Organzing Your Kitchen

I like to use a zone plan to organize my home. Each month I tackle a different area. October is a prime month for the 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. Take this time to clear out the food that has accumulated because of impulse buying or overbuying.

Before starting, take a long look at your current kitchen set up. What is bothering you? Are your counters crowded? Are your spices a jumble? Are some often used items hard to reach? Create a vision of how you would like your kitchen to look and feel by the end of this month. Make a brainstorm list of all that needs to happen to make this vision come true.

Some items on your list might include:

  • Declutter your surfaces – what items are not used daily?
  • Purge your cabinets – how many plastic containers or saucepans do you need?
  • Organize for convenience – are your often used items easy to reach?
  • Set up zones – do you have a clear food preparation zone, cooking zone, dish zone, storage zone and serving zone?

Now tackle the project. Divide your kitchen into 4 zones and tackle just one zone a week. This will keep the job from being overwhelming.

  • Week 1 – Cooking Zone – Clean the stove, oven, and microwave. Organize pots, pans, cooking utensils, and bake-ware. If your space is crowded, consider giving away pots that are rarely used. If you have special cookware that is used only for a specific holiday, store that ware with the holiday decorations.
  • Week 2 – Food Preparation Zone – Clean out the refrigerator as well as organize cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, spices, mixers, blenders, measuring cups and spoons. Get rid of duplicates. Toss foods and spices that are past their prime.
  • Week 3 – Dish Zone – Clean your sink area and dishwasher. Organize your dishware, mugs, glasses, and flatware. Discard items you don’t need or those that are broken.
  • Week 4 – Food Serving Zone and Food Storage Zone – Look over placemats, napkins, trivets, large serving pieces, and any groups of items you have not already organized. When you go through your pantry, pull out any cans that you have been holding on to and are reaching expiration. Donate these to a food pantry. When you replace the food in your pantry, group the foods by type – all soups together, all pasta, all fruits, etc.

By the end of the month you will love your organized kitchen space. You are ready for the holiday cooking!

For more details on organizing your kitchen visit my website and purchase my book From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

The Five Biggies When Organizing a Party

 I love to give parties! I try to have at least one or two a year.

When planning a party I look at the date, theme, guest list, menu, and location.

Date: I look for a date when most of my friends will be available. For example, I give a July party but try to avoid the weekend of the 4th. Many people would have conflicts then and have to make a hard choice –  go to Uncle Clyde’s barbecue or go to Jonda’s annual July party.

Theme: The theme of the party will hold everything together. The theme will determine the invitations, the food, the decorations, and any games or activities. I feel a different theme for each party keeps the parties fresh. Regular guests often ask me months ahead if I have decided on a theme yet for the next party.

Guest List: This is an important component. I love to invite a diverse group of people who will enjoy each other’s company. I usually have a core group that I hope will attend every party and then add some new friends that I think everyone will enjoy.

Menu: The menu usually follows the theme. My guest have food preferences and restrictions and because I love my guests, I try to accommodate them. I like to see that everyone has at least a couple of things they can nosh on and drink. My house is small so I don’t have room for sit down affairs. Because of that, my menu consists of easy things to eat if you are standing or sitting with your plate on your lap.

Location:  Usually my parties are at my home but I have had some great ones at other locations. Again, the theme tends to determine the location. When giving a party at my place, I go for “clean enough” so that the board of health won’t be concerned but I do not stress over having the place “party perfect.”

Once I have decided on the five biggies, I put together a timeline. I list every task that mush be done from setting the date and making the guest list to laying out the food table right before the guests arrive. Every task has a “do” date and that is what keeps me sane. I know exactly when I plan to send out the save the date emails, make the actual invites and mail them, put together the shopping lists, and setting the table.

When the date and time arrives, I want to enjoy my party as much as my guests. Did I mention that I love to give parties?

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing Your Kitchen for the Holidays – Zone Plan

October is a great time to organize your kitchen. This prepares your kitchen for all the extra holiday cooking. It also gives you the opportunity to donate to the various food drives all the food that has built up over the past year through impulse buying or overbuying.

My kitchen strategy:

  1. 1. Look at your motivation. What are the organizational issues with this room? Do you feel your counter tops are too crowded? Do you have difficulty locating items? Make a list.

2. Create your vision. How do you want your kitchen to look and how do you want to feel when you are working there? Write out your vision. Your completion date for the kitchen zone is the end of the month.

3. Brainstorm. Now that you know what you want, jot down all that has to happen to make your vision come true. Some tasks might include:

  • Clearing out items you no longer want or use. If your counters are too cluttered, take everything off that you do not use at least weekly – maybe even daily. Look at the items you removed. Could you live without them? If so, donate them. Do you need them but just not often? Store them elsewhere. How many plastic containers or dishes do you really need? Donate extras and give yourself some much needed space.
  • Look for new storage ideas. I have used a small dish drainer to store lids and pie pans. Plastic bins or tubs hold like items together and make it easy to pull out the bin, select what you want, and put the bin back in its space. Consider hooks for holding items.
  • Organize items for more convenience. Store all materials for making coffee near the coffee pot. Place the coffeepot near the sink. Put the toaster nearby to make breakfast preparation easier. Put rarely used items on higher shelves. Find an attractive counter top container to hold frequently used cooking utensils and place it by the stove. Set up your kitchen into zones – food preparation zone, cooking zone, dishes zone, food storage zone, and food serving zone.

4. Write out your goals that you developed when working on your vision and brainstorming list.

5. Develop your timeline. Write out and put on your calendar when  you plan to do each task. Be reasonable and allow some time  for events that pop up. Do a little each day and schedule larger tasks like cleaning the refrigerator over the weekend.

6. Now just follow the timeline and by the end of the month you will love your new kitchen space. You are ready for the holidays!

For more details on following this plan, visit my website and purchase my book, From Vision to Victory: A Workbook For Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Leap Year Proposal

2012 is a leap year. We have an extra day to use at the end of this month. Let’s not think of it as just any other day but do something to make it special.

On the eve of every New Year we make resolutions or affirmations for the upcoming year. What if on the 29th we make Leap Year Resolutions? Think of this as a slightly short five year plan.

Write down where you want to be in four years. What job are you doing? Where are you living? How is your health? Who are your friends? What are your relationships like? Be very specific.

Then write down what you need to do to make these visions come true. Develop a four year timeline and put on your calendar specific times to review your goals and the revisit the timeline to see how your are progressing.

Now share these goals with someone. This will make it real for you.

Happy Leap Year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Party Preparations

I enjoy putting together a special party for my friends during the month of July. Every year I think of a theme and then start my planning. This year the theme is celebration of good friends and good books. I have asked my guests to bring a book or two that they have enjoyed, tell why they enjoyed the book, and swap it out for a book that someone else brings.
My theme helps me get my vision of the party in my mind. I now know what I want my party to look like and how I want to feel at the party. I want my party to be casual, comfortable, and engaging. I want my guests and myself to feel relaxed and happy.
Next I brainstorm all the tasks I need to complete in order for this vision to come true. I start with my guest list. Then I plan my invitations and have them made. Other items on my list will include: address and send invites, plan dates to do extra yard work, get help with yard work, pressure wash my house and deck, freshen up lawn furniture, plan menu, prepare/order food/beverages, get help and put up tent, clean house, decorate, spray yard, last minute runs for items at store, get help putting out food/beverage stations. I know that my decorations will include books and that I will want a table for guests to put their books on when they arrive.
After I have brainstormed all I can think of that I need to do, I make a time-line. I call and see who can assist me when/where I need help. I post my time-line and check it off as I go. I allow some wiggle room – after all it might be raining when I plan to do yard work or the person who is going to help on a certain day finds they can’t help then but can help later.
When the day of the party arrives, there is little to do except finish decorating, putting out food/beverages, and spraying the yard for bugs.
By breaking down the party project into small, manageable parts, and putting together a reasonable time-line, I make the party stress free.
When the guests come, I am ready to party too.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Project Time-line

Imagine you have a big project coming up. Clean out the garage? Plan a party? Prepare for a presentation? Complete a doctoral dissertation?
Big or small, all projects will be less stressful if you develop a time-line.
Start with the end in mind. How do you want the final project to look and feel? At what date do you have/want to complete this project?
What do you have to do to arrive at that final place? Brainstorm every little thing you have to do.
Look over the brainstorm list. Maybe some items on that list might be broken down into even smaller steps.
Now write all of the items from your list on index cards or in a word document.
Arrange the items in a logical, sequential order.
Determine how long each item on the list will take to complete.
On your calendar, first write the final due date of the completed project.
Next, write the intended completion date beside each item on your list. These are your “do” dates.
Does the list look doable? Allow some “wiggle” room. Life happens and you will probably not get everything done right on schedule.
Now, transfer these dates to your calendar (and don’t forget to look at that calendar).
The joy of having this time-line is that you won’t have this big “worry cloud” hanging over your head. You have a plan and you are following your plan.
You can also see, by tracking the tasks, how much work must be done and that procrastination of the tasks will either cause stress or keep the project from being it’s best.
If you have your vision and follow your plan, victory will surely follow.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer