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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Organizing the Office Zone


For years I have been maintaining my home using a Zone Plan. This plan has me touching everything in my home at least once a year. When I work in my designated zone each month, I declutter and get rid of anything I no longer need or love.

The first zone I work on each year is my office. After a year, files are way too stuffed. Project bins are still hanging around even if the project has been completed. Some new items have been added and not enough stuff has gone away. So now is the time to look open-eyed at the office and work my plan.

  1. What is bothering me in this zone?
  • Clutter
  • Too much on the desk top
  • Files too full
  • Too much  paper lying around screaming  "do me"
     2. How do I want my office to look and feel?
  • Uncluttered
  • Clean
  • Welcoming
  • I want to feel productive and happy
  • I want empty space to allow for growth
     3. What do I need to do to meet this vision?
  • Clear our all desk drawers and the desk top
  • Purge files and remove what is now archival to another place
  • Clean out bins of completed projects and ready the bins for new material
  • Clear all surfaces - leave out only what I need and love
  • Declutter and organize bookshelves and the storage credenza
  • Deep clean room
      4. Schedule times to do each task.
  • Pull out calendar and see what times are available to work on zone
  • Write on calendar what tasks I plan to do on available dates - not only date but also time of day
By the end of the month, I will say "good enough". Daily and weekly maintenance are scheduled but I won't have to visit this zone again until next January. I reward myself with fresh flowers on my desk and make my plan for the next month in a new zone!



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Plan for 2017

2016 is coming to a close. It is great to look back and see all that was accomplished. With that fresh in mind, let's make plans for the upcoming year. I have done my business goals, chosen my word of the year (release), and am now scheduling things I want to accomplish in this coming year.

One of the first things I do when I set up my calendar is divide my home into 10 zones. Every month except July and December, I work on one zone in my home. The goal is that by the end of the year I have touched everything I own and have let go of things I no longer need or love. I have also organized the items I have decided to keep.

This has worked so well for me over the years that a couple of years back I set up a Zone Plan Teleclass to lead others through the process. I love the way the plan has developed and the wonderful people who participate in the teleclass. It is an ongoing class and anyone can join at anytime but because I like new beginnings, I would love to invite you to join us now. The call that will get us started on next year is December 30 at 1:30. Because I really would love for you to get started in January, I am reducing the fee for the year by $50 if you sign up before December 30.

Join me for the 10 month Zone Plan Group Coaching Program. We will benefit from exploring 10 months of 2 open line calls a month (recorded for you convenience), one personal closed call to each member, motivating content and exercises, a pdf copy of my workbook, and a closed Facebook group page. All of this is designed to set you on your path of living in the home you envision and so that you control your space.

Each month (skipping July and December) we concentrate on one zone of your home. I will suggest a zone but the beauty of this program is that the concepts will fit any zone or project that you want to tackle.

This program is powerful, yet affordable. For an investment of $450 (and now $400 if you enroll before December 30) you receive twenty teleclass calls and ten 30 minute private coaching calls. There is even a 2-pay option if you need to spread payments out.

If you want results and are ready to make your home the one of your vision, then join us.

Contact me by phone (404-299-5111), email (jonda@timespaceorg.com) or through my website (www.timespaceorg.com)



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Reflection





The year is drawing to a close. It is a good time to find some quiet time and reflect on the past year and look forward to the new year. I challenge you to try this exercise.

  • List at least 3 experiences or events that were wonderful this past year. What insights did you receive from these delightful experiences?
  • Think of a couple of things that did not go quite the way you wanted. What did you learn about yourself from this?
  • What is your vision for the upcoming year?
  • Brainstorm a list of what you have to do to make this vision come true?
  • What stumbling blocks might impede you and how will you deal with them?
  • From your brainstorm list, pick one small thing and schedule time to work on it.
In going through this exercise myself, I have found it helpful to also work on a vision board. I also find that sharing my thoughts with others helps me gain clarity. I focus on only those thoughts and actions that come from me and that I can control. Let this time moving forward be our best personal year yet.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Disaster Preparedness with Pets



There has been so much in the news lately about fires, floods, and tornadoes. Sometimes families have only minutes to evacuate.

We hear a lot about emergency preparedness but sometimes we forget about preparing for our pets. In the back of our mind we may think we'll just scoop them up and go. But as you are putting together your family kit, consider these items for your pets.
  • Food and water for at least 5 days along with bowls
  • Any medicines plus the latest vet records that show vaccinations along with the vet's phone number
  • Cat litter, travel litter box, scoop, and garbage bags for waste
  • Leashes, harnesses, and carriers
  • Collars with identification
  • Blankets or towels
  • Current pictures of the pets in case they do escape
  • Newspapers, paper towels, grooming items, and even a toy
This list came from humanesociety.org/disaster. Visit their site for even more information and comments. In this household, pets are like family and if it is not safe out there for you, then it is not safe for our pets.



Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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