Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Kudos to the Decatur Book Festival

I am excited to be a part of the Decatur Book Festival this coming Labor Day weekend!

According to Daren Wang, the executive director, the book festival will include more than 450 authors, 130 exhibitors and sponsors, and 80,000 booklovers. It is also very impressive that there will be more than 900 volunteers working this venue. The book festival is said to be the largest independent book festival in the United States.

Diane Quintana and I will be part of the Sycamore Family Zone (Organizing for Kids - booth 610) and will also have our 15 minutes of fame (1:45 - 2:00) on Saturday on the Sycamore Family Zone Stage.

When you enter the free festival you will want to pick up the AJC guide. In the guide you will find a map showing the location of the booths and the 18 stages. Each stage has a listing of presenters and the times they are on stage. The Decaturbookfestival.com site has a wealth of additional information.

Show up early so that you can join Bookzilla to kick off the fun each day with the Children's Parade!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dealing with Clutter Overload

You're never quite sure how it happened but over time clutter completely took over an area in your home. At first it was just grandma's china that was put into the room "just for now". Later you had to quickly clear up the other guest bedroom for company and you just scooted some of the projects you were working on into this area. Then it was already a bit of a mess so anytime you didn't know where to put something - in it went.

Now, you want to reclaim the room. You'd like a craft room or a place to keep and sell items on eBay. But the mess is huge. You can hardly open the door. You don't even have a goat path clear across the room. You are overwhelmed and don't know where to start.

When I work with clients I like to use a variation of the Mount Vernon Method. This method involves starting at the door and moving clockwise around the room completely cleaning one area at a time. I use a similar method but do it in two or three sweeps around the room.

On the first sweep around the room we only deal with items that are on the floor. Each item is identified and placed where it belongs. To keep from running all over the house, we set up zones outside of the room. One zone is "belongs in the house but not here". Another zone or stack is "will go back into this room". Then there are the trash, recycle, shred, and donate piles. Sometimes we also have a "leaving the house but going to someone specific" stack. The client is strongly discouraged from going to another area in the room and is always refocused back to the area at hand. The idea is just to keep on moving around the room one step at a time. Depending on how much stuff we have in the piles, about 30 minutes to an hour before quitting time we go to the stacks in the hall and deal with them. Hopefully by this time we have some clear space in the room to stack the items that will eventually live in this room. Items going somewhere else in the home are now taken to that spot. If there is no place to put them at this time, we just put them as close to where they are supposed to go as possible. Trash is taken out right away. Donate and shred piles can either be dealt with right away or held until more of the room is completed.

After we have cleared the floor, we go back around the room and deal with the surfaces of any furniture. We use the same technique. Then we look at what is stored out of sight in the furniture.

The client has a vision of how she wants this room to look and what function the room will have before we even begin. So the last step is placing everything back into the room that supports that vision.

I love the way this works with clients and they can really see their progress after each session.

If you have one of these "rooms of shame" you can get help to keep you focused or you can try this method on your own. A big part of making this work is to break the project down into manageable tasks and sticking to a timeline. Always allow time at the end of each session to clear up the stacks you have placed in the hallway.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How do you want that? Fast, budget friendly, or perfect?


Sometimes I receive a phone call from someone needing an organizing job done and it needs to be done before the end of the month - usually for a move. Great! I'll put together a team......."but I can't afford a team".......Then, we'll do what we can with a rough sort, getting rid of what is obviously trash and then just boxing up the rest by categories.... "but I don't want to move what I don't need and some of this paper I'll need at my fingertips during this process."

Sigh! I am not the organization fairy who can wave a magic wand and make all of this happen. Here are some pointers on what to expect on your project:
  • Fast - You will need a team or just have me move in with you. Teams are usually not more expensive in the overall  picture, in fact, they can really cost you less, but you do need the money now, not spread out over a year.

  • Budget Friendly - This works best when you have a lot of time and can do work by yourself in between each visit. The benefit of this plan is that you learn more organizing techniques and are more in control of the process.

  • Perfect - This plan works for the person who wants a project done that looks like a magazine shoot when we finish. You will want a team with organizer that specialize in skills like redesign, placing art, and closet design. This will be more expensive than the usual team that only has one or two experienced organizers and the remaining organizers that are newer to the profession but great at following directions. This plan will need almost all seasoned organizers and will probably also use some of our organization's associate members.
When you contact a professional organizer to work with you on a project, know what is important to you and communicate that with the organizer during the intake process. That will make the project more successful and more pleasant for everyone involved.

Happy organizing!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Organizing the Garage

Now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it's a great time to organize your garage.

Before pulling out all that stuff onto the driveway, take a good look at what is in your garage now. Why is it there? How did it get there? Do you still need it?

Decide on the functions of your garage. Is one of the functions to park your cars? 82% of homes have two-car garages or larger, but only 15% use them to park the car inside.

Do you keep your lawnmower and gardening supplies in the garage? What about bikes and sports equipment? Do you have a workshop area with tools? Do you keep your recycling bins here? What about a shelf or tow that stores all those extra packages of paper towels or packages of soft drinks? Do you still have boxes of stuff from your last move that have never been unpacked because you have no room in the house?

Once you have decided how you plan on using your garage, divide it into zones. Items that you frequently use outside like yard and garden tools are best stored near the garage door. Items used frequently like recycling bins or overflow storage of house supplies should be stored near the door to the house.

Decide on how much space you can devote to each zone and still have plenty of room to navigate and use each zone. Now you are ready to start pulling things out.

Pick one zone area. Pull everything out of that area and sweep it out. Put back what belongs in that zone and leave anything else on the driveway (or if you are only doing one zone at a time, put the rest near the zone area planned for it). As you put items back, make sure you still need them. Do you really need two hedge clippers? Why are you still holding on to that broken weed eater?

Continue going from zone to zone. Look at the shelving and storage options you have at hand. Is there a better way to store items in the zone? Shelving makes it a lot easier to get to boxes and containers. Using clear containers to keep like items together makes finding them, using them, and putting them away much easier. If it is difficult to get  to an item that you need, the likelihood of getting it put back away is slim to none. If you can't easily see what is in containers, label them.

Once you have completed this task, hopefully you will have room to park at least one car. Your future you (the one coming out to the car on an icy morning) will thank you for taking the time to do this chore now.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Organize Your Laundry Zone

Once a year I really spend time organizing and decluttering my laundry zone. In the past I have found that in August many people return from vacations and the laundry zone gets out of control with backed up piles of laundry. Kids are getting ready to start back to school and have school and sports clothing that need washing. Now is the time to make the laundry zone orderly and efficient.

Laundry zones can be large (a big area in the basement) or small (fold-out doors covering a washer/dryer combo in a closet size area) or somewhere in-between. Depending on the size of the laundry zone this area may have other functions besides doing the wash. If there is room, it makes sense to store ironing supplies in this location. My area is large enough to store pet supplies, recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and some over sized or underused party supplies. All that works for me.

The first step in organizing this zone is to develop your vision. How do you want to use this area? How do you want it to look? How do you want to feel when you are in this zone? Get rid of anything that is now in that zone that does not support the vision. Because my zone is roomy and near the back entry, it is easy to just drop something in there "just for now" because I don't want to take time to put the item where it really belongs. Now is the time to gather up all those items and get them out of this zone.

Cleaning and laundry products can multiply in this space. Products that sounded so promising (will get rid of any stain) or "green" (got rid of no stains) or products that just have a nasty chemical smell or items that got shoved way in the back of the shelf or cupboard that you for got about and then bought another bottle of the little used product are now all taking up precious space and adding to the clutter. Get rid of all of these items and take the ones that are left and group them according to function.

One of my goals in the laundry zone is to keep the laundry moving. I don't want to walk over mounds of laundry. Only bring to the zone the laundry you intend to wash that day. The rest stays in the dirty clothes hampers until you plan on washing them. Get the clothes from the washer to dryer or drying rack as quickly as possible. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their "home". Having a different colored basket for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and take them to the proper room. Have family members put the items away. If an item needs repair or ironing, have a designated place to store those items and then schedule a time to do that task. You should not have your Christmas table cloth in the ironing bin in August.

Keeping up with the laundry is less of 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 schedule to do laundry instead of waiting until an item is needed (Mom, where are my soccer shorts?). An added bonus is that having a well organized laundry space makes it easier for family members to participate in doing laundry.

See picture of one of my family helping out.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer