Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Bargain or a Hook?





Everyone loves a bargain! A word of caution, many bargains are not really bargains but just clever advertising. Some examples:
  • "Buy this and receive a gift!" Cosmetic companies are really good at this one. "Purchase $55 or more on cosmetics and receive a free gift bag." You really like their foundation for $39.50 and you find yourself looking for something else you might use just to get that cute gift.

  • "It pays to stock up! Earn a $10 gift card every time you buy $50 in participating stocking spree items." Example items - 12 mega or 24 double rolls package of paper towels, buy 2 family size cookies, buy 2 bottle of dressing etc. But wait, I've only spent $23. What else can I buy? You end up buying items you don't really need and don't have adequate space to store just for a $10 gift card.

  • "Free shipping when you buy $75 or more!" You love that blue blouse. It costs about $49. Standard shipping/processing charges will add $11.99. You find yourself leafing through the catalogue looking for something $26 or more. You end up ordering some socks or underwear that you really don't need to save on the shipping.

  • "Everything a dollar!" What a deal! Or is it? Many times big-box retailers can actually be a better buy in quality and price.

  • "Winter sale! Everything 50% off!" A couple of things here. Those same items were probably marked up for the holidays and 50% off of something you don't need or love is not $75 dollars saved but $75 spent for something that will just sit on your shelf or hang in your closet.
Am I telling you to never grab that bargain? Of course not. You should shop a bargain when it is something you really need, love, and have a place to put it away. Just know what you are doing and why.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Teach Young Children Organizational Skills


As parents we sometimes assume that some life skills are absorbed just because we model them and the children are living in the home. And sometimes that worked but not as well as if we actually taught them these skills. After all, we taught them how to brush their teeth and wash their hands. We didn't expect them to know how to do this just because they observed us.

So what are some of the organizational skills you can teach young children?
  • Break large projects down into smaller easier parts. Don't tell children, "Clean your room." Instead tell them, "Pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper." Then when that task is complete, "Put away your clean clothes." And then, "Put your books on the shelf."
  • Sorting. Younger children will do a broader sort than older children. A sort category for younger children might be putting all the legos into one tub. Older children will probably sort their legos into finer categories. Younger children might sort all dirty clothes into one hamper while older children might separate whites from colored clothes or heavy duty wear from delicates.
  • Culling. When a toy has become broken or is no longer used or loved, teach the children that it is time to let that item go. Don't do it without the children being part of the process. Explain that they are no longer using something so it should either be thrown away if no one else would want it or given away if another child will enjoy it. The same goes for clothes,  books, or any other item the child owns. Do be sensitive though that some items may have sentimental value. If that is the case, start a memory box with them.
  • Everything has a place. Every item the child owns should have a place for it to go when it is not being used. Because you want the child to put his own things away, make the designated places easy to access. Keeping fewer items makes it easier to put things away.
  • Reward yourself for a completed project. These rewards do not have to be big. It could be a story read to them or some phone time (to brag) with Grandma. It could be a sticker on a chart. Just do some little thing to show completion and satisfaction of a job well done.
Let me end with some words of caution. You are teaching these skills. It is an ongoing lesson. Do not expect perfection. If the child puts his clothes in the bin and some hang out a bit, praise him for putting the clothes away. Do not tuck that article of clothing back in the bin. If the bed is made but not straight, do not straighten the covers. If the box of legos is put on the shelf crooked, do not straighten the box. If you correct what he has done while he is learning these skills, he will feel that his efforts have not been good enough.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Organizing the Spare Bedroom of Bonus Room

Most of us are lucky enough to have that extra room dubbed as the Spare Bedroom, Guest Bedroom or Bonus Room. Often these rooms have multiple purposes. I have seen them used as offices, craft rooms, play rooms, exercise rooms, storage rooms, and even as dedicated guest bedrooms.

In February I work on my "Spare Bedroom" zone. I choose this month because last month I organized my office and a lot of stuff purged from my office landed on the bed, floor, and dresser of the spare bedroom. Now it is a disaster.

My spare bedroom has multiple functions. It has a closet that is used for offsite office storage (and it is packed full). There is a dresser that holds off season clothing, gifts, holiday cards, and some memorabilia. This room also holds a secondary cat box as well as a cat condo and a cat bed. When overnight guests arrive, this is their room (and the cat stuff is temporarily put into my office).

I want this room to have an open and inviting space for guests. I want all items stored in this zone to be out of sight but easily accessible. I want to feel drawn to this room and feel calm and happy when I enter.

To make this vision come true, during this month I will clean out and reorganize the closet. Files will be updated and some truly archival files will head for the attic. I will toss out or donate items that I have saved but now no longer need or love. Since I have a lot of pictures and memorabilia in the closet, I will open each box and scrapbook, have a remembrance time, toss some items, label some more items, and return the rest to the containers. I feel if I want to keep this memorabilia, I ought to honor it and look at it at least once a year.

I will clean out every drawer in the dresser and designate zones within the drawers. I will probably decide that 3 heavy sweaters stored there are about 2 too many and that some holiday clothing is no longer loved. This will open up space for any new item.

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February is Time Management Month

Good time management is really good choice management. We can't save time. We can't speed up or slow down time. We all have the same 24 hours or 1,440 minutes a day. It's up to us to spend it wisely.

Easy to say - harder to do.

Below are 9 tips to help you stay in control of your day:
  1. Know how you are using your time now. Track how you are using your time for a couple of weeks. The first week you might track Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The second week you might track Tuesday and Thursday. Add in weekend days if that is also an issue. Use a timer and every 1/2 hour make a quick note of what you are working on. No cheating! (Wow, the timer is about to go off, I'd better log off Facebook and pay some bills!)
  2. Notice what interrupts your time and pulls you off task. Do you answer every phone call? Do you really need to? Do you have an audible alert when emails come in? Do you check them when they come in? Do friends or colleagues feel they can drop in at any time? Anytime you are pulled away from a task, make a written note of what you were doing just before answering the phone or talking to the person in your doorway. That simple task locks in the importance of your task and makes it easier to return to it.
  3. Never multitask. Having said that, you can fold laundry and talk to your husband. You can go for a walk and mentally put together a plan for tomorrow. What you can't do is write a report and talk on the phone or pay your bills while checking emails. Neither task will get your full attention. It is exhausting for your brain to keep switching back and forth. The adrenaline rush will hurt your concentration. There is no way you can get into the zone where work flows easily. Do one thing and do it well.
  4. Know your priorities. What is important to you today? What 3 big tasks need to be worked on or completed? Are you keeping in mind other priorities besides work? Is exercise and a time to eat a healthy meal a priority? Is family time a priority? Keep in mind that some priorities are not urgent things to do today but tasks that will help you down the road.
  5. Use your calendar. The calendar is your friend. I like calendars where I can see the whole month. Every appointment, every obligation, every birthday/anniversary is seen at a glance. As soon as I have a known date for a commitment I put it into my calendar. Long term projects are put on the notes side of the calendar of the months that I intend to devote the time on.
  6. Use a daily schedule. My calendar holds the big things, but my daily schedule has the details. This is where I not only have down what I plan to do for the day but also when I plan to do it and how long I have allowed for the task. I work in transition times between tasks. When life happens - and it does - and I know I will not get through everything on my schedule, I pause and do triage. I pick out what must get done and move the rest to later in the week.
  7. Know your peak production times. These are the times you schedule the tasks that are more difficult and require concentration. For me, I kick in about 9:00 am and need to stop the morning by about 11:30. In the afternoon I can get into heavy lifting around 1:00 and am getting weary by 5:00. Anything I do after that is mostly automatic non-thinking tasks.
  8. Delegate. Some tasks I know I do not have expertise. Some tasks I can do very well but I choose to use my time on another task. So I pay for others to do these tasks. I also am lucky in that my husband is willing to run errands for me like taking items to Goodwill or going to the post office. I have clients who can delegate some tasks to their children like taking on the shredding. Don't try to do it all.
  9. Come to each day rested and spend some of the day on you. If you are not rested, well nourished, and centered you will not concentrate on tasks at hand. On your daily schedule allow time for breaks, meals, whatever centering practices that you use, and a decent bed time.
Look over the above list and choose a couple to concentrate on for February. I would love to hear some of your wins.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seize the Day

"Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of." ~ Charles Richards

Every now and then we get a much needed reminder about how important this is.

Yesterday morning I had a job that ended at 2:00. At that time I checked my phone for messages. I had one from my husband telling me that he had to check into the emergency room of the hospital that afternoon and that probably he would have an operation tomorrow - maybe to remove a kidney. I was at least 35 - 40 minutes from home. I called him back to say I was on my way. On the drive home, I called (hands free device) a person that I was to have a coaching call with that evening. I made lists in my head of who I had to contact to shut down my business for at least this week and to give a "heads up" to the person I was giving a presentation with this Saturday.

I arrived home. My husband had his bag packed. He expected me to drive him to the emergency room and come home. Was he crazy? I immediately packed a tote bag with paperwork, a book, my calendar, chargers, my iPad, a bottle of water, and a sandwich. I knew my way around that hospital and the emergency room pretty well as I had spent a lot of time there with my previous husband before he died. I was scared but at the same time trying very hard to put positive spins on the situation. I did not want to attract bad karma.

After many hours, more tests, and phone calls to the doctor who wanted him admitted and the surgeon on duty, it was decided that this was not an emergency nor was an operation necessary. Instead of looking at a kidney, they were looking at appendicitis and the medicines the doctor had already prescribed when he thought he was probably treating diverticulitis was doing the job on the appendix. That evening we were released to come home.

The evening sky was lovely, the house was warm and inviting, the cats were waiting , and we were very happy. Today, since my clients were already cancelled, I took the time to do some extra coaching calls, set back up the rest of my week, and really savor the joy of sleeping in late with my husband and going about a more leisurely and reflective day.

We never know what the future holds, so let us all remember to love and savor the now.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Reduce Tax Stress - Maintain a Yearlong Tax File



Don't lose your dining room table for a month while working on taxes. One of the files you should have near your desk is your tax folder. I like mine a bright red and it sits behind all of my standard desk files in my file drawer.

All through the year, anything that comes in that is related to taxes should be dropped into this file. Don't take time at this point to sort them. It is more efficient to sort them when you seriously start to work on your taxes. Acknowledgements of contributions, real property tax statement, monthly mortgage payments, medical expenses, motor vehicle registration, etc. are examples of what you put into your folder. If you have a business, you will need your business receipts. Have an envelope for each month and after you enter the amount into your budget or QuickBooks, just drop the receipt into the envelope.

About this time of year forms begin to come in. Look for W-2 forms, 1099 forms, SSA-1099 for Social Security, investment interest expenses, Roth account statements, IRA forms, your end of year tax stub, and more.  Watch for the forms that you expect and drop them into this folder.

I keep in the same drawer my tax papers from last year. I use this document as a template to make certain all forms are in. Your CPA may also have sent you a checklist. When I pull out last years tax paperwork and look it over, that's when I remember to get my mileage log out of the car for my business deduction or call any group that have not yet sent me a needed form.

Call your CPA and set an appointment as soon as you feel everything is in or if you do your own taxes, set aside on your calendar a couple of large blocks of time to organize the paperwork and put it on the correct forms.

Doing the tax preparation is never fun but it is a lot easier if you have kept everything in one place.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Plan Your Transition Times














Managing how we use our time is always a challenge. There is so much to do and we want to do it all. We try to prioritize but we almost always over-schedule. I see this over and over again and struggle with it myself.

One of the big problems is not scheduling transition times.

For example, you have a meeting with a teacher at the school or a networking meeting at a coffee shop. The meeting is scheduled for 3:00 and will last 30 minutes to an hour. Block out the hour. Then realize that you must gather items to take to the meeting and that you must get yourself out the door and into the car (one more trip to the loo and then pouring coffee into your go cup does take time) so add 15 to 30 more minutes. You have to drive to this meeting so add on that time remembering that the meeting is to start at 3:00 so by 3:00 you should be in the meeting place sitting down and saying "hello" - not pulling into the parking lot. You have the meeting. It is now 4:00. You have to drive home - in rush hour traffic. Allow time for that. You arrive home. Now you need to schedule any action that came out of that meeting (set up study times with your child, reread and file away notes from the meeting, write a follow up email, schedule the follow up meeting) and clear your desk of anything you took to or brought back from the meeting. In reality, your one hour meeting needs about a 3 1/2 block of time.

The same can be said for working at home on a project. When you work on a project you usually have to get things out to use. For example, if you are working on your taxes you need to assemble all the required paperwork. If you are working on cleaning out a closet you want to assemble all the cleaning items, donation boxes, trash bags, etc. Then you do the project. Now you have a natural disaster of papers to file away or clothes to return to the closet, trash to take out, and donations to go to a donation site. You must allow time to clean up after any project so that you are ready to work on the next item on your list. We tend to forget how long all of this takes and then get discouraged that we don't complete all of the items on our "do" list for the day.

My challenge to you is to pull out your daily calendar and look at what is scheduled for the week. Have you allowed enough time for each required item? Make adjustments as needed. Now, breathe. You can do anything just not everything.







Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer