Envision an organized 2010 and beyond

January 14, 2010
Brenda Hamstead, REALTOR

Brenda Hamstead, REALTOR

Submitted by Brenda Hamstead, REALTOR®, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

Next time you’re in your office, kitchen or laundry area – those rooms that commonly fall prey to clutter – stop and ask yourself: “What do I want this room to look like? How would it feel?”

That’s what Jonda S. Beattie asks her order-seeking clients. The Atlanta-based professional organizer says having a vision of your ideal space before you dig in is key in helping people achieve – and maintain – neatness. Beattie recently penned a book to help others face their fear: “From Vision to Victory: A Workbook for Finding a Simple Path to an Organized Home” ($13.95, Squall Press).

With January being the prime-time for home organization, Beattie shares these tips for getting your home in shipshape. But she also believes if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. “Don’t mess with something that is working,” she says.

The Strategy  

1) Find the source of stress in a room. Is it the stack of mail left unsorted? Boxes stacked in a corner? Messy, crowded countertops? Write down what you want to change and handle the biggest offenders first.

2) Ask yourself what you want it to look like. Sparse and modern? Cozy and comfortable? A space for collections? This will help dictate what you keep and how you organize the space. Write down how you want the space to look and feel.

3) Create a timeline. Decide when you want the project completed, and then list all of the tasks and goals for the space. Use sticky notes, index cards and calendars to assign completion dates.

4) Purge and place. When combing through your belongings, ask yourself why you are keeping that item. “You should need it or love it. Preferably both,” Beattie says. Collections can be pared down to a favorite few. Unworn or old clothing can be tossed, donated or repaired. And when you see an item out of place, pick it up and ask yourself where it belongs. Putting it back on the counter is not an option.

When it comes to file cabinets, buy the best you can afford, professional organizer Jonda S. Beattie says. If the drawers stick, don’t pull out all the way or break down, you’re far less likely to keep organized. We like this Bourdonnais File Cabinet ($549 in mahogany) from Ballard Designs.

Filing Tips

Mail is a common organization problem, Beattie finds. She suggests building a communication center with a couple of file folders and a large calendar. Open mail at the communication center, toss junk immediately, and file the rest into folders that could be called: To Pay, To Read, and To File, or whatever works for you. After placing an item in a folder, mark on the calendar the date by which you need to address that item. Beattie also advises to buy a sturdy filing cabinet and not scrimp on the expense: if the cabinet gets stuck or the drawers don’t pull out all the way, you are less likely to use it.


Beattie advises her clients to separate their homes into 10 zones and attack one zone a month, taking off July and December. Each month, touch everything in the room and evaluate whether you need to keep it. She suggests people assess their kitchens in October and toss out what they no longer need. This helps organize and prepare for holiday cooking.


“From Vision to Victory” is available at Eagle Eye Book Shop and Beattie’s Web site, http://www.timespaceorg.com.


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