How to Create a Memory Closet

Recently I shared with you a new video called How to sort memorabilia. I received a lot of positive feedback on that and was reminded that 7 years ago I had done my first video on memorabilia called How to create a memory closet.

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

The best way to organize clothing in a trunk.

My client has two gorgeous, huge heirloom trunks in her bedroom. They held clothing, but not well… Like I’ve said a thousand times before, “We should have taken a before shot!” You can probably imagine though what a stuffed trunk full of clothes typically looks like; Like strata, the closer to the bottom we got, the more folded (though more forgotten) items of clothing were.  She couldn’t see what she had and therefore was mostly using the top few items.

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

Really stuck with sorting? Scribble today's date to help out your future self.

Just this week I came across the box pictured here in a client’s home. That’s my handwriting from December.  We had run out of time in our session and I knew I wouldn’t see her again for probably a couple months. 

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

A mantra to help information junkies let go

 
What do you do when you’ve got lots of good information in the form of magazines and other paper that’s ultimately becoming clutter in your home and life, but you don’t want to get rid of it because it’s ‘good information’?
 

If forced to group my clients into just two categories, they would look like this:

A. People who struggle with documents (old and/or new) and to-dos.

B. People who struggle with letting go of articles, tear-outs, magazines, and newspapers.

Both groups come up against a myriad of reasons as to why things are they way they are. Their paper load may ebb and flow, but the needle doesn’t move enough, if at all. They may have spent many hours toiling away at the piles, only to find reasons to keep each paper or magazine that passes through their hands.  

Recently though, one client who falls firmly into category “B” nailed why letting go of articles (some from the early 1990s) is such a challenge: “But it’s good information!” Such a succinct reason elicited a succinct reply from a sometimes loquacious organizer. 

My reply: “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”

In her case, a fair amount of her articles are on interior design. She’s starting to realize that, especially with a major renovation recently behind her, many of the images won’t be useful. She’s had some for so long that they’re dated or the design resources no longer exist. These realizations have caused a lot to go, but many stacks of folders containing magazine tear-outs remain. 

Ever since I uttered “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever” a few sessions ago, I’ve asked her to make this her mantra. She’s simmering on it and I just know those recycling bags are going to fill faster and faster - they already did in that session alone. When I’m there, I’m not shy about repeating it out loud.  Given that interior design is of such interest to her, she’s realizing that the stacks of old design articles (and articles on other topics such as wellness and retirement) do not fit into her aesthetic that has been so finely honed by this decades-long passion. The articles on beauty are, well…not beautiful.

For years now I’ve told some clients that they can keep something if they have a good reason to - not just any reason - but a good reason. Note that I reserve this for the folks who I know want a strong force in the face of their clutter.  (Some just want a gentle nudge.) This has evolved this year into addressing the double-edged sword of “good information.”  We live in a time where we are drowning in good information. We buy it. It comes in the mail. We find it online. It lands in our inboxes. I find myself repeating this mantra to myself when I delete good information from my inbox.  When great newsletters and invites to juicy webinars pile up in my email, I sometimes just delete delete delete. It’s a fleeting pain. 

How good is the information if you’re buried in it? How good is it if you are so overwhelmed by it that you never make time to absorb it, let alone sit in a clutter-free room to enjoy it?  How good is it if piles of it are unsightly in your closet, on your floor, or on your desk? How good does it have to be to keep it amidst the barrage of newer, better information that will sure come at you later today? How good is it if you never make time to process it into something that positively affects your life?

I can think of at least three other clients who have been assigned this same mantra since.  Will you adopt it next time you hold some “good information” in your hands?

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Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

Inside the machine that separates your recyclables

One third of municipal solid waste in the US is recycled.  This is thanks to some pretty advanced technology and this number is climbing.  As someone who feels like I am my clients’ own personal recycling sorting plant at times, I geek out on the tech behind recycling.  Popular Science has very simply diagramed the 11-step system that painstaking separates our magazines, water bottles, and food containers.  It’s like a mechanical Kacy (minus the diplomatic demeanor, eagle eye for solutions, and encouraging pep talks)! Read Popular Science’s How it Works: Inside the Machine That Separates Your Recyclables.

119 Circle

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

Yes, I have a junk drawer. Here it is.

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150804-100651-300x225.jpg

Ok, it's not so bad, but I do have one (+ a junk box that lives in my foyer closet). They're pictured here. Apparently junk drawers can be read like palms. In NPR's What Your Junk Drawer Reveals About You, Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist says:

"I snoop through people's drawers, pantries, closets and garages as part of my research, and I can say without hesitation that the junk drawer is the most revealing place I can look."

Evernote-Camera-Roll-20150804-100651-1-225x300.jpg

Having spend a good part of my own life rummaging through junk drawers, armed with a degree in cultural anthropology, I agree. I wouldn't go so far to say they're fascinating places, but like my clients, no two are alike. How many junk drawers should you have? Ask yourself what is reasonable. 2 max is my own rule. Anything above that, and you should be able to see categories within them, and categories need places.

Click to read NPR's What Your Junk Drawer Reveals About You.

119 Circle

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper.

She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Learn her time-tested solutions in her eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking.

How I Usually Create Drawer Dividers

Last week I helped my friend Racheal Cook of The Yogiprenuer organize in Richmond, VA.

We organized some drawers using an ad-hoc (but instantly effective) process that I turn to often.

Rarely asking clients to buy supplies before we start, since we don't know what we need until we dig in, I used what we could find.  I'm always on the lookout for boxes of all sizes that can be repurposed with the flaps cut off. Most of the time it just so happens that we have exactly what we need!

From this:

kacy drawer

To this!

drawer good

All we used to makeover this drawer:

  • an iPhone box
  • an iPad box & lid
  • an Amazon box
  • a perfume box
  • a random round box

Yes, she can certainly beautify this further with more permanent drawer dividers, but this quick solution buys her some time until she can find just the right pieces.

 

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How Marie Kondo organizes a bookshelf (I did it and it works)

Last week I spent two days with a client sorting her books using author Marie Kondo's super strict, but feelings-based method. Her video here explains the steps.

We followed the method in a way that would have make Kondo proud - and it worked (minus the team of assistants)!

My client was able to unload 8 boxes of books to Books for America in DC.

books

boxes

After having gone through this experience, which was the most dramatic book purge I've been a part of, I can't stress enough the importance of taking every single book off the shelf. It's a bold move and it's easy to make excuses not to do it, but it helps you to think clearly and thoroughly.

Think you're up for the Kondo book purge?  How many boxes of books do you think you can fill? Share comments below!

119 CircleOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Subscribe to the weekly newsletter & receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com/subscribe.

An Extreme Magazine File Makeover

Reader Cheryl Togashi in Washington state so kindly shared with me a paper system she created. I sometimes use magazine files to sort paper, but haven't quite done it like this.

gold boxes

Here are a few things she did differently that I just love:

  1. She spray painted it gold!  (Reminds me of this cool file box that was also painted gold)
  2. She turned it on it's side.
  3. She utilizes clear plastic folders in tandem with plastic tabs.

It works because it is visual, pretty, and she has clearly thought through which exact categories need to be in pain sight.  Also, note that 3 tab folders will not work in this system, as the right folder tab would be hidden in the box.

Here are the supplies she used to do this:

IKEA Knuff Plywood Magazine File

Post-It File Tabs

Translucent Pocket Files

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How to Use Shelves to Organize Paper

Here's how to use your shelving as a sorting station, using simple sticky notes. The simple wall I show you in this video helped us sort through paperwork so much quicker:

We used it to create categories such as:

Past trips and vacations 

Financial archives 

Family business 

Family history 

From there you can then create micro-categories.

Have you done something like this? Comment below if so. I would love to know.

 

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

Video: How to organize a shared desk

It's hard enough organizing a desk, but is doubly as hard when the desk is shared with a business partner or, in this case, a spouse. This video will teach you a solution for the clutter (and blame) that accumulates on a shared desk.

Do you share a desk?

If so with whom?

What issues do you run into and what would you change about your partner's organizing style?

Will you do things differently after watching this video? Will you share this video with your colleague/partner/spouse sitting next to you?

Please share in the comments!

kacyRoundOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

How I created a 23 year old's first filing system

23 year oldRecently I worked with one of my younger clients: a client's young adult son who needed help getting organized for a job search.  I've been helping him organize since he was in high school.  We organized for college, study abroad, and moving out of home, so it was fun to see watch him transform into a motivated professional!

We managed to toss everything paper except for those that fit into these folders.Here's a peek, at the system, which is a mini version of systems I've created hundreds of times for folks in every stage of life.  We created a number of files that fall under just four larger groupings. For those of you who are becoming more and more paperless, these four categories may be all you need.

 

New Headshot w_poster

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

Do I have to remove the staples when recycling paper?

paper-20109_640No. I learned why from this short explanation that I read back in 2010. Paperclips, spiral bindings and the like are fine to toss in too.

Paper geek or not, it's an interesting read that will give you a visual of bales, chains, screens, and pulp for the next time you're speed sorting, asking yourself this very question.

 

Kacy PaideOffice Organizing Expert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting and speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing hereReceive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com.

Proof that cool organizing knick-knacks don't solve your problems.

organizing Even the cleverest of tools need regular purging, thoughtful categorizing, and clear labeling.

If either of these aren't in place from day one, here's what happens.

Buying products is not organizing.

Do the work.

Have you bought an organizing product that you mistook for a magic wand?  

What was it?  What problem did you want to to solve?  

Where is it now? Please share comments below.

 

Office Organizing ExKacy Paidepert Kacy Paide loves to do what most people hate: organize offices & paper. She works with folks who are desperate for a more functional, more beautiful, more inspiring office. Kacy has been a Professional Organizer since 2001 and has worked with over 500 clients. Call her crazy, but she loves a good mess and wants to fix yours. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Kacy is nationally available for consulting & speaking. Reach her at 202.262.1207 and kacy@theinspiredoffice.com. Learn about Skype consultations here. Watch video lessons on office organizing here. Receive your free list of 100 Ways to Organize Your Office at www.theinspiredoffice.com

Pile Your Way To An Organized Office

You want to know where I spend most of my time when working with clients?  Sitting on the floor turning piles into files.  Here's a chance to see a paper mess through an organizer's eyes.  The pictures here illustrate a classic sequence of events for me.  In this case we were organizing scattered bank statements. If you're at a loss as to where to start your organizing project, start with financial docs.  They tend to be some of the easiest docs to sort, as the dates and accounts pretty much self-sort with minimal creative attention.  However, you can apply this simple piling to filing example on a document stash of any sort.  Organizing really can be as simple as this:

Step 1: Get it all out in the open if it isn't already, gathering papers from all corners of the office or house.

Step 2: Using nothing but stickies and a sharpie pen, line up the piles on the floor. Here we sorted by account, chronologically within each pile.

Step 3:  Place each pile in a folder!  Label with the year and account name or account number.

7 Day Inspired Office Challenge

In order to go from paper chaos to elegantly organized files, you have to get through the in-between phase.  Use your floor space to create piles that will each turn into files once complete.  This takes only a few simple tools: stickies, marker, clean file folders, and white labels.  Start with your most basic categories, such as banking, paid bills or household files.