stood out was how he lived his principles. You could tell by his life events that he valued his God, family friends, and people everywhere. His love for my sister and all of his family was tangible. As around 80 family members gathered, talked, laughed, and cried, you felt that he was still with us. His sense of humor, his laughter, his big hugs were spoken of over and over. It was not big events or big donations that made him special. It was the everyday living and giving that made him who he was. People shared stories and if they had not done the sharing, many would not even realize all the little and big things he did that added up to one great man.

We should reflect on how we are living our daily lives. How do we want to be remembered?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are You Prepared for a Disaster - Natural or Unnatural?

September is National Preparedness Month. Emergencies often happen with little warning. You may only have minutes to evacuate. To improve your chances for survival, it is best to have a plan and prepare a kit or "gab and go" bag.

I used the guide from Judith Kolberg's Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Home for any Natural or Unnatural Disaster.  Another great source is Ready Georgia - http://ready.ga.gov/Prepare.

First develop a plan with your family on what everyone is to do if disaster strikes. Then practice that plan. If everyone is at home, one person might have the job of corralling pets and putting them in carriers. Another might have the job of pulling out the sleeping bags or bedding. Another might load the car. If the family is not together, have plans on how you will communicate and where you will connect.

Next have in place a "grab and go" bag and/or clear bins already prepared to put into your car.

Some items for your kit will have to do with safety and communication. Have a radio, flashlight with extra batteries, and a first aid kit with your medications and prescriptions. Have your purse in a consistent place nearby with your cell phone, charge cards, and drivers license. It would be a good idea to have an extra phone charger that lives in this kit. You may not have time to gather up such items.

Some items will allow you to survive outside for a while. Have food, water, can opener, matches, blankets, plastic bags, a plastic drop sheet, a Dopp kit, tissues and a pen knife in your kit. Also have a change of clothes and shoes, extra glasses, extra keys, and a pen and paper.

Also have prepared a folder with all of your essential documents, information and cash. Have names/phone numbers/email addresses/account numbers as well as contact numbers for insurance, utilities, banks, etc.

If you have a pet, also include vet/shot information as well as extra collars and leads, pet food, a dish, blanket and a toy.

It takes a considerable amount of time to assemble this kit. Break it down into smaller segments and complete one section a week until you are finished. Then update it every year.

It will give you great comfort to know that this kit is ready for you should you ever need it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Organizing the Workshop or Garage Zone

In September the weather begins to cool down. Summer equipment is now getting cleaned up and stored. This is a good opportunity to set time to organize your workshop or garage zone. Even when you do this area once a year, it can get easily disorganized or cluttered because it is not in your main living space and it is soooo easy to walk in and dump something "just for now."

Start with deciding the purpose for this area. Do you plan to:
  • Park cars
  • Store extra household items like water/paper products/oversize cookware
  • Store garden tools and gardening accessories
  • Work on woodworking projects or store household tools
  • Use as a holding area for some recyclables
  • Store sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
Now bring everything outside - if this is a large or very filled area, do it by sections.  Sort like with like. Note what is broken or what you have not used in the past year. Get rid of these items or make a note to replace them. Get rid of expired seeds or old chemicals. Give away or sell tools you no longer use.

Next decide where to logically place your zones. You will want to place items that you access regularly near entrances. As you are grouping your items in each zone, look for containers to hold small items that are rattling about. A clear shoebox without the lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold gardening tools. Utilized shelves, pegboards, hooks, and nails to keep items off the floor. Avoid stacking containers because for sure you are going to want something that is in the bottom container. Label containers that are not clear.

Knock down the cobwebs, sweep the floor, and start putting things away. You'll be amazed at how much roomier the area is now that all the items have been bunched together and stored away.  Now, reward yourself. A hot shower and a cool drink might be just the thing.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Isn't that coffee pot still under warranty?" or Why Organize Warranties and Manuals

In the past I have always kept my manuals and warranties in a plastic bin. If I needed anything, I just shuffled through until I found it. The important step for me was that annually I would look through the paperwork and discard anything that I had replaced or trashed. If I gave away a space heater to a friend, I could find the manual.

Now that I am putting my house on the market, I am rethinking my system for a couple of reasons.
  1. I want to separate all paperwork that will stay with the house.
  2. I want to clean up extraneous paperwork on my personal items
First, I sorted my entire product related paperwork putting like with like and stacked it into categories, such as appliances, computer/office, tools, cameras.

Next, I did a cleanup. I tossed out anything on items I had gotten rid of this year, any expired warranties, instructions in French, or any other information I no longer needed. I kept the model, serial, and other important numbers on the front of the instruction manual. I kept the receipts stapled to the paperwork so that I can keep track of when/where I bought the item and how much it cost.

Then I stored the paperwork into two labeled containers - one for the house and one that will stay with me. I did make some exceptions. I kept all car warranty information in my car folder in my desk. I kept the answering machine manual under the machine as I make changes to it fairly often. I left the furnace manual on the furnace as the people who do maintenance work refer to it.  I also have some directions on how to make adjustments to my alarm system near the keypad.

I am counting on this saving me time and reducing stress in the upcoming move. If something does go amiss on an appliance, I should have all the necessary paperwork to put it right.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Setting Boundaries - Guilt Free

It's that time of year. School is gearing up.  Organizations that were less active during the summer are getting back into full swing. Fall fundraisers are getting planned. Thanksgiving is around the corner. And YOU are getting a lot of requests to volunteer.

How many times in the past have you said "yes" out of a sense of obligation or because you want to please the person asking? Then, later you felt anger and resentment. "Why is it always me?" " Why can't others do it this year?"

Now, I'm not saying to just sit on your hands and do nothing. It feels good to help others. But ......choose! Don't try to do it all. You know you can't really do a good job if you are spread too thin or are trying to make yourself do something you don't even enjoy.

Get a vision of what you want to do that will make you happy and feel fulfilled. Know how much time you can devote to an outside charity or organization without feeling stressed or used. Take into consideration what is already going on in your life right now. Practice saying, "I can't do that now. I have too many other things I have to take care of." Learn to smile and say, "No, that is not the best use of my time right now."

You deserve - no, need - to take care of yourself first. You are not able to help anyone if you are exhausted and stressed. Then, you want to take care of others as you can.

Choose wisely and enjoy this season. Breathe.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Off the Floor and Out the Door

You've had enough of all the clutter lying around. You decide to take action - either by yourself, with a friend, or with a professional organizer.

You start the sorting process. This box I keep. This box I donate. This box is for items that I plan to give to specific people. This I trash. This I will try to sell. You are on a roll. But time gets away from you and you need to stop for a while. You know that you still have a lot to do. So, you just stack up those sorted boxes and get on with life.

Much, much later, you start in again - and then later you start yet again. Meanwhile, those sorted, labeled boxes are stacking up.


You don't have to finish the whole job before getting those boxes out of your space.

Go through the keep box. Ask yourself where you would use these items. Take the items to that space even if it messes that space up a bit.

Put the donate boxes into your car and in the next day or two take them to your donation site. If you have time, inventory them for a receipt. If you have not had time for 2 years to inventory the items - just take them anyway.

Take the items from the box for specific people. As yourself when you will see those people next. Make a note to take the item to them at that time. If it will be more than several months, you might mail the item. Remaining items put in your gift holding area until the proper time.

Trash - well, you probably did do that one.

Go through the sell boxes. Decide now - are you going to consign them, take them to an antique shop or flea market, or get someone to put them on Craig's list or EBay for you? Make those contacts and see what will sell. If after a couple of years of saving up stuff thinking you will eventually have an estate sale, ask yourself how much will you really make? Is it worth having your house look like a storage unit for the last few years?

Get everything you have sorted out of your living space. Then, repeat the process when you have the time. You can do this decluttering project in bites. Reward yourself after every round! Enjoy your open space.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Organizing the Laundry Zone

If you are following my zone plan, August is a good month to organize your laundry area. School has already begun in my region and that means that new clothes are washed to wear, summer clothes are washed and some seasonal items stored. School team sports have begun and this brings on more laundry. There may even be back up laundry from vacation.

Laundry zones are located in many places. Some older homes have them in the basement. Some are located off the kitchen or even in a hall way. I have seen them at the top of the stairs and right off the master bedrooms. In many newer homes they are very centrally located which is a great if you keep up with the laundry and not so good if you let laundry stack up on the floor.

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the mountain of laundry. It helps to have designated times scheduled to do the laundry instead of waiting until an item is needed. (Mom, where are my soccer shorts?)

The goal is to keep the laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone what you intend to laundry that day. Leave the rest in the dirty clothes hampers. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their "home." Having a different colored basket for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and then have them go to the proper room.

Have a small container nearby to toss in any items you find in pockets, the dryer, or loose buttons. Have stain remover, sponges, scrubbing brushes on a shelf near the washer. This zone is also a good place to store the iron and ironing board. If you buy your detergents in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and less likely to cause spills.

This is the time to declutter any cleaning items stored in this zone. Now is the time to discard a product you have bought and not liked. If you have ended up with 2 half bottles of Woolite, consolidate them. Just toss that spray starch that is 10 years old and you never use any more. Just keep on hand the products that you are actually using.

Now I won't go so far as to say keeping this zone organized will make you love to do laundry but it should make the chore less of a hassle.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Organizing for a New School Year

It's time to begin that new school year. It is always an exciting time and so full of potential. To make the start of this year as smooth as possible, set up some organizational plans now.

Check on needed school supplies
  • Study the school supply list and see what you already have
  • While in the process of buying supplies, put them in a container for each child and write their names on supplies as appropriate
  • Load up the backpack with the supplies with your student and assign pockets in the pack for different supplies
Set up a study zone
  • Find a consistent location that works best for your student
  • Put together a basket or container of all items your student will need in order to complete assignments
  • Keep a calendar nearby to track projects and school events
  • Determine a home for the backpack in this zone
Incorporate school papers into your communication center
  • Have a school folder for all papers that need action - such as a signature or an event
  • Add to your contact folder all necessary school contacts for the year
Have a family meeting to set up new routines
  • Develop checklists for daily and weekly chores
  • Determine best time of day to do homework, chores, laying out clothes to wear, packing lunch, and packing up the backpack
  • Set up a family calendar for everyone to log in any event  - school or otherwise
Now go out for a special treat and celebrate new beginnings!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why Every Professional Organizer Should Hire a Peer

I am a Professional Organizer and I have hired other Professional Organizers quite a few times. I'm not referring to the times I have hired others for sub contract work; but actually hiring them to help me with projects in my own home or office. I have hired Laura Ray (http://organizeatlanta.com/) to help me declutter my inbox. I have hired Tami Puckett (http://www.mindfulredesign.com/) to use her redesign skills to implement the suggestions of my Feng Shui consultant, Jenna Boyd.

Each time I use their expertise, I learn from them. I also get a reminder lesson on what it feels like to be the client. How hard it is to listen to their advice without taking things personally! How hard it is to embrace their suggestions without making excuses!

Right now I am using Tami Puckett to help me stage my home. What patience she has! How difficult I can be!

Tami remarks that she feels the painting and surround in my tiny breakfast room needs to be removed and the wall repainted. I disagree. I think it is a lovely piece and really shows how the room can be utilized. Next session, Tami revisits her proposal. I am beginning to acknowledge that not everyone would love it and they just might wonder how hard it would be to remove and repaint. We also discuss the paint color in my living room. "A soft off-white," Tami says. "But I love this green. Green is the sign of health!" Tami replies, "It's not your house anymore. Off-white is better."

Ouch! It's not my house anymore. She is so right. It turns out that as we work through the changes I am seeing that. I am also very much aware of how my clients often feel. Working with Tami on this project has been very therapeutic. I am ready to say "Good-by" to the house. I'm getting pretty excited about finding a new house and making it a home.

Oh, and the wall painting and surround will come down next week.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Concentrate On Your "Done" List

So often at the end of the day we wonder, "What went wrong?" We had our "to do" list. We even blocked out the time we were going to do each task. But, at the end of the day we can plainly see that quite a bit of it did not happen. We may feel bad about this.

This is where we need to take a hard look at out "done list."

I have advocated for quite some time that after we make our "to do" list we should pick out the big 3 and be really happy if we accomplish or at least start on those 3. So, on my list for today I would have chosen:
  • Work with client
  • email clients
  • outline presentation
However, yesterday my son asked for help getting a computer and I didn't think that would take very long. Today would be my best day to do it so that became #4.

Now, I always like to get my blog out on Tuesday so that might be a #5 but I know this is not crucial as I can work on it later in the week.

Other small tasks I work in when I have the time between the big 3 or 4.

But, as we know, life happens. I had a phone call from a social worker who wanted me to consider working with a hoarder. This became a very long call. My trip with my son took longer than I anticipated. Another client called and wanted me to locate a computer she had given me to recycle - she wanted it back to check on something. There were other important emails to handle besides the client follow-up emails.

The outline of my presentation and my follow up emails to clients did not happen. But, I did a lot today that moved my business forward. This is my today's "done list." This is where I should make my focus. I feel good about today as I reflect on all that I did get done. I think I'll stop work a little early and read a book as my reward.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Drowning in Free Stuff

Free is great! Yes? Well, sometimes - maybe. But what if we didn't discriminate? What if we got as much free stuff as we could and we held on to all of it because someday it would come in handy and we wouldn't have to buy it?

What are some of the free things that come into our life and where do they come from?

Dentists - free toothpaste, floss, and a toothbrush at a minimum
Doctors - free samples of drugs for you to try
Make-up Sales - free samples if you buy so much of a product, small samples to try a new color of product
Newspaper - in the wrapper you might find samples of Advil or even cereal
Mail - free samples sent for marketing purposes
Credit cards - free items for opening an account - college students love those T-shirts
Charities - free items if you have ever given anything to them - calendars, pens, notepaper, calculators, and gift wrap
Health Fairs or Conferences - goodies handed out all over the place
Events - free mugs, water bottles, cozies, shirts, and more

I'm sure there are lots of other places but you get the idea.

Now, if you get something free and you try the product right away and make a decision about it - that can be good. If you get a free individual box of cereal and put it in your cupboard with the last 10 free boxes and think, "I'll save this for when I have a child guest or for an emergency," - this is not so good.

I have seen bags and bags of free stuff being held because the item is a good size to take when traveling. Some people could travel months at a time for the rest of their life on the stuff they have stashed away. I have opened kitchen cabinets and seen whole shelves devoted to water bottles. I have seen more pens that you could possibly use - and many of them don't even work well.

So, here is my challenge to you. Go through your cabinets and drawers. Put all like items together and see how much you actually have. Then think, "How much could I use in the next year?" Set those items aside and get rid of the rest. Look at how much space you have now open! Don't fret about the stuff you got rid of. You will have plenty of opportunities to get more.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Freedom

Summer is usually a time when our schedules shift. Sometimes this leaves us feeling like we have more time than we really do. Our expectations change. I love to have the freedom to be spontaneous but I also need to have routines to ground me.

Routines block out my times so that I can see when I can have the luxury of unscheduled fun. Leaving some empty blocks on my calendar can be very exciting. I keep in mind my personal energy levels and try to schedule difficult tasks when I am at my peak. Some afternoons and evenings are better times to leave open while it is usually work as usual in the mornings.

I have a bucket list of some things I would like to accomplish during the summer. I love to give a summer party. I like to have some times to have lunch dates with friends. Usually during the rest of the year, our work schedules prevent this. I like to take in some outdoor concerts. I enjoy going to the Botanical Gardens. I love just sitting on the deck with my sweetie. I enjoy a mini vacation or two. But I do still have to plan and schedule in order to feel great about doing these fun activities. Life and work does go on in the summer even if it is at a slightly different level.

I am looking forward to a wonderful summer with all the extra freedoms that some good planning allows. Pardon me while I go pack.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Organizing Paper Work to Sell My Home

I am planning on selling my home. As an organizer, I decided to research what paperwork I need to gather and organize in order to make this happen with a minimum of stress.

I certainly am planning on using a realtor to guide me but the more I can accomplish ahead of time, the less stress I will have because of scrambling for certain documents on demand. I am aware that if I am missing any documents it could slow down my progress.

Items that are necessary:
  • Original sales contract for my home with the purchase price
  • Property deed that shows legal ownership of my property along with the original title search and title-insurance policy
  • Professional appraisal done when I bought the house and any changes I have made to the house since that appraisal
  • Home repair and maintenance records
  • Mortgage and financing documents
  • Records regarding my homeowner's insurance
  • Property tax records - these will also provide the buyer with such information as the schools and other tax information
  • If I belonged to a homeowner's association, I'd need all related documents
Also nice to have:
  • Home inspection papers to show the structural integrity of my home
  • Manuals and warranty information on major appliances that will be part of the sale
  • Utility bills to give prospective owners an idea of the utility costs
I will start right away putting together folders with all of this information. Right now I am having even more work done on my home to improve its value and will keep these records as well as the name and contact information of the person doing the work.

If you have been through this process and have some suggestions to make, I would truly appreciate it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Five Biggies When Organizing a Party

 I love to give parties! I try to have at least one or two a year.

When planning a party I look at the date, theme, guest list, menu, and location.

Date: I look for a date when most of my friends will be available. For example, I give a July party but try to avoid the weekend of the 4th. Many people would have conflicts then and have to make a hard choice -  go to Uncle Clyde's barbecue or go to Jonda's annual July party.

Theme: The theme of the party will hold everything together. The theme will determine the invitations, the food, the decorations, and any games or activities. I feel a different theme for each party keeps the parties fresh. Regular guests often ask me months ahead if I have decided on a theme yet for the next party.

Guest List: This is an important component. I love to invite a diverse group of people who will enjoy each other's company. I usually have a core group that I hope will attend every party and then add some new friends that I think everyone will enjoy.

Menu: The menu usually follows the theme. My guest have food preferences and restrictions and because I love my guests, I try to accommodate them. I like to see that everyone has at least a couple of things they can nosh on and drink. My house is small so I don't have room for sit down affairs. Because of that, my menu consists of easy things to eat if you are standing or sitting with your plate on your lap.

Location:  Usually my parties are at my home but I have had some great ones at other locations. Again, the theme tends to determine the location. When giving a party at my place, I go for "clean enough" so that the board of health won't be concerned but I do not stress over having the place "party perfect."

Once I have decided on the five biggies, I put together a timeline. I list every task that mush be done from setting the date and making the guest list to laying out the food table right before the guests arrive. Every task has a "do" date and that is what keeps me sane. I know exactly when I plan to send out the save the date emails, make the actual invites and mail them, put together the shopping lists, and setting the table.

When the date and time arrives, I want to enjoy my party as much as my guests. Did I mention that I love to give parties?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Do We Hold On To Things?


We look around and begin to notice all of the objects that we have accumulated throughout the years. Why do we hang on to these things?

     I might need it someday
     I won't be able to afford to buy a replacement later on
     I'm afraid of making a mistake if I let it go

     I spent a lot of money on this
     I am embarrassed to just give it away

Sense of Obligation
     My friend gave it to me so I can't get rid of it
     I am keeping it for my children
     It's a family heritage

     When I look at this I know I was loved
     When I look at this I remember I was someone once
     I used to use this and I hope to be in a position to use it again
     It reminds me of when I was a success in my job
     I remember the excitement when I found and purchased this

     It is difficult to make the decisions required in letting things go
     I am not sure where to start
     I am not sure what questions to ask myself to help me decide

     The items have sat around the house so long I have stopped   
       seeing them
     I don't even consider the need of getting rid of things

Do any of these reasons resonate with you?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Organizing Your Bathroom Zone

If you are working on my zone plan, this is the month to work on your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet,  also include it in this zone.

Make the medicine cabinet or drawers under your sink the place where you store items you need and use regularly. This would be your daily grooming supplies. 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.

If you have a small bathroom, medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or some families store their medicines in the kitchen. Both places are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. I sort my medicines according to type and place them in bins. One bin is for outdoors and contains items like bug spray, suntan lotion, Benedryl 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.

When sorting medicines, get rid of old expired items. Old pills create clutter and can be dangerous. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Their chemical integrity may be affected, as well as the body's ability to break them down properly. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescription Drug Take Back Day which occurs around April. Go to http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/. Click on Got Drugs for more information. Some pharmacies will also take back expired drugs.

Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items to fix your hair can be housed in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bad on the back of your bathroom door for some of these items. As you organize, toss or donate 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 sink area.

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-cloths. If you don't have a closet you may 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 any duplicate items elsewhere or in the back of a deep shelf. Be ruthless about throwing out items. You really don't need 5 partial bottles of shampoo or 6 sample soaps or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

When you have your bathroom organized, work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Then next year when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Using Your Calendar as a Brain Dump

I use my calendar to:
See the current date
Record scheduled events
Remember birthdays and special anniversaries
Plan projects like parties and my home zone plan
Remind myself of standing monthly meetings
Keep up with when I plan to pay annual fees or donations
Remind myself of future tasks that will need scheduling

At the end of every year I look at my calendar for the upcoming year and put all birthdays, anniversaries, and standing appointments into my calendar in red ink. I also put at the top of the page the zone of my house that I plan to work on during that month.

But there are many other ways that I use my calendar so that I don't have to worry about when tasks should be accomplished. I log in when I need to schedule all doctor appointments and procedures. Often when you have a doctor or dentist appointment they set up the next appointment, but some procedures like eye exams, mammograms, bone density tests, or a colonoscopy you may have to remember to schedule yourself. Some of these procedures are not done every year so choose the month you last had the procedure and make a note to schedule it again in whatever year it will come due.

I also use the calendar to remind myself to renew my driver's license or passport. Near my birthday I set a note to renew my license and put in the year it will expire. When I had my tankless hot water heater installed, the plumber told me I should schedule a maintenance check in 2015 - so I made a note right away on my calendar.

I use my calendar to keep up with when magazine subscriptions come due and when annual bills will come due. I keep up with when to renew my donations and memberships as well. Often organizations will start to bill months before the due date and often don't make it easy for you to figure out when your current membership really runs out.

I had a little problem with Social Security a while back. They assured me that they would look into it and call be back within 45 days. I put a reminder on my calendar to call them back after two months if I had not heard from them. (and I hadn't)

And then I also use my calendar to keep up with benchmarks on projects and my party planning timeline.

The more information that I put on my calendar, the less stress for me. One important tip is to write clearly and use different colored ink for different types of data. I use my notes section for the month or empty calendar blocks to put in considerations for the month that don't yet have an actual scheduled date. Another important tip is to took at that calendar to see what you have recorded.

Happy Calendaring!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Making an Organizational Plan for Your Vacation

School is almost over and vacation time must be coming up soon. I love to travel. Give me an airline ticket and put me on a plane for almost anywhere and I am happy.

However, when traveling with a family, a little more planning and organizing will make the vacation less stressful and a happier experience for everyone.

First the "when" needs to be addressed. Even in the summer children and adults have busy schedules and obligations. So get out the calendar and find a period of time that will work for everyone.

Now "where" should you go? Brainstorm with everyone to find out what people would love to do. Then "get real." Look at the time allotted and the money available. If everyone is on board and knows the limitations, there will be less chance for disappointment.

Once you settle on when and where, make a checklist of all that needs to be accomplished before liftoff. Make your reservations for airplane, car rental, and hotels. Notify family and friends you might want to visit along the way. Look up attractions and fun restaurants you might want to visit. Contact people to dog sit, water the lawn, mow, pick up your mail, or any other chores you would like done while you are away. Put all travel information into a brightly colored folder. Share your itinerary with someone in case of emergency, including how to contact you.

Prepare a packing list. It is helpful to have a master packing list on your computer that can be adjusted to time of year, area of travel, and type of travel (I might carry a bit more if traveling by car). Lay out outfits according to the weather. Pack clothes that can be layered. Find items that can mix and match and limit color choices. When the final decisions are made, type up the final packing list and put it in the suitcase. This keeps the charger or travel clock from being left behind in the hotel room. If traveling with children, pack some activity bags and snack bags.

Yeah! Let's go!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Organizing Recipes

I love to cook and I usually follow recipes. I must admit that at one time I had a huge collection of cookbooks but then a few years back I started my downsizing and many of the cookbooks had to go.

Some of my clients who are overwhelmed with cookbooks and recipes have asked me for advice in corralling and organizing their collections. They have shelves and shelves of cookbooks. They have recipe boxes stuffed with family favorites, pages torn out of magazines or newspapers, and computer print outs. So here are a few suggestions:

  • If you have handwritten recipes from a family member, which may become memorabilia, either laminate the reicpes or put them in a special container. I first make a copy of these recipes and actually use the copy when cooking and keep the original in a safe place.
  • Sort loose recipes by categories. My categories are soups, main dishes, vegetarian dishes, seafood, family breakfasts, low calorie, deserts, and fondue. As you sort your recipes, toss any that no longer appeal or ones that you cut out years ago but have never even tried. Conversely, copy recipes where the original has become so stained or torn that you can hardly read it. I keep my recipes in colored folders but I have seen others use notebooks effecively.
  • Take old cookbooks that have only a few favorite recipes and copy those favorites. Then give the cookbooks away. The copies now go into your folders or notebooks. Only keep the few cookbooks that are really favorites that have many recipes or have a sentimental attachment.
  • Moving forward, if you see a new recipe that you think you would like, leave it out or put it on your refrigerator. Try out the recipe in the next week or two. Then you will know if you really love that recipe and want to repeat it. If it is a "keeper" store it into the proper category
I have found that these tips keep all of my recipes manageable. They are stored on part of one shelf in my living room where I pull them out weekly to make my menus and shopping list.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gift Storage Organization

Many of us buy gifts throughout the year and hold them until the appropriate time. This can be a time and money saving tactic - or not.

If you have a designated place to stash your gifts and if you don't buy years of gifts in advance, this can save you having to run out at the last minute to buy "something" and pay full price and maybe even a shipping cost. It is an especially helpful tactic if you label the item with the name of the person you intend to receive the gift. This will keep you from buying 15 items for one person.

If you buy every time you see something "cute" and bring it home and stash it "somewhere" still in the bag with the receipt because you might want to exchange it, you can end up spending extra time and money.

I have found potential gifts under beds, in closets, in the basement or garage, in closets, and in bags near the front door - and this was just in one house. The client would buy something. Then she would bring it home and put it in a random spot. Then she would repeat the this process. She would forget where items were or even what she had bought. When asked who an item was for, she was often vague. When it was time to give a gift she was not sure what she had and would go out and buy something new. Now this situation is extreme. Most people fall somewhere between the "always put the intended gifts in one area" and the "just stick it anywhere" syndrome.

I find that many parents like to stash gifts in a closet in their bedroom. This area is supposedly off limits to their children. However, this can start to make the closet feel crowded and unorganized. If using the closet , put the items towards the back of the closet, not just inside the door. Put the items in labeled containers - maybe not clear if little eyes are around. You could also use two locations. One location might be for generic gifts like baby gifts, children's gifts for parties, or hostess gifts. Another area might be designated for those special gifts that are hidden away until the big day.

Make it a habit to always shop for gifts from you home before heading out to the store. By always looking in your cache of goodies first, you will save time and money.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Organizing the Master Bedroom - The Zone Plan

When I organize and clean my home, I use a zone plan. Every month I choose a different area to clean, declutter, and organize. In May I concentrate on my Master Bedroom.

I always start with my vision of my bedroom. I think about how I want this room to look and feel. I want this room to welcome me and have a soothing, calming look. I want this room to have a soft feel. When I am in this room I want to feel relaxed and happy. I do not want any clutter in the room and I keep it very organized so that I can maintain those feelings.

This time of year we are moving into warm weather. This is a great time to look at my clothes and decide what I still love and still looks good on me and what is either looking tired or no longer fits either my body or my spirit. I keep off season clothing in another room so this month I will make the switch from cool weather to warm weather clothing. All clothing that will remain in my bedroom will be in season, in good condition, and clothes that make me happy. The clothes I no longer love will be given away or tossed. I will work in both of my dressers and my closet.

I will also look over the reading material by my bed. I will only keep what I am currently reading and maybe one or two more books that I plan to read in this space. I only want positive reading material in this area.

As I organize this area I will give it a through cleaning from the ceiling fan to the floor. I will open the window and let some fresh air in. When I complete the process by the end of the month, I will put in fresh flowers and stand back and admire my peaceful, well-organized space.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Help with Prioritizing Tasks

The Urgent/Important Matrix

Important & Urgent
Go to school and pick up sick child
Collate papers for presentation tomorrow
Important & Not Urgent
Outline presentation due in 3 months 
Work on budget for next quarter
Urgent & Not Important
Return due book to library
Respond to emails as they come in
Not Urgent & Not Important
Catch up on Facebook
Watch TV

The above matrix has been around a long time. I first saw it in Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I have since seen it used in different forms including in two of our workshops at the NAPO conference this year.
The concept is worth thinking about when trying to prioritize our tasks. Look at your "to do" list and place each task in one of the quadrants.

So often we react to what is directly in our face. These tasks we think of as urgent. They may be very important like helping someone out in a true emergency or taking care of a task that is very important in our work. Sometimes these tasks that scream Now! are not really that important. The library book is due today. The library is a 30 minute drive across town and you are on a very tight schedule. Perhaps it makes more sense to pay a fine and return the book later in the week when you are doing other tasks in the same geographical area. Answering a ringing phone often seems urgent. But probably not as important as getting out the door on time to be on time for an appointment.

Important but not urgent tasks are often put off. They rarely have an immediate deadline. However, if we don't attend to these tasks they may eventually become urgent. It is important to exercise but maybe not urgent. We feel we can put it off until another day. Eventually we may forget about it. But eventually our health will deteriorate. Working on a presentation due in three months will get pretty urgent in two months and three weeks.
It is a good idea when prioritizing our "to do" list to put in one important but not urgent task early in the day or it may get pushed off until it hits the urgent mode.

Think about it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

NAPO Conference 2013

Tomorrow I will head off for my 7th NAPO conference. It is in New Orleans this year and I am very excited.
I am looking forward to learning about the latest trends, resources, and products in the organizing industry. I am excited about sitting in on workshops and presentations given by some of the great experts in our field. I expect to glean information and inspiration that will improve my services to my clients. I will also observe some extraordinary presenters and learn how to improve my presenting skills. There will also be a Special Interest Group of organizers who present for fees.  I will get to visit face to face with organizers that I normally only chat with on Facebook.

I also will enjoy a social evening with the other organizers from our Georgia Chapter. We will go out to dinner one night to sample some of the great New Orleans food and just catch up with all that is going on. Plus I will just get a bit of the ambiance of the great city of New Orleans.

When I return from the conference, I will develop an action plan to fully benefit from the experience.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Value Do You Assign to Your Time?

Time is very elusive. At the end of the day our time is used up. We can't speed it up, slow it down, or save it. So often we are not really aware that time is passing. At the end of the day we often wonder what we did with our day.

When we do one thing with our time that means we are not doing something else. This is the Law of Excluded Alternatives. It is important to know that we do make choices of how we spend our time.

What is your time worth? As I have aged I have found that I no longer have this need to do everything myself. I chose to work on my job helping clients rather than polishing up my newsletter. I chose to spend time with my friend over the weekend rather than cleaning house. I would rather let another organizer sell items on EBay than try to do it myself. I am more conscious that I am not really saving money by doing these tasks myself. Instead I am losing time, and my time has a very high value to me.

I feel it is important to check in with yourself frequently. What are your goals? What gives you joy? Is what you are doing right now moving you closer to your goals or happiness? Is it more important to spend the day pressure washing your deck or going for a walk with a friend?

I love my business but I do not excel at all parts of my business and some parts I find very tedious. I work one-to-one with my clients but I get help with graphics and accounting. I contract our the tasks that are not my strengths or loves so that I have more time to do the things that I do really well.

In my home I contract for cleaning assistance and landscaping. I am capable of doing these tasks and even enjoy some of them but I chose to do other things with my time. I do a lot more delegating these days. My time is my life and that is priceless.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Organizing the Breakfast Room Using the Zone Plan

It's finally spring! Many people like to do their "spring cleaning" at this time of year. I prefer to do a "zone plan" and do my deep cleaning/purging/organizing all year round. I divide my home into 10 zones and work on one zone a month - skipping the months of July and December. By the end of the year, I have touched everything in my home and rearranged items to fit my currrent vision.
This month I focus on my breakfast room. It is located at my back entrance so for you this might be your mud room or another small room in your home. I use this room for overflow for parties, storage for rarely used cooking wares, party supplies, food storage containers, china, and crystal. I also have a closed top shelf that holds suitcases and baskets. I like this room to be open, inviting, and light.
This year, as I go through my storage closet, I will pack up my good china and silver. I no longer use these items when entertaining. I have a son and daughter-in-law who will be glad to inherit these items now. I may also have food containers that have lost their lids or party decorations that no longer fit my style. All of these items will go. I am sure I have a suitcase or two that I have not used in the past couple of years. These will be donated. My goal is to eliminate items in every area. New things come in during the year so some items must be discarded each year or my space will become crowded and disorganised. As I clear the shelves, I deep clean.
At the end of the month, I will put fresh flowers on the table and look forward to throwing a party soon.
For more help on organizing your space, order my workbook From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home. http://timespaceorg.com/order_book.php
Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Collecting or Bibliomania?

Recently I worked with a team to help a family empty a deceased parents' home. Both parents loved books, but the mother, who had been a librarian, had a huge selection of books. Our team boxed up over 120 boxes of books. It was ironic that on the last day one of the team came across a book entitled Living with Books.

The Living with Books stated that books offer building material for the formation of character, the activation of intelligence, and the deepening of sensitivity. The book was a guide for librarians, but some of the chapter titles were intriguing; for example, "People and Books", "Familiar Friends and Companions", and "Daily Help for Daily Needs."

Attachment to books makes it hard to let books go. They do become "friends and companions", but if books begin to take over the whole house, it also affects our style of living. This is not the first home where I have worked with this many books. How does one decide how many books to keep and what books to let go?

Some questions to consider:
  1. How much room do you have to store your books in a way that honors the book? Books should not intrude. They should not obstruct walking space. They should not be stacked on the floor.
  2. How many books do you have that you have not yet gotten around to reading? Make it a rule that you will read 3 of your unread books before buying one new book.
  3. How many of these books will your reread or reference? Set a realistic number and check at least once a year that you have not surpassed that number.
When thinking back on that book we found, maybe more of our reading should come from the collections of books in our local library. Then books can be continually recycled and there is always something new for us to read.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Maintain a Paper Flow Not a Pile Up


Everyone has piles on their work area at some time or other. Usually with me they appear when I have not been managing my time well.

Here are some tips to make your paper flow across your desk without piling up.

  1. Spend as little time as possible getting that paper off your desk. Paper piles up because you defer making decision about it. Instead of laying down the paper and leaving it there, take a few moments right away and ask, "What is the first action I must do with this paper?"
  2. Immediately trash/recycle/put in the shred box what you do not need.
  3. Put the other papers in action files according to that first action. You might label the files "Read", "Pay", "File", "Pending", or "Contact".
  4. Record dates on your calendar. Record dates of obligations to others and dates you plan to do the action that the folders demand. Record when you are going to pay those bills, make those calls, or read those papers.
  5. Put all magazines and catalogues in a basket near where you read. Every month clear out old editions.
  6. Use project bins. If you have ongoing projects, designate a bin for each project or a folder within a bin. After you are through working on a project for the day, sweep it back into that bin.
Following these habits will help you maintain a clear desk and a clearer mind. Getting rid of the piles of paper that scream "Look at me!" when you are working on something else can be very distracting.

Let's keep the paper flowing right across the desk and on to its final destination. No more pile ups!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lighten Up the Living Room Zone

If you are following my zone plan, March is the month I organize my living room/dining room area.Spring comes during this month and I like to have my living room fresh and ready for spring.

My vision for this room has not changed in the past few years. I still use this space to entertain, eat, read, listen to music, and work on some projects that require spreading out. I want this area to feel inviting, comfortable, and embracing both to myself and to my friends who visit. I want to be able to exhale when I walk in my front door. I want friends to kick off their shoes and stay a while.

Every time I go through a zone, I find things that I no longer need or love. This year I am getting rid of items I used to use for entertaining. I still love to entertain, but I am not likely to do formal entertaining anymore. So, some linens, almost all silver and silver-plate, and some special china that have been stored in my credenza will be given away. I continue to pare down my collections of CDs and I am not keeping any records or cassettes. My closet will lose a couple of jackets that I rarely wear. A few more books will be given away.

During the spring, I change out some accessories for the season. The wooden nut bowl and some winter looking candles will be exchanged for items with a lighter feel.

As I go through every zone, I clean and polish as well.

By the end of the month, the room will look and feel bright and ready for spring. I will put fresh flowers on the table and have friends over for a spring meal to celebrate finishing this zone.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Paper Management - Now Where Is That Stuff I Need For Taxes?

If you are like many of us, you are just now getting around to panicking about if you have all that you need for taxes - and where those papers might be.

What do you need and not need is always a question. I suggest first looking at your last year's return to see what you needed then.

Probably Needs:
1. income documents (W-2 and 1099 forms)
2. expense documents
3. documents for any additional income like rental income or alimony
4. cancelled checks, receipts, or a spread sheet for additional expenses - this would include gifts to charity and medical expenses
5. If you paid estimated taxes, a summary of estimated payments and cancelled checks

Dont' Need:
1. receipts for prescription drugs - instead go to your pharmacy and ask for your 2012 printout
2. receipts that are not tax related - like for snacks or groceries

Now, where is all this stuff?

I recommend having a hanging file at the back of your active file cabinet and labeling it taxes. Every time you receive a tax related paper - tax on car or house, donations, professional membership fees, bank fees - drop it into that folder. Don't take time to sort by category when the paper comes in - just immediately drop it into that tax folder. When tax time comes, pull out your folder; look at last year's tax preparation and check off what you have.

For receipt documentation, keep the receipts in envelopes by month. I also suggest you enter the amounts into QuickBooks or a spread sheet every week. At the end of the year, total up from the spreadsheet and then put the receipts into a large manila envelope. Label this envelope with the year. Since most accountants agree that you need to save the documentation and receipts for 7 years, each year when you archive the past tax papers, shred the receipts that are in the envelope for 8 years ago.

If you keep car mileage for your business, place a  car mileage book in the car. At the end of the year, tear out the sheets for the past year and total the amount that was logged. Drop the mileage log into the same Manila envelope as the receipts.

Preparing the tax papers for your CPA will still not be fun, but at least the process will not be stressful and panicky.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Old Cards: Keep? Recycle? Trash?

Another card exchange holiday has just passed. You have enjoyed the cards and now what?

Do you keep them all? If so, where do you put them? If you keep all of your cards, how many would that be by the time you are 70?

If you recycle them, do you just drop them into the recycle bin or do you put them aside for art projects? Do you take some to schools or assisted living homes for projects? Or do you set them aside and plan someday to take them somewhere for someone to use them?

Dare you just trash them? Is that disrespectful to the person who gave you the card?

Perhaps you do a combination of the above. I like to keep a very few cards that have very special meaning and a special handwritten note inside. These I look at probably once a year. Then after a few years, even some of these cards are released. The keeper cards are kept in a memorabilia box.

I have in the past recycled some cards when it was easy to pass them on to a group who would use them. Now, I  have to be honest with myself. I would probably have those cards lying around for a very long time before getting them somewhere for someone else to use. I will put all of the cards I don't plan on keeping that are recyclable into the recycle bin and the rest into the trash. Getting rid of them does not mean that I did not enjoy them or receive pleasure from receiving them from someone special to me.

I look at most cards like flowers. They brighten my life for a week or two and then I move them on.

Letting go of items that take up space in my home and live, opens my life for more happy memories (and cards) down the road.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer