Me Now vs Me Later

Not long ago, one of my teacher clients proudly told me that she is learning to deal with the “me now” in order to be a happy “me later”. I asked her to expand on that. She explained to me that very often the “me now” wanted to walk away from messes in her classroom or a cluttered desk on Friday. In the past she had jut given in to those feelings because after all, she was soooo tired. Now she gives some thought to the “me later”. When she comes back into the classroom the next day or after the weekend, how will she feel then? Having forced herself several times now to stay, even though tired, and clean up the room or clear the desk, she acknowledges the great feeling of coming back to a classroom that is organized and ready for the new day.

I thought about how this though pattern can affect us all.

  • I will clean my desk now so that I will feel in control when I have to come back to the desk to work
  • I will plan my menus and grocery list for the week now so that I will not have to scramble every evening this week to figure out what’s for supper
  • I will catch up on my laundry now so that I will not have to face piles of laundry later
  • I will pay my bills now so that I don’t worry about late fees or missed payments later
  • I will prepare my report/presentation now so that I won’t stress over it not being ready later

If every time we are tempted to just throw in the towel and quit because we are tired or frustrated; we stop and visualize how this will make us feel later, I think many times we would just put in that last 30 minutes effort to make the “me later” a happier person.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

A Plan for Cleaning and Decluttering the Master Bedroom

Spring is a great time to organize and declutter your bedroom. It’s great to make clear, clean spaces for the sun to shine in.

When I start to work on any zone in my home, I start with a vision. As I share this room with my husband, it needs to be a shared vision. We want this room to have a calming, relaxing feel and be a place that sparks joy and happiness. We like soft light but still desire enough light for reading. My husband meditates here so the room should have an uncluttered, peaceful feel.

I use the whole month to work on this zone and so divide the tasks into four sections, one for each week. I schedule time on my calendar for myself and for working alongside my husband.

During the first week, Rob and I clean out our dressers. We take out every article and toss out anything that is damaged and put into a donate box anything that does not fit or that we no longer enjoy wearing. I change out my heavier tops that were stored in a drawer with lighter ones that were stored in a bin in the closet. During this process, I clean and wax the dressers, clean the walls, and freshen any accessories.

The next week I organize the closet. Rob stores his hanging clothes in another room, so this is a job I do alone. I pull out all my clothes, sort them, and get rid of all that do not fit either my body or my lifestyle. I also do this for shoes and accessories. The closet also holds my suitcase and will hold the duvet that is currently on the bed.

Week three we will work on our end tables. Over the year a lot of reading material has accumulated. We sort out the items we have read and put back only what we are currently reading. We also empty and clean out the drawers. I will clean and wax the two tables. During this week I will also clean the bed and all bed linens. The duvet will be cleaned and put away for the warm months.

The last week, I finish up anything that has not been completed.

As a reward, I will allow myself a shopping trip to purchase a few items that will replace some of those tossed. Then I will put out fresh flowers and step back and admire our work. We will enjoy the fresh fell of this space!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

From Start to Done

I have a client who last week lamented to me, “I never reach done!” I heard what she was saying. She usually has multiple projects going – some of them ongoing – and she really hasn’t benchmarked a place where she can say, “done!”

I show up at her home and we talk about what she wants to accomplish on that session. I get a grocery list of maybe 6 – 8 items (and often items are added as we go). Some items are small and can be knocked out easily. Some items are very important like bill paying. Some items are time sensitive like a new roomer coming in that night. I often feel like we are doing triage. As I left last time, she said, “Make a note that the next time we work on updating my Christmas mailing list.”

“But, Suzanne, it’s only August.”

“Yes, but I plan on getting married soon and this will be the list I use for the invitations.”

Ever since that last session, I have been thinking about ways that Suzanne can reach “done.”

Let’s take this Christmas mailing list as an example.

She has defined the project and we certainly know the motivation. I have helped her once before try to update this list so I know it is not a simple task. She has this list divided into categories – clients, friends, family, old school friends, etc. She has bits and pieces of paper that show changes in addresses, phone numbers, and even changes in names.

I would like her to develop her vision of what the completed project would look like. If this list is going to be updated mainly at this time for the purpose of wedding invites, could there be some sections that could be skipped at this point in time? Only she can answer that.

Then we’ll come up with a brainstorming list of what has to happen to reach that vision. Some items could be:

  • Pull the list off the computer and onto a thumb drive or a folder in dropbox so that she can work anywhere
  • Round up all scraps of paper and put them into one container – she might just start with the ones that are easy to find and add others as she comes across them
  • Break the list down into manageable bites
  • Set aside scheduled times to work on this project and nothing else
  • Color code the names of people she might want to have on her invite list

I’m sure she will come up with other items for her list and maybe delete the ones I have listed. This will be her brainstorming list.

Next determine a time that she really wants this finished – i.e. when the invites must be addressed. Then get the calendar out and clearly schedule each benchmark – i.e. update all family members.

At the end of each session she should reward herself and consider this part “done.” As part of “done” she puts everything away and clears her space until she has her next scheduled session.

When she has her list the way she wants it, she should set up a maintenance plan. Perhaps each time she gets a change in her list, she puts this change in one container. Then once a year she goes into her list and makes all of those changes.

Now the project is truly done and has a maintenance plan as well.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Zone Plan – Master Bedroom

For organizing and decluttering my home, I use a Zone Plan. Every month I choose a different area to clean, declutter, and organize. During the month of May, I concentrate on the master bedroom.

Whenever I work in a zone, I start with my vision for the space. Since I share this room with my husband, we must form this vision together. Last year we decided that we wanted our room to have a soothing, calming, and supportive look. When we are in this space we want to feel secure, relaxed, and happy. We like soft light yet still have enough lighting for reading. In the past year we have painted this room a very soft yellow to help capture the light and changed some of our artwork and accessories to meet this vision. We will continue to explore and when we find an item that builds on our vision and gives us joy, we will bring it home and place it.

I use four weeks to complete this zone.

On week one, Rob and I clean out our dressers (and clean the walls where the dressers stand). We take out every article and toss anything that is stained, stretched out of shape, or holey. Then we donate anything that we no longer need or love. I change out my heavier tops that were stored in a drawer for lighter ones that were in a bin in my closet. I clean and wax the dressers and light a candle.

On week two, I work on the closet which stores only my clothes. I pull our all the clothes and sort them on the bed. I get rid of anything that does not fit either my body or my lifestyle. I also do this for my shoes. This closet also stores my suitcase and a duvet.

On week three, we tackle our end tables. This means purging or rehousing a lot of reading material that has accumulated. I also clean one window, and clean the bed and all bed linens. I clean the wall behind the bed.

On week four, I finish the room. This means cleaning one more wall and window, brushing the ceiling and the ceiling fan.

As a reward for finishing the bedroom zone, I buy fresh flowers and stand back and admire our clean, uncluttered space. I know we will sleep well here.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Rewards of Downsizing

How do you start letting go of items you have collected all during your life? It is not an easy process to begin. Many times people equate their possessions with their identity. I have had clients tell me they keep things so that they can show that they were someone once. I encourage them to look forward to who they want to be now and in the future.

Downsizing is best done when there is no deadline looming – no pressure to make a lot of decisions in a hurry. When you look over your possessions and make your decisions at your own pace, you can feel in control.

Ask family members to help out. Take time to discuss your reasons for downsizing with your family and see it there are items they want to keep. You may well have been storing some of your children’s possessions for years. See if they want them now.

Sharing your possessions and the stories behind them can bring you closer to your family. Reminisce as you look over items you may not have really looked at for years. Going through old papers and pictures can be a wonderful trip down memory lane. Then the decisions can be made – give away, shred, toss, or keep. A good plan is to chose a container for the pictures/cards/letters and then allow yourself to keep as many as will fit in that container. Also know that this process can be repeated again later and you will then be ready to let go of more items at that point in time.

When you sort items in your kitchen or family room you will probably discover that you have kept items that you have not used for years. What about that big soup pot, the clue game, or the VHS tapes? Do they fit your current life style or are they just hanging around because they have always been stored there?

Sorting your clothes and accessories will also be enlightening. If you haven’t used something in the last few years, give it to people who will need and appreciate it.

As you continually go through this downsizing process, you will notice that less stuff gives you more freedom, more time, and less upkeep. You will probably feel happier in your open clear area than you have in years!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Master Bedroom Zone

If you are following along with the zone plan, this is a good month to tackle the master bedroom. Start with your vision for this room. I want my room to be a quiet peaceful area where I can rest and read. I want soothing things to look at. I want soft light. I want my clothes to be arranged so that I can dress quickly in the morning but I do not want to see the clothes when I am resting. This is a good time to swap out any winter clothes that can be stored elsewhere. My bedroom has 4 walls so I usually take 4 weeks to do this room. However, this month I will be gone a week so I will need to do it in 3 weeks. The first week I will tackle the wall with the long dresser and the closet. I will take everything out of the drawers and out of the closet. I will purge anything that no longer fits, that I no longer love, or that is stained or torn. I will clean the closet and dresser and return the clothes that I am keeping. The next week I will do the wall with the bed, window and two small tables as well as the wall to the left of the bed which has no furniture. I will check the books on the night stand. Am I going to read them? Should I donate them? Should I read them and then pass them on? I will laundry all the linens on the bed- including the mattress cover and the duvet. The last week I will do the wall with the tall dresser and some art work. I will again check the clothes in the tall dresser to see what stays and what goes. For my reward when finished, I will go shopping with a friend and buy some replacement items for the things I threw away. Then I will stand in the doorway and enjoy my fresh, well organized room.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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Spring Fling tips

This Tuesday I gave a presentation to the Atlanta Independent Women’s Group on spring cleaning/ decluttering/organizing. It was a fantastic group of highly motivated women. For those of you unable to attend, I am giving you ten of the top pointers. 1. Focus on one area or room at a time. 2. Have a clear vision of how you want that area to look and feel – and note how that is different from the way it is now. 3. Note especially the things that are really bugging you about this area and know what is essential to you in this area. 4. Divide the area into zones- if it is a living room, you may have a reading zone, an entertainment zone, a hobby zone, etc. 5. Keep everything you need for that activity in that zone, if possible, and eliminate all items that do not support that activity. 6. Have a plan and a timeline in mind and written down before you begin. 7. On the day of the cleaning/decluttering/ organizing project, gather all your materials before starting so you don’t hinder your flow. 8. When finished, make certain that everything has a logical home – even items that are rarely in their home, like your laptop. 9. After you complete your project, monitor it to see that your organizational plan is working. 10. Have fun and celebrate and reward yourself as you go along.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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