Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Importance of Maintenance


You've done it! You finally finished organizing your (fill in the blank - files, pantry, closet, etc.). It feels so good! You are glad the project is finished.

But wait a minute. It is really not "finished". It needs a maintenance plan. Just like laundry or dirty dishes are not "done" forever, neither is your finished project. When you finish working on any organizational project you need a plan to keep it organized.

Let's look at some examples:

  • If you have finished setting up your filing system and everything is now filed neatly away. You need to have a plan in place to keep those files working. When paper comes in, it should go in a file immediately - do not lay it down on your desk "just for now". Papers should either be trashed, shredded, or filed. If you don't have time to do more than a rough sort now, have in place a landing pad and schedule a time to work on emptying it. At least yearly have a time scheduled to go through your files and empty out what is now redundant or not needed.
  • Your pantry is beautiful! All expired foods have been disposed and your goods are nicely lined up, in containers, labeled, and reachable. Now, every time you come home form the store, put all your pantry items away correctly. Don't just put them in the pantry wherever there is a space. Have all the soups in one space, all canned fruit, all pasta, etc. It should look like the shelves at the store. If you bought a can of tomato soup and you already have a can of tomato soup, the new can should stand behind the old one, so your foods are rotated. At least once a year, schedule a time to take items out of your pantry, clean it out, and check expiration dates.
  • Your bedroom closet is a sight to behold. All blouses are arranged by short sleeve and long sleeve. Your slacks are hung by color. There is space between hangers. Lovely! Now, take a moment and turn all your hangers backwards. The first time you wear an item, turn the hanger to the correct position. This way you keep track of what you are actually wearing. When you buy a new item of clothing, consider getting rid of something you already have. When laundry is done, hang up what goes into your closet in the correct place right away. When you take an item out of the closet to wear, put the empty hanger to one side of the closet. Once or twice a year schedule a time to reorganize and clean out your closet.
I recommend using a zone plan for maintenance on your whole home. This keeps you from zig-zagging around with your projects. Divide your home into zones and schedule one zone for each month. 

I offer a teleclass to help you with this process. Check out htttp://timespaceorg.com/teleclass/.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Organizing Your Storage Areas

In September the weather starts to cool down a bit. We put away our summer equipment. This is a fantastic opportunity to organize this storage space. It might be your workshop, garage, or basement. It is such a temptation to go in and just dump the stuff "just for now". Soon you find the area disorganized, cluttered, and difficult to move around in.

Before you begin on this project, take a good look at the way it is now. Look at what is working (don't mess with that area) and what is not working. How do you plan to use this zone? Do you plan to:
  • Park your car
  • Store trash cans/recycling
  • Store tools and accessories
  • Pot or repot plants
  • Work on projects and store tools
  • Store bikes and other sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
  • Store entertainment supplies
  • Store extra products
Now bring the things outside. If it is a small area do it all at once but if it is a large area or very filled, do it by sections. Sort like with like. Note what is broken and what you have not used in the past year or two. Get rid of those items. Throw away expired seeds and old chemicals. Give away or sell tools you no longer use.

Next decide where to logically places your zones. You want to place items that you use frequently near entrances. As you group your items in each zone, look for containers to hold small items together. A clear shoebox without a lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold small 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 out of that bottom container. Label all containers that are not clear.

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

Reward yourself. A hot shower and a cool drink might be just the thing.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Paper Management - Part 2: Filing

Try as hard as we can, we still have a lot of paper that comes into our homes. If we are not vigilant, it will stack up on our counters, tables, and desks. It will add clutter to our lives and it will be hard to locate that paper that is really important (I know my license renewal paperwork is in here somewhere).

Having a filing system that works for you is key to keeping those surfaces uncluttered.

Let's start with setting up a desktop file or action file. This is where most of the current incoming paperwork will probably land. The concept is that each piece of paper requires an action even if that action is to throw it away. Your files will separate the papers by the action required. Likely file headings are "Pay", " Do", "Contact", "Pending", "Read", "File". If you take all the paper that has come in this week, it should fit into one of the files. If you have something that does not fit there, ask yourself, "What action is necessary?" and make another file. The goal is to have no loose papers on any surfaces.

I usually have some projects that I am working on. These generate paper. I may have some research, a draft, or ideas for the projects. I use project bins for this type of paper. When I am working on the project, I pull out the papers and when my work time is up, I shove the papers back into the bin.

Then there are the other bits of paper we might keep that don't fit into those categories. I have envelopes in my desk drawer for receipts that I need to keep. I have a plastic envelope in the kitchen for coupons I might use. I have files near my cookbooks for recipes. I have some files in my bookcase for special interests (exercise, landscaping, decorating).

I also have a file where I store all house related information, warranties and directions for household items.

Then we also have our permanent basic files where we keep our financial papers, insurance, vital records, medical records, tax papers and so forth. We also have files for archival papers such as past taxes, old property sales, bank records, military paperwork, or any paperwork that we rarely need but want to find if necessary. Archival files do not have to be handy so they can be stored in the top of a closet or in the attic.

The purpose of files is to keep paper from stacking up and to make paperwork easy to locate. The files should be easy to use and access or you will find yourself laying down that paper "just for now."

Start with your most recent stacks of paper and see what action you need to take. Soon you will enjoy your open spaces on your surfaces that were once covered in paper.




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Paper Management - Part 1: Reduce the Influx

The influx of paper into our homes on a daily basis can be overwhelming. We get more mail in a single day than our grandparents got in an entire year! If you hold on to even half of it, you have the makings of a serious paper crisis on your hands.

And paper comes to us in even more ways than through the mail. There are the papers you bring home from the doctor's office, from your church, from meetings, or school. There are ads you pick up and receipts you bring home. There are magazines and promotion material and business cards. If you live anywhere long enough, these items can really pile up.

How can we control this avalanche of paper?
  1. Mail - reduce your junk mail     
  • http://www.directmail.com/mail_preference/
  • https://thedma.org/resources/consumer-resources/ - started in 1917, the Direct Marketing Association has made it possible to opt-out of mailing lists through its Mail Preference Service
  • www.Catalogchoice.org - a free service that sends merchants your catalog opt-out request on your behalf
  • www.optoutprescreen.com - to keep your name off prescreened lists which will cut down on credit card offers
  • https://www.charitynavigator.org/ - will help you evaluate charities and when combined with Direct Marketing Association can help you opt out of getting some of the donation solicitations 
We enjoy some of the mail that comes in like letters and cards and perhaps some of those catalogs. But enjoy them and then let them move on. Of course, some cards and letters you may wish to keep, so place them in your memorabilia box but don't keep them all. I have seen clients with trunks and dressers filled with old cards, many of them with no special notes but just a signature.

Some bills will come in and those you must deal with but consider paying on line and after paying a bill, decide if you really need to keep the bill.

   2. Items you pick up and bring home - do you really need it and what do you plan to do with it?
  • Recipes - I strongly suggest that if you bring a recipe home, you try it out within a week to see if it is worth filing away
  • Coupons - know yourself - are these coupons you will really use and how do you plan to keep up with them? - each time you look through your coupons, discard any that have expired
  • Special interest material - if you are collecting information on interests like health, home decorating, landscaping, or vacations - plan a special place to store them and at least once a year look through what you have saved and purge the ones you no longer need
  • Receipts - know why you have kept them - if it is something you plan to return, keep it with the item - is it for something you will get reimbursed for? A charge you want to keep until you reconcile your charge statement? A business expense? A large purchase for your home? Have a plan for storing those you feel you need to keep and let the rest go.
  • Business cards - let go immediately the ones you no longer want - pull information from others by scanning or entering the information into your phone
  • Magazines - read them within the month and let them go - if you can't find time to read them, stop getting them
  • Computer print outs - read them and then decide what action needs to happen - then either do the action or let the print out go
Bottom line - a lot of the paper clutter we have lying around is there because we have not taken the time to decide on what to do with it. It is a deferred decision. Don't let any of this junk paper linger. It will make it so much easier to find the papers that are really important if the unimportant is gone.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Priorities - Friends and Family

Our lives are busy, and it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day business and forget to carve out time for the things that are important to us.

For me, family and friends rank right up on the top. I schedule times to visit my children and my siblings. I schedule time to visit with friends. Probably not enough but I do make a regular effort.

This past weekend we really got it together and had an 80th birthday party for my husband, Rob. His family pulled out the stops and came from as far away as Texas. Both of his sons and his step-daughter plus many grandchildren attended. A lot of Rob's friends also attended including one couple who came all the way from Ohio for his party! This get-together took a lot of effort for a lot of people but was so worth it. It was a good reminder that taking time to keep strong relationships with our family and friends really pays off.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Organizing Tips for Your Laundry Zone


Laundry zones can be large (a big space in the basement or a room off the kitchen) 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 those ironing supplies plus pet supplies, recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and some oversized party supplies along with the laundry necessities.

The first step to organizing this zone is to develop your vision. How do you plan on using this area? What is working and not working now? How do you want it to look? How to you want to feel when you are in this zone?

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well-organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the never-ending influx of dirty clothes. The idea is to keep the laundry moving and never piling up.

Next, brainstorm a list of tasks you need to accomplish for your laundry zone to match up with your vision. Because my zone is roomy and near the back entry, it is easy to drop something in that room "just for now" because I don't want to take the time to put the item where it really belongs. Now is the time to remove all items that don't belong - that don't fit the vision. Also, on my list I plan to cull out cleaning and laundry products that are stored there. Products that sounded so promising (will get rid of any stain) or "green" (got rid of no stains) or products that have a nasty chemical smell or items that are duplicates should now all leave. These all add up to clutter. I have a space here for ironing and mending. I should not have my Christmas table cloth in the ironing bin in August and it is definitely time to schedule time to mend the waist band of that pair of black pants that has lingered in the mending area for almost a year.

Once your list is complete, get out your calendar and schedule a time for each task. Mark in your calendar what day you plan to pull out the washer and dryer and clean behind them. When are you clearing everything off the floor and cleaning it? Keeping up with the laundry is less of a chore with a well-organized space. An added bonus is that having an organized space makes it easier for family members to participate in doing laundry.

Work on a maintenance schedule. This room gets used a lot so have a scheduled time to bring out form hampers the dirty clothes and do your laundry. Get clothes from the washer to the dryer or hanging racks as quickly as possible. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their "home". Having different colored baskets 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.

Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry, but it will certainly make it less of a chore.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Closing the Loop - Completing the Task

A lot of clutter in your environment may well come from not completing tasks.

When you work on any project, you want to see the job completed and then put away.

Marilyn Paul in her book, It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys, talks about the rhythm of organizing. This rhythm is cyclic. With any task you first get ready for action, you then take the action, this causes a natural disorder, and then you need to restore order. Many people do not do that final step and so have a series of natural disorders building up in their environment.

I come into homes and see piles of laundry both clean and dirty. Those piles are there because tasks were not completed. Dirty clothes are washed, dried, and maybe even folded but the final step of putting the clothes away is not done in a timely manner and so a bit of clutter begins to accumulate. Or a person has a closet with clean clothes and they dress for the day. The clothes get dirty. They may make it into a hamper at the end of the day but then the dirty clothes pile up and cause clutter.

I love to cook and prepare meals from scratch. I am good about getting out the materials and prepping the food and cooking it. What I am not so good at is immediately cleaning up from my cooking mess. I will do it (if my husband doesn't do it first), but not immediately. So for a while there is clutter in my kitchen.

The same holds true for paper tasks. You pull out your bills or a bank statement or a project you are developing. You complete the task or at least complete a part of it but then you push the paper aside and leave it out on your work area. Now your desk is cluttered and it is harder to do the next task.

I put the challenge out to you. Look around your home and see some hot spots where clutter is building up. Could this clutter be there just because you did not complete a task? The trick to controlling this clutter is to complete each task before beginning another one.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Controlling School Paperwork





It's back to school time already. School generates a lot of paper even though more and more of it is on line. Plan for the onslaught of paper now. Have in place a plan to store the needed paper before the paper starts to build up.

You will likely receive:
  • General school information such as a school calendar and a calendar of events, papers with school hours, rules, fees, sports information, contact information, PTA news
  • Welcome letter from your child's teacher with her information
  • List of needed school supplies
  • Lunch schedule
As the school year progresses, student work and art will also pour in as well as updates on festivals, field trips, and special programs.

Some parents do very well with having a notebook for each child that holds school information and schedules as well as report cards. Some parents prefer to scan the forms and reports and keep them on a folder on their computer. A bin or folder is helpful to keep up with graded papers and art work.

Always keep graded school work until the end of each grading period. If there is a question about a grade, you have something to carry into the conference. At the end of each grading period, cull most of the work keeping only the best.

When the school calendar comes in, immediately put important dates into the family calendar. You don't want to be surprised when there are teacher workdays, early dismissals, or field trips.

When the first general information comes, put into your phone important contact numbers such as the main office, the guidance counselor, or the nurse. Put titles into the contact list as you may not immediately recognize the name (Nurse Sara Nightingale).

Set up a plan for all incoming paper your child carries home. Have a landing pad or active folder for all papers that you need to see such as field trip permission slips, picture day schedule, and item requests. At the beginning of the year, each day ask your child, "Do you have anything that needs to be put into the basket or file for me to look over?". As the school year progresses you can fade out the questioning and let your student become independent. 

Most schools have planners where the children log in their homework assignments. If the school does not have one, it is a good idea to purchase one anyway. At the beginning to the school year, check the planner daily. Have a calendar at your child's study area where he can learn to schedule projects that take more than one evening. Weekly clean out the backpack and put all graded work and art into the bin.

The year will run so much more smoothly if you start off with a good paper plan. 



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Back to School - Have a Plan



It's hard to believe that here in Georgia where temps are up into the 90's that the new school year is about to start. Schools are opening the first week in August. So, even though it feels like summer, make a plan to have the transition into this school year the best one yet!

  1. Set the stage.
  • Have a positive attitude. Don't go on about how hot it is and how you can't believe they are starting school. Don't express any worry or doubts you might have (I know that third grade is tough) but play up the positives (I understand they are teaching a unit on space study this year).
  • Take away the fear of the unknown. If your child is going to a new school, visit it ahead of time. Find out schedules and the teachers names and talk it up in positive terms.
  • Teach by example. Let your child see you enjoy reading, learning, and enjoying new experiences like art exhibits, concerts, or museums. 
  • Allow time for morning routines. Plan for extra time in the mornings to get ready. This is easier if bedtime is also earlier.
  • Encourage your child to be self-sufficient. Have him do chores at home, develop checklists, have him prepare his clothes and backpack before going to bed.
2. Develop good study habits.
  • Set aside a designated study area.
  • Plan the best times for schoolwork. Know his peak times and his schedule.
  • Have a calendar in place to show special activities, appointments, and study times.
  • Chunk up big projects so they are not so overwhelming and so your student can say "done" more often.
3. Organize school materials.
  • Obtain and use a planner. In the beginning check the planner with your student every evening and morning. Then encourage your child to do this on his own.
  • Synch the planner with the calendar.
  • Organize notebooks, folders, and binders so they are easy to use and find. Color coding for different subjects helps.
  • Organize and minimize study supplies so they are easy to carry to school and use at home. Check the school supply list. Avoid buying "fun" items that are a distraction.
  • Choose the best backpack for your child. Check if the school has any restrictions before buying.
  • Set up a file at home for all returned and graded school papers. Keep all papers until grades come out. If the grade lines up with what you have, then purge most of the papers only keeping ones that show growth or creativity.
4. Individualize study to suit your child. 
  • Know your child's learning style. Is he a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Use his strengths to help him learn new material.
  • Make learning real. Use new skills in real life settings. Use math to shop or cook. Use reading to follow directions or enjoy a funny story. Use writing to make lists or write a letter.
  • Set up the best study environment for your child. Discover if he works best alone and with quiet or in the hubbub of the kitchen where others are around.
For fun, start a "back to school" family tradition. Have a cookout before the first day of school or have a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop. Talk about the fun and excitement of the upcoming school year. Have a surprise wrapped up for the children to open when they come home from school on the first day.

Let this be the best year ever!




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer Time is Party Time

I love to throw parties and I am doing two parties this summer. One this weekend and one next month. when I tell people that I really enjoy hosting a party I get a variety of responses - everything from "You must be crazy!" to "Me, too!" A lot of people fall into the "Well, I'd like to give a party, but I just don't have the ______" (fill in the blank with time, money, energy, etc.).

If you think you would like to throw a party but are worried about all that it entails, consider these points:
  • Visualize. What would your ideal party look like and how would you want to feel? Would you be happiest with an impromptu affair that would involve people dropping in and bringing a dish - either at your home or at a park? Are you more comfortable with a planned party where you are in control of the food and you know in advance how many people are coming? Would you like a sit down formal party that you either host in your home or in a restaurant?
  • Choose a date. Unless you are doing the impromptu party and who shows up is not important, you will want to give people enough warning to keep the date open. I usually send out a save the date email about six weeks before a party. I may check with my besties to see what dates would work for them before deciding on the date.
  • Brainstorm what needs to happen to make this party a fun one for you as well as for your guests. Write down everything you can think of. This list can be edited later.
  • Develop a time line. This is what makes giving a party fun for me. I take my list which includes such things as getting my yard up to snuff, having my house clean, as well as a menu and decorations. I may have 20 or more items on this list but if I spread out the tasks, none of them are overwhelming. When I have every task scheduled on my calendar, I can relax knowing everything will be great.
  • Enjoy your party! On the day of the party don't overdo. Be ready to roll with whatever happens and know that when your friends start to show up it's time your you to enjoy their company.
If you are interested in having a peek at my party timeline, send me a request via email (jonda@timespaceorg.com) and I will send you a sample.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Organizing Projects for the Summer

Summer is here, and it is hot outside. Our energy level is lower, and we would love to just relax with a book and a cold drink. It is a difficult time to get excited over big organizing projects. Still, we don't want our home to backslide.

Summer is a wonderful time to work on a few hot spots instead of big projects. Walk through your home and note a few things that could use some work. Maybe the towels in the linen closet are all askew. That cutlery drawer in the kitchen is a mess. You know some of your cosmetics need to be tossed. You're pretty much keeping up with bills, but filling has fallen behind. Make a list of some of these small projects that could be either knocked off or improved in an hour or less.

Choose one day a week - say "Let's get started Monday!" or "Let's wind it down Friday!" and schedule an hour to do one of these projects on your list. It is amazing how good it will make you feel that you have accomplished this small project and how much fun it will be to reward yourself with that cold drink and a delightful book.

Happy summer!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Importance of Taking a Vacation

Our work and our life style often leave us tired and a bit stressful. Getting away for regular vacations lets us leave our everyday stress and gives our bodies and minds a break. The change in our routine and getting more rest helps our body recharge.

For me, vacations allow me to spend more time taking care of myself. I tend to walk more, eat foods that are more varied, and have more down time to read and rest. I feel healthier.

When I return from a vacation, I feel I can focus and concentrate better. I get a clearer perspective on projects I have been working on. It helps me revisit my priorities and just step back and look at what is really important.

The time away from home is also good for strengthening family relationships. My husband and I have more quality time together and this last trip also included other extended family that I had not seen for a some time.

Vacations are fun! They make me happy. Not only am I happy during the vacation but also during the preplanning and imagining and then the looking over pictures and recapping the experience with my husband.

Do yourself a favor. Make yourself a priority and take some time off. It can be a long vacation abroad or just a long weekend away from home. Enjoy!


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Organizing the Bathroom and Linen Closet

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your house but it is also one that is heavily used and holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a plan for how you want to use this place and how you want it to look. Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Think about what you use daily in this zone. You may not have room to store back up supplies, first aid items, or cleaning materials.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store the items you use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. Use a bin, small basket, or drawer for cosmetics you use almost daily. A medicine cabinet above the sink can store toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for hair might be stored in a container under the sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink.

If you have drawers or shelves, designate each area as a container for like items. One drawer or basket might hold everyday make up, another might hold eye products, and a third hair products, etc.

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

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both places are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting 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 Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items responsibly. Do not toss medicines in the trash and Never flush them into our water system.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store any duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don't need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

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

When you have your bathroom organized and decluttered, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Then the next time you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Cautionary Tale for Professional Organizers


I was doing a phone consultation with one of my clients the other day and we were talking about things we should not tolerate. Out of the blue came "I don't like working with organizers."

Whoa! Where did that come form? Had I done something that hurt her?

Well, as it turns out it was not me that set this off but some of her other experiences but as I listened and made notes, some of what she said hit home - especially in my early career.

Here's her list:

  • They don't really listen to what I want to happen in the session. If I am asking for help in finding homes for my belongings, I am not asking them to purge or mess with things that are already working. If I already have a home for many of my items, it is not right for them to move those things. For example, I have some tools and household items stored on some small shelves in my bedroom closet. These shelves are even labeled. Why would they spend their time going through and rearranging those items?
  • They argue. If they suggest I need to toss something (and remember, we were not even talking about purging) and I say I want to keep it, they continue to push their point. They say things like "if you are not using it now, toss it" or "how many calculators or pairs of jeans do you really need?' or "if you are not going to mend that now, you should just toss it". I feel they are not really listening to me and are disrespectful of my wishes.
  • They don't respect my values. If I indicate that I recycle then they should not toss recyclables into the trash. After the organizers left I noticed my glass jars for recycling were missing. This made me mad, so I crawled through the dumpster to retrieve them. While making this dig, I also noticed some small toy pieces from my child's toys and some paper that was mine. Now I can't find a check from my mother and my season pass to the aquarium and I wonder.....
  • They insult me. One organizer suggested that I paint a piece of furniture with slate paint. It was my grandfather's chair. I felt she had insulted me and my furniture. She was not invited into my home to do interior decoration but just to help me clear the clutter.
  • They don't take ownership of their mistakes. When I talked to one of the organizers about my dissatisfaction, she said that she was sorry for the miscommunication. If feel that I was very clear on my communication. 
Now, I am not so naïve as to suggest that this was all the organizers fault. We all know that there are two sides to every story. but the scary thing was that I have said some of these things myself and I wonder if I have upset clients but they were just not willing to confront me.

So, if you are an organizer, read this and see if any of it resonates. If you are a client, read this and know how important it is that as you work with us and things are not going the way you envisioned, that you stop us right then and there and tell us what you are experiencing. The last thing we want to do is hurt someone or be disrespectful. 


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Elderly and Clutter

Sometimes I help empty out houses of deceased parents. The children left behind are often astonished at the amount of clutter left behind. This accumulation does not really fit with the mother or father they knew growing up. They wonder what happened.

Possible reasons for clutter in the elderly:
  • They are weaker physically
As parents age, they often develop physical difficulties that they might not share with their children. It is harder for them to move around. Putting things away may be difficult so they leave the items out on the table or counter "just for now". They may think they are going to get better and they have visions of giving parties and entertaining again, so they continue to buy and keep cooking paraphernalia that they never will use. They may have difficulty doing laundry and when the laundry becomes overwhelming, they may just order new clothing. During the holiday seasons it is easier to just buy a few new decorations rather than pull down and use what they already have.
  • They don't see the clutter
The buildup of clutter may come slowly over time. They adjust to what is in their home and stop seeing it as clutter. The same may be true of odors that have developed because cleaning is now more difficult. If they were shown a picture of their living area, they would probably be surprised.

  • They have mental issues
They may forget that they have items and so continue to buy more of what they already have in abundance. As dementia sets in they also forget to put things away, eat properly, and take care of other living skills. Things accumulate around them. Anxiety and depression are also common in the elderly. They may shop just for the social contact. They may worry about not being able to get what they need later so they overbuy now.

  • Fear of want
Because they are on a fixed income and no longer have a regular paycheck, they worry that their money will run out. When they see a good deal on canned food, light bulbs, soaps, paper products, they buy in bulk. There is not usually a good place to store all these products, so they are placed here and there, often on the floor. If an item becomes broken, they hold on to it with the idea that it can be fixed someday.
  • Gifts
Perhaps the parent was once a great cook and loved to throw parties so still now they are gifted with cookbooks and cooking paraphernalia they do not need. They may get gifts of throws for the couch, scented soaps, or because they loved dogs, figurines, pictures, and books about dogs. The parent does not want to give away or throw away someone's gifts, so they just accumulate. 

There are many reasons why the clutter accumulates but the crucial point is that children should be in contact with their parents and go to their homes to visit. Having parents come to their home or going on a cruise with them will not tell the whole story. 



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Zone Plan: Organizing Your Entry Hall



I work with a Zone Plan to organize and deep clean my entire home. In the spring I like to concentrate on my back-entry hall and one storage wall in my laundry room. Although most of my guests enter through the front door, there are times when they do come through the side door off the car port plus this is where the family usually enters so I want this area to be warm and welcoming. I want this area to make people smile when they enter my home. I have hung and placed whimsical art in this area just for fun. This is also an area where incoming and outgoing items are held. Current outerwear is left here on hooks. Cloth grocery bags, when unpacked after a grocery run, are hung here until the next person makes a trip to the car. Outgoing mail is laid on the bench until the next run to the post office. While this is a staging area for incoming and outgoing items, nothing is allowed to stay long. At the most items may linger a day or two. The vision is to have fun accessories and not clutter in this area. Right outside the door there are two planters and a whimsical frog to welcome you.

The storage hall in my laundry has many purposes. I have an elfa wall unit to hold overflow from other areas of my home. This one wall holds entertainment supplies, recycling bins, a cat box, extra litter, bird seed, tool kits, cleaning products, extra file crates from the office and a hanging rod for clothes taken from the dryer. What a hodgepodge! Surprisingly, this zone works well. However, as I go through this zone, I look closely at what is there. I am sure some of the items can be purged, like that container of cat food the cat will no longer eat. Some items get dumped in here that really belong in the storage shed so now is the time to move them to their final destination. When I am finished, there will be less clutter and more open spaces.

At the end of the month, I will reward myself by buying some blooming flowers to place in the pots outside the door.

For more help on organizing your space, order my workbook, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.
http://timespaceorg.com/order_book.php


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Friday, April 20, 2018

Priorities




Your life is very busy. You don't know how you'll get it all done. Your calendar is booked months out. And then you get the phone call from a close friend's daughter. She wants to give a surprise birthday party for her mother - in a few weeks and in a town 5 hours away!

What do you say? You say, "Wonderful! How can I help?".

Friends are one of the most important resources that we have. I got together with other friends from my area who were invited, and we put together a delightful scheme. I invited myself to my friend's home for the weekend. She was delighted that I wanted to come for a visit. The daughter reserved a villa for the other out of town guests and a restaurant for Friday night. The gang from my area planned on bringing in food for 2 brunches and a dinner. A cake was ordered and was going to be delivered by another friend who lived near the town of the party. We all pulled it off! It was a delightful surprise and meant a great deal to our friend.

And you know what? I came away from that long weekend happy and relaxed and even more ready to tackle all the tasks and chores that awaited my back home.

It's important to remember our priorities and friends should always have a top billing.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Using a Team Approach to Decluttering

Every now and then I have a project that makes sense to use a team. I love this model and wish it came up more often. Some jobs I am the team leader and some jobs I am working under another leader. I enjoy both scenarios.

When does the team model make the best sense for a client?
  • A huge project that needs to happen quickly. Ex. An estate trying to empty a cluttered house or a family moving with short notice and needs to downsize.
  • A person overwhelmed working on a project and now just wants it done. Ex. Several moves later there are still boxes hanging around from the first move.
  • A house renovation where the house needs emptying and then items brought back form storage and put away.
  • A hoarding situation where the client is now ready to clear out items from the home.
At first the team model may seem expensive to the client but when they realize how many people will work for many hours and they see how quickly real change happens, they are delighted. A team of three or four experts can tear though a project much faster than one organizer.

When does this model not make sense?
  • The client cannot make decisions easily and team members must wait around for the client's responses.
  • The client is not pushed for time and would rather spread out the work ant the cost and learn by working together.
  • The client is nervous having people in her home working when she cannot see them all.
  • The client is not clear with her vision and expectations.
As professional organizers we want what is best for our clients and team work is just one more way that we can serve.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Organizing the Master Bedroom Zone

I love to organize and declutter my master bedroom in the spring. It's finally gotten warm enough to put away most heavy winter clothes. It is also a time when I like to clean the windows and let the sun pour in.

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

I allow one month to work on this zone and divide the area into four sections. The easiest way to do this is to assign one wall to each week. We look at our calendars and schedule time to do this project. Rob has his hanging clothing items in his office that is across the hall, so he will only have to schedule time to work on his dresser and end table.
  • Week One: I work on my closet. I evaluate all the clothes, shoes, handbags, and accessories to see what needs to go, what needs some care, and what is kept. I use the backward hanger trick (every time I clear out the closet, I hang up all my clothes with the hanger facing the wrong way. The first time I wear an item, I turn the hanger back around to its normal position). Any clothes that still have the hanger facing the wrong way, get a long hard look. Why have I not worn it? It may be a special occasion outfit and that occasion did not occur - so I keep it. I may have similar clothing that I prefer to wear - so I get rid of it. It may make me feel uncomfortable - low neckline, too short, a bit too tight, makes me feel old - so I get rid of it.
  • Week Two: I work on the wall with my dresser and Rob works on his dresser that is on the closet wall. We take every thing out and toss out anything that is damaged and put into a donation box anything that no longer fits or that we no longer enjoy wearing. I take out my heavy sweaters and tops and put them in a container that is in the closet. While working on this wall, I clean the dressers and any accessories that are on that wall.
  • Week Three: I work on a wall that only has a window. I also do the window that is on the bed side wall. I clean the blinds, the frames, and the inside of the windows.
  • Week Four: I work on the bed wall. We clear our end tables. Over the year a lot of reading material has accumulated. We pull out all items we are not currently reading and empty and clean out the drawers. During this week I also clean the bed and all bed linens. The duvet is cleaned and stored away for the warm months. Any accessories that are on the end tables and wall are also cleaned. 
As a reward for completing this zone, I will allow myself a shopping trip to purchase a few items that will replace some of the tossed ones. Then I will put out fresh flowers and step back and admire the space. I feel we will sleep better in the clear, clean bedroom.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Just Start

You have this chore or task that has been on your "do" list way too long. Every time the scheduled time to work on this chore appears on your screen, you ignore it or reschedule it. You know it is something you must eventually do or at least "should" do but it is not urgent. It could be working on your tax paperwork or updating your web page or washing the windows. This past week on my Zone Plan Teleclass call one of the participants shared how she conquered this problem.

She decided to just start or prepare to start the task. She didn't actually do the task at that time, but she got everything out she needed to do the task. Her task was to make a repair. This had been on her list for months. A couple of days ago, she laid out all the tools she would need near the item that needed repair. That was it for that evening. Just laying out the tools. The next day when she had a break she looked at the tools all laid out and ready and thought, "This won't take too long. I've got everything ready." She did that repair and now could joyously cross that task off her "do" list!

So, today, pick one task that has been on your list for a while. Get out all that you will need to complete that task. That's it for now. See if that helps motivate you to complete the task. For me, this morning, I will lay out the bucket, rags, cleaners, etc. by my front door. I bet I'll have that front door and stoop clean by the time I go to bed tonight.

The trick is to just do the very first tiny step and see if that gets the project rolling. I would love for some of you to try this and send me some feedback on if it worked for you.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Organizing Your Storage Unit

Why do people (one in 11 American households) rent storage units? According to Wikipedia, industry experts often refer to the 4Ds of life (death, divorce, downsizing, and dislocation). Also, some homes do not have a basement or attic so a storage unit holds what homes with those attics and basements store there.

If you are one of those one in 11 American households that rent a storage unit, you will want to keep it organized and decluttered. Treat this unit like another zone in your house.

When organizing follow these steps:
  • Determine the purpose of the unit. Is it mainly to store seasonal decorations and party supplies? Is it storing items while your home is being renovated? Are you holding grandma's items there until you can decide on what to do with them?
  • Have an inventory of what is in the unit. 
  • Label all boxes and if possible use clear bins.
  • Zone out the unit so like items are stored together. If you are using the unit for holiday decorations, have all Halloween in one zone and all Christmas in a different zone.
  • Use shelving so boxes are not stacked on top of each other. Boxes will crush if stacked too high. If you want something from a stack of boxes the odds are it will not be in the top box.
  • Have pathways so that you can safely get to each zone in your unit. If shelving is packed close together, have rolling casters on the bottom of the shelving units so you can move one out into the hallway temporarily to get to what you need.
  • At least annually reassess the purpose of the unit and remove all items that are no longer needed or loved.
Do not use storage units just to keep things out of your house. If you are paying every month for storage, make certain that you know the reason why it is important to you. Then honor the items in the storage by keeping them organized.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Helping an Elderly Parent Declutter



Your mom or dad is now living alone in their own home. Each time you visit you see more and more clutter build up and less and less cleaning going on. You want to help but don't want to embarrass or upset your parent. This has been the situation with a couple of my clients.

The plan:
  • If possible, invite someone to the home with you who can get a fresh look at the situation. Because this clutter has grown over an extended period of time, you are probably missing some key components. 
  • Analyze why certain areas are cluttered. As parents get older it takes more effort to pick things up from the floor. If something gets dropped or spilled it just may stay there. They may do most activities from one or two places as it is more difficult to move around. They may not see the clutter.
  • When you start to attack the clutter, keep the parent involved. Get permission before moving things around or getting rid of anything. Talk it out before doing any work. 
  • Work in small bites. Don't overwhelm the parent by doing a lot at one time.
This past week I was invited by my client's dad to come into his home. I came as a friend who had helped his daughter with some organizing. Her dad had noticed some of the work his daughter and I had done together when he was at her home on a recent visit. My client had shared with me that her dad was now having back pain and some headaches. He had fallen this past winter. She was very concerned about his environment but did not want to disrespect him or overwhelm him.

He is an artist and likes to look through magazines for ideas. When he works from his chair in the den, pieces of paper drop to the floor. Magazines are stacked up waiting for his attention. Some food wrappers are dropped. His studio shows signs of things having been stacked but are now toppled. We chatted together about getting a sorting system set up for his cut-out pictures and a trash can by his chair. He liked the idea and his daughter will get those items for him.

After the visit, my client and I brainstormed other tasks that could be tackled over time. With permission she could remove a couch that is now blocking the bookcase and is never used. She might find a basked to hold the waiting to be worked on magazines. A huge fire extinguisher (still in the box) could be replace by a smaller kitchen sized fire extinguisher. Another day she could hang the pictures that have been leaning along a wall for years (surprisingly neither daughter nor dad really noticed the pictures or had thought of hanging them). Then later still, remove the exercise bike that has never been used. The idea is to let her dad get used to each change before adding another. When the clearing of the den is complete, a day could be spent cleaning. Then they could move on to another area.

While each case is unique, I feel the most important premise is to respect the parent and make them a part of the decluttering experience. 



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Clutter Awareness

Clutter Awareness week is the last week in March. Since procrastination and clutter go hand in hand, I am giving you a "heads up" so that you can schedule time to develop a plan to reduce any clutter that has accumulated in your space.

Often, we don't even see the clutter around us. We get used to it being part of our daily environment. Take a walk through your house.  Pretend you are showing it to sell. Notice surfaces that have piles of paper or other items. Are there objects stacked on the floor? Another technique is to take pictures of your rooms. It is amazing what you see in a picture that you didn't notice otherwise. The picture may show you that end table stacked with things to read and other bits and pieces. It may show you the kitchen counter so crammed you have to move things in order to prep food.

Clutter can impact your daily living. It can eat up your time as you look for needed items. Clutter can affect your health as it holds dust, dander, and even hides mold. You are less likely to cook healthy meals if your kitchen is cluttered. Clutter can also become a trip hazard. Clutter can cost you money due to overdue payments on bills you have misplaced or buying items you already have but can't find. Clutter can affect your social life as well. You may find yourself embarrassed to have people come into your home.

Now is the time to plan. Grab your calendar and choose one area of your home to declutter. Make a list of all the tasks you want to accomplish in that area and schedule a time now to complete the tasks. By the end of March, have that one area clutter free!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Beauty of the Zone Plan

Stuff comes into our homes all the time. Sometimes it is something we buy to freshen up the look of a room. Sometimes it is a gift. Sometimes it is an inheritance. All of this can be good. But often the item is just placed somewhere without a lot of thought and/or it is added to what we already have with nothing going away. This can add to a lot of visual clutter in our homes.

I have a system in my home and one I share with my clients that keeps that clutter under control. The system is called the Zone Plan.

This is how it works:
  • You divide your home into 10 zones. My zones include the office, the living room, the kitchen, the laundry room, the master bedroom, the baths, the guest bedroom, the attic, the storage shed, and the entry hall and storage closets. 
  • Each month, except for July and December, you work in one of these zones. The intention is to redefine your vision for the zone and note what is not working with that vision.
  • Then you brainstorm what needs to happen to change what it is now to what matches your vision.
  • You develop a plan and schedule times to work on the project.
  • You touch everything that is in the zone. You decide what supports your vision and stays, what goes, and what is moved elsewhere.
  • At the end of the month you celebrate your wins and move on to the next zone.
The beauty of this plan is that you know you are going to get to every area eventually. If you open your linen closet and see that it needs some work, you can just smile and say, "Your turn is in June!" and shut the door. By completing a zone project instead of zig-zagging through your house, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. 

For more information on the Zone Plan visit my website - http://timespaceorg.com/services/ - or send me an email at Jonda@timespaceorg.com .



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Memorabilia

Memorabilia is defined as objects kept or collected because of their historical interest, especially those associated with memorable people or events. Most of our memorabilia are pictures and items that are personal and remind us of good times in our lives or remind us of our family history.

I have seen homes where memorabilia items are scattered throughout the house and resembles clutter. What to keep and what to let go is very personal. This is my personal take on the subject.

If you keep memorabilia you should look at it occasionally and bring back those good memories. If it is just historical memorabilia you might label it and put it away for your decedents. The question becomes, how much should you keep and how should you store it.

My memorabilia, except for some art work that is displayed, is stored in my guest bedroom. Once a year when I deep clean and reorganize that zone, I pull our my items and remember. I also reevaluate how much to keep. The older I get the less I feel is important.

Let's look at some broad categories:
  • Artwork made by your children  - I have by now very little of this. A few special pieces that I think my boys will enjoy finding - the handprints, a scout project, holiday decorations. I encourage younger parents to keep a few good pieces from each year and label the pieces. Later it is difficult to always even remember which child did the work let alone how old they were. 
  • Cards - My personal rule on cards is that I only keep ones that have a special note inside. As I have aged, I relook at some of those notes and ask myself, "Do I want my children to read this?". When my husband died, I kept almost every sympathy card I received. Now I am down to just a handful. The same holds true for some of the cards he gave to me throughout our marriage. 
  • Photos - My stash of photos falls into two categories. First, I have pictures of trips and events that are personal to me. Then, I have pictures that show family members having fun or pictures that show our family history. Each year as I go through the pictures I get rid of a few more. If I can't remember who these people are, why keep them? Those older pictures where I do recognize family and friends I label so my boys will know why these pictures were kept. I find myself throwing out near duplicates or bad pictures.
  • Pamphlets or brochures - These are usually from my trips. When I came back from some of my trips I had quite a few. Now I only keep ones that really have special meaning to me. I have tossed all old maps.
  • Ticket stubs, programs or invitations - If I kept a ticket stub or program from everything I have ever seen, it would take over a whole closet. I only keep ones where one of our family members is mentioned. 
  • Physical items - I have found that most of the physical items I have been holding on to are in pictures. I just got rid of a silver-plated drinking vessel that my husband and I used at our wedding. I have a wonderful photo of the event and no longer need the actual vessel. The same is true of a silver-plated picture frame that help a wedding picture. I kept the picture and ditched the frame.
As I noted before, memorabilia items are very personal. I only suggest that you honor the items you have kept by organizing them and labeling them for those who will need to sort them after your demise and that you really ask yourself why you are keeping each item.




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Organizing Your Guest Bedroom or Bonus Room

Most guest bedrooms rarely see a guest but when company comes, it's great to have a space available for them to sleep. But, it's rare to have space for a room that only has the function of sleeping guests.

When I look at my guest bedroom and focus on the functions of this space, I note that there are many. The room has a closet used for offsite office storage and some personal pictures. There us a dresser that holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. There is also a cat condo (and who am I kidding, also the bed) that is used by my cat to sleep in the sun.

But when overnight guests arrive, this is their room. I want the area to be open and inviting to my guests. I want all my items out of sight but easily accessible.

I maximize my closet by using elfa shelving, but once a year I rearrange and purge items I feel I no longer need. I look through all my pictures and usually toss a few that are near duplicates or do not really speak to me anymore. I feel if I want to keep my memorabilia, I ought to honor it and look at it at least once a year. By purging and reorganizing, I allow space for items I have stacked on the bed that have been purged from my office zone last month.

My dresser also has zones within the drawers. I look at the clothing stored there and toss what I no longer think is necessary or I no longer love. I organize gifts and cards I have stashed in one drawer and look over any stored memorabilia. I set aside some empty space for a guest to use.

By the end of the month, I have this guest bedroom matching my vision for the upcoming year. I 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