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