Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Keep That Paper Movin, Movin Right Along


I had one client tell me his office was one big inbox with no outbox in sight. What can we do to keep that paper moving right along off our desk and out of our office?

Try this:
  • Immediately trash/recycle/put in the shred box what you don't need. Be ruthless here. If you don't need more clothes why keep the clothes catalogue at all? If a fancy vacation is not possible now, let the travel ads go. More will come later.
  • Put all magazines and catalogues you are keeping in a basket near where you read. Each month clear out the old editions.
  • All papers you are now keeping need an action. Look at the papers (and yes, that does mean opening the mail) and decide what the first action you must take with this paper. Paper piles build up because you defer making those decisions on the spot.
  • Have action or desktop files ready. This is where those papers will go. You might label your files "read", "pay", "file", "pending", or "contact". What labels you use will depend on what actions are needed for your kept paper.
  • Know that the action referred to in "action files" is not the action of putting the paper into the files. You must schedule a time to pay bills, make contacts, and follow up on pending items. Schedule times on your calendar to do the actions that the folders demand. Don't let papers live there forever.
  • Set up idea folders for those papers you keep that are not immediate actions. These folders might include vacation ideas, landscaping ideas, party or home decorating ideas. At least yearly, clear out what no longer interests you. These folders can live in a file drawer or in a bookcase.
  • Use project bins. These bins are for ongoing projects. Designate a bin for each big project (daughter's wedding, book you're writing, etc.). Some smaller projects can go into folders within a bin. I use folders for business ideas or organizations I attend. With project bins, you pull out what you need to work on and as soon as you are finished or out of time, you sweep it all back into the bin.
  • Keep regular files (insurance, car, medical) updated and cleared out.
Following these habits will help you maintain a clear desk, office, and a clearer mind. Getting rid of the piles of paper that scream "Look at me!" when you are working on something else keeps you from getting distracted.

Let's keep that paper movin' right along and to its final destination. No more paper pile ups!




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Bargain or a Hook?





Everyone loves a bargain! A word of caution, many bargains are not really bargains but just clever advertising. Some examples:
  • "Buy this and receive a gift!" Cosmetic companies are really good at this one. "Purchase $55 or more on cosmetics and receive a free gift bag." You really like their foundation for $39.50 and you find yourself looking for something else you might use just to get that cute gift.

  • "It pays to stock up! Earn a $10 gift card every time you buy $50 in participating stocking spree items." Example items - 12 mega or 24 double rolls package of paper towels, buy 2 family size cookies, buy 2 bottle of dressing etc. But wait, I've only spent $23. What else can I buy? You end up buying items you don't really need and don't have adequate space to store just for a $10 gift card.

  • "Free shipping when you buy $75 or more!" You love that blue blouse. It costs about $49. Standard shipping/processing charges will add $11.99. You find yourself leafing through the catalogue looking for something $26 or more. You end up ordering some socks or underwear that you really don't need to save on the shipping.

  • "Everything a dollar!" What a deal! Or is it? Many times big-box retailers can actually be a better buy in quality and price.

  • "Winter sale! Everything 50% off!" A couple of things here. Those same items were probably marked up for the holidays and 50% off of something you don't need or love is not $75 dollars saved but $75 spent for something that will just sit on your shelf or hang in your closet.
Am I telling you to never grab that bargain? Of course not. You should shop a bargain when it is something you really need, love, and have a place to put it away. Just know what you are doing and why.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Teach Young Children Organizational Skills


As parents we sometimes assume that some life skills are absorbed just because we model them and the children are living in the home. And sometimes that worked but not as well as if we actually taught them these skills. After all, we taught them how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We didn't expect them to know how to do this just because they observed us.

So what are some of the organizational skills you can teach young children?
  • Break large projects down into smaller easier parts. Don't tell children, "Clean your room." Instead tell them, "Pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper." Then when that task is complete, "Put away your clean clothes." And then, "Put your books on the shelf."
  • Sorting. Younger children will do a broader sort than older children. A sort category for younger children might be putting all the legos into one tub. Older children will probably sort their legos into finer categories. Younger children might sort all dirty clothes into one hamper while older children might separate whites from colored clothes or heavy duty wear from delicates.
  • Culling. When a toy has become broken or is no longer used or loved, teach the children that it is time to let that item go. Don't do it without the children being part of the process. Explain that they are no longer using something so it should either be thrown away if no one else would want it or given away if another child will enjoy it. The same goes for clothes,  books, or any other item the child owns. Do be sensitive though that some items may have sentimental value. If that is the case, start a memory box with them.
  • Everything has a place. Every item the child owns should have a place for it to go when it is not being used. Because you want the child to put his own things away, make the designated places easy to access. Keeping fewer items makes it easier to put things away.
  • Reward yourself for a completed project. These rewards do not have to be big. It could be a story read to them or some phone time (to brag) with Grandma. It could be a sticker on a chart. Just do some little thing to show completion and satisfaction of a job well done.
Let me end with some words of caution. You are teaching these skills. It is an ongoing lesson. Do not expect perfection. If the child puts his clothes in the bin and some hang out a bit, praise him for putting the clothes away. Do not tuck that article of clothing back in the bin. If the bed is made but not straight, do not straighten the covers. If the box of legos is put on the shelf crooked, do not straighten the box. If you correct what he has done while he is learning these skills, he will feel that his efforts have not been good enough.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Organizing the Spare Bedroom of Bonus Room

Most of us are lucky enough to have that extra room dubbed as the Spare Bedroom, Guest Bedroom or Bonus Room. Often these rooms have multiple purposes. I have seen them used as offices, craft rooms, play rooms, exercise rooms, storage rooms, and even as dedicated guest bedrooms.

In February I work on my "Spare Bedroom" zone. I choose this month because last month I organized my office and a lot of stuff purged from my office landed on the bed, floor, and dresser of the spare bedroom. Now it is a disaster.

My spare bedroom has multiple functions. It has a closet that is used for offsite office storage (and it is packed full). There is a dresser that holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. This room also holds a secondary cat box as well as a cat condo and a cat bed. When overnight guests arrive, this is their room (and the cat stuff is temporarily put into my office).

I want this room to have an open and inviting space for guests. I want all items stored in this zone to be out of sight but easily accessible. I want to feel drawn to this room and feel calm and happy when I enter.

To make this vision come true, during this month I will clean out and reorganize the closet. Files will be updated and some truly archival files will head for the attic. I will toss out or donate items that I have saved but now no longer need or love. Since I have a lot of pictures and memorabilia in the closet, I will open each box and scrapbook, have a remembrance time, toss some items, label some more items, and return the rest to the containers. I feel if I want to keep this memorabilia, I ought to honor it and look at it at least once a year.

I will clean out every drawer in the dresser and designate zones within the drawers. I will probably decide that 3 heavy sweaters stored there are about 2 too many and that some holiday clothing is no longer loved. This will open up space for any new item.

By the end of the month, I will have this guest bedroom matching my vision for the upcoming year. I will celebrate by putting fresh flowers on the dresser.

For help in setting up your zones, sign up for my Zone Plan Coaching Teleclass (jonda@timespaceorg.com) or purchase my workbook - From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home (available on my website www.timespaceorg.com).


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer