Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Special Place for Gifts

Gift season is upon us. Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, weddings for sure are on our radar. There are always birthdays, baby showers, and hostess gifts to buy. We know well in advance that we need to have gifts for these events.

We might be out shopping and see the perfect gift for our sister's birthday or for a special nephew's upcoming graduation. The event may be months away. Where do we stash the gift until the right time?

A tendency is to stick the gift in a closet or under a bed just because that spot is available. It's not unusual during a decluttering session to find gifts that were meant to be given years ago.

It is a good idea to designate one special spot for all gifts (well, maybe two if you have young children and need to really hide their gifts).

When planning your special spot, consider:
  • What size gifts do you usually buy? - books, clothes, jewelry - or sets of cookware, large games, musical instruments?
  • How secure does your space need to be? - will family members peek? can items be easily stolen?
  • How easy does the space have to be for you to access it? - do you visit this place frequently?
I use a couple of drawers in a dresser in a guest bedroom. When I see something that I really like, I usually have some special person in mind. I purchase the gift, put a sticky note on it with the person's name, and stash it in the drawer. This is especially helpful during holiday times when I can get a bit crazy about buying gifts. Every time I open that drawer, I can see what I already have (really, three nice items for a sister who is easy to buy for and one book for my brother? Sigh!).

Other places I have seen used for storage of gifts are a designated spot in the basement, a closet, the attic, and in under the bed bins.

Do whatever works for you.  Just be consistent.  Happy shopping!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Organizing Closets

Closets are a fairly new addition to our homes. When I lived in Germany, I found that closets were few and usually free standing wardrobes or armoires. I was told that closets were considered a room and increased the tax on the home.

According to Wikipedia, a closet is an enclosed space used for general storage or storing clothes. It wasn't until post WWII that larger closets were introduced into housing to attract wealthy buyers. Today we totally expect closets of all types throughout our homes.

I have found that closets become a great place in many homes to hide stuff we don't want sitting around in our living space. I find items that have been bought and not yet found a home or that need to be returned. I find boxes of mail that have been swept off tables and counters before company comes and never seem to come back out to be sorted and filed. I find broken items waiting for repair. The list goes on. The bottom line is that many closets hide chaos. This is not a happy situation, so what should we do?

  1. Determine the main purpose of each closet. Is it a clothes closet, coat closet, linen closet, utility closet, or an off season clothing closet?
  2. List all other purposes for each closet. Does the closet also hold gift wrap, gifts, suitcases, medicines, back up cosmetics, or paper products?
  3. Develop a vision of how you want the closet to look and how you want to feel when you access the closet. (i.e. I want all items organized and either in labeled bins or aligned so that I can see each item. I want my closet fully utilized but with some space for new items. I want to feel confident when I look into the closet that I can easily find the item I am looking for.)
  4. Develop a brainstorm list of what you need to do to make this vision come true. (i.e. I will sort all like items. I will remove items that don't fit my vision of this closet. I will add shelves. I will purchase bins. I will label shelves and bins.) Your list will match your needs and your vision.
  5. Plan a time for completing your tasks. Write the "do" dates on your calendar.
  6. Actually do the tasks.
  7. Develop a maintenance plan. Some closets only need a real redo every year. The clothes closet might need serious maintenance each season.
Work on one closet at a time until your whole closet system gives you pleasure just to open the door and find what you want.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Me Now vs Me Later

Not long ago, one of my teacher clients proudly told me that she is learning to deal with the "me now" in order to be a happy "me later". I asked her to expand on that. She explained to me that very often the "me now" wanted to walk away from messes in her classroom or a cluttered desk on Friday. In the past she had jut given in to those feelings because after all, she was soooo tired. Now she gives some thought to the "me later". When she comes back into the classroom the next day or after the weekend, how will she feel then? Having forced herself several times now to stay, even though tired, and clean up the room or clear the desk, she acknowledges the great feeling of coming back to a classroom that is organized and ready for the new day.

I thought about how this though pattern can affect us all.

  • I will clean my desk now so that I will feel in control when I have to come back to the desk to work
  • I will plan my menus and grocery list for the week now so that I will not have to scramble every evening this week to figure out what's for supper
  • I will catch up on my laundry now so that I will not have to face piles of laundry later
  • I will pay my bills now so that I don't worry about late fees or missed payments later
  • I will prepare my report/presentation now so that I won't stress over it not being ready later
If every time we are tempted to just throw in the towel and quit because we are tired or frustrated; we stop and visualize how this will make us feel later, I think many times we would just put in that last 30 minutes effort to make the "me later" a happier person.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Plan for Cleaning and Decluttering the Master Bedroom

Spring is a great time to organize and declutter your bedroom. It's great to make clear, clean spaces for the sun to shine in.

When I start to work on any zone in my home, I start with a vision. As I share this room with my husband, it needs to be a shared vision. We want this room to have a calming, relaxing feel and be a place that sparks joy and happiness. We like soft light but still desire enough light for reading. My husband meditates here so the room should have an uncluttered, peaceful feel.

I use the whole month to work on this zone and so divide the tasks into four sections, one for each week. I schedule time on my calendar for myself and for working alongside my husband.

During the first week, Rob and I clean out our dressers. We take out every article and toss out anything that is damaged and put into a donate box anything that does not fit or that we no longer enjoy wearing. I change out my heavier tops that were stored in a drawer with lighter ones that were stored in a bin in the closet. During this process, I clean and wax the dressers, clean the walls, and freshen any accessories.

The next week I organize the closet. Rob stores his hanging clothes in another room, so this is a job I do alone. I pull out all my clothes, sort them, and get rid of all that do not fit either my body or my lifestyle. I also do this for shoes and accessories. The closet also holds my suitcase and will hold the duvet that is currently on the bed.

Week three we will work on our end tables. Over the year a lot of reading material has accumulated. We sort out the items we have read and put back only what we are currently reading. We also empty and clean out the drawers. I will clean and wax the two tables. During this week I will also clean the bed and all bed linens. The duvet will be cleaned and put away for the warm months.

The last week, I finish up anything that has not been completed.

As a reward, I will allow myself a shopping trip to purchase a few items that will replace some of those tossed. Then I will put out fresh flowers and step back and admire our work. We will enjoy the fresh fell of this space!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer