Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tips for Gifting the Perfect Children's Book

In my household books are always under the Christmas tree. If you are choosing a book as a gift for a young child, what should you look for?
  • A book that grows with the child is ideal. Choose a book that you read to a little one. In time the child will start to recite some of the words to you. And eventually he will enjoy reading the book by himself.
  • Younger children like stories that mimic experiences that they have had. Books about milestones like potty training, learning to help around the house, starting school are great. As children get older fantasy becomes more appealing. Also notice the child's interests. Does he like to collect rocks or have outdoor adventures? Find books with those themes.
  • Find a book with appealing illustrations and a good cover. Illustrations that invite participation (find all the stuffed animals) and conversation keep the attention of young children.
  • Note the language in the book. Younger children love repetition and rhyming. Vocabulary that is part of the sight vocabulary of the young reader helps the child learn more quickly to read the food for fun alone.
  • Find a theme that is enduring. Can the story relate to other life experiences? Is it a book that will be enjoyed over and over?
Diane Quintana and I have written two children's books that pretty much cover these suggestions (OK, they don't rhyme). Check out Suzie's Messy Room and Benji's Messy Room on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel or ask for it at your local book shop.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ho! Ho! Ho! Tis the Season for Gift Giving

It's fun to receive gifts. I think it is even more fun to give gifts. But, let's give this whole gift giving a bit of thought.

When we decide to give a gift consider:
  • Do they really want it?
  • Will it clutter up their space?
  • Do they have a designated place to put it away when not in use? 
  • Does it require upkeep or maintenance?
  • Will they use it?
Let me explore this from a recipient's point of view. I love to give parties. People know this and it is great that they think enough about me to acknowledge this. But I have received at least 6 sets of decorative cheese spreaders and some novelty items that really don't work for me. I like cats. But I have received boatloads of kitty figurines, picture frames, plaques, etc. Now, I do not have a problem passing these on to a charitable donation site but some people do.

I have worked with clients who have kept things just because they were gifts even though they do not like or use the items. These clients are limited on space and the gifts become clutter.

Consumable items are usually a good choice - but know the recipient's likes and habits. I have one client who gets a case of cherry preserves each year. She lives alone. She rarely uses preserves. Cases have stacked up. She has a limited space. I have finally convinced her to pass these items on before they expire.

Gift cards can be a good choice. But I have come across many gift cards that have not been used. They are years old. Some people don't know how to shop online and use an Amazon gift card or they don't want to bother. Others just forget they have them or don't shop at the places where the cards are intended.

Perhaps the best gift is a gift of your time. Still, know the person and what they would like to do with that time. Time is precious.

As you finish up your shopping this year, just give it some thought.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Feeling Thankful

While gratitude is an ongoing part of my life, it is this time of year that we look back to the big and little things that cause us to be so thankful.

  1. I feel blessed to have a family that is strong and loving. While I wish that I could see them face to face more often, we communicate frequently and I know thy have my back. We come together to celebrate as often as we are able.
  2. My husband and I celebrate our third anniversary tomorrow. I am so thankful he is in my life. Not only do I have the enjoyment of him every day but I have also picked up some more extended family to enjoy.
  3. Friends are the glue that holds everything together. Friends laugh with you and hold you when you cry. They encourage your dreams and celebrate your victories.
  4. I am thankful that I don't live in a place of fear. I feel safe. I feel loved. While I don't like all that goes on around me, I look at what I can do and how I can react to make others feel safe and loved.
  5. I am so blessed to have a profession that can help others find solutions and achieve higher levels of happiness. I love that they can develop a vision and carry it on to victory.

As I move forward in life I hope that I can remain connected to all of the gloriousness of life.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Giveaway!

Diane Quintana and I are hosting a competition during the month of November. Just submit a picture of your child's messy room on Facebook or Twitter using #kidmessyroom and give us a strategy you use to get your child to tidy his or her room. We are having a drawing on December 1st. The lucky winners will receive either a copy of Suzie's Messy Room or Benji's Messy Room.

We hope to see a lot of great creative thinking out there. Even if you already have purchased our book, I'm sure you have a friend that would enjoy it as well. It's always fun to receive #giveaway #freestuff.

One of the seasonal great ideas in the books is that when children have too many toys, it is a good idea to let some of the toys go to someone else!

Happy Holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Organizing the Attic/Basement Zone

November is a great time to organize and clean out your attic or basement zone. It is not so hot or yet too cold for comfort. Also, many of us store our seasonal decorations in this zone.

As you prepare to organize this zone, make a list of all items you store here. The list might include:
  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans/heaters
  • Extra furniture and household accessories
  • Toys or items to pass on to children or grandchildren
  • Out of season clothing
  • Suitcases
  • Sports equipment
  • Archival paper
Plan where you want each of these categories to live. Items that you do not plan to use in the next year or more should be stored the farthest from the entry. This might include the extra furniture, accessories, toys, and archival papers.

As you place items into their areas, if you come across broken or 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 and next year, when this zone rolls around again, it will be a much easier task.

Leave space between each zone so that you can safely maneuver to get or store items.

Label all containers. Use large labels that you can see from some distance so that you know what is in each container. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is in it if the lighting is dim. It helps to locate holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations, but still label the container with the primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or crèche you want early in the season.

Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and undecorating a much easier chore.

Happy Holidays!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Recap of ICD session "Making ADHD Quirks Work!"

At our ICD conference Rick Green of Totally was our last speaker. He had so much to share that was great and I would like to post a few of his ideas here.

One of the topics he discussed was adult strengths which when recognized can be a real asset. He listed creative, outside the box thinking, charismatic and funny, intuitive and sensitive, lateral-thinking, talkative, life-long learner, hyper-focus, enthusiastic when interested, sense of humor, loyal and curiosity.

He also shared a ton of tips, tools, strategies, and practices. Since the topic of time management is near and dear to my heart, I'd like to share some of his thoughts on time management.

One thing that really struck me was that adults with ADHD think of time as only "now" and "not now" so long term goals and deadlines don't work well.

Rick suggested using a paper planner so there would not be distracting apps. Tasks should be under-scheduled but the agenda/planner should be over-used. Use only one calendar.

To track the time working on tasks, use a sweep hand timer (hello, TimeTimer). Know how long you plan to work on the task and what is next.

Finally he suggested we watch the video The Unofficial ADHD test. This video is funny yet right on!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Minimalizing Kitchen "Stuff"

Every time I work in my kitchen zone I try to reduce the amount of cooking "stuff" I own. Everyone has certain gadgets that they love and use frequently but sometimes we just hold on to things because they were expensive, or we used them more frequently at one time in our lives, or just because we think we might want to use them one day.

Take my food processer - please! That food processer with its gadgets (several of which have never been used), takes up almost a whole shelf in one of my cupboards. I maybe use it once a year. It's cumbersome to set up. The main container has a small crack. It's hard to clean. A good knife works as well as anything for chopping. A good mixer or immersion blender will take care of about anything else I would want to do.

Many kitchen gadgets that promise to make food prep easier or more gourmet like just end up in the back of the kitchen drawer or back of the cupboard. I find it better to use basic tools that can do multiple things than to have multiple things that can only do one thing. Some good quality knives are important to me, but do I need a whole fancy set with matching handles? I tend to use 3 or 4 over and over while the others just get neglected.

My cast iron Dutch oven with lid and my cast iron skillets ( two sizes) get used weekly. I have a few other skillets that do get used fairly often. But I have way too many sauce pans. I have a huge mixing bowl that I used to use every year to make big batches of fruitcake. I have not made fruitcake for at least 10 years. I guess I have been holding on to it because I just "might make it again someday." Who am I kidding?

As I organize my kitchen this year, I am seriously paying attention to how I am really cooking now and getting rid of some of this unneeded "stuff". I feel that the open spaces will make finding what I do use easier to locate and that kitchen maintenance will be more streamlined.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer