Clutter Awareness Week

Next week is clutter awareness week. We don’t always see the clutter around us because we tend to get used to it. But even if we don’t notice it, clutter causes stress and a feeling of overwhelm.

Take a walk through your home. Pretend that you are getting ready for out of town visitors or that you are putting your house on the market. Notice if you have stacks of papers and other items on the floor or out on exposed surfaces. NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) states that the average American receives almost 15,000 pieces of junk mail in their lifetime. How much of that is hanging around in various parts of your home right now?

Clutter can impact your daily living. It can eat up your time as you look for needed items. Clutter can affect your health. You are less likely to cook healthy meals if you can’t find your kitchen counter and your fridge and pantry are packed tight with who knows what. You can trip over stacks of stuff in your home and fall. If your house is heavily cluttered, you will have a build up of dust, dander, pollen, and maybe even mold.

Clutter can cost you money. You find yourself paying late fees because you have misplaced bills. You buy duplicate items because you can’t find those scissors, folders, or the can of green beans in the very back of your pantry. You may be paying for a storage unit to store those items that won’t fit into your home.

Now is the time to plan. Set aside some time this month to tackle your clutter. Start off with a hot spot that really bugs you. Make a list of all the tasks you want to accomplish to declutter this area and schedule times to complete those tasks. By the end of March, have that one area clutter free. Enjoy that feeling and celebrate!



Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

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

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

Enjoy Your Own Party


I love to throw a party. Parties are a fun way to visit and catch up with a group of friends. I love the good food, laughter, the smiles, the memories remembered and being made.

Even the very idea of giving a party can be overwhelming. But like any big project, it is not so  daunting if you break it down into small, manageable tasks. I always start my plan with a vision. What do I want this party to look like and how do I want myself and others to feel? I usually develop my party around a theme, but the theme could be as simple as “catch up and have fun.”

What next? Brainstorm and write down all the tasks that have to happen to make the vision come true.

Items on my list:

  • develop a guest list
  • choose a date
  • send out a save the date email
  • design invites
  • print invites
  • address invites
  • mail invites
  • plan menu
  • spruce up the yard
  • clean deck
  • clean outdoor furniture
  • order any prepared foods
  • decorate
  • make a party grocery list
  • shop
  • prepare food
  • clean house
  • set up food/drink stations
  • enjoy party

When this list is looked at in its entirety it seems overwhelming. But when you break it down over a month’s time it’s not so bad. You notice that I didn’t just say “mail invites” because a lot has to be done before the invites are in the mail. By listing every small step, I only have to look at a small task each time. And don’t forget to delegate. I get help with the yard and cleaning. Some of the food on my menu will be ordered (I haven’t made a cake or desert since I found this wonderful bakery).

The next very important step is to take your list and write each task on your calendar. Now you have made a commitment and you don’t have to worry about how you will ever find the time. You have it scheduled. Leave some wiggle room because the unexpected will happen.

By the day of the party there is little to do but some last minute decorating, some food preparation that couldn’t be done earlier, and the laying out of the food and drinks.

When the guests come, you are ready to party!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer