Teaching Organizational Skills to Young Children



As a professional organizer, I spend a lot of my time teaching or transferring organizational skills to adults. Many of these adults have children who also need this help.

Diane Quintana (CPO, CPO-CD) and I have been aware of the importance of teaching young children organizational skills. Diane and I met when we were both working with the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) in the schools program. This was a program that went into schools and introduced elementary children to some of the basic organizational skills. We were sad to see this program fold.

Taking matters into our own hands, we co-authored two books – Suzie’s Messy Room & Benji’s Messy Room. These books were written for parents and children to share. We took some basic organizational strategies:

  • Break projects down into small manageable steps
  • Sort like with like
  • Cull collections
  • Assign a place or home for belongings
  • Reward for jobs completed
We then applied these strategies to the task of cleaning up a room. These same strategies are applicable to any project the children (or parents) take on.
We have gone on to develop presentations for parents on teaching organizational skills to their children and have developed activities for the children. We feel this is also something that should be taught in the schools as well as at home.
For more information, please contact me – jonda@timespaceorg.com or 404-299-5111.
To order books, check out my web page – http://timespaceorg.com/books/ .

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Conference Recap


I always go to conference with goals in mind. The theme of the conference this year was ICD R.O.C.K.S. The plan was to walk away from conference with information on the latest Research, have Opportunity to expand our thinking, Collaborate with peers, gain Knowledge through the presentations and from each other, and to learn Strategies to use on ourselves and our clients.
Diane Quintana and I also went with the idea of letting other participants know about our new children’s book, Suzie’s Messy Room. We had hoped to have the book in hand by conference but that did not happen. We did have a mock up and some post cards telling about the book.
The presentations were fantastic. We were exposed to:

    • Unlocking the Secrets to Teens
    • Still Someone: Working with People Who Have Memory Loss
    • Hoarding Disorder: Definitions and Best Practices
    • MESS: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House & His Act
    • Recognizing & Managing Compassion Fatigue
    • Universal Design: Making Life Easier for Everyone
    • Nervous System Resilience
    • I Have What? A Practical Guide to Working with ADHD Adults

The conference certainly did give opportunities to network and expand our thinking. The challenge now is to incorporate all of this learning into practices with myself and my clients. I have the handout material and will set aside some times to review each presentation. I have clients in mind that will benefit from all of this new research and learning.

Next year the conference is in Portland, Oregon. The theme is Blazing a Trail. Wow!

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Who me? ADHD?

Information about women with ADD/ADHD have fascinated me in my later years. I suspect that I have ADD but have not been officially diagnosed. ADHD is a condition that may develop in early years but continue into adulthood and often gets worse in post menopausal women.

As women get older and take on more responsibilities, they tend to get overwhelmed with day-to-day events. ADHD makes it difficult to focus and control behavior. ADHD people are often bright but can be challenged by simple tasks. They might be very creative with the big ideas but terrible with the details of follow through. They may work on many projects but complete few. They wonder what is wrong with them and often develop poor self esteem.

So what can women with ADHD or suspected ADHD do?

  1. Develop time management skills.
  • Set schedules for the day – decide what 3 things they would like to accomplish for the day and block out times to do them
  • Learn to question themselves about projects – “I have 3 big projects I want to finish. What should I do myself and what should I delegate or hire out? Should I landscape my yard and paint my deck, or hire someone else to do it?”
  • Use a timer – decide ahead of time how long they will devote to a task – set the timer for that amount of time and then quit when the timer goes off – reward themselves for what they have accomplished

      2. Set up systems for they way they function.

  • Determine their learning style and utilize their learning strengths
  • If they are a piler instead of a filer, accept that and set up piling systems
  • Use labels for files, containers, shelves
  • Put things where they would look for them – not where they think they “ought” to go

      3. Accept themselves and be proud.

  • Focus on their strengths and accomplishments – not their failures
  • Learn that perfection is rare and that “good enough” is a better goal
  • Speak up for themselves and their accomplishments
  • Take care of themselves physically and walk tall and proud

Criteria for a formal diagnosis are determined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association. If women don’t want a formal diagnosis at their later age, they might want to work with a counselor, life coach, or professional organizer to learn some coping skills.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer