Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Cautionary Tale

Way back in January, a friend and I each wrote checks for a project we were working on and put the checks in the mail box. These were not checks to credit cards or banks that would have our account information and although we know not to put checks in our mailboxes, sometimes, when rushed, it seems the easiest thing to do.

My friend got slammed right away. There was a call about why a check hadn't come. Then there was a notice from her bank that a large transfer of money went to pay a  credit card (that she did not have) in another state. Later her financial advisor called her and asked if she were planning to move.  Someone had done a change of address for her and now all of her mail (including bank statements and credit card bills) were going to another address out of state. This is just a short story of her hell and it is still ongoing.

It's June now. I thought that for whatever reason, I had dodged the bullet. When my friend started having her difficulty, I did go to my bank and see if I should change may account. We decided to put in warning checks instead. Every day I got an activity statement from my bank and an alert was put on any money transfer over $125. So, a week ago, when I opened my email, there was an alert. Almost $4000 was transferred to Sun Trust Visa (which I do not have). If I had not made this transfer I was to click "here." Being skeptical of anything wanting me to click "here" I went directly to my banking account and yes, there was this transfer - pending. I did contact the bank via phone and told them I had not authorized the transfer. I was at my bank when it opened and discovered that pending just meant it hadn't gone through yet (the transfer was done at 2:00 am) but that it would go. I was assured that I would get the money back but now, of course, I had to change my account. But before I did that, I was to do a thorough virus scan on all my devices, change my passwords, and file a police report. Then I could come back and open a new account. Meanwhile, my account was frozen so I needed to see what outstanding checks had not been cashed and let those people know just to tear them up and I would reissue checks when I could.

Now, I do have a new account. I am still waiting on my new debit card and checks. Both should come soon.

What I have learned:
  • Never ever ever put checks in your mailbox
  • Try to write as few checks as possible
  • 95% of all breaches are due to paper fraud - not electronic
  • When someone has your check, they do not want to cash it - they just want your router number and your address
  • The lag time for me probably meant that whoever stole the checks sold my information to someone else
  • The police file a report but it is not worth their resources to do much else
  • Even though I will get the money back, I lost a great deal of time and because I did not trust myself, I had the expense of having my tech guy to the virus scans
So be careful - very careful.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Monday, June 20, 2016

Celebrate Summer Solstice

Today is the longest day and the shortest night of the year for those of us in the north.

This year we get to enjoy a rare phenomenon: a full moon on the shortest night of the year. The last time tis happened was in 1986 and the next occurrence will be 2062.

In ancient China the summer solstice was the yin to the winter solstice's yang. It symbolized the harmony of life, with the influence of yang reaching its peak and the switch to yin. It was all about finding the balance.

The solstice is celebrated around the world. It is a forerunner of life, fertility, and good harvest. Most celebrations take place outdoors. There are parades, feasts, and bonfires.

The summer solstice is the beginning of summer. It represents the time of fulfillment. It is an excellent time to take stock of your life and check in on how your goals for the year are going. Are you achieving what you desire for yourself and your loved ones? Are you still aligned with your goals? This is a great opportunity to reflect and make any adjustments to achieve your vision.

The summer is a great time to develop you and nurture yourself. The easier nature of summer gives us more time to make greater efforts to lose weight, refresh our house, and find more "me" time.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Impulse Spending Leads to Clutter

You need a pair of shorts. Off you go to your favorite store. You find the shorts and a top that will look great with them. If you buy three tops you will get a better price. The necklace laid out with one of the tops would just finish the outfit. On the way out, you see a pair of sandals you like. They fit perfectly and look nice too. Man, if the shoe fits you'd better stock up. You buy the sandals in five colors.

When you get home and try to squeeze your purchases into your drawers and closet, you notice you have quite a few tops in the drawer with tags still on them.

You want a new shade of lipstick. Your favorite brand is having a sale. If you spend an additional $10, you get this lovely cosmetic bag filled with free samples. So you buy two lipsticks and get the "free" bag. Lovely! This is not such a terrible thing, until you put your bag in your bathroom closet and notice you have about 10 other bags in there - mostly full- of previous "free" gifts.

You go to the grocery store. You have a coupon that will give you $2.00 off if you buy 10 cans of soup. You also buy one bag of salad and get the next one free and there is a package of 25 rolls of toilet paper that looks like such a bargain.

Are we getting the idea? Don't buy what you don't need or love. Free is not always a bargain. Buying something you don't need at a reduced price is not a bargain. Foods that you stockpile will crowd your space and may expire or spoil before they are used. This is not a bargain.

Having space to put your purchases away without overcrowding allows you to keep an inventory of what you have. It also prevents waste and buying items because you have lost track of what you already have.

Don't buy items unless you know how you're going to use them and where you are going to store them.. Impulse spending leads to disorganization and clutter, not to mention a strain on your budget.

Think before buying that next great deal!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Enjoy Your Own Party

I love to throw a party. Parties are a fun way to visit and catch up with a group of friends. I love the good food, laughter, the smiles, the memories remembered and being made.

Even the very idea of giving a party can be overwhelming. But like any big project, it is not so  daunting if you break it down into small, manageable tasks. I always start my plan with a vision. What do I want this party to look like and how do I want myself and others to feel? I usually develop my party around a theme, but the theme could be as simple as "catch up and have fun."

What next? Brainstorm and write down all the tasks that have to happen to make the vision come true.

Items on my list:
  • develop a guest list
  • choose a date
  • send out a save the date email
  • design invites
  • print invites
  • address invites
  • mail invites
  • plan menu
  • spruce up the yard
  • clean deck
  • clean outdoor furniture
  • order any prepared foods
  • decorate
  • make a party grocery list
  • shop
  • prepare food
  • clean house
  • set up food/drink stations
  • enjoy party
When this list is looked at in its entirety it seems overwhelming. But when you break it down over a month's time it's not so bad. You notice that I didn't just say "mail invites" because a lot has to be done before the invites are in the mail. By listing every small step, I only have to look at a small task each time. And don't forget to delegate. I get help with the yard and cleaning. Some of the food on my menu will be ordered (I haven't made a cake or desert since I found this wonderful bakery).

The next very important step is to take your list and write each task on your calendar. Now you have made a commitment and you don't have to worry about how you will ever find the time. You have it scheduled. Leave some wiggle room because the unexpected will happen.

By the day of the party there is little to do but some last minute decorating, some food preparation that couldn't be done earlier, and the laying out of the food and drinks.

When the guests come, you are ready to party!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Organizing Bathrooms and Linen Closet

I use a zone plan when organizing my home. This month I concentrate on the bathrooms and linen closet.

Most bathrooms are small but are also heavily used with many items stored there. Bathrooms can get disorganized and cluttered easily if there is not a shared vision and plan for using the space. To keep clutter at a minimum, only store here what you use daily.

Take a good look at the storage space you have available. What areas are overcrowded? Some of what you are currently storing in the bathrooms may actually be stored somewhere else. In small bathrooms, only store what you need daily or each week, and then if there is room, add other items.

The medicine cabined in a bathroom is not a good place to store medicines. Moisture and heat can ruin some medicines. Medicines can go in bins or on a shelf in the linen closet or kitchen. Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store items that you use regularly like daily grooming supplies. Small baskets or bins are great for makeup and hair supplies. The medicine cabinet may hold toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant, some q tips and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and other hair items can be stored in a container under your sink or in an over the door hanging bag. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items can store under the sink.

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

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

Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth can be stored in a shower caddie inside your shower or tub. Extra back up supplies do not need to be stored in your bathroom.

If you are lucky enough to have a linen closet, keep your extra towels, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and medicines here. Consider storing 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 could have first aid supplies. As you sort through your medicines, get rid of the expired ones. Dispose of them responsibly.

As you organize your linen closet, get rid of excess items. Do you really need 5 partial bottles of body oil, 6 sample soaps, and those free samples that came in the mail? How many towels, sheets, and extra blankets do you really need?

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

To learn more about my Zone Plan click on http://timespaceorg.com/services/.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer