Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

The New Year can be a time to party with friends or a time to reflect at home. It's a time to say "adieu" to the old year and embrace the coming year. Many decide on resolutions, usually for self-improvement. People often look back at the past year and hope to make this new one a better year. It is also a time to look back at all the wonderful things that happened for which we are grateful.

Looking forward to the New Year, instead of making a list of "shoulds" (I should lose weight. I should spend less. I should organize my closet.) set an intention or two for the coming year Develop a vision of how you want the year to play out. Mindfulness, 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://christinekanecom/word/ - to develop my vision.

This year my vision is inspired by the word Mindfulness. I would love to hear about your vision.

Happy New Year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Organizing Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. What organizing tips can we incorporate now to make this Christmas and the next a little less stressful?

As the Christmas cards come in, take the time now to check addresses and update your contact list. Plan on how you want to handle the cards you receive. Do you want to keep all of your cards, just the very special ones, or none at all? If you like to use some pretty cards for gift tags, after the holidays put them in a small box, label them, and store them with your holiday wrap. If you want to keep some of the notes and pictures, consider scanning them. Another option is to place very special cards in your memorabilia box. If you plan on answering notes that you received in your cards, schedule the time to do this now or very likely they will sit in a bag or basket for the whole year (This I know very personally).

Wrapping Paper:
Let go of those little bits and pieces of the roll that are left after wrapping your gifts this year. You might want to keep some smaller pieces to use as gift tags. If this is your plan, put them in a small box, label them, and store them with your holiday wrap. Paper that came off gifts you received might be kept for next year if it is pristine. The same can be said for keeping and reusing gift bags. If you find that you have a lot of paper left from previous years, Now is the time to decide what you really love and let the excess go. Extra tissue paper can be used to wrap fragile ornaments when packing up after the holidays. Do have one place to store your entire holiday wrap collection.

Start your gift list for next year now. What have you discovered that your friends and family really love? Make a list. Keep a list of all clothing sizes. Shop all year round and keep all gifts that you buy in one place. This shows you how much you already have when the holiday shopping season hits next year. Tag the items with the names of who you though of when you bought the gift. If you do re-gifting, mark who gave you the original gift.

After Christmas, wrap up carefully all of your decorations that you plan to keep and use next year. As you box them, divide them up so that it will facilitate putting them out next year. I have all early advent items in the top of one marked box. Others, who do more extensive decorating, mark boxes by the rooms where the decorations are used. Discard broken or unloved items now.

As you receive gifts, now is the time to donate what you no longer need or love. If you receive a new coffee pot, donate the old one. If you got a new robe, let the old one go to charity. Have children participate in clearing out toys they no longer love to make room for their new gifts.

Have a happy holiday season!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preparing Your 2015 Calendar

By now you either have your new calendar for the coming year or are seriously thinking about it. Commitments are already cropping up and you probably have written notes or circled the dates in the tiny calendar at the back of your old one and made notes in the margins and are running out of room.

Now is a great opportunity to take the time to really set up your 2015 calendar so that is will work for you. I really enjoy this annual ritual. I sit comfortably with some nice pens and a lovely hot drink. I put on some holiday music and take my time to reflect and plan.

  1. I review my current calendar. I note birthdays, anniversaries, and standard meeting times ( networking, goals group, weight watchers, etc.) I also note medical appointments that are already set for the new 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 "guest bedroom" and so forth throughout the year. On the notes side of my calendar I will write in other actions that I do in that month. January might have "take down birdhouses and clean them".
  4. Also on the notes side 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 (Europe in July!).
Once I have all the known events in place, I feel ready for anything the new year is going to bring.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Cards - Enjoy!

Although the electronic age is beginning to replace paper cards, I just can't embrace that for myself. I love cards. I love birthday cards, valentine cards, mother's day cards, just for no reason cards, and especially holiday cards. I love to open them, read them, and display them.

Because I love to receive cards, I am very good about sending them. Now, during the frantic holidaze season, this can be a chore. And because I have clients, I send out two sets of cards. One set goes to faithful clients. These hold a little gift. Another set goes to friends and family.

Over the years I have developed a little ritual. First, I schedule the times on my calendar. I usually do this in four or five sessions. Then, I gather all of my supplies. This includes my cards (usually two sets - client and other), holiday stamps, holiday return address labels, and a couple of pens. I put these supplies in a basket that I pull out when actually doing the task.  When the scheduled time arrives, I fix a nice hot beverage, add a couple of holiday cookies, put  on some music and set myself to the task.

The cards that go to people I see regularly only get a sentence or two. The cards that go out to people that I only contact during this time of year get a paragraph. I take my time and really envision these friends and family. Then, on a scheduled day, I take them all to the post office and mail them. It makes me feel close to all that I send to.

Enjoy your holiday season and I hope you receive lots of cards.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that is mainly celebrated in the United States and Canada.

There are so many different ways to celebrate this special day. When I was young, we visited my grandmother. When I was newly married, we visited my mother. After my mother died, I did not have a "traditional" way to celebrate. Sometimes my son and I would go out to eat, sometimes we ate out with friends. One special Thanksgiving (2011) my whole extended family ended up at my sister Ann's home. This Thanksgiving I am preparing a traditional meal for my husband, Darin (#1 son) and some friends.

However the day is celebrated, it is a time to reflect on the many things for which we are thankful.

I am always thankful for my family (which has recently been expanded). They are my bedrock and so very special to me. It is a great gift to know that my family is always there for me.

I also am thankful for my friends. It is important to let friends know how important they are and to set aside time to nurture and enjoy the friendships.

I am fortunate to have good health. I do not take this for granted. I do what I can to stay healthy but I also recognize that this is a gift and I am grateful.

I would love to have you share your blessings.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day in your own way.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Surviving the Holidaze

Thanksgiving is almost here. The Holidaze season is already upon us. This is the time to make your calendar one of your best friends.

There is so much to do during this season and the ideas just spin around in our head. When will we get it all done?

Most of us are pretty good about putting major events on the calendar like parties and programs. What we do not put down are the times we plan to do holiday tasks and rituals.

First, brainstorm with your family all that you would like to do in the next couple of months.

Next, bring out the calendar that you use daily - you know - the one that has regular family events on it like PTA, choir practice, sports events, doctor appointments, etc. Plug into this calendar the non-negotiable holiday events. This might include special church or holiday events, traveling to visit a relative, a business or neighborhood party, or a special school event.

Now, think about the rituals your family loves to do each year. Check over that brainstorming list for new ideas. This might include making cookies or a gingerbread house. You might like to get a tree and decorate. Perhaps you like to send out cards. Maybe you have an annual shopping spree event. Do you like to give an annual party? All of these rituals are fun, but to really enjoy them, time must be planned for them to happen. So, now block out on your calendar - just like events you go to - the times you plan to do each one of these rituals. Some may take multiple days.

If your calendar already looks too full, discuss what might be dropped this year. Do not fill in every spare moment because you know unexpected opportunities will appear. Allow some time to enjoy your home and your decorations. Allow some reflective and quiet time during this busy season.

Above all, enjoy your holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, November 7, 2014

Organizing the Attic or Basement Zone

If you work on a zone plan in cleaning and decluttering your home, this month is the perfect month to work in your attic or basement. It is not too hot or too cold and you are probably already in that area looking for seasonal decorations.

So while you are up there (or down there), look around. Besides the seasonal decorations, what else do you store in this area?

Make a list of all the categories you have in the storage space.

You might store:
  • out of season clothes
  • suitcases
  • archival papers
  • seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • sports equipment
  • toys to pass on to grandchildren
  • extra furniture and household accessories
Group all related items and then designate zones for that category. Items that you will not use in the next year should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, archival papers, or toys.

Label containers. It helps to locate the holiday items if you use colored or themed boxes to store your decorations, but still label the boxes with the primary items. If you containers are well labeled, you will not have to dig through every box to find that advent wreath or crèche that you want early in the season.

While sorting, if you come across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years, get rid of them now. You will feel so much lighter when this is accomplished and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will not be nearly so difficult.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Priorities - Taking Care of Self

I love my profession and I love my clients, but......... sometimes, I just need a break. I love taking mini-vacations and grab them when there is an opportunity. This coming weekend, Rob and I have been offered some days at a friend's home on Jekyll Island. We will head down on Saturday and return on Wednesday. I am looking forward to some days of no alarms, quality time with Rob, waling on the beach, bike riding, reading, and just restoring my being.

While on my mini-vacation, I will check emails and respond to clients. I do have 2 coaching classes I will attend via phone connection and will do the work that goes along with the class material. This will not take a lot of time and I will still feel in vacation mode.

When I return, I will be rejuvenated and ready to get back into the full swing of things at work and for holiday preparations. I hope all of you find some time to take care of your needs to rest and relax this fall.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Organzing Your Kitchen

I like to use a zone plan to organize my home. Each month I tackle a different area. October is a prime month for the 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. Take this time to clear out the food that has accumulated because of impulse buying or overbuying.

Before starting, take a long look at your current kitchen set up. What is bothering you? Are your counters crowded? Are your spices a jumble? Are some often used items hard to reach? Create a vision of how you would like your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month. Make a brainstorm list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true.

Some items on your list might include:
  • Declutter your surfaces - what items are not used daily?
  • Purge your cabinets - how many plastic containers or saucepans do you need?
  • Organize for convenience - are your often used items easy to reach?
  • Set up zones - do you have a clear food preparation zone, cooking zone, dish zone, storage zone and serving zone?
Now tackle the project. Divide your kitchen into 4 zones and tackle just one zone a week. This will keep the job from being overwhelming.
  • Week 1 - Cooking Zone - Clean the stove, oven, and microwave. Organize pots, pans, cooking utensils, and bake-ware. If your space is crowded, consider giving away pots that are rarely used. If you have special cookware that is used only for a specific holiday, store that ware with the holiday decorations.
  • Week 2 - Food Preparation Zone - Clean out the refrigerator as well as organize cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, measuring cups and spoons. Get rid of duplicates. Toss foods and spices that are past their prime.
  • Week 3 - Dish Zone - Clean your sink area and dishwasher. Organize your dishware, mugs, glasses, and flatware. Discard items you don't need or those that are broken.
  • Week 4 - Food Serving Zone and Food Storage Zone - Look over placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces, and any groups of items you have not already organized. When you go through your pantry, pull out any cans that you have been holding on to and are reaching expiration. Donate these to a food pantry. When you replace the food in your pantry, group the foods by type - all soups together, all pasta, all fruits, etc.
By the end of the month you will love your organized kitchen space. You are ready for the holiday cooking!

For more details on organizing your kitchen 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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Taming the Closet Clutter

If you want an organized closet, you have to tame the clutter that seems to accumulate over the year.

First decide how you plan to use your closet. Is it only for your clothing or do you also use it as storage? Do you store all of your clothes in this closet or do some of your clothes (like off season or special use) go into another closet? Do you store some of your clothes in dressers?

Now, pull out everything and separate into four piles: keep, toss, donate, and goes somewhere else.

Next, sort the clothing that is to go back into the closet. How you make your sort is up to you but some options are: long sleeve tops, short sleeve tops, pants, jeans, jackets, skirts, dresses. You might prefer to sort your clothes by outfits or usage (work, work out, casual, dressy). This same sort goes for shoes and accessories that are stored in the closet. The sort is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it shows you how much you have of each category (and maybe helps you add some of those 15 pair of jeans to the donate pile). It also makes it easier to retrieve your clothes and put together outfits.

Hang up what goes on hangers. It is a good plan to hang up all of your hangers backwards at this point and then the first time you wear the item, hang it correctly. This way, at the end of the season, you can see what has been worn.

If you have shelves in your closet, use boxes that fill up the shelves. Designate each box for the type of clothing: workout clothes, short sleeve T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts, etc. Label the boxes. Use open boxes for items that you use frequently. The boxes keep like items corralled and leave no space on the shelves for clutter to accumulate.

Keep loose items off the closet floor. Use that space for your laundry basket or shoe corral.

If shoes are stored on shelves, use plastic, clear shoe boxes. They are smaller than the cardboard boxes that shoes come in and the plastic boxes will stack neatly.

The top shelf of your closet can be used to store suitcases or large, light items that you don't often use. It might be helpful to store a small, folding step stool in your closet.

Once everything is in order, label the shelves to help you keep your closet in order.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ICD 2014 Conference Reflections - Find a Voice

I always go to conferences with some clear goals. This year at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) conference I had planned to:
  1. Increase learning
  2. Receive insights on how to better serve my clients
  3. Network with peers from around the country and even the world
I certainly make progress in all three areas. We were presented with techniques to help clients. We were given updates on  ADHD and PTSD. We heard a very moving panel discussion made up of children of hoarders. We were given samples of the most recent research in the areas of Chronic Disorganization. We laughed while we received insights from Judith Kolberg on clients' difficulty with decision making (I got to role play one of her challenged clients). I had time to visit with other organizers between sessions and on Saturday night a group from Atlanta along with friends went out on the town to a Blues Bar for dinner.

My challenge now is to schedule time to review all of this fantastic material and make a plan to integrate it into the tools I already have.

I am looking forward to the next ICD conference in 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Preparing for a Disaster

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 "grab 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/Pepare.

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 be assigned the job of corralling pets and putting them in carriers. Another might have the job of pulling out sleeping bags or bedding. Another may load the car. If the family is not together, have plans on how you will communicate and where you will connect.

Make sure your car is ready if disaster hits. Keep the car well maintained and always have a half tank or more of gas. Make sure the spare tire is usable and the jack and jumper cables are easy to access.

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. Have emergency apps already downloaded on you phone. Check out http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps.

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, tissue, and a pen knife in your kit.  Also have a change of clothes and shoes, extra glasses, extra keys, and a pen and paper.

Have a prepared 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 September.

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 2, 2014

Organizing and Decluttering Your Bathrooms

If you are following my zone plan, this month is a good month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, you may wish to include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space.  Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room  to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house cleaning materials? Some of what you store in this bathroom now may go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink the place you store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. I have a small basket for the makeup I use almost daily. I have room in my medicine cabinet for toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for your hair may be stored in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink area.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer may be everyday makeup, one may be for eye products, one may hold hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you no longer are using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold larger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in September this year.  Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don't need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don't have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra bath towels, wash cloths, and extra toilet paper.

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

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On the Floor and Out the Door

I work with a client decluttering an area. We end up with a nice pile of items for donation. Perhaps the client is going to continue to work some more after I leave. Great!

I come back two weeks later and the pile is still pretty much there and the client is not real happy looking at it. What happened?

I tend to see several patterns:
  • I'm not positive about letting go of some of these items - I need to think on it a bit more
  • I know I should take pictures of all this and then type up an itemized list and then log it in with the charity - I don't have time for all of this
  • I know I should donate these items so others can use them but I really don't have any spare time and now I feel guilty and resentful when I see this pile
This is how I respond to these situations:

  • Pull out the items you are unsure about and box them up with a label - then stash that box in the back of a closet for 6 months, a year, or whenever you tackle that closet again. Then see how you feel. Meanwhile, donate the rest.
  • The idea is that you want a charity to have these items. What do you have time to do? I can help you with a quick itemized list and then put them into your car (or mine). The list does not have to be exact, or typed - just a remembrance. You don't even need the list if you do not care about a tax write off.
  • Your main concern is that these items go away. Your sanity and time is more important than getting these items to charity. Just let them go.
Once you have made up your mind that you no longer need or love items, they should leave in a timely manner. You can get on the list of some organizations that will call you when they are in your neighborhood and pick up your items. So, have a donation box in a closet and drop items in as soon as you decide you no longer want them.

Then wait for the call and just put the items on the curb. If this is done frequently enough, it is not too difficult to take a picture and write up a list if you do want the tax write off. And bottom line, these are your things. You do have the right to just pitch them.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Even a Closet Needs an Out Basket

Closet clutter is often a case of clothes coming in but not going out.

You look into your closet and declare, "I don't have anything to wear!", yet your closet is bursting to the seams. So much jamming in of clothes makes it impossible to find and coordinate outfits.

If this shoe fits (what a terrible pun!), then follow these tips for a closet that makes it easy to get dressed for an outing.

Pull out your clothes. If your closet is really large, do this by sections.

Sort your clothes by type - tops, long and short sleeve; pants; skirts; dresses; vests/sweaters; or dressy; casual; sports. This is not rocket science, so don't get caught up in a "Should this 3/4 sleeve blouse have its own category?" question.

Go though each stack and get rid of:
  • not the right size
  • out of style
  • makes you feel ugly/old/fat
  • needs repair
  • has spots that won't come out
  • won't match up with anything else you own
All of these items go into your out basket.

You might also pull out of season clothing that you are keeping and store them in a guest bedroom closet.

Now you are ready to return the clothes you are keeping to your closet.

Hang them up by type. What categories you come up with is entirely up to you and what helps you with putting together outfits.

Some possible categories are:
  • Tops, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses
  • Work, casual, dressy, sports
  • Frequently worn, special occasion only
  • Color (usually a sub category)
Reward yourself by buying some (no, not new clothes!) nice hangers that will make your closet even more attractive and workable.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Clutter and Your Peace of Mind

We really stop seeing things that we gaze at day after day. But they are there and they will impact our thoughts and peace of mind.

I have recently started working with Wendy Watkins, CPCC, PCC's (http://www.wendywatkins.com/) in a coaching program. Part of this personalized program is centered on my business and part of it is centered on increasing my joy factor. One thing I have been working on is increasing my awareness of my surroundings (not always with great success- according to my husband who washed and vacuumed my car and I did not even notice). But, imagine my despair when I looked into my medicine cabinet this morning and saw the mug that is in the picture. I have been looking at that same mug every day for years. What has it been saying to me over and over again? What does the stack of paperwork that needs attention and is sitting on my desk say to me? What does the stack of unread books say?

Simply removing items that give negative vibes, moving items that we love so that we really "see" them again, pulling out treasures we have hidden away, repairing or disposing of broken items, all make a big difference in the feel of our space. Organizing and cleaning is a very inexpensive way to remove bad feelings and introduce the feeling of calmness and peace.

We can give the old things to others to enjoy and open up space for newness to come into our home. Making our space uncluttered lets our energy flow freely. Develop your vision of how you want your home to look and feel and then make your space reflect that vision.

Now let the calm and joy enter your home and heart.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Taking Back Your Laundry Zone

The month of August is a good time to organize the laundry area. You may have some laundry stacked up from vacation. There are new school clothes and sport clothing that need washing. You really want this zone under control before the fall season really hits.

Keeping up with laundry is less of a hassle if you have your space well organized.

  1. Decide what the purposes are for this zone. Besides the washer and dryer, do you also have your iron and ironing board stored here? Besides your laundry products, do you also store other cleaning products here? Do you store your pet food? Do you keep your recycling bins here? Be very clear on what you expect this area to house. Then zone it out so that everything has its own home. If you have stuck something in this area "just for now", now move it out.
  2. Think about how you want this zone to look and feel. You will spend a bit of time here so make it work for you. I like a fun calendar that makes me smile. I also have a stain chart, and since my recycling shares this zone, I also have a list of what is accepted in each bin. I also like to have as many things containerized as possible.
  3. Sort all of your cleaning products. Did you buy a product that you really did not like, but that is still hanging around? Toss it now. Do you have spray starch that is 10 years old and you barely have a nodding acquaintance with you iron? Toss it now. Do you have 2 half bottles of Woolite? Consolidate them. If you buy large containers of soap powder, transfer some into a smaller container to cut down on spills.
  4. Schedule your laundry times. Don't wait until you need something to do laundry (Mom, where are my gym shorts?). The goal is to keep laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone what you intend to laundry that day. Leave the rest in the dirty clothes hampers. Only cats love mounds of dirty laundry. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their home. If you have some clothes that need ironing, designate a container to hold them until you schedule your ironing time.
  5. 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 carry them to the appropriate room.
  6. Have a small container nearby to toss any items you find in pockets, the dryer, or for loose buttons.
Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry, but it should make the chore an easier one.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ten Tips for Clutter Control

You look around your home and see little stacks of clutter here and there. How did that happen and how can you control this situation?

  1. Everything that is in your home should have a purpose and a "home" where it stays when not in use. Nothing should "float." Even if you use your laptop in several places, it should have a place where it lives when you want to put it away.
  2. Like items should live with like items. This helps you keep track of what you already have. Laundry items should be stored together. Batteries should be stored in one area. DVDs should live in one spot.  And all of the items should fit into whatever container you have set aside for them.
  3. Nothing new should come into your home unless you really need it or want it. When something new does come into your home, it should have an immediate "home."
  4. Don't overbuy. When you buy huge amounts of paper towels or laundry soap, where will you store it? If you buy 20 cans of soup because it was on sale, where will it all live until you use it?
  5. Use the one in/one out rule. When you buy new shoes, get rid of a pair of old shoes.
  6. If you buy something that you already have, get rid of the old one immediately. You don't need 3 blenders.
  7. Don't buy gifts unless you know who you plan to give them to and when. Have a place for gifts to live until the gifting time arrives.
  8. Don't subscribe to magazines or newspapers you don't have time to read. After you do read your print material, recycle it. All of your reading material should have a place to live while it is in your home and if that place gets too overcrowded, bring in less.
  9. All paper that comes into your home should have a place to land - either in trash, recycle, or in action folders. None of it should end up on your desk or kitchen counter.
  10. At least weekly, do a clutter roundup and put everything away. This includes laundry.
Now, it's your turn. I know I probably missed some great ideas. Please share your tip on keeping clutter at bay.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Road Trip!

It seems like we do more car travel in the summer than any other time. Some travel is local and some is a long road trip to our summer vacation spot. Check out these tips to make car time as enjoyable as possible.

  • Keep your car clean - it makes trips much more enjoyable
  • Keep your car maintained - check out the oil change, tires, air conditioner, fluid for the wipers, etc.
  • If you don't already have one, consider a roadside assistance program
  • Have a container for those often needed items like bug spray, sun screen, wet wipes, antibacterial gel, tissues, a small first aid kit
  • Plan for the unexpected - have a container set up with jumper cables, a charger, a towel or blanket
  • Have a folder in your dash with your car's registration and insurance cards
  • Put in a trash bag or container and empty it after each outing
  • For road trips, have a small cooler for drinks and snacks
  • For longer road trips, have a bright folder to carry all directions and reservations
  • For those longer trips, put in some audio or music CDs to make the trip more fun
  • Have a trunk organizer to contain a lot of the above items - try to secure items that are in the main part of the car - they can become dangerous if there is an accident
Now, enjoy that car trip. Look out the windows. Enjoy the company of who is traveling with you. Don't worry. It's summer and the livin' is easy.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Plan to Lose - Weight that is

Summer is here along with all that revealing summer wear. Ouch! Most of us would feel a little better if we could just lose a little weight.

Good organization around food issues is a great way to start. Organizing your kitchen, your menus, your food shopping, and your time are all valid areas. Having a plan, taking action, and seeing the results, help you control your weight. As you start to close the weight, plan celebrations! (We're talking buying some new clothes or going to a movie - not food)

Having a well organized kitchen - and I am including pantry and refrigerator here - is crucial to weight loss.

When it is cook prep time, you will find it much easier if you have the tools you frequently use at your finger tips. Organize your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so the foods you are going to need are easy to access and are at eye level. I organize my pantry like a store. I have all my canned vegetables in one area, my canned fruits in one area, my pasta in one area, etc. I try not to have food that is tempting and not good for weight loss readily available. I use the same plan in the fridge and freezer. Each shelf or drawer has its own specialty. I have one drawer for fruits, one for vegetables, and one for protein. Drinks are on the top shelf. In the freezer, there is one shelf for meat, one for vegetables, and one for already prepared foods. If you don't have to dig around looking for ingredients, you will find food prep so much easier. As an extra bound, you won't have foods spoiling because they got lost in the fridge.

A weekly menu makes you more aware of what you are eating. Because you plan ahead, you shop ahead, and have all the healthy items on hand to make the healthy meals you enjoy. You also plan your snacks and drinks. I like to sit down and plan my menu the day before my scheduled shopping day. Then with the recipes in front of me, I put together my shopping list.

I keep a running shopping list on my fridge for items that are running low ( cat food, paper products, soap). Then, after I have planned my menus for the week, I add all the ingredients I need to prepare the meals. I also add in extra healthy snacks and any bought beverages. After putting together the list, I look for coupons I might have for those items. I never buy anything just because I have a coupon. I personally like to go to 2 places to shop - a regular grocery store and a farmers market. I try very hard to never go to the store more than once a week. I use the same stores so I can plan my list according to how the store is set up.

It is much easier to eat healthy meals when the food is prepared ahead of time. I try to always cook for at least 2 meals. I often eat the same thing twice with maybe a change in the side dish, but you can also freeze the second meal and save it for a later week. I also prep some vegetable snacks to grab when hungry. I  find myself sometimes nibbling on these while I am preparing a meal as I have a tendency to wait until I am hungry to cook.

Time is also saved by having to only go to the store once a week and breezing through the store because you have grouped your list the same was as the store lays out its food.

It is also important to schedule time for exercise. This means exercise time has to be blocked out on your calendar. When blocking in the time, don't forget the transition times as well. If you are driving somewhere to walk or work out, schedule in the driving time. If you have to shower and change, schedule tat time as well.

If you are in the metro-Atlanta area and want more in depth information on this topic, contact me (404-299-5111) to set up a workshop (Plan to Lose) for your group.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Freedom

Summer is often a time when our schedules shift. Our expectations change. I tend to slow down in the heat. I like to lay claim to some personal freedom. I love to be able to enjoy some spontaneity but I also need to have routines to ground me.

I use routines to block out my schedule so that I can see when I can have the luxury of doing fun activities. 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 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 luxury. I like to take in some outdoor concerts. I enjoy going to the Botanical Gardens. I love just sitting on the deck in the evening with my husband. I enjoy a mini-vacation or two. But I do still have to plan and schedule in order t 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 good planning allows. Pardon me while I go out on my new deck for some downtime.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Packing For a Trip Abroad

Think minimalistic. Don't pack for the worse case scenario. If you do need to pick something up along the way, that is better than packing ten things you don't need. As Rick Steves says, "You can't travel heavy, happy, and cheap. Pick two." Create a personalized check list from the myriad of lists on line. Then type it out. Pack from it and then put the list in your suitcase to double check when repacking each time along your trip. This will prevent you from leaving that charger behind in a hotel room.


This is one of the most important areas to plan for and to have on your list. Your are not going anywhere without your passport and tickets. Make copies of any document your are carrying. Leave one copy with a relative or good friend and pack the other copy in a different place than the original documents. This way if a document is lost or stolen, you will have the official information to expedite replacement. It is also a good idea to leave your itinerary with someone in case you need to be reached.


Pack all of your prescription drugs and vitamins. Pack at least two day's supply in your carry on. If you tend to have motion sickness, make sure you also carry the Dramamine in your carry on bag. Carrying the name and contact information of your doctor is not a bad idea if you have any medical problems.


Notify your credit card provider and bank of the dates you will be out of the country. Bring currency of the country with you. There are currency exchange booths at the airport. Look for one that represents your personal bank. Use a money belt/bag to hold your financial documents and passport. Having a belt or hidden pocket that is RFID-Safe helps block your documents from being read.


Check online to make sure you have the correct electrical adapters and plug converters. Leave bulky items at home. Check with your phone provider to get the best plan for using your phone while traveling. Call and give the company the dates you are gone.


Pack items that mix and match and can be hand washed. Look for lightweight clothing that dries quickly. Two to three pair of pants, five or six tops, a sweater, a raincoat, two pair of shoes, five sets of underwear should do you. Pack a few accessories to change out your "look." Leave extra room in your suitcase. It might be fun to buy something there to bring home.

Bon Voyage!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer Fun - Throw a Party

I love to throw a party every July for my friends. Summer is a more laid back time of year and a great time to come together and socialize.

The very idea of giving a party can be overwhelming to people. Like any project that seems overwhelming, it's not so daunting if you break it down into smaller, manageable tasks and you don't strive for perfection.

I start with my vision in mind. How do I want this party to look and feel? I usually have a theme but the theme could be as simple as "catch up and have fun." This year, because I just build a new shed house and deck, my theme is "get decked out and shed your cares." I want people to have fun, relax, reconnect, and have dialogue. I want the atmosphere to be comfortable, casual, and connected.

Next I brainstorm what has to happen to make this vision work. I start with my guest list. Then I plan my invitations. I also look at what I want to serve and my party location. My list might look like this:
  • make invitation list
  • send out a save the date email
  • design invites
  • print invites
  • address and mail invites
  • plan the menu
  • prepare the yard
  • clean deck furniture
  • prepare/order food and beverages
  • clean house
  • decorate
  • stray yard for mosquitoes
  • put out food/beverage stations
When looked at all at once, it seems overwhelming, but I break it down and do it over a month's time. I will either hire out some help or ask for some help or usually both. One day I just concentrate on my invitation list, another day I design the invites, another day I print them off, and still another day I mail them. Now my intention is set and the party is on!

The other items on the list are mostly done on weekends and are broken up so that no one day is consumed just by these tasks. By the day of the party there is little to do but finish decorating, some last minute food preparation, preparing the food/beverage stations, and spraying the yard for bugs.

When the guests come, I am ready to party with them. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Organizing the Workshop/Garage Zone

The workshop or garage area often ends up as a dumping area. It is not in your main living area and it is sooo easy to walk in and dump something "just for now." After a while it is very difficult to find things you think are there or even to freely move around. I suggest that once a year you schedule a time to really organize and clean out this zone.

Start with deciding the purpose for this area. Do you plan to:
  • park a car
  • store extra household items like water/paper products/oversized cookware
  • store garden tools and accessories
  • work on projects
  • store household tools
  • use as a holding area for recyclables
  • store sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
After deciding on how you plan to use this space, determine your zones. Some zone suggestions are:
  • car parking and car related items
  • garden
  • recycling
  • household storage
  • entertainment accessories
  • sports equipment
  • tools
If you have an abundance of tools, you may want to subdivide that zone into plumbing, electrical, wood working, etc.

Decide where to logically place each zone. You will want to place items that you regularly access 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 hand tools. Utilize shelves, peg boards, 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.

Clear out each zone. Determine what you have not used ( that badminton set has not been set up in 3 years or more) or is broken, or expired (seeds, chemicals). These items go away. Knock down the cobwebs and sweep the floor before putting the items away that belong in that zone. You'll be amazed at how much roomier the area is now that all items have been bunched together and stored away.

Now reward yourself. A hot shower and a cool drink  might be just the thing.

For more ideas on how to organize that workshop, view my YouTube video on Organizing Your Workshop.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Less Stuff = More Money

Money, Honey! It's that simple.

How does less stuff equate to more money?

First, know that every time you buy something you do not need or love, you are throwing away your money. Getting control of impulse buying can certainly save you money.

Next, if you have bought things you no longer need or love, don't pay money to store them just to keep them out of your space. One in ten U.S. households rents a storage unit. It's the fastest growing real estate segment over the last 35 years.

Last, you may be able to retrieve some money by consigning or selling items. The average woman has 27 pairs of shoes; the average man has 12. Men and women have on average 88 articles of clothing each. Of these clothing items, 25% are typically unworn. Clark Howard in today's AJC talks about getting rid of stuff that you no longer use and making a profit. For clothing he suggests consignment stores, for furniture he suggests Craig's list, and for antiques he suggests eBay.

There is an estimated $15 billion in unused tech gadgets in junk drawers worldwide according to IKEA. Clark Howard suggests the following sites for getting rid of electronics.
  • Glyde.com for gadgets and games
  • Gazelle.com for Apple products, plus Android, Blackberry and other phones
  • Gizmogul.com for selling old phones for cash and donating to charity at the same time
  • NewtonsHead.com for Apple products, even damaged iPhones
  • BuyBackWorld.com or BuyMyTronics.com for all electronics
  • NextWorth.com for phones, camera, tablets, and games
  • Swappa.com for Android devices
If you don't want to go to the bother of selling your items, you can also donate and get a tax write off.

Not only will you make money by getting rid of your excess "stuff", you will also feel so much lighter. Enjoy that extra space!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Children and Clutter

While it has been a long time since I have had children living in my home, I remember some of the "stuff" that started pouring into our home before the first little guy even arrived. I look around at friends and clients with children and grandchildren and see how the "stuff" can take over parts of the home.

Each new child in a household increases family possessions by 30% and that's just in their preschool age. How can that happen? Extra furniture, clothes, linens, toys, and bottles are just the beginning. Before the baby actually arrives, these new belongings are usually stored in the "baby's" room and perhaps some of the kitchen. But then they explode onto counter tops, floors, and tables throughout the house.

The United States has 3.1% of the world's children but we own 40% of all the toys bought worldwide. All of these items come into the home by way of our own purchases, baby gifts, and continual grandparent gifts, and then they tend to stay.

So what is the answer to all of this incoming clutter?
  1. Every season look over clothing. Are you planning on having more children? If so, take the outgrown clothes and really look at them. Are they torn or stained? Did you really like them? Discard all that you would not use again and then store in labeled tubs those clothes that you are keeping. If this is your last planned child, donate or give to friends the clothes that are still in good shape.
  2. Every 6 months look over toys and books. If your child has outgrown them, either pack them away or store them for the next child or donate.
  3. Encourage grandparents to give gifts that give a memory (think trips or events) instead of physical items.
  4. Be selective in what you buy. Buy a few quality items instead of an abundance of the latest fads. Teach your children to take care of their toys and each holiday or birthday encourage your children to donate some of their gently used toys to others and discard unwanted toys that are broken.
  5. As children get older, have them be an active part of the purging process. Each season have them choose the items that they really love and/or feel they need, and then donate the rest. Teach them that each and everything they own must have a place to be put away.
While there is no way not to increase clutter with children, there are ways to control it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Last Day of School

The last day of school is almost here! The children are sooooo ready for this final day and the beginning of summer break. On the last day you just know they are going to rush home, dump their school stuff in a corner, and run off to play.

OK, so give them one day. But, that pile in the corner has to be handled. Those stacks of old school papers, that whiffy backpack, and the end of year mementos have got to be dealt with before summer can really begin.

Clear a space -  maybe put down newspaper and keep dogs and cats clear for their own safety.  Then turn the backpack upside down and dump the contents on the floor. Shake it a few times so that what is stuck to the bottom with old gum and candy also falls out.  Now do a sort. Smelly clothes and sneakers go to the laundry. Tattered papers and candy wrappers go to the trash. End of the year awards can be salvaged and filed or put into memorabilia boxes. Check out old crayons, pencils, and other school supplies and see if they are usable for summer art or are in such bad shape they need to be trashed. If anything in the pile tries to crawl away - step on it. Decide if the bag is going to be used again or is now also ready for the trash (broken zippers, tears, straps broken). Do not let this clutter stay beyond one week. Have every thing that is saved put away and everything that is no longer usable, trashed or recycled.

Now, enjoy the summer!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Using the Zone Plan - Your Master Bedroom

For organizing and decluttering my home, I use a zone plan. Every month I choose a different area to clean, declutter, and organize. In May, I concentrate on  the master bedroom.

I always start with a vision of the room. Since I married in November, this year there are two of us forming this vision. We want this room to have a soothing, calming, and supportive look. We want to feel relaxed and happy in this room. We like soft light yet still desire enough lighting for reading. We want our clothes that are stored in this zone to have designated places that make it easy to dress and do laundry and not clutter our sleeping area.

We are going to make some changes in the current setting. We intend to paint the walls a softer color and are changing the art work and accessories to meet our vision.

We will sort through our clothes and get rid of every item that we do not need, love, or that does not currently fit. While dressers and closets are empty, we will deep clean them. We will clear extra clutter off of surfaces in order to have breathing room and to place new, meaningful accessories. We will evaluate all of the reading material that has stacked up and not been read. All of the bedding will be cleaned and aired. The windows and blinds will be washed so that the sun can stream in. The fan and air vents will be cleaned as well.

As a reward for finishing the bedroom zone, I will buy fresh flowers, stand back, and admire our clean, uncluttered space. I know we will sleep well here.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poor Time Managment = Money Lost

Poor time management costs you money. Here is a short list of ways I have seen clients lose money because they did not use their time well.

  1. Paying bills late and accruing a late fee because of not scheduling regular times to work on household budget/bill paying
  2. Overdrawing accounts because of not taking time to reconcile bank statements
  3. Paying for missed appointments because of not recording the appointment on the calendar (or not taking time to look at the calendar)
  4. Getting docked pay or risking losing a job because of being late for work
  5. Overbuying and wasting food because of not taking time to plan meals or checking food inventory
  6. Buying clothes impulsively without taking time to figure out if the clothes are really needed or loved more that something already owned
  7. Paying for gym membership that is not used because workout time is not scheduled
  8. Paying for magazines or books that time is not allotted for reading
  9. Wasting gas money and wear and tear on the car because trips/errands are not planned
  10. Paying more for trips/rentals/purchases because time is not scheduled to do a comparison shop
If you are guilty of any of the above, pick the one that causes you to lose the most money and schedule some time to correct the problem. Need help with your time management? Take time to schedule time with me or another professional organizer.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, April 25, 2014

Who's Your DE?

Judith Kolbeg, Fileheads and the Georgia Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), gave a great teleclass last week on Information Afterlife and Digital Estate Planning. We all have digital assets that will continue to have an existence after we die. What is going to happen to all this data?

The first step for all of us is to make a list of what we have. Email accounts, social media accounts, and picture files come first to mind. But what about our web sites, our domain names, our blog sites, or our online financial accounts and memberships? The list can get rather lengthy. Where are these assets? how are they accessed?

Next, develop a digital estate plan. This will detail your wishes concerning all of your digital assets. What do you want done with them after you die? It is a good idea to then review your plan with your accountant, lawyer, and anyone else involved in the disposition of your "regular" estate.

Now, enlist a digital executor (DE). This person will work with your executor or could even be the same person. It is important that your DE is digitally knowledgeable and knows what they are taking on. This can be a pretty time intensive job. Your DE will need access to your passwords, user codes, and security questions in order to get into your accounts. They will need to get into all accounts with automatic deposits, withdrawals, transfers, or debits. If you own a business, they will need to access your lists of clients, vendors, and financials. They will need the contact information of your accountant if you use one.

Putting together this plan can look overwhelming. I would consider chunking it into smaller tasks and putting some dates on your calendar to get started on it. We never know when we will need to have this in place.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Organize Your Closet for Spring

Hopefully by this week warm weather will come and stay and it will be safe to swap out winter clothes for summer clothes in our closets. If you are lucky, you may have a second closet in a guest room to use for the swap. If you are in a smaller home or your closets are already fully used, then reposition your seasonal clothes so the current season is easy to access.

As you move your winter items, look carefully at each piece. Is it clean? Is it in good repair? Does it still fit? Do you feel good when you wear it? In fact, did you even wear it last season?

If it is clean and in good repair but no longer fits or you no longer love it, donate it to a charity. If it is torn or stained, throw it away. If it needs a good cleaning or some repair and you still love it, take care of it now before you put it away for the season.

Now, pull out your summer clothes and hang them in the closet. Again, give them a good look over. Is there a spot that won't come out? Is it dated? Was it a bad purchase that you spent a lot of money on but hate to wear? Toss or give away all those items that you don't love to wear.

Seasons go by and we find that we don't wear certain items. We may not even be aware of it. We may have 5 black tops but in reality only really wear 3 of them. A trick I have learned is to hang your new season clothes in the closet with the hanger facing the wrong way. The first time you wear the item, turn the hanger around so that it is hanging correctly. At the end of the season, really look at the clothes in the closet that still have the hangers facing the wrong way. Ask yourself why you didn't wear those items. It might be that it is a really special occasion outfit and that occasion didn't happen this past season. But it also might be that you have items that you prefer to wear. Let go of all items that you don't need and love. Let the remaining ones have room to breathe. You will find it much easier to assemble your outfits if you don't have to dig through all of those unloved pieces.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How's Your Finacial Literacy?

April has been declared National Financial Literacy Month. In 2013 and 2014 44% of adults said that their stress about personal finance matters is somewhat or very high. Twelve percent said that managing day-to-day expenses was their primary financial concern, followed by medical expenses (10%), retirement (9%), and student loans (9%). The good news is that you can improve your situation following these three steps.

  1. Organize your finances
  • Keep a folder or basket to corral all your current bills and receipts
  • Track where your money goes - set up a budget either in a ledger, excel sheet, or with a personal software program (61% of adults don't have a budget)
  • Reconcile your bank and credit card statements monthly
  • Keep a folder for all your tax information for the year
  • Keep a folder for your recent copy of your credit report and your credit score
  • Maintain a list of all your accounts with account numbers, online IDs, and passwords - let someone you trust know where the list is kept and how to open it
  • Have a list of all retirement accounts, investments, and life insurance policies
  • Let someone know where your will, living will, and durable power of attorney documents are located
2. Set up a good filing system
  • Have a desktop system for current items needing action like bills/receipts
  • Have a hanging file system for other financial records
           a. Receipts held for tax purposes
           b. Bank statements
           c. Insurance documents
           d. Pay stubs
           e. Medical costs
           f. Car finances
           g. Mortgage information
           h. Social Security and retirement information
           i. Investments

3. Organize your time
  • Schedule a regular time to pay bills - put this commitment on your calendar
  • Take time to reconcile bank statements/credit card statements within one week of receiving them
  • Schedule blocks of time to clear out financial clutter
          a. Grocery receipts once recorded in budget
          b. Paycheck stubs once tax year has been completed
          c. Utility bills after recording them
          d. Credit card receipts after reconciliation

Taking time to organize your finances may seem overwhelming, but if you take the time now it will save you time and stress in the future.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Organizing Your Entry Hall

Spring has finally arrived. Many people like to do spring cleaning at this time of year. I prefer to use my zone plan where I chose an area in my home and organize and clean deeply in just that area.

This year I am in a new home and have chosen to work on my back entry hall and one storage wall in my laundry room as my April zone. My vision for the entry area is to create a space where incoming and outgoing items are held. Current outerwear is left here. Cloth grocery bags, when unpacked after a grocery run, are hung here until the next trip to the car. Outgoing mail is laid on the bench until the next trip out the door. I also want this area to make people smile when they enter my home. I have hung and placed whimsical art. The entry hall is right outside my office so I also use the bench to hold some extra office supplies.

The storage wall in my laundry has many purposes. I put an elfa system up to hold a lot of overflow from other areas of the home. This one wall holds entertainment supplies, recycling bins, a cat box, extra litter, cat food, bird seed, tool kits, cleaning products, extra file crates from the office and a hanging rod for clothes taken from the dryer. What a hodgepodge! Surprisingly, this zone is working fairly well. However, as I go through this zone, I will look closely at what is there. I am sure that some of the items can be purged, some reorganized, and eventually some of it many go somewhere else.

At the end of the month, I will reward myself by buying some flowers blooming in a pot to place outside the door.

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Organize That Traveling Suitcase

Weather is getting nicer and many of us are looking forward to some spring or summer travel. I know it is not fun to schlep around multiple or huge suitcases. Here are some tips to make packing for that trip a breeze.

  1. Make a list. I keep a master list that I modify for each trip. This keeps me from forgetting my phone charger or medicated face cream (both in original pack and repack to come home). Then for each trip I list what I am really taking and print it off. This goes in the outside flap of my suitcase.
  2. Start early. I start laying out outfits a couple of days before the trip. I know from past experience that if I wait until the last minute, I am no good at making decisions and pack waaay too much.
  3. Pare down. Take only what you are sure you will need. Plan on wearing some outfits twice. If it is going to be cool, take only one sweater. Plan to layer. I always feel that if I do forget something I absolutely need, it will be an excuse to go shopping (but this has never yet happened).
  4. Plan outfits. Lay out your outfits before packing. How can you mix and match? Only pack jewelry that goes with those outfits.
  5. Clear out clutter. When packing your hygiene/cosmetic care products, only pack what you are sure you need. Clear out the extraneous clutter. I use a soft dopp kit that can be scrunched a bit.
  6. Plan. Pack your bags with a plan in mind. Put your shoes - one or two pairs - at the bottom. Stuff the shoes with socks or underwear. Roll up most of your clothing to save room ( and reduce wrinkles). Place folded items that don't roll well on top. Last, tuck in smaller items.
  7. Contain dirty clothes. Pack a plastic bag for dirty clothes or designate a space in your suitcase for the dirty clothes. For short trips I use a zippered net section in the lid of my suitcase.
  8. Plan carry on. If you are flying and have a carry on, pack your prescriptions, expensive jewelry (but why take it?), money, camera, tickets, itinerary, keys, and a book or kindle in this bag. If room, carry one change of clothes.
  9. Save space for return. For the return trip, take lots of pictures and keep souvenirs to a minimum. But still, when you pack your bag leave a little room for that special item.
  10. Just for fun - look at the fantastic packing skills in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5UlxHsgD58
Bon Voyage!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gain Control of Clothes Clutter

It's not unusual for me to go into homes and find a lot of clothes "clutter." By this, I mean clothes that are in heaps on the floor, overflowing in laundry baskets, or stacked on any available surface in the bedroom or laundry. This is often not only clothes waiting to be washed but also clothes that have been washed.

Let's look first at the clean clothes clutter. Often the clean clothes are left in stacks because it is difficult to actually put the clothes away. The drawers are already crammed. The closet is overflowing. Basically, what is probably happening is having too much clothing. Most of us who live in America have too much "stuff" and this includes clothing. We tend to buy things we like (often in multiple colors) or because they were "on sale." We don't really plan how the new item will fit with what we already have or what it will replace.

So, the answer to this problem is to clear out the closet and drawers. Most of what is in there has not been worn for a long time. Keep only what fits, is in good shape, and makes you feel good when you wear it. Purge your wardrobe so that everything  you own can easily fit into a dresser or closet (this includes the items that are currently in the dirty clothes pile).

Now, let's look at the dirty clothes piles. Again, I suggest this may also be due to an abundance of clothing. If you have 15 pair of work pants, you can go a pretty long time without having to do laundry. Another way of handling the dirty clothes piles is to have laundry hampers (without lids) placed everywhere dirty laundry accumulates. This would probably be in each bedroom and perhaps the bathrooms. When the laundry hampers approach "full" do the laundry. Only bring to the laundry room the clothes you intend to clean that day. Leave the rest in the hampers where they normally live. When you finish a cycle of laundry, plan to put them away the same day.

Sometimes there is also a third category. This is clothes you have worn but are not ready to wash. Hang these clothes back up. This will keep them dry and prevent that musty odor. If you don't want to hang the already worn clothes, designate a place on a shelf in your closet to hold them until you feel they are ready for washing.

Once you have cleared the piles from the floor, you will feel so much lighter. You have a clean space and can feel great that others are benefiting from your donations. Reward yourself - just don't do it by buying new clothes.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Using Containers as Organizational Tools

Containers can be a great help with organizing. They hold items neatly. They help when sorting like items with like items (all short sleeve T shirts in this bin). They can also help in the process of purging. I often suggest to my clients that they can keep as many of any item as they like if the items will easily fit into a specified container.

Now, when I am talking container, I am talking about anything that holds something. I open up the definition beyond tubs, bins, and baskets and include cabinets, drawers, closets, and bookcases.

This past weekend, Rob and I sat down to organize our entertaining credenza. When we got married this fall, we both did a lot of purging. Still, when we looked into the area where we keep our CDs and DVDs it was easy to see there was still an overabundance. We reached an agreement that we would keep as many DVDs as would easily fit on a shelf and as many CDs as would fit into several containers. Next was the task of deciding what our absolute favorites were and what we could give away. At first it was pretty easy but when we got down to the last 3 CDs it became difficult. We finally managed, but our containers are absolutely full which means if we buy another CD we will have to let one go. This rule, though, does keep our area from getting completely overrun with media.

Try using this same principle throughout your home. I have one cabinet for storing nonperishable food. I want this cabinet to be easy to use - not overly crammed, not with cans stacked, and not too full to see what is already in place. I also zone out this cabinet so one shelf is for canned items, one shelf is for snack items, one shelf is for beverages, etc. This enables me to easily keep food rotated, always putting the newer purchases in back. This also means that I do not buy a case of something just to save a few pennies a can.

A bookcase can only hold so many books. I love books but I don't think it is respectful to my books to overly cram them into a bookcase, stack books on top of books, or put a row of books in front of an existing row of books. I also do not want to put books stacked on top of my bookcase or on the floor. This means that I can only keep so many books. When new books come in, if they do not fit into the bookcase, I must donate some of my lesser loved books.

Try using this container principle with your clothes closet, your bathroom cabinets, your desk, or anyplace that you feel might be getting disorganized and overfull. As you go through and purge items, try to leave empty room. This allows for new to come in and gives you room to shuffle items within the container.

If I know that I will keep only as much scrap paper as will easily fit into one container in my desk drawer, as many sweaters as will fit in one bins, as many travel toiletries as will fit into one small basket, it makes letting go of the excess so much easier.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Organizing the Living Room Zone

This is the month I organize my living room zone. Spring is around the corner and I want my living room fresh and ready. The first thing I do is review my vision for this room. What do we do here? How do we want to feel when we are in this room?

This year things have changed. It is no longer just my vision to consider but a shared vision with my husband, Rob. I start off my day in this room with my coffee and newspaper. Rob and I often end our day on the couch talking, listening to music, or watching TV. This is a good place to sit and look out the window at the birds, squirrel antics, and the passing parade of life. If we are having a light meal, we will often eat here. We entertain our friends in this room. We want this room to be relaxing yet with some visual stimulation, cozy and casual, warm and inviting.

When I organize a zone, I look for any clutter that may have accumulated. Are things placed in this room in an organized and functional manner? Are there things in the room that we no longer need or love? We will pare down our collection of CDs and DVDs. I will evaluate the items I use for entertaining and see if I still feel the need for all of them. We will purge the coat closet of any extra outerwear or anything we no longer enjoy.

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 celebrate with fresh flowers, a candle, and a nice glass of wine with Rob.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pet Organization

I have two cats. Many of my clients have pets as well - cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, even chickens.

Pets can cause almost as much clutter as children. What can we do to help organize this clutter?

  • Food - Designate one area to store your pets' food. Restrict your buying so that you do not have more food than will fit in that space. If you have dry food, it is a good idea to store the food in plastic containers. This helps keep the food fresh and keeps bugs out of the food. If you use cans of food, make sure you rotate the food, putting the most recently purchased food in the back.
  • Litter and bedding or cage material - Designate one area to store these materials and do not buy more material than will fit in this area.
  • Grooming materials - Keep these together in a container near where you use them. If you groom your pets while you are sitting on the sofa, have your materials stored nearby.
  • Meds - Keep pet meds in one container and have it well labeled. This might be in your kitchen area or in your bathroom.
  • Leads, leashes, and "poop bags" - Store these near the door. They can hang on hooks or roll up in a drawer or container.
  • Treats - Store them where you use them. Keep backups in one area of your pantry so that you know at a glance how many types and  the amount you have.
  • Toys - Toys get scattered throughout the house as the pets play with them. Have one container to toss them in when cleaning. I like to keep only a few toys active at a time while others are held in reserve in a closet to rotate out when the pets get bored.
  • Time - Pets take extra time so you will need to reorganize your schedule to accommodate them. Allow time for walks or play time, time for grooming, time for cleaning litter boxes or cages, time for feeding and refreshing water. Put these tasks on a regular schedule and you won't have to worry about when to do them.
Living with pets, like living with children, means that your home will rarely be perfect. Accept that and know that this is just part of the price you pay for the enjoyment of your animal friends.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer