Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When to Hire a Professional Organizer

I have had clients greet me at the door with the comment, "My mother would just die if she knew I paid someone to come in and help me with this project." Somehow we just feel that we should be able to do everything ourselves with no support.

Well, I am a professional organizer and I have hired other professional organizers to help me - more than once. I also hire a cleaning person, lawn care, an accountant/CPA, a webmaster/graphic designer. Why should I take on projects that I could do but am not really proficient or projects where I just don't want to spend my time? I am really much better served doing what I do very well and love doing, and hiring out the rest. This way I can devote more time helping my clients.

There are many reasons to hire an organizer. Let me list a few.
  1. You are in way over your head and your therapist has been recommending one for years. You might be a hoarder. You might me suffering from depression. There may be many reasons but a professional organizer can partner with a coach or therapist to give the maximum help and support.
  2. You have a permanent condition that makes it hard to get and stay organized. Clients with ADHD, TBI, or other conditions can reduce stress and anxiety by working with a professional organizer on a regular basis.
  3. You are going through a life event that has thrown you off your organizational game for a while. You may be getting married, going through a divorce, combining families, having children, downsizing, dealing with illness or death. These events take an enormous amount of energy and added stressful tasks on top of living your day to day life. Hiring a professional organizer to get you through this event just makes sense.
  4. You need help in an area that you are not proficient in or that you just hate to do. You hate organizing your computer files or your paper files. You are terrible at laying out an efficient kitchen. You love to look at your photographs but have no idea where to start in organizing them.
  5. You have a couple of projects where you would like a "kick start". You've let that extra bedroom or the basement get out of control over the years. Now, you'd like to reclaim that space but it overwhelms you. you may just need a professional organizer to get you started and then finish it yourself.
  6. You can definitely do the projects yourself but you would like some accountability and support. This is where organization coaching can be useful. I have a Zone Plan Coaching teleclass where I lead groups through projects via group calls and virtual support.
As you can see, there is a wide range of possible ways to use an organizer. What is your reason to give us a call?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From Start to Done

I have a client who last week lamented to me, "I never reach done!" I heard what she was saying. She usually has multiple projects going - some of them ongoing - and she really hasn't benchmarked a place where she can say, "done!"

I show up at her home and we talk about what she wants to accomplish on that session. I get a grocery list of maybe 6 - 8 items (and often items are added as we go). Some items are small and can be knocked out easily. Some items are very important like bill paying. Some items are time sensitive like a new roomer coming in that night. I often feel like we are doing triage. As I left last time, she said, "Make a note that the next time we work on updating my Christmas mailing list."

"But, Suzanne, it's only August."

"Yes, but I plan on getting married soon and this will be the list I use for the invitations."

Ever since that last session, I have been thinking about ways that Suzanne can reach "done."

Let's take this Christmas mailing list as an example.

She has defined the project and we certainly know the motivation. I have helped her once before try to update this list so I know it is not a simple task. She has this list divided into categories - clients, friends, family, old school friends, etc. She has bits and pieces of paper that show changes in addresses, phone numbers, and even changes in names.

I would like her to develop her vision of what the completed project would look like. If this list is going to be updated mainly at this time for the purpose of wedding invites, could there be some sections that could be skipped at this point in time? Only she can answer that.

Then we'll come up with a brainstorming list of what has to happen to reach that vision. Some items could be:
  • Pull the list off the computer and onto a thumb drive or a folder in dropbox so that she can work anywhere
  • Round up all scraps of paper and put them into one container - she might just start with the ones that are easy to find and add others as she comes across them
  • Break the list down into manageable bites
  • Set aside scheduled times to work on this project and nothing else
  • Color code the names of people she might want to have on her invite list
I'm sure she will come up with other items for her list and maybe delete the ones I have listed. This will be her brainstorming list.

Next determine a time that she really wants this finished - i.e. when the invites must be addressed. Then get the calendar out and clearly schedule each benchmark - i.e. update all family members.

At the end of each session she should reward herself and consider this part "done." As part of "done" she puts everything away and clears her space until she has her next scheduled session.

When she has her list the way she wants it, she should set up a maintenance plan. Perhaps each time she gets a change in her list, she puts this change in one container. Then once a year she goes into her list and makes all of those changes.

Now the project is truly done and has a maintenance plan as well.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Maximize Success in the Coming School Year

 I know it seems impossible. It still is summer, but by now almost all children are back in school. This can be an exciting time and a stressful time. Both you as a parent and your child want this to be the best school year ever. Here are some tips to make this happen:

  • Allow plenty of time for morning routines. Give your child more time than you think necessary to get up, get dressed, and have a good breakfast. You don't want to start off school mornings with both of you stressed. This is easier, of course, if everyone had a good night's sleep the night before.
  • Teach your child to be self-sufficient. Certainly at the beginning of the school year you will monitor his school preparations and homework habits but then begin to back off. Also reinforce self-reliance by having him do chores at home as well.
  • Make and keep contact with the school. Meet the teacher early on. At home speak positively about the school and the teacher. Know who else is important at the school for your child - the secretary, administration, nurse, janitor, lunchroom help, and other teachers. If possible, volunteer at the school. There is not better way to know what is really going on than to volunteer. It also shows your child that you think he and his school is important.
  • Don't over commit your time or your child's. Limit after school activities. Allow some down time and time to do things together.
  • Have a communication center that incorporates school activities. Put up a calendar where all home and school events are recorded. Put together a notebook or folder that holds contact numbers, school events, days homework is sent home for review, and any correspondence.
  • Provide a good example. Let your child see you reading and enjoying it. Take a class and let your child see you study. Go to the library together. Do some educational field trips.
  • Have family meetings. Let everyone have a chance to share their wins and concerns. Really listen.
Enjoy the journey!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Organizing the Laundry Zone

August is a good time to tackle your laundry area zone. You may still have some laundry left over from vacation. Depending on where you live, you may be washing and storing your summer clothes - here in Georgia, not so much. You may have new school clothes and sports clothing that needs washing. You want this zone under control before fall season hits.

Laundry zones can be large or small and can be located in many places. Some older homes have a laundry zone in the basement. Some are located off the kitchen. I have seen them in closets in the hall or at the top of the stairs. I have even seen them right off master bedrooms. What you don't want to see are piles of clothes migrating into surrounding areas. Mounds of clothes are not enjoyed by anyone but the family cat.

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the mountain of laundry. It helps to have designated times scheduled to do laundry instead of waiting until an item is needed. "Mom, where are my soccer shorts?"

The idea is to keep laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone, the items you intend to wash right now. Leave everything else in the designated laundry baskets. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their "home."

Some laundry zones (like mine) are also used for other purposes than just doing laundry. I have my cleaning products stored here along with my laundry products. I have ironing supplies, pet supplies, recycling bins and cabinets for entertaining supplies. The important thing is to decide what goes where and keep the different zones from running into each other. What you don't want is something that was just stuck in this zone "just for now."

During this month I look at my cleaning products and toss and consolidate. If I have a product that I am no longer using - out it goes. If I have ended up with two partial bottles of Woolite, I consolidate them. If I have a large container of soap that I store on the floor, I transfer some into a smaller container that is easier to handle. I want everything in this zone intuitive and easy to find and use.

Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry but it certainly will make this task less of a chore.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer