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