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