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persevere posted 5/11/2014 15:45 PM

The one thing I miss about my XWH is that he's pretty organized, and that's an area I've always struggled with.

I sold the marital home about 20 months ago and have an office in my new house that I avoid because it's a mess - the papers are just building up on the desk. It doesn't spread to the rest of my house, but every time I actually have some time to tackle it, I go in there and feel overwhelmed and just don't know where to start.

Once I have it set up I can maintain it, our office in our old house was fine after he left because I knew what went where.

Any advice from you organized SI people on how to get it started? Maybe I should check Flylady too....

inconnu posted 5/11/2014 15:56 PM

Did how it was set up in the marital home work for you, as far as functionality? Because if it did, it seems it'd be easiest to duplicate that setup.

If it doesn't, because the space available is different or whatever, try to figure out what about the old setup you liked, and what you didn't.

Oh, and just so you know, I can find "how to's" and pictures on how to organize galore. I can even sort of have a plan in my head of what I want to do. Yeah, it doesn't ever happen. Even if I do get something set up, I don't maintain it. So I may not be the person you want to take advice from. Just sayin'...

strengthandhope posted 5/11/2014 16:39 PM

I clean houses part time and have helped clients organize before. First is to get through the papers. What do you really need? Put that in a pile. What are you not sure of? Put that in a separate pile. What is garbage? Throw it in the shredder or trash. Once you have the piles, set them aside and start cleaning. Dust, windex, organize the office supplies. Really decide what is needed and what is not. After you have the set up, decide how to file your papers. Go through and set in files the things that go together. Label the file folder and date it so you know the last time you did a purge. Keep this up on a monthly basis and you will be fine! Good luck!

TrustedHer posted 5/11/2014 16:47 PM

I'm an expert on organization the way a veteran cigarette smoker is an expert on quitting...

I've done it so many times, I know all the methods.

Seriously, I have an entire shelf of my library for organizational books.

They just don't work for me.

Good luck!

Amazonia posted 5/11/2014 19:49 PM

Step one is to clean up the pile - bring it out of the office, spread out on the kitchen table, and sort by similar into piles. I like to lable my piles with sticky notes.

Each pile will become a file (or multiple files, depending on how bad it's gotten - you can stack piles and redo the process pile by pile if you need to).

Next step is to make your files if you haven't already. Do you have a cabinet for them?

Step three is to put the papers in the correct files. Just dump them in for now.

Step four is to acquire an inbox, an outbox and a to-file box.

Step five is to put 30 minutes on your calendar once a week to go through your three boxes, especially filling what's in the to file box. Each week you can also pick one file in the cabinet and put everything in it in order.

Dreamboat posted 5/11/2014 21:02 PM

First, get a filing cabinet or banker's boxes (basically a box that holds hanging folders). Also buy hanging folders and manila folders.

Then tackle the papers 1 stack at a time or 30-60 minutes at a time. If you set a limit before you go in then you will not feel as overwhelmed.

As you sort the papers, create folders for them as needed, or place them in already created folders, or throw away. Every paper can ONLY be filed or trashed, no extra pile to "sort thru later".

I feel for you! I mostly have my papers under control, but my office has become the unofficial "junk drawer" of the house because it is on the first floor and the door closes. So whenever we have people coming over, stuff that I am not sure where I want to put but needs to get out of the common area so the place looks nice all goes into the office.

FaithFool posted 5/11/2014 22:14 PM

The only paper I accumulate these days is bank statements because I'm not a fan of online banking.

All my other bills are online.

What is all this paper you're accumulating?

persevere posted 5/11/2014 22:22 PM

Very good question Faith! I need to dig thru it and figure that out!
Thanks for the advice - time to dig in when I have time!

GabyBaby posted 5/11/2014 23:01 PM

One tip for paper/mail - try to handle it only once.
I have a trash can near the front door, but usually junk mail doesn't make it into the house.
I sort out unwanted items and it goes in the recycle pin immediately.

Most of my bills are now online statements.
The few pieces of actual mail that I get are filed (folder for bills to be paid, etc) as soon as I get it so that I don't have to search through a stack of crud later.

Pentup posted 5/12/2014 08:17 AM

To get started, set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes. Have a couple of folders ready, grab a small pile and go. When the timer goes off, stop. If you do this a few times a week, you will make headway on the piles. Fly lady has good tips about the office.

I use color folders because, I "see" where things are, I think in color, not words.

Example: $$ related stuff goes in green folders, insurance to blue (peace of mind), etc. sounds silly, but a time mgmt class years ago helped me figure out how my mind files and I copy it to my office files. Plus , it is prettier.

Pentup posted 5/12/2014 08:19 AM

Oops double post

[This message edited by Pentup at 8:19 AM, May 12th (Monday)]

InnerLight posted 5/12/2014 10:19 AM

I get like this, and I have a great organizational mind, just not so much for my own stuff. It's my least favorite thing to do.

Hire someone. Seriously. It is worth the money. Give someone a job. An upfront fee, then once a month they come for a couple of hours. It will change your life and make it much easier.

If you really can't pay the $, then get a friend to sit with you and keep you focused while you go through the piles. Then do something nice for them.

Sometimes it takes a village. Reach out for help!

Deeply Scared posted 5/12/2014 10:31 AM

When using the hanging folders, make sure you categorize each section using the clear plastic tabs that come with the folders.

You then create your file folders behind each category.

For example:

Category: Utilities
Labeled file folders in the category: Electric, Gas, Water/Sewer, Phone, etc.

Category: Pets
Labeled file folders in that category: Teddy, Kyle, Marcus, Pet Festivals, etc.

Category: Outdoor Living
Labeled file folders in that category: Pool Maintenance, Landscapers, Sprinkler System, Outdoor Furniture, etc.

Category: Personal
Labeled file folders in that category: Parties, Vacations, Projects, etc.

Category: Household
Labeled file folders in that category: Appliances, Warranties, Donations, Projects, Estimates, etc.

MH and I are very organized...everything is at our fingertips. It's a great way to live because it really cuts down on stress when you're in need of finding something related to a current issue.

LisaP posted 5/12/2014 10:55 AM

Another tip:

I have 2 large (5") binders for manuals. One for indoor stuff (oven, refrigerator, TV's etc) and one for outdoor stuff (lawnmower, tools, etc). I use super heavy duty sheet protectors and slide the manual inside. To make it easy to flip through and find what I am looking for, I label the top corner of each page.

I also keep a binder in my RV with all the manuals for the equipment/appliances. My kids each have one in their rooms to keep manuals for their stuff.

Yep, a little over kill maybe...but it makes me happy...

Deeply Scared posted 5/12/2014 10:58 AM


I do the same thing!! But I also make a copy of the receipt and staple it to the inside cover of the manual. That way I have very quick reference on how much we paid and the date we bought it

FaithFool posted 5/12/2014 11:03 AM

Labeled file folders in that category: Teddy, Kyle, Marcus, Pet Festivals, etc.

You guys are scaring me...

Deeply Scared posted 5/12/2014 11:05 AM

I thought if I posted about the file folder named "Media Articles/Photo's of Teddy, Kyle & Marcus" it may have looked like we're a bit obsessed

Deeply Scared posted 5/12/2014 11:13 AM

One more tip...

For bank statements I three hole punch each statement and put them in a 5" binder divided off by year using binder tabs that I label "2010" "2011" "2012", etc. You can easily fit 8-9 years worth of bank statements in each binder. Super easy and it hardly uses up any space

Rebreather posted 5/12/2014 11:24 AM

Ok, I'm going to go against the grain, because I think you need more intro to organizing vs. some of the upper divison levels suggested, lol

The reality is, you probably don't need half the shit you are saving. What ARE all those papers? The best tip I have is you don't have to worry about organizing it if you don't keep it. Throw away everything you can. Be ruthless. In this day, you don't need to keep years worth of statements and invoices.

We have a file drawer for important stuff like reciepts for major purchases, insurance policies and the like. Then I have a mostly empty drawer that we stuff paid bills into. When the drawer is full, I keep the top inch or so and dump the rest. In the past several years since we've moved to this easier method, I've NEVER had to dig through those bills and find something. It just isn't needed.

I'd say your first step should be a "keep or toss" hour. Go in the room with two boxes, keep and toss. Pick up every paper and study if it MUST be kept or not. Toss the rest. Once you get down to the Keep box, then you can sort by whatever else might be relevant. Bills, kid stuff, house info, etc. If you can't do files, then get clear totes and label each and toss the papers into each tote. Boom. Done!

FaithFool posted 5/12/2014 11:40 AM

The most important file is "Income Tax".

Keep that sucker organized and handy.

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