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

It’s that Spooky Time of Year

Pumpkins, Turkeys, Menorahs, Santa Clause, Baby New Year are showing up everywhere. It may be getting too late to make reservations to see Santa. I saw an article at the end of September saying where the best places were to see Santa and how to make reservations. Scary!

How do we deal with all this holiday stress? Right now, is the time to sit down, breathe, and write down your vision of how you want the holidays to look and feel. What is important to you in each season. Has this changed over time? Are you on autopilot doing what you have always done plus new items you have added in recent years? Talk with other family members and get their input as well. You may be doing something for someone, like preparing a special food, that they no longer even enjoy.

I used to really go all out for Halloween when my children were little. I decorated. I helped them make costumes. We did the jack-o-lantern thing and then baked the pumpkin and made pie. It was a big deal. Now that my children are grown men, not so much. Now my husband and I put out a few pumpkins, a small inflatable scarecrow, light up a portable fire pit, and sit comfortably in our driveway waiting for the local trick-or -treaters.

My vision for almost all of my holidays has changed and simplified over the years. It’s good to acknowledge and embrace the change.

Develop a list of the most important things you want to do and experience in each holiday. Then go to your calendar and log in when you are going to do such tasks as parties, shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, undecorating, etc. Remember to build in time to just relax and enjoy your decorations and the holidays.

Make this time of year special and enjoyable for you.  

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Annual Christmas Panic

OK, we are now really in December. Christmas will be here really soon.

Time to panic!

Noooo!

In spite of my best efforts, I have run behind on my timeline. In spite of my great plan early on, I have also over scheduled.

What should I do now to keep away that panic and stress?

Here is my current plan:

  1. Back to envisioning how I want this holiday to look and feel.
  • I want my holiday to include time with loved ones and friends.
  •  I want to feel happy and at peace with the world.

     2. Getting real about what can be done.

  •  I am still working on cards – but individual messages are going to be very brief and only to those I don’t communicate with except at Christmas.
  • My decorations will be less than previous years.
  • My house will not attract the board of health, but this is not the time for any deep cleaning or organizational projects.
  • I will streamline cooking – eat out more – and keep foods for the party and the holiday meal simpler than in the past.

    3. Getting help.

  • I will ask for help from friends and family as needed.
  • I will hire help for some cleaning and yard work.

    4. Revisiting my calendar.

  • I will move some items around to accommodate my new commitments.
  • I will let some items go.

   5. Taking care of myself first.

  • I will sleep more.
  • I will eat healthy (well, at least most of the time).
  • I will do my weights and walk.

   6.  Laughing and smiling – a lot.

  • I will schedule time with fun friends.
  • I will go to uplifting events.
  • I will laugh at the absurd and ridiculous – and that means laughing at myself at times.

OK – Now, I have a Plan B. I feel better.

     

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Magic Suitcase – Less is truly more!

A true story:
Once long ago and far away in the structure of military land, there was as Army wife. She was dutiful, responsible, took care of the cleaning, cooking, mending, the schedules of her children, and was willing to more to any location the Army needed them. Life was filled to the brim ….with things to do. Life was so full of deadlines and interruptions. Except!!! …when the family had to move.
Each family member was allowed one suitcase to pack. My suitcase was special. In my suitcase I only used my clothes to wrap and pack all the necessary items for our family’s survival during the span of time from the day the moving van took our household abundance and the day the van delivered all that responsibility to the new place.
The first time I packed that suitcase it took several days of thought and decision…as if I were working a jigsaw puzzle where the only clue for fitting was the dimension of the suitcase. But after the first move, I had the absolute necessities down to a science. I always packed my favorite coffee mug last and took it out first.
With that minimal suitcase and a virtually empty house at my new destination, I was on vacation. I had no big household responsibilities. no real cleaning, no putting away, cooking was like camping. My time was my own. The children and I would explore the new environment – the zoo, the stores, the parks, the local attractions.
But when the van arrived I always came back from my vacation, put on my apron and rubber gloves, scooped up the dustpan and broom and went back to work with all the responsibility that come with belongings. I was back to normalcy.
This story is a snapshot of an extreme definition of downsizing.
Simply put, downsizing is merely getting rid of what you don’t need in a given set of circumstances.
I dearly loved that suitcase. It simplified my life for the span of time our belongings were en route. It became a symbol of freedom for me. It took me years and years to realize WHY that suitcase was so precious to me. It took me a long time to realize that the more things I had, the less time and money I had.
I am a much happier person since I have started downsizing and to me downsizing is a continual process.
Less stuff=less mess=less stress.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Resilience

One of the presentations I attended at the NAPO conference was Boost Your Resilience by Dean M. Becker. I like to share the great ideas from conference with others.
Our constantly changing environment, demands of our jobs, and the tough economy cause stress and anxiety. So what skills do we need to do better and feel better in this environment? Dean’s statement “More than education, more than experience, more than training, it’s resilience that determines who succeeds and who fails.”
He pointed out what resilience is not-(see picture). Doing the same things over and over again and expecting something different is not being resilient. Trying to solve the unsolvable is not resilience. Giving up too soon is not resilience.
He goes on to say that “The scientific research also shows that more than genetics, more than intelligence, more than any other factor, it is the Thinking Style that determines who is resilient and who is not.”
One of the big take aways from all this is that events do not directly impact what we do. It is our thoughts after an event that influence what we do. Your thoughts impact how you feel and react.
My challenge to you is to be aware of your thoughts when you encounter stress. I would love to hear your experiences on this topic.

Jonda S. BeattieProfessional Organizer

Seasonal Chaos

Ready or not- here it comes! Halloween is this weekend. Do you get the impression that it’s only a week before Christmas? Look at the ads in the paper, the commercials – walk any mall. Read in the paper in early October that visiting Santa Clause in Phipps Plaza is already sold out (at $15 a pop). Thanksgiving is marketed before Halloween. Christmas ads start in August. New Year’s Day champagne/party ads collide with Christmas carols. And Kwanzaa and Chanukah become more commercial every year, wedging their ads in between, over, and under the big 3 – Turkey Day, Santa Clause, and the crashing crystal ball over Times Square. The overlapping of marketing for the holidays would drive anyone mad.
The holidays become a time of long “to do” lists, over commitment, overbuying, overeating, and sleep deprivation.
How do we handle all that stress?
I feel the first and most important step to diminish stress is to develop a vision of what we truly WANT for our holiday. What is your vision for the next few months? Imagine how your perfect season would look and feel. Write down your goals for the season.
Now develop a list of what must happen to make that vision come true. Purge any commitments or rituals that do not support that vision. Then make the calendar your best friend. Write down every party, activity, or ritual on your calendar. Write down when you plan to shop, to decorate, to bake, to party, to send cards. Notice how full your calendar is. Is it doable for you? If not purge some more. Allow some time for unexpected events and some time to sit home and enjoy your decorated space.
If you want even more detailed ideas, I have a presentation on Stress and the Holidays that I would love to present to your group.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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Gift Cards


You would think that as a Professional Organizer I would like the idea of giving gift cards. After all, they take up very little space and the recipient can buy exactly what they want with the card.
Actually, I am really against them. Time and time and time again while decluttering with a client I come across old gift cards. Sometimes I come across whole stacks of gift cards. They are often years old and no longer good. Someone who cared about this person put out money that was basically just thrown away.
There are many reasons why this happens. One reason is that the person receiving the card is in some type of transition or stressful time and is not 100% there.
I have recently come across bundles of cards from a couple of clients that were married several years ago. Now we are going through the wedding gifts, cards, and pictures and making decisions about them. It’s sad to see all of these gift cards that have not been cashed in or used. I have also had some clients who were given the gift cards when they were recovering from a fire, an illness, or a death in the family. These gift cards were lumped in with the greeting cards and put in a box or a drawer. The clients are just now getting the courage to go through these items and make decisions about them. It saddens them again that they did not cash in the cards and lost the gift that was given to them.
At other times, the recipient has ADD and has laid the cards in a stack of papers or on a bookcase “just for now” and forgotten about them. They don’t mean to not use them- they just forgot. It makes them feel dumb that they forgot about the cards.
So we now have not only money spent that did not get used but we are in the long run making the recipient feel bad instead of good when they refind them.
If you do give a gift card, please follow up and see what they were used for. Maybe go shopping with the friend and help them get something they need.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer