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