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Thursday, January 17, 2008

spruce is for winners

apartment therapy is at it again. apparently they like to give things away to their readers and today they're giving away some sprucing!

readers need to write a little something about an organizational challenge that they wish they could have a little expert assistance with and one of them will be chosen as the winner. i'll be offering advice and a plan remotely (that means they'll send me some pictures and we'll talk on the phone). so, the winner gets a personal organizational coach and guru for two whole hours. see for yourself at apartment therapy and stay tuned for the before and after pics once the project is done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

cue & aay temporary files

i'm trying to set up a filing system that will work for me. i am presently involved in a legal action, and the amount of paperwork is taking up every inch of my dining table and is a foot high. this-in addition to all my other business and usual interests! i am looking to set up portable files which can be destroyed after the legal matter is resolved.

– s, oakland, ca

if you decide to go it alone, i suggest that you scale the project way back. first, get yourself some post-it notes (the super sticky are my favorites). next, think up the categories that exist within your legal documents (some ideas: stuff from your side, stuff from their side, general info about the issue, stuff from both sides like depositions, etc.). label a post-it with each category and put each post-it on its own bankers box. next, just pick up a pile of papers, start going through it and toss each sheet into its correct box.

i'm not sure you should bother to file beyond that (it's hard to know without knowing more about the case) since you'll just be tossing most of this when the case is over. is it really worth your time? if you need to find something, you can go to its box and just scratch through one pile (instead of the whole mountain). if there isn't really enough to fill the boxes, you can use magazine holders (like these) and then repurpose them later for your "real" files. either way, you'll have your dining room table back!

there's such a thing as being over organized. my guess is that making general categories instead of making a whole filing system will help you avoid that horrible affliction.

what you need:
post it notes
a sharpie
bankers' boxes
magazine holders (optional)
several hours

do you have an organizing question for rachel and the sprucegirls? visit the spruce site to send it along. we regret that we cannot respond to organizing questions directly so stay tuned to the blog and you just might see your answer here soon!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

divide and conquer

unruly dresser drawers are a real bummer. one of the best solutions that we've found are these drawer dividers. they're called dream drawer dividers and they are nothing if not dreamy. they're spring loaded so they fit snugly and securely in the majority of drawer depths. the spring means they don't need drawer-ruining sticky stuff to stay put. plus, they're completely movable for when your drawers need a change.

beyond that, they're tall enough (at 4 inches) to keep clothing from making the jump over to the dark side. both bed bath and beyond and the container store carry them and they come two to a box. just what you need to make yourself a little sock library.

Friday, January 04, 2008

tip time! move it on

selling your stuff is a great way to spend a rainy weekend and make you feel a sense of accomplishment. right now, look around your house or apartment until you spot something that has lost its luster for you.

for me, it's this unusual display case that we purchased to use as a night stand for my husband. we bought it when we lived in a different house. it was actually perfect there. the top held some of his "special" work memorabilia that didn't really work elsewhere in our house. the bottom hid regular night stand stuff. all was good. then, we moved and the display case didn't fit in our new bedroom. so we tried it as an entry hall table, a sofa table and a side board in the dining room. in each of those cases, though, we actually had another piece of furniture that better served the purpose. so, our sweet little display cabinet became a giant piece of clutter in our tiny home.

once you've found your "thing", take a quick picture of it and post it right up on
craigslist. price it to sell and someone else will want to give it a good home. since it's raining all weekend, you'll be home to show it to her. once it's gone, you'll have cash and space. there's nothing like that feeling of catharsis that comes with walking into a room that used to have something that didn't belong.

in your effort to take back your space, selling just one thing is a great place to begin. just be careful, you may gain so much momentum that you'll become

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

piler v. filer - on the case

lately i've been thinking about pilers and filers. most everyone falls into one of those two categories. while pilers often feel bad about their piles and filers are often proud of their files, the truth is that one is not really better than the other.

for pilers the problem is obvious. it's usually right out there creating a shameful space (a space of shame) and making it hard to find what they're looking for. one place to look but so much to dig through.

filers, on the hand, may look great on the outside but sometimes, an organizational nightmare looms within. some filers have a tendency to over file. it's hard for most people to even imagine that over filing could be a bad thing (or even a thing) but it happens. the situation here is that enthusiastic filers make files for everything. every little thing and tiny category gets its own folder. the result can be the same as for the pilers -- it's hard for filers to find what they're looking for! many places to look and still, so much to dig through.

so that's what i've been thinking about. it's interesting to me that totally opposite behaviors result in incredibly similar problems. i think i'll be looking for more paradoxes as i organize my way through 2008.