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