Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Organizing the Attic or Basement Zone

November is a wonderful time to organize and clean out your attic or your basement zone. The temperature tends not to be too hot or cold for comfort. It is also an area where many of us store our holiday decorations.

As you prepare to work in this zone, first decide how you want to use this area in your home. You might include on your list storage of:
  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans or heaters
  • Household items you wish to keep but are not currently using
  • Toys, clothing, or other items you wish to pass on to friends and family
  • Out of season clothing or sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Archival paper
 Plan out a zone in your storage area for each category. Items you access frequently like suitcases or cat carriers should be near the entrance of this area and items you do not plan to use in the next year like unused household items are best stored furthest from the entry.

Attack the attic or basement zone by zone. Remove everything from the one zone you are working on and sweep down the area and look for any structural damage or infestations. As you place items back in the area, if you come across broken, unloved items, or multiple items (How many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when they are gone. You will enjoy the room to move around.

Leave space between each zone so you can safely retrieve or store items.

Label all containers. Use large labels you can see from some distance. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is inside if the lighting is dim.

It helps to locate different holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations. Still label the containers with primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or creche you want to use early in the season. Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and un-decorating a much easier task.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It's that Spooky Time of Year


Pumpkins, Turkeys, Menorahs, Santa Clause, Baby New Year are showing up everywhere. It may be getting too late to make reservations to see Santa. I saw an article at the end of September saying where the best places were to see Santa and how to make reservations. Scary!

How do we deal with all this holiday stress? Right now, is the time to sit down, breathe, and write down your vision of how you want the holidays to look and feel. What is important to you in each season. Has this changed over time? Are you on autopilot doing what you have always done plus new items you have added in recent years? Talk with other family members and get their input as well. You may be doing something for someone, like preparing a special food, that they no longer even enjoy.

I used to really go all out for Halloween when my children were little. I decorated. I helped them make costumes. We did the jack-o-lantern thing and then baked the pumpkin and made pie. It was a big deal. Now that my children are grown men, not so much. Now my husband and I put out a few pumpkins, a small inflatable scarecrow, light up a portable fire pit, and sit comfortably in our driveway waiting for the local trick-or -treaters.

My vision for almost all of my holidays has changed and simplified over the years. It's good to acknowledge and embrace the change.

Develop a list of the most important things you want to do and experience in each holiday. Then go to your calendar and log in when you are going to do such tasks as parties, shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, undecorating, etc. Remember to build in time to just relax and enjoy your decorations and the holidays.

Make this time of year special and enjoyable for you.  


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Virtual Organization

Atlanta traffic can be terrible. Many times, I have long drives to client's homes, often arriving a bit early to allow for mishaps in traffic. When I arrive early, I usually park away from their home until the time I am supposed to arrive.

At times my client is also returning to their home and they get caught up in traffic. I sit and wait for their arrival but now the clock is ticking for them on using their assigned time. I have had clients lose up to and even over an hour of their scheduled time this way. Other times clients have forgotten or been unrealistic about tasks they have had to do before our appointment and I get a call or text about being late as I am almost at their home.

Just yesterday, a client lost 2 of her 3 paid hours. She has occasionally used virtual organizing with me before, but those sessions had been mostly consultations and brainstorming sessions. I pointed out to her again yesterday that we could set up virtual sessions working on the projects she needed to do. I would be her body double and accountability partner via Facetime. She could set her times when she knew she could be home for at least an hour and not lose paid time trying to get home.

We set two times for this coming Friday where she would have everything in place for the project and we would Facetime for an hour. Then we plan to take an hour break where she was not paying for my time and resume for another hour. After that second hour she could continue to work for a while and send me pictures and texts showing her progress.

This is one example of how virtual organization saves time and money for the client.

Contact Time Space Organization, 404-299-5111 or Jonda@timespaceorg.com if you think this organizational service might be a fit for you.




Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Organizing the Kitchen Zone


October is the perfect time to organize your kitchen. The next few months will involve a lot of holiday cooking. Food drives begin to show up everywhere so it is a great opportunity to donate foods you have overstocked this past year. This opens up space for holiday cooking supplies.

My Kitchen Strategy:

  1. Look at my motivation. Why work on the kitchen now? Are my counter tops cluttered? Do I have trouble finding needed items in my pantry? Do I have items taking up space in my freezer that I can't even identify? Yep, and I want it fixed before the holidays!
  2. Create my vision. I like to work in my kitchen so I want it to be an inviting place that is uncluttered.  I want open countertops that are ready for food prep or rolling out cookie or pie dough. I want all my basic stored foods and spices organized and fresh so I can easily put my hand on what I want without missing a beat. 
  3. Brainstorm. I list all the things I can think of that will make my kitchen match my vision. Some of the tasks are: clearing out items I no longer need or love, looking for new storage ideas, organizing items for more convenience, better defining my kitchen zones (food preparation, cooking, dishes, food storage, and food serving). 
  4. Write our my goals. Writing out my goals helps me focus. I make my goals specific and measurable. I print them out and post them on my refrigerator and cross them off when met.
  5. Develop a timeline. Here is where my calendar becomes my friend.  I look at all the available times I have to work on my goals. To make this doable, I plan for some unexpected things to come up and I break down bigger goals into smaller parts. Instead of booking a day of "organizing kitchen drawers", I schedule "organizing the knife drawer" on Oct. 4 at 3:00.
  6. Follow the timeline. As best I can, I honor the times I have set aside to do the tasks. If something comes up and I can't do the work at the scheduled time, I reschedule it. 
  7. Reward myself. When the kitchen zone is complete, I give myself a reward. It might be flowers on the table or a nice candlelit meal.
For more details of following this plan, visit my website www.timespaceorg.com and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home, or sign up for my Zone Plan Teleclass program where I guide you through a new zone each month.  


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Using Found Time


I am a professional organizer. My weekly schedule is all over the place. Some weeks I work long days with clients and end up way too tired at the end of the week. Some weeks I spend most of my time at my desk and go stir crazy. My ideal week is a nice mix of working with clients and taking care of admin work. I can not really control when I will get new clients or when my existing ones want extra time. I can, of course, always say no to jobs when I am overbooked or exhausted, but find that I rarely do.

On Sundays I set out my intended schedule for the week. I have a plan for every day. It is pretty rare if my schedule ends up the way it was planned. I may have someone new call in for an appointment. More often I have clients who need to reschedule, move the time a bit, or cancel for the week.

So, what to do when I get a cancellation or postponement and now have some found time?
  • It it's an entire day, like a snow day, the best way to use the time might be just to relax. Read a book. Spend some quality time with my husband.
  • It it's a half day, I might use part of it on a project that has been on the burner too long and then reward that work with reading or doing something in my home just for family.
  • If it is 15 minutes to 30 minutes then the time is more likely to be frittered away if there is no plan. I have a saying by my desk that says, "Savor or Squander". So rather than spend that time scrolling through Facebook, I have a list of things I can do without any thought.
    1. Work on clearing out my email inbox
    2. File
    3. Follow up with potential clients via a quick email or call
    4. Clear off my desk and tidy my office
    5. Meditate
    6. Work on an upcoming blog
    7. Work on a presentation
    8. Exercise in the office
    9. Walk around my yard
    10. Update my timeline for a project
The idea is that you stay in control of how your time is used. How you use found time depends on you, your working style, and what is pressing on your to do list. But do make a conscious decision what to do with the gift of found time. Put those chunks of time to their most productive use for you.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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