Tag Archives: piles

Organizing your home office paperwork and creating a good file system

Dear Kathi,

I have a small home office and I don’t know what to do with all of my papers. I bring work projects home periodically and then my personal correspondence and bills get lost. Do you have any recommendations?

Kyle, Solana Beach


When you mix business with personal paperwork, items will invariably get lost. Create an area in your office for large work projects. This can be as simple as a basket where your project is stored when you are done for the day. For multiple work projects, use a file drawer or free-standing file unit to hold resources and information separately for each project. When a project is just getting started, you can keep it in your current projects vertical file described in the last paragraph.

Create a filing system for all work projects, personal bills and correspondence.

There is a super duper file system that I recommend to all of my clients. It is called Freedom Filer. This system is self-purging and rotates your files so that you have paper archives for two years and tax archives for ten. It makes filing a breeze and also teaches you what to keep and what to throw away. It is expandable and works well for personal file systems, home-based businesses and corporations. You can learn more about this filing system at www.freedomfiler.com.

For papers aren’t yet ready to file and need attention, designate a holding area. Your desktop is a logical space because they will remind you to work on them when you see them every day. Stack these folders vertically and label them Current Projects, Waiting for Response, Bills to Pay, Calls to Make etc. There are many labeling possibilities for your folders. Use whichever label titles work best for you and work on these files a few minutes every day. Implementing these practices will keep you free and clear of the black hole syndrome.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Are you a Professional Waster?

Are you a Professional Waster?  Do you waste minutes and even hours each week in frustration as you search for things you know that you own but can’t find when you need them?

We all have the same amount of hours in the day and when we spend a great amount of our time LOOKING for things instead of DOING things it can become a real drain on our emotions and our energy. Buying things you already own but can’t find and have to buy again is also a big drain on your finances.

As a Professional Organizer, I watch many of my clients experience guilt because they just can’t seem to get a handle on their clutter. Some are even embarrassed to have guests over in fear that they might peek into their overstuffed closets and cabinets.

Have you ever noticed how clutter creates more clutter? Piles create more piles. Things pile up, on, and around your piles to create more piles. Then your piles fall over, and there are things in front of the things you need to get to, so on and so forth and then you simply give up. I see this happen every day.

Too much clutter results in feelings of anxiety and stress. Clutter also drains your energy and can make you feel restricted in your own home.

When you can’t find things when you need them, whether it’s tools, cleaning products, or your favorite baking dish you begin to feel that the rest of your life is also out of control. This feeling spirals inward and outward from there. I know how you feel.

As a Board Certified Professional Organizer I know that creating order can be overwhelming and frustrating. I know that clutter is a big mental and physical drain. It can cause illness, depression and fatigue. I also know that it can be extremely difficult to even get started.

I understand completely how overwhelmed you must feel because I have been there in the trenches helping clients with these same challenges for over ten years.

You don’t need another book to clutter up your bookcase or more words to clutter up your brain. What you need is a weekly “here’s what you do next” action step to complete. What you need is someone to show you how to quickly get started and then keep training and motivating you week after week so you don’t get stalled along the way.

This is the reason why I created my new online get your home organized course!

Instead of simply publishing this information in some ebook or offering a quick coaching program, I’m making it available to you week after week in action-sized portions so you’ll actually get results.

Click here to learn more

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Daily tip #4: Stop paper clutter from entering your home

Here’s a staggering statistic: The average disorganized home contains over 3000 documents. Papers often enter your home without effort. Come rain or sleet or hail or shine, the mailman always delivers. Maybe this is the year that you should unsubscribe from all of those pesky mailing lists, unread magazine subscriptions or perhaps even sign up for paperless online bill paying.

Click here to read more…

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Organize Your Magazines, Reduce Clutter, Read More

Organize Your Magazines, Reduce Clutter, Read More

Too many magazines, too little time ~ this summer, I vow to read more! Does this sound familiar? Most of us purchase magazine subscriptions with the good intention of cuddling up with the latest fashion news or staying on top of business trends.

Time has a way of stealing away our well-intended reading time and, if we are not careful, before we know it, we have (more…)

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5 Tips for Creating More Space in Your Home Office

5 Tips for Creating More Space in Your Home Office

Working from a home office can have many conveniences. Being at home means that anything you need is just a few steps away. It also means that the space which other family members need may encroach on the office. Many people have the problem of having to work in a cramped home office. Here are a few ways to help create more space in the home office.

1. Clean and Organize

Cleaning the home office is the first step towards creating more space. This will not only clear some space to work with, but will also help to get an idea of the entire space and what can and cannot be moved.

Start by organizing papers, moving them into piles or placing them where they belong. Do not worry about throwing away the papers at this point, just make sure they are manageable and in some order.

Next, take time to gather wires and other electronic clutter. Use twist ties or tape, but try and make sure that there is no large tangle of wires behind the furniture. This will help if you have to move the furniture later and also just makes the room look nicer.

2. Assess Furniture

Once the home office is clean, it is now time to look at the furniture in the room. If there is a lack of space, this is the place to start making changes. Remove furniture that is not being used. Because it is a home office, furniture from other rooms in the home may have migrated into the space.

Now look at the furniture that is actually being used. Make sure that there is not a better configuration. See if printers can be placed underneath of a desk or on a shelf. See if things that are taking up desk space can be placed somewhere else.

Finally, if no helpful changes can be made, consider purchasing new furniture. Look for modular multi-purpose furniture. This refers to desks that have special cabinets for computers or surfaces that roll out. Wheeled storage containers can also help because they can be moved around as needed.

3. Use the Walls

Above the regular furniture there is usually a large area of wall that can be utilized. There may be pictures there or other decorations, but they can easily be turned into a massive amount of useful storage space.

The most obvious way is to install long shelving units. This is especially handy if there are a lot of reference books or other bound papers. The walls can also be used for specialized shelving units like a grid of small cubbies to hold sorted materials.

There are also narrow bookshelf-like installments that can be mounted to the wall to provide a sturdy surface for equipment or electronics.

4. Throw away unwanted things

Once the space in the home office starts to clear up, it is time to look at what to get rid of. First, consider throwing away unneeded documents. If there are simply too many documents that cannot be disposed of then it may be time to try scanning documents and storing them digitally and then shredding the originals.

Also look at getting rid of items that may be in the office because of indecision. This can include items such as computer accessories which do not really work but look too valuable to throw away. It is time to decide what to do. Either get it repaired or dispose of it.

Other items include any distracting decorations, broken furniture or storage containers that are unused and sitting empty.

5. Store things elsewhere

One advantage of a home office is that it is located in the home. This means that items which cannot be thrown away and are taking up too much space in the office can be stored somewhere else in the home. An attic or basement can be very useful for this purpose. Just make sure that the space where the items will be stored is safe from flooding, leaks or other conditions that could cause damage.

Once more space has been found in the home office the final step is to maintain the space. Do not let documents or mail build up into unmanageable piles. Keep them organized and throw away things that are not needed right away.

If after trying everything there still is not enough space, it may be time to consider buying smaller office equipment. Computers and printers have decreased dramatically in size in the last years. Monitors are also smaller and flatter than ever.

There are also instances where the scope of what is being done in a home office exceeds the capacity of the space. In a case such as this a second room in the home may need to be claimed as an office extension or, more likely, it may be time to look for a commercial office space to rent outside of the home.

Ready to get your home office organized? Click here to get a jump start!


Please note~ My guest author for this article is George Baker. George works with vacuum bags, so if you ever need to know anything about Numatic vacuum bags then he is the guy to ask.

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Garage Organizing ~ FAQ

Cleaning Garage

Here are a few answers to my most frequently asked questions:

Q) What Tools Do I Need To Organize a Garage?

Gather boxes, in all shapes and sizes along with a box of large trash bags.

Q) When Should I Begin?

The day after trash is emptied if possible.

Q) How Should I Begin?

To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto.

Start 3 piles outside (more…)

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Mailman Blues? Piles & piles of mail to sort through daily?

Junk Mail

Solution: Sort your mail before you bring it into your home. Discard all junk mail & outer envelopes into a trash can on the way into your home from the mail box. Once in, designate a place where the mail always goes once it enters your home.

Bonus Tip: Visit this website & ask them to remove you from mailing lists you don’t wish to be on: www.the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html

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Overwhelmed by Clutter?

Clutter Pile

Solution: Start with the most visible eyesore piles in your life. Dedicate 15 minutes to making one pile disappear & you will instantly feel better! You will also develop a sense of personal mastery. Once you’ve killed off a few small piles, you’ve paved the way to successfully tackling more challenging jobs.

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Conquer the paper piles

If you have papers piling up on your kitchen counter or the dining room table, it’s time to conquer that muck! Start by sorting through the papers and getting rid of as much as you can. A great guide for what to keep and what to toss can be found here: Paper Purge Tips

There are lots of great paper purging tips on this website, and in my book, How to Master your Muck. There’s no better time than the present to conquer those piles! You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you walk in your house to see a clean surface instead of a pile of muck!

What is your muck? Learn how to master it!

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Learn Muck Mastering Skills at the Carlsbad Chamber Networking Event Aug 3rd 7-9 am

Learn Muck Mastering Skills

Are you bogged down by paper piles and clutter, a stuffed email inbox or other bad habits? Then join us on August 5 for our next First Friday Breakfast, which will feature professional organizer Kathi Burns, founder of add Space To Your Life, and the writer (more…)

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