Homeless Items in Your Home

Do you have homeless items lurking in your home? Often when I am working in homes, I’ll come across an item and ask, “Where does this go?” I’ll get responses like: “Oh, it is used all over the home.” or “I don’t know – wherever.” or “I don’t know. Where do you think it should go?”
Even if items float, they should have a final resting place or home. That laptop or notebook can be used in any room, but when not in use, it should have a place to live. Where? Probably on a shelf close to where it is used most often or in a basket near the couch. The phone? When not on your person, it could be near the charger station. I drop mine in my purse ( I don’t want to leave home without it). The keys? They can live in a basket or on a hook near the door. I have also had people place them in a bowl that is above eye level (they don’t want walk-ins to know where the keys are kept). I keep mine on a hook that is always hooked to my purse. The purse or wallet is another item that is often just dropped down in different locations. Nothing really wrong with always dropping your purse on a certain chair, but it should have a place to go when you are cleaning up. A shelf or hook in the closet could work. Wherever you decide to house an item, it should be a logical place for you when looking for it.
Why do these items need homes? Saving time is one big reason. When cleaning a room, it is great to know exactly where to put each item. It really speeds up the cleaning process. Everyone in the home knows where to look for the item and you don’t waste time looking for it either. Another reason is that you are more aware of your space. Having everything put away can show you that items are crowded in the space (maybe that’s why item wasn’t put away to begin with) and that a tossing session is due.
I would love to hear some of your ideas about where you house items that can often be homeless.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Scavenger Hunt

What do these items have in common? They are all items I have been asked for in a hurry in the last week. I was able to put my hands on them within minutes. The item that needed to be glued- was glued incorrectly and quickly needed tweezers to pull out the incorrectly glued item; the band-aid for a worker who cut his finger; the scissors to cut a bag open; the screwdriver to repair something my neighbor needed were all easy to find because they all have homes and I know where they live.
Here is a challenge for you. In 10 minutes or less could you find the following: house keys, tweezers, pen, your checkbook, glasses, a AA battery, needle nose pliers, your birth certificate, your passport, the instructions for your iPod, medical records, umbrella, camera, safety pins, sales receipt for your printer, spare light bulbs, car registration, your last year’s tax returns, your favorite soup recipe?
Clutter can cost you time, money, your job, your reputation, your space, your creativity, your relationships, your peace of mind, and your health. If you have clutter in your life, now is the time to do something about it.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Refrigerator Organization

So why would you take the time to organize a refrigerator? Well, to save money, save time, and make the best use of your space.
You save money by not buying multiples. You don’t need two large jars of open Mayonnaise. You save money by not letting food languish on the back shelves and go bad instead of using the food in tasty dishes. You save money because it is easy to find food to make breakfast or pack a quick lunch so you don’t spend the money at a fast food restaurant. You save electricity because you don’t stand in front of the open door for hours trying to figure out what there is to eat.
You save time because you can find items quickly. You can quickly see what you have and don’t have so it is faster to put together a shopping list. It is faster to pack a lunch or snack out of that organized refrigerator than it is to make a trip to a restaurant. A system in place makes it faster to put food away after shopping.
Organizing your refrigerator helps you to use the space wisely. No more left over dinner plate half wrapped in plastic wrap teetering on top of a saucepan with 6 left over green beans and a soda can. Adjust shelves so that they fit the type of items you buy.You might notice that I have part of one shelf that has very little height. It is just perfect for my cream cheese, natural peanut butter, and Parmesan cheese from the market. I have a tall shelf for beverages like OJ and jugs of milk as well as the open RC bottle. Things that are going to perish soon are toward the front. That row of yogurt has the oldest containers in the front. The drawers have different functions for me. One drawer is for snack food and cheeses. One drawer is for produce like potatoes, onions, cabbage. Another drawer is for my salad fixings.
It is a good idea to give the refrigerator a quick clean once a week. Toss anything that has gone bad or is iffy (when did you bring home that leftover takeout Chinese?). Give the shelves a quick wipe.
Designate areas in your fridge for certain types of food- like snack food, salad makings, meats. Then educate anyone in your family who opens the fridge where the food belongs. Put leftovers in proper containers. Clear ones are best but if you use others you might want to label what is in it and when it was put in the fridge. Put items you use a lot toward the front- for me that would be jelly and salsa- dried breadcrumbs in the back.
The door, which is warmer, holds items like salad dressing, sauces for cooking, mustard, etc. I also keep some small bottles of water there.
Every six months give that refrigerator the big cleaning. Take everything out of it and freezer. Clean well. Clean under the fridge and behind it so that there is not dust build up which makes the motor work harder. Check for all expiration dates before you put food back away.
Now is a great time to do this task so you have a clean organized refrigerator for the holidays.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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School is Out!

The end of school is almost here! Your children are soooo ready for it to end. Last day they are going to come home, dump their school stuff and run outside. OK, so give them one day. But, those stacks of old school papers – not to mention that backpack have got to be dealt with before summer can really begin. Have them clear a space (keep dogs and cats clear for their own safety) and turn the backpack upside down and dump its contents on the floor. Shake it a few times so that what is stuck to the bottom with old gum and candy also comes out. Now do the sort. Smelly clothes and sneakers go to the laundry. Tattered papers and candy wrapper go to the trash. End of year awards can be salvaged and put into a clean folder for the future. Check out old crayons, pencils, and other school supplies to see if they are going to be kept for summer art or are they in such bad shape they need to go to the trash. If anything in the pile tries to crawl away- step on it. Decide if the bag is going to be used again or is it now also ready for the trash (broken zippers, tears, strap broken). Do not let this clutter stay beyond one week. Have everything that is saved filed or put away and everything that is no longer good recycled or trashed. Now, enjoy the summer!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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Ready for Action

While working on my presentation on Time Management for ADHD adults, I came across an ahaa moment while reading It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul. She talks about being organized as being a dynamic between a state of readiness for action and taking action. There is a rhythm of taking action, creating the natural disorder that comes with taking the action, restoring order and thus returning for readiness for action. Most people who have difficulty with organization leave out the step of restoring order. If paying bills- getting out the basket of bills, the ledger or computer, the checkbook, the stamps is getting ready for the action. Writing out the checks, putting them in the correct envelopes, stamping them, and entering the amounts is taking action. This causes a disorder in the space you are working. Now there is a basket, a checkbook, and other items that have been pulled out to do the task. Many people feel like the checks have now been paid so they stop- have lunch- do something else and do not get around to putting everything back away, which at this point would only take minutes and therefore do not restore order. Therefore order is not restored and clutter begins. Keep skipping this last step on most of your tasks and chaos reigns.