Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Keep Your Desk from Becoming One Big Inbox


I had a client once tell me that his desk was one big inbox and that he really didn't have an outbox. Looking over his desk, he was pretty much right. Unless I was sitting there and sorting papers with him and having him trash, shred, and file, things just accumulated in piles.

Now I understand that people with ADHD characteristics panic when paper is filed or placed where they don't see it. But the truth is that some of that paper has been there so long it has stuck to the desk or fallen behind the desk or is so buried that unless there is some trigger to dig for it, it is forgotten.

Every person has a different comfort zone for clutter and for filing but here are some suggestions:
  • When paper comes into the office, do a quick triage. What is obviously trash or needs shredding? What needs an action soon? What do you want to read and ponder? What ads do you wish to consider?
  • Take care of the trash and shredding right then.
  • Have a landing pad for items needing an action soon.
  • Have a basket for magazines or articles you want to read and ponder. When that basket gets full, acknowledge that you have more than you can handle and either set aside some time to read or dispose of some of the material.
  • Have a folder for ads or upcoming workshops or events that you are considering.
Now this has corralled most of the paper but still very little has really gone away.

Here comes the harder part:
  • Schedule a time to pay bills or check on bill pay. Then immediately file or get rid of paid bills.
  • Weekly, at a scheduled time, take care of any receipts or invoices that need entering or filing. If possible scan these items and get rid of the paper.
  • Take a couple of the items you want to read and ponder and either leaf through them at that time or remove them to another location to read later. After looking through them, dispose of them.
  • Schedule at least monthly a time to leaf through the ads and toss any that you know you don't want or that have expired. Look over any upcoming offerings and see if some no longer appeal to you or have passed their due date and dispose of them.
While you may never get your desk completely clear of paper, do realize that paper has a purpose and when that purpose is complete the paper should go somewhere besides on your desk.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Helping Children Cope with Natural Disasters

All across our country right now it seems like we are having one natural disaster after another. Hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, fires, and floods abound.

These disasters are overwhelming to all of us but can be even more devastating to children. Without really understanding the whys, children can feel scared and insecure. Even children who do not personally experience the trauma but see the events on TV and hear adults discussing the destruction can feel strong emotions. Try to limit the amount of time watching TV where so many traumas are highlighted. After watching TV together, talk about what is being portrayed.

Exposed children may start demonstrating fear or sadness. They may act out or revert to bedwetting, sleep problems, or separation anxiety. For many children, these reactions may be brief but some children may be at risk for psychological distress. This is especially true if they were directly involved and had to be evacuated, lost a pet, or experienced a real life-fearing ordeal. Children that experienced on-going stress by living for a while in a shelter or somewhere else, loss of friends and social networks, loss of personal items, hearing parents worry over unemployment and costs of recovery may be more at risk.

Children's coping skills are often learned from their parents. They can sense adults' fears and sadness. It is important parents and other adults take steps to manage their own feelings and plans for coping because they are the best source of support for their children. One way is to have children become a part of planning before disaster strikes so they know what to expect and have a sense of control. After a disaster include the children in the family recovery plan.

Don't leave children out of discussions. Encourage the children to share their thoughts and feelings. Clarify any misunderstandings. Listen to what the child is saying. If they have difficulty expressing themselves, ask them to draw a picture. Give out a lot of hugs. Calmly provide factual information and plans for safety. As soon as possible get back to your regular routines.

If your child continues to show stress or his behaviors start to cause him trouble at school or with other children, it might be the time to talk to a professional like the child's doctor or clergy. Look for support networks or start one for yourself.

Looking forward, preparing for disasters as a family helps everyone accept that disasters do happen and gives the family an opportunity to collect the resources needed to meet basic needs during and after a disaster. When families feel prepared, they cope better and this includes the children.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Organizing the Shed and Garage

September's cooler days inspire us to organize our sheds, garages, and any other outside storage areas. It's time to put away our summer equipment and muck out the debris that has been tracked in. Even if you do this zone once a year, it can easily get disorganized and cluttered because it is so easy just to open the door and drop something "just for now".

Before you start your project, take a good look at the way it is now. Notice what is working (don't mess with that area) and what is not working. Envision how you want to use this zone. Your vision might include a place to:
  • Park your car
  • Store trash cans/recycling
  • Store gardening tools and accessories
  • Pot or repot plants
  • Work on projects and store tools
  • Store bikes and other sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
  • Store outdoor entertainment supplies
  • Store extra products
Bring everything outside or if this is a large or very filled area, pull stuff out by sections. Sort like with like. Note what is broken or what you have not used in the past year. Get rid of these items or make a note to replace them. Get rid of expired seeds or old chemicals. Give away or sell tools you no longer use. The Tool Bank is a great place to donate tools for community projects. http://toolbank.org

Next decide where to logically place your zones. Items that you use frequently are best stored near entrances. As you group your items in each zone, look for containers to hold small items together. A clear shoebox without the lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold gardening tools. Use shelves, pegboards, hooks, and nails to keep items off the floor. Avoid stacking containers because, for sure, you are going to want something that is in the bottom container. Label containers that are not clear.

Knock down cobwebs, sweep the floor, and start putting things away. You'll be amazed at how much room there is now that all the items have been bunched together and stored away.

Now reward yourself! A hot shower and a cool drink might be just the thing.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer