Routines and Meal Planning

I love to cook. I enjoy going to the farmers market once a week. I dislike shopping at the grocery store.

How do I max out my joy factors and minimize the stress when meal planning?

I have a routine.

Saturday morning, I:

  • look at my calendar for events on the upcoming week
  • look over my menu chart on the fridge from the previous week
  • pull out my stash of menus that I like or that I would like to try
  • determine what I will cook each day – paying attention to when I am taking food over to a friend, days I will have little time to actually cook, days we have to eat early because of evening meetings, days we have to eat late because of busy schedules, days we will eat leftovers
  • pull the recipes I chose to prepare and make a list of all the ingredients I will purchase – I have two grocery lists – one for the market and one for the grocery store
  • look at our running list of needed items and add them to the appropriate shopping list
  • type out the menu plan for the week on my template and put it on the fridge
Now I am ready to shop. I have all the fresh ingredients on the Farmers Market list. I love going there and picking out the exact piece of fish or meat I want, digging my hands down into the mounds of green beans and choosing exactly what I want, looking at the signs that say were the produce was grown so I can choose my vegetables and fruits with that in mind. Next, I am off to the grocery store where I make my run through and grab all that I need for the week. 
Back home, I put all the items away and take a rest. One of the items on my list each week is fresh flowers. Those will be in clean vases by the evening. They are my reward for doing the shopping task. 
I now know that I am set for the week and have my plan on what foods I will prepare. I have had people question this process by saying, “I don’t know what I’ll want to eat Wednesday evening”. For me, if I have the intention out there and I am looking forward to producing that meal on Wednesday, it will work for me and I know I have everything I need to prepare the meal. However, if another opportunity comes up, I can certainly make changes. 
Bon Appetite!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organize Your Office Zone

A new year is beginning. It feels like the right time to set up the home so that it is open to all the new offerings the year will bring.

The reality is that it would be overwhelming to tackle the whole house, so this January I will begin with my office. I have been using the Zone Plan for many years and by the end of this year I will have touched everything in my home. (http://timespaceorg.com/services/)

Over the past year, my files have gotten overfull, project bins need to be updated, new items have come into my office and now the office is feeling a bit crowded. Now is the time to follow the program and work my plan on the office.

1. What is bothering me in my office zone?

  • Loose paper that is not filed
  • Project bins that hold old projects and new projects lying around 
  • Files too full
  • Items lurking on my desk and in the back of my credenza all shouting “Do me!”
2. How do I want my office to look and feel?
  • Look and feel inviting – a place that I enjoy
  • Empty spaces in files and on surfaces that allow for growth
  • Clean and uncluttered
  • Feel productive and energized by the space
3. What do I need to do to make this vison come true?
  • Clean out files
  • Shred and archive papers
  • Clear out desk drawers
  • Purge project bins and update them with current projects
  • Deep clean the room
4. Schedule time for each task.
  • Review calendar and see what times are available
  • Schedule reasonable times for each task
  • Write times to work on the calendar and honor that commitment
By the end of the month, I will call whatever has been accomplished “good enough” and move on to the next zone. The office is now ready for regular maintenance until next January. I always reward myself by buying a fresh flower for my desk.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Kitchen Zone


October is the perfect time to organize your kitchen. The next few months will involve a lot of holiday cooking. Food drives begin to show up everywhere so it is a great opportunity to donate foods you have overstocked this past year. This opens up space for holiday cooking supplies.

My Kitchen Strategy:

  1. Look at my motivation. Why work on the kitchen now? Are my counter tops cluttered? Do I have trouble finding needed items in my pantry? Do I have items taking up space in my freezer that I can’t even identify? Yep, and I want it fixed before the holidays!
  2. Create my vision. I like to work in my kitchen so I want it to be an inviting place that is uncluttered.  I want open countertops that are ready for food prep or rolling out cookie or pie dough. I want all my basic stored foods and spices organized and fresh so I can easily put my hand on what I want without missing a beat. 
  3. Brainstorm. I list all the things I can think of that will make my kitchen match my vision. Some of the tasks are: clearing out items I no longer need or love, looking for new storage ideas, organizing items for more convenience, better defining my kitchen zones (food preparation, cooking, dishes, food storage, and food serving). 
  4. Write our my goals. Writing out my goals helps me focus. I make my goals specific and measurable. I print them out and post them on my refrigerator and cross them off when met.
  5. Develop a timeline. Here is where my calendar becomes my friend.  I look at all the available times I have to work on my goals. To make this doable, I plan for some unexpected things to come up and I break down bigger goals into smaller parts. Instead of booking a day of “organizing kitchen drawers”, I schedule “organizing the knife drawer” on Oct. 4 at 3:00.
  6. Follow the timeline. As best I can, I honor the times I have set aside to do the tasks. If something comes up and I can’t do the work at the scheduled time, I reschedule it. 
  7. Reward myself. When the kitchen zone is complete, I give myself a reward. It might be flowers on the table or a nice candlelit meal.
For more details of following this plan, visit my website www.timespaceorg.com and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home, or sign up for my Zone Plan Teleclass program where I guide you through a new zone each month.  



Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Using Found Time


I am a professional organizer. My weekly schedule is all over the place. Some weeks I work long days with clients and end up way too tired at the end of the week. Some weeks I spend most of my time at my desk and go stir crazy. My ideal week is a nice mix of working with clients and taking care of admin work. I can not really control when I will get new clients or when my existing ones want extra time. I can, of course, always say no to jobs when I am overbooked or exhausted, but find that I rarely do.

On Sundays I set out my intended schedule for the week. I have a plan for every day. It is pretty rare if my schedule ends up the way it was planned. I may have someone new call in for an appointment. More often I have clients who need to reschedule, move the time a bit, or cancel for the week.

So, what to do when I get a cancellation or postponement and now have some found time?

  • It it’s an entire day, like a snow day, the best way to use the time might be just to relax. Read a book. Spend some quality time with my husband.
  • It it’s a half day, I might use part of it on a project that has been on the burner too long and then reward that work with reading or doing something in my home just for family.
  • If it is 15 minutes to 30 minutes then the time is more likely to be frittered away if there is no plan. I have a saying by my desk that says, “Savor or Squander”. So rather than spend that time scrolling through Facebook, I have a list of things I can do without any thought.
    1. Work on clearing out my email inbox
    2. File
    3. Follow up with potential clients via a quick email or call
    4. Clear off my desk and tidy my office
    5. Meditate
    6. Work on an upcoming blog
    7. Work on a presentation
    8. Exercise in the office
    9. Walk around my yard
    10. Update my timeline for a project
The idea is that you stay in control of how your time is used. How you use found time depends on you, your working style, and what is pressing on your to do list. But do make a conscious decision what to do with the gift of found time. Put those chunks of time to their most productive use for you.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Importance of Maintenance


You’ve done it! You finally finished organizing your (fill in the blank – files, pantry, closet, etc.). It feels so good! You are glad the project is finished.

But wait a minute. It is really not “finished”. It needs a maintenance plan. Just like laundry or dirty dishes are not “done” forever, neither is your finished project. When you finish working on any organizational project you need a plan to keep it organized.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • If you have finished setting up your filing system and everything is now filed neatly away. You need to have a plan in place to keep those files working. When paper comes in, it should go in a file immediately – do not lay it down on your desk “just for now”. Papers should either be trashed, shredded, or filed. If you don’t have time to do more than a rough sort now, have in place a landing pad and schedule a time to work on emptying it. At least yearly have a time scheduled to go through your files and empty out what is now redundant or not needed.
  • Your pantry is beautiful! All expired foods have been disposed and your goods are nicely lined up, in containers, labeled, and reachable. Now, every time you come home form the store, put all your pantry items away correctly. Don’t just put them in the pantry wherever there is a space. Have all the soups in one space, all canned fruit, all pasta, etc. It should look like the shelves at the store. If you bought a can of tomato soup and you already have a can of tomato soup, the new can should stand behind the old one, so your foods are rotated. At least once a year, schedule a time to take items out of your pantry, clean it out, and check expiration dates.
  • Your bedroom closet is a sight to behold. All blouses are arranged by short sleeve and long sleeve. Your slacks are hung by color. There is space between hangers. Lovely! Now, take a moment and turn all your hangers backwards. The first time you wear an item, turn the hanger to the correct position. This way you keep track of what you are actually wearing. When you buy a new item of clothing, consider getting rid of something you already have. When laundry is done, hang up what goes into your closet in the correct place right away. When you take an item out of the closet to wear, put the empty hanger to one side of the closet. Once or twice a year schedule a time to reorganize and clean out your closet.
I recommend using a zone plan for maintenance on your whole home. This keeps you from zig-zagging around with your projects. Divide your home into zones and schedule one zone for each month. 
I offer a teleclass to help you with this process. Check out htttp://timespaceorg.com/teleclass/.


Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Tips for Your Laundry Zone


Laundry zones can be large (a big space in the basement or a room off the kitchen) or small (fold-out doors covering a washer/dryer combo in a closet size area) or somewhere in-between. Depending on the size of the laundry zone, this area may have other functions besides doing the wash. If there is room, it makes sense to store ironing supplies in this location. My area is large enough to store those ironing supplies plus pet supplies, recycling bins, cleaning supplies, and some oversized party supplies along with the laundry necessities.

The first step to organizing this zone is to develop your vision. How do you plan on using this area? What is working and not working now? How do you want it to look? How to you want to feel when you are in this zone?

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well-organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the never-ending influx of dirty clothes. The idea is to keep the laundry moving and never piling up.

Next, brainstorm a list of tasks you need to accomplish for your laundry zone to match up with your vision. Because my zone is roomy and near the back entry, it is easy to drop something in that room “just for now” because I don’t want to take the time to put the item where it really belongs. Now is the time to remove all items that don’t belong – that don’t fit the vision. Also, on my list I plan to cull out cleaning and laundry products that are stored there. Products that sounded so promising (will get rid of any stain) or “green” (got rid of no stains) or products that have a nasty chemical smell or items that are duplicates should now all leave. These all add up to clutter. I have a space here for ironing and mending. I should not have my Christmas table cloth in the ironing bin in August and it is definitely time to schedule time to mend the waist band of that pair of black pants that has lingered in the mending area for almost a year.

Once your list is complete, get out your calendar and schedule a time for each task. Mark in your calendar what day you plan to pull out the washer and dryer and clean behind them. When are you clearing everything off the floor and cleaning it? Keeping up with the laundry is less of a chore with a well-organized space. An added bonus is that having an organized space makes it easier for family members to participate in doing laundry.

Work on a maintenance schedule. This room gets used a lot so have a scheduled time to bring out form hampers the dirty clothes and do your laundry. Get clothes from the washer to the dryer or hanging racks as quickly as possible. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their “home”. Having different colored baskets for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and take them to the proper room.

Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry, but it will certainly make it less of a chore.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Summer Time is Party Time

I love to throw parties and I am doing two parties this summer. One this weekend and one next month. when I tell people that I really enjoy hosting a party I get a variety of responses – everything from “You must be crazy!” to “Me, too!” A lot of people fall into the “Well, I’d like to give a party, but I just don’t have the ______” (fill in the blank with time, money, energy, etc.).

If you think you would like to throw a party but are worried about all that it entails, consider these points:

  • Visualize. What would your ideal party look like and how would you want to feel? Would you be happiest with an impromptu affair that would involve people dropping in and bringing a dish – either at your home or at a park? Are you more comfortable with a planned party where you are in control of the food and you know in advance how many people are coming? Would you like a sit down formal party that you either host in your home or in a restaurant?
  • Choose a date. Unless you are doing the impromptu party and who shows up is not important, you will want to give people enough warning to keep the date open. I usually send out a save the date email about six weeks before a party. I may check with my besties to see what dates would work for them before deciding on the date.
  • Brainstorm what needs to happen to make this party a fun one for you as well as for your guests. Write down everything you can think of. This list can be edited later.
  • Develop a time line. This is what makes giving a party fun for me. I take my list which includes such things as getting my yard up to snuff, having my house clean, as well as a menu and decorations. I may have 20 or more items on this list but if I spread out the tasks, none of them are overwhelming. When I have every task scheduled on my calendar, I can relax knowing everything will be great.
  • Enjoy your party! On the day of the party don’t overdo. Be ready to roll with whatever happens and know that when your friends start to show up it’s time your you to enjoy their company.
If you are interested in having a peek at my party timeline, send me a request via email (jonda@timespaceorg.com) and I will send you a sample.


Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Beauty of the Zone Plan

Stuff comes into our homes all the time. Sometimes it is something we buy to freshen up the look of a room. Sometimes it is a gift. Sometimes it is an inheritance. All of this can be good. But often the item is just placed somewhere without a lot of thought and/or it is added to what we already have with nothing going away. This can add to a lot of visual clutter in our homes.

I have a system in my home and one I share with my clients that keeps that clutter under control. The system is called the Zone Plan.

This is how it works:

  • You divide your home into 10 zones. My zones include the office, the living room, the kitchen, the laundry room, the master bedroom, the baths, the guest bedroom, the attic, the storage shed, and the entry hall and storage closets. 
  • Each month, except for July and December, you work in one of these zones. The intention is to redefine your vision for the zone and note what is not working with that vision.
  • Then you brainstorm what needs to happen to change what it is now to what matches your vision.
  • You develop a plan and schedule times to work on the project.
  • You touch everything that is in the zone. You decide what supports your vision and stays, what goes, and what is moved elsewhere.
  • At the end of the month you celebrate your wins and move on to the next zone.
The beauty of this plan is that you know you are going to get to every area eventually. If you open your linen closet and see that it needs some work, you can just smile and say, “Your turn is in June!” and shut the door. By completing a zone project instead of zig-zagging through your house, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. 
For more information on the Zone Plan visit my website – http://timespaceorg.com/services/ – or send me an email at Jonda@timespaceorg.com .

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Keep Your Desk from Becoming One Big Inbox


I had a client once tell me that his desk was one big inbox and that he really didn’t have an outbox. Looking over his desk, he was pretty much right. Unless I was sitting there and sorting papers with him and having him trash, shred, and file, things just accumulated in piles.

Now I understand that people with ADHD characteristics panic when paper is filed or placed where they don’t see it. But the truth is that some of that paper has been there so long it has stuck to the desk or fallen behind the desk or is so buried that unless there is some trigger to dig for it, it is forgotten.

Every person has a different comfort zone for clutter and for filing but here are some suggestions:

  • When paper comes into the office, do a quick triage. What is obviously trash or needs shredding? What needs an action soon? What do you want to read and ponder? What ads do you wish to consider?
  • Take care of the trash and shredding right then.
  • Have a landing pad for items needing an action soon.
  • Have a basket for magazines or articles you want to read and ponder. When that basket gets full, acknowledge that you have more than you can handle and either set aside some time to read or dispose of some of the material.
  • Have a folder for ads or upcoming workshops or events that you are considering.
Now this has corralled most of the paper but still very little has really gone away.
Here comes the harder part:
  • Schedule a time to pay bills or check on bill pay. Then immediately file or get rid of paid bills.
  • Weekly, at a scheduled time, take care of any receipts or invoices that need entering or filing. If possible scan these items and get rid of the paper.
  • Take a couple of the items you want to read and ponder and either leaf through them at that time or remove them to another location to read later. After looking through them, dispose of them.
  • Schedule at least monthly a time to leaf through the ads and toss any that you know you don’t want or that have expired. Look over any upcoming offerings and see if some no longer appeal to you or have passed their due date and dispose of them.
While you may never get your desk completely clear of paper, do realize that paper has a purpose and when that purpose is complete the paper should go somewhere besides on your desk.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

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