Thursday, June 25, 2015

Plan for Summer Fun

Summer is really here! I love summers. I think this goes partly back to when I was a student and then a teacher and summer was break time. In summer time our schedule usually changes. This may be because kids are home, a vacation is planned, or it is just so hot.
To make this summer really special, let's come up with a plan.

  1. Start with developing a vision. What is most important to you this summer? How do you want to feel? What do you want to do? Do you want more family time? Do you want more "me" time? Do you want that special vacation or a series of day trips? Have a family meeting to get everyone's viewpoint, then make your bucket list. Now prioritize it because you probably can't do it all.
  2. Brainstorm all that has to happen for this summer vision to come true. What family routines will be maintained and what ones can be relaxed? What events need prior reservations? Who will be responsible for the listed tasks? What is the budget?
  3. Sort the tasks on your brainstorm list. Find the ones that are similar. Group those tasks together. For example, if phone calls need to be made to schedule events, write a list of all calls and schedule a time to make them. If outings - to the pool, parks, concerts - are part of your list, put together a basket or container for items needed like beach towels, sunscreen, bug spray, coolers, and summer hats. Have a designated place to keep that container.
  4. Now pull out your calendar. First put in all of the nonnegotiables. Put in all doctor appointments, summer camps, and other prior commitments. Next schedule the fun stuff on your bucket list. Then schedule time to prepare for these fun events. Schedule the time to make calls, pack, shop, etc. Don't forget that even if you are on a relaxed schedule, you still need some time to clean, shop, cook. Look at the schedule now. Is it too full? Have you allowed some down time just to read a book on the deck? When the calendar is complete, post a copy for everyone to see. If something comes up after the calendar is complete, and it will, have another meeting and decide if the new possibility is worth dropping something already scheduled. Remind all family members that if an event or outing is not on the calendar, It isn't going to happen.
No matter what your plans are, visualize yourself having fun this summer. Be prepared to be flexible. Celebrate this lovely season.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Party Perfect Preparation

I love to give parties! It's important to me to have everything in place by party time so that I can also enjoy the party.

When planning my parties, I first set my date, and then look at the guest list, the theme, the menu, and the location.

Date: I try to find a date that I feel will work for most of my friends. I usually avoid holiday weekends like the 4th of July and any weekends that I already know my best friends are unavailable. I chose the date at least 6 weeks out and send out save the date emails. About a month before the party I send out paper invitations.

Guests: Guests are the most important component of the party. I love to invite a diverse group of people who will enjoy each others' company. I usually have a core group of long standing friends and then add some new friends that I think everyone will enjoy. For me, the whole idea of the party is to bring people together to visit.

Theme: The theme holds everything together and makes the planning simpler. The theme determines the invitations, the food, the decorations, and any activities. I feel that having different themes keeps the parties fresh.

Menu: The menu usually follows the theme. I also keep in mind my guests' food preferences and restrictions. I try to see that everyone has at least a couple of items that they can eat and drink. My house is small so I cannot accommodate everyone sitting down to a table to eat. I have a lot of finger foods. I usually have on the menu a mixture of items I prepare and order.

Location: Usually my parties are at my home but I have had some great ones at other locations. When giving a party at my home, I go for "clean enough" so that the board of health won't be concerned but not so clean that open heart surgery can be performed. Good enough is good enough. People are more interested in each other than my home.

Once I have found my date, I put together a timeline. I list every task that must be done before that first guest knocks on my door. Then I put an intended date by each one of those tasks and enter them into my calendar. The timeline is what keeps me sane. I know that there is a lot to do but I also know when I plan to do it.

When the date and time arrives, I am ready to enjoy my party as much as my guests. I do love to give a party!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Organizing Space for a Guest

Now that school is out, more people are traveling. Than means that we are more likely to have guests, either just for an overnight stay on their way to another destination or just to hang out for a few days to visit. Sometimes I know way in advance that guests are coming and sometimes I have very little prior notice. Either way, I love having family and friends come to stay.

It helps to have a plan in place for guests. I am lucky in that I have a spare bedroom (even though it also stores extra office supplies and some off season clothes. Determine now what areas of your guest room/area need the most work and then tweak it from there.
  1. Keep this area decluttered. If you store items in this room, keep the items stored out of sight - in the closet, in the dresser drawers, or if necessary under the bed.
  2. Make this area inviting for your guests. Have a place for them to hang up an outfit. Designate a place they can place their suitcase to unpack. Clean bed linens, extra pillows, and blankets are important. Have items on hand so that you can assemble a guest basket for the room. I always have a washcloth and towel (in a distinctly different color than family), a pain killer, some lotion, and some water and a glass. I add other items depending on the guest. I like to have something on the night stand to read as well.
  3. Add finishing touches that say "welcome." I like to add fresh flowers and perhaps a snack in case they get the munchies in the middle of the night.
The goal is to make the guest feel comfortable and welcome in your home. If you have your plan in place, then you can relax and enjoy their company to the fullest.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bathroom Organization

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, include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that is heavily used and 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. Minimize what you actually store here.

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 are currently storing in the bathrooms may actually be stored somewhere else. In small bathrooms, first store only what you need each week and then, if room permits, add other items.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store items that you use regularly like daily grooming supplies. Small baskets are great for makeup and hair supplies. The medicine cabinet may hold toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant,  and some q tips and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items for your hair can 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 can store 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 cadies 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 pain medicine and cold/allergy medicine. Still another might have first aid materials. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but some can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items responsibly. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day. Check for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep your extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. 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 out 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