Organizing the Attic or Basement Zone

November is a wonderful time to organize and clean out your attic or your basement zone. The temperature tends not to be too hot or cold for comfort. It is also an area where many of us store our holiday decorations.

As you prepare to work in this zone, first decide how you want to use this area in your home. You might include on your list storage of:

  • Seasonal decorations
  • Seasonal house items like fans or heaters
  • Household items you wish to keep but are not currently using
  • Toys, clothing, or other items you wish to pass on to friends and family
  • Out of season clothing or sports equipment
  • Suitcases
  • Archival paper
 Plan out a zone in your storage area for each category. Items you access frequently like suitcases or cat carriers should be near the entrance of this area and items you do not plan to use in the next year like unused household items are best stored furthest from the entry.
Attack the attic or basement zone by zone. Remove everything from the one zone you are working on and sweep down the area and look for any structural damage or infestations. As you place items back in the area, if you come across broken, unloved items, or multiple items (How many suitcases do you really use?) that have been hanging around for years, now is the time to let them go. You will feel so much lighter when they are gone. You will enjoy the room to move around.
Leave space between each zone so you can safely retrieve or store items.
Label all containers. Use large labels you can see from some distance. Even if a container is clear, it is hard to see what is inside if the lighting is dim.
It helps to locate different holiday items if you use colored or themed containers to store your decorations. Still label the containers with primary items. This keeps you from having to dig through multiple boxes to find the advent wreath or creche you want to use early in the season. Your organized attic or basement will make decorating and un-decorating a much easier task.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Bathroom and Linen Closet

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your house but it is also one that is heavily used and holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a plan for how you want to use this place and how you want it to look. Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Think about what you use daily in this zone. You may not have room to store back up supplies, first aid items, or cleaning materials.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store the items you use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. Use a bin, small basket, or drawer for cosmetics you use almost daily. A medicine cabinet above the sink can store toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for hair might be stored in a container under the sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink.

If you have drawers or shelves, designate each area as a container for like items. One drawer or basket might hold everyday make up, another might hold eye products, and a third hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you are no longer using or are past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both places are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items responsibly. Do not toss medicines in the trash and Never flush them into our water system.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store any duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet, use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra towels, wash cloths, and toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized and decluttered, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Then the next time you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Garage

Now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it’s a great time to organize your garage.

Before pulling out all that stuff onto the driveway, take a good look at what is in your garage now. Why is it there? How did it get there? Do you still need it?

Decide on the functions of your garage. Is one of the functions to park your cars? 82% of homes have two-car garages or larger, but only 15% use them to park the car inside.

Do you keep your lawnmower and gardening supplies in the garage? What about bikes and sports equipment? Do you have a workshop area with tools? Do you keep your recycling bins here? What about a shelf or tow that stores all those extra packages of paper towels or packages of soft drinks? Do you still have boxes of stuff from your last move that have never been unpacked because you have no room in the house?

Once you have decided how you plan on using your garage, divide it into zones. Items that you frequently use outside like yard and garden tools are best stored near the garage door. Items used frequently like recycling bins or overflow storage of house supplies should be stored near the door to the house.

Decide on how much space you can devote to each zone and still have plenty of room to navigate and use each zone. Now you are ready to start pulling things out.

Pick one zone area. Pull everything out of that area and sweep it out. Put back what belongs in that zone and leave anything else on the driveway (or if you are only doing one zone at a time, put the rest near the zone area planned for it). As you put items back, make sure you still need them. Do you really need two hedge clippers? Why are you still holding on to that broken weed eater?

Continue going from zone to zone. Look at the shelving and storage options you have at hand. Is there a better way to store items in the zone? Shelving makes it a lot easier to get to boxes and containers. Using clear containers to keep like items together makes finding them, using them, and putting them away much easier. If it is difficult to get  to an item that you need, the likelihood of getting it put back away is slim to none. If you can’t easily see what is in containers, label them.

Once you have completed this task, hopefully you will have room to park at least one car. Your future you (the one coming out to the car on an icy morning) will thank you for taking the time to do this chore now.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Bathroom Zone

If you are following my zone plan, this month is the month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space. Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house any cleaning materials? To keep your bathroom uncluttered, some of what you store here can go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. Use a bin, small basket, or drawer for cosmetics you use almost daily. A medicine cabinet can store toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items for your hair might be stored in a container under the sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer might hold everyday makeup, another might hold eye products, and a third hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you are no longer using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your  medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold harger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in October this year. Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store any duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra towels, wash cloths, and toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized and decluttered, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Dream Folders

While helping clients declutter and organize paperwork, I often come across brochures, newspaper clippings, or magazine articles on various topics. These papers accumulate on desktops or counter tops and don’t seem to have any real “home.” Most of these have been read but are papers the client still wants to keep. The clients just don’t quite know where to put them. So they lay about, “just for now.”

I suggest that these papers are organized by topics and then stored in dream folders/notebooks or topic folders/notebooks. Some topics I often see on counters are: financial advice, home decorating ideas, landscaping ideas, vacation ideas, health/exercise topics, and recipes. If there are a lot of recipes, I suggest making folders or notebook dividers for each category (i.e. appetizers, soups, main dishes, etc.) Sometimes the clients are researching on bigger projects like a daughter’s wedding or a retirement home. A better solution to bigger projects are project bins with internal folders.

The idea of the folders is to keep the paper clutter corralled and off the desk/counter top surfaces and to organize the paper so that it can easily be reviewed. I keep my folders on a shelf in a bookcase. They can also be kept in a file drawer or box. At least once a year, skim through these dream folders. Then you can note what still interests you while tossing the rest. you may even find that you have implemented some of the ideas and now no longer need the original inspiration.

So, gather up your papers and make your dream folders. Enjoy those dreams and make them happen.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! This is the time we show special people how much we care about them. Depending where you are and where you are in your life, you may receive just a few cards and gifts or a ton.

If you have small children, they will make you gifts and cards. If you are a teacher, you will receive cards from your students. You might have a secret pal give you gifts at work. Special friends may send you fun cards. A special someone in your life may give you a card and a gift.

Nice.

Now, let’s think of someone 60+ years of age. What if they kept every card, every gift, every dried flower or deflated balloon? Wow! That would be overpowering.

I have heard clients say, “But, my friends made these things for me. My friends put a lot of thought into these gifts. I love the reminders that people care for me.”

This is a very personal decision, but I am pretty sure you don’t want to dedicate a whole room to storing these items.

Consider these options:

  1. Chose the most special mementos – like the year your son wrote his own special poem in the card or your mother wrote you a special note – then box them up in a lovely box and label them. Put them away on a shelf and revisit them once a year.
  2. Spread out your favorite gifts and cards and take a picture of them. Then let them go.
  3. Make a collage of the best cards and bring it out for decoration each Valentine’s Day.
  4. Pass on old cards to schools or nursing homes so that they can re-purpose them in projects.

Keep in mind that if you toss out a card that your mother or child gave you 25 years ago, you are not tossing out the person or the love for that person. By all means keep a couple of cards, but not all.

Letting go of some of the memorabilia will clear up space for more happy memories to come your way.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing and Decluttering Your Bathrooms

If you are following my zone plan, this month is a good month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, you may wish to include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space.  Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room  to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house cleaning materials? Some of what you store in this bathroom now may go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink the place you store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. I have a small basket for the makeup I use almost daily. I have room in my medicine cabinet for toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for your hair may be stored in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink area.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer may be everyday makeup, one may be for eye products, one may hold hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you no longer are using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold larger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in September this year.  Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra bath towels, wash cloths, and extra toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Zone Plan – Organizing Your Office


When a new year starts I develop a plan to organize or work on the maintenance of my home. I divide my home into 10 zones. Each month, except for July and December, I work on organizing one of those zones. I give myself July and December to work on other projects and to catch up if I have fallen behind.

January is set aside for my office zone. My plan is to revisit my vision for my office and see if I am still on track. I touch everything in my office and make decisions about what stays in the office, what stays but is stored outside of my office zone, and what I going to be tossed, donated, recycled, or shredded.

This past year I have moved, so my office is in a new location and has different dimensions. The vision for the area has also changed. The room is larger now, so I now have room for meetings in my office. The room has less built in storage, so I must decide what I need to store in this zone and what I will store elsewhere and what I no longer need to keep. I continue to want the room to be open and inviting both to me and to my guests.

I start with clearing out all of my files in my desk and filing cabinet. Some papers are moved to archival storage, some are tossed or shredded, some are set aside for tax preparation, and some return to the file folder. It is important that my files have plenty of room for the papers that will gather this year.

Next, I clear out my remaining drawers in my desk. Extra supplies are donated or stroked elsewhere. Tattered or broken work tools are tossed.

I continue around the office, clearing out the bookcase, the storage cabinet, and updating my vision board. My project bins are updated. I schedule daily and weekly maintenance to make certain that paper is not accumulating on my desk or on other surfaces and that I am keeping my action files working properly.

By the end of the month, I reward myself with a fresh flower on my desk. I feel ready to tackle another year.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Kitchen Zone


If you are working on organizing your home according to my zone plan, October is the prime month for your kitchen. The holidays are right around the corner and the kitchen will become a very busy place. Seasons have changed so you are ready to put away the ice cream maker and pull out the crock pot. This is also the time of year that food drives kick into high gear so clear out the food that has accumulated this past year because of impulse buying or overbuying.

1. Stand back and study your current kitchen set up. What is bugging you the most? Are your counters too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Are some containers hard to reach?

2. Create a vision of how you want your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month.

3. Make a list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true. Some of the tasks on your list might include:

  • Declutter your counters. Take off everything that you are not using at least weekly. Put these items elsewhere or consider donating them.
  • Purge your cabinets. How many plastic containers or small saucepans do you really need?
  • Look for innovative storage ideas. Contain like items together to make it easy to locate them and to make it easy to pull out the container to easily reach what is stored in the back of your cabinets.
  • Organize for convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffee pot near the sink. Hang your favorite mugs nearby on the wall. Put rarely used items on higher shelves.
  • Set up your kitchen in zones – food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.

4. When your tasks are finalized and written out, schedule them on your calendar. Break up the tasks into manageable bits so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

By the end of the month, your kitchen is ready for anything the holidays can bring to it.

For more details on 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.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Your Storage Area – the Zone Plan

OK, it’s time to get back into the attic, basement, garage area, or wherever you store your seasonal decorations.

While you’re there – look around. What else is stored in this area? Since you’re here, now is a good time to evaluate what is lurking in the corners (or what you are tripping over right at the entrance). It is such a temptation when putting items into storage to just dump them wherever there is some space. This leads to difficulty maneuvering in the area and actually finding that special box when you want it.

Make a list of all the categories you have in this storage space. Are you keeping out of season clothes, archival papers, furniture and household accessories, seasonal house items like fans/heaters/humidifiers, toys to pass on to grandchildren, as well as all of your holiday decorations?

Group all related items that you find. Put like with like and designate a space for each category. Put up signs to clarify the zones. Put the categories that you rarely want – like old furniture – the farthest from the point of entry. Put them most frequently used zones nearest the entrance.

Label boxes if it is not clear what is in them. Moving forward, it helps if you use holiday colored or themed boxes to store your decorations. Mark the boxes with the primary items. If your boxes are well labeled, you will not have to dig through every box to find that advent wreath or creche that you want early in the season.

If you run across broken or unloved items that have been languishing in this area for years – get rid of them now.

If you work on this zone once a year, it will never become a nightmare.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer