An Easy Way to Organize Paper and Files

An Easy Way to Organize Paper and Files

As much as I love to organize a client’s home and make it pretty and peaceful and lovely, there are just some parts of a home that must be functional. For many people, a huge headache is PAPER – especially if you are a parent.

Parents know that kids bring home SO. MUCH. PAPER. If you’re like most people, you probably set up a filing system forever ago. You’ve slowly filled it up over the years and haven’t touched it since. Now, the cabinet is overstuffed and the piles on top have started growing higher and higher. Maybe you even have a “TO FILE” box, but good luck finding anything in there in a timely manner.

The doldrums of winter are a great time to organize your filing system. With tax season approaching quickly, it’s a good time to get your documents in order while clearing out papers from the last calendar year and before.

The key is to clear out your filing cabinet first, create relevant folders, and be able to file AND FIND the papers quickly and easily.

 

Tips for Organizing Paper Items

> Set a timer for 20 minutes – take a break or keep going when it goes off.

> Start with your existing filing system and clean out each file.

> Invest in a good shredder and use it as needed – don’t set up a “TO SHRED” bin. It will just pile up – and who wants to waste their valuable time doing that? Staples has bulk shredding and a grocery paper bag size is usually about $20 to shred. You can even check for local events for free shredding – but I don’t recommend hanging on to old papers for months while waiting on a free event. Kids’ artwork and memory/ keepsake items shouldn’t go in a file system. I typically recommend clear storage bins for this. One per child/person and clearly labeled for ease of use.

> Switch to online bill pay. I highly recommend this! Even if you are more comfortable getting paper bills, paying online makes the process faster and easier. Additionally, if you have a problem with your bill, you will know it by the next billing cycle or two.

 

How To Organize Paper Items for Storage

Basically, there are 3 types of storage – active, reference and archival.

> Active storage

Might be a desktop filing system. Something you refer to often or a temporary holding spot because you know you will use items soon for an event coming up. These are items you like to have at your fingertips.

> Reference storage

Should hold things like auto records, home repair or improvement info, or education info. You might need them, but they don’t have to be in “prime real estate” areas of your home.

> Archival storage

Should include permanent files like tax returns, closing paperwork on your home, birth marriage and death certificates, etc.

Tax returns can be filed in a labeled box in the attic because you probably won’t need to refer to them but you just have to keep them for a certain amount of time.

Check with the IRS to see how long you need to keep records. You wouldn’t believe the amount of tax records I have found and shredded from the 1980s and earlier in my clients’ homes.

Less Clutter, More Life

A key to wrangling paper is to reduce or eliminate the amount of paper coming in – remove yourself from mailing lists, catalogs that you don’t want anymore – it will save you time in dealing with all the stuff, as well as being good for the environment

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the amount of paper you have and need to sort through – Home Reimagined can help! Book a call today and let’s chat!

Holiday Décor Declutter & Organizing – Part 2: The Take Down

Holiday Décor Declutter & Organizing – Part 2: The Take Down

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The holidays are over and now comes the not-so-fun part. Taking down, organizing, and storing your decorations. Here are some of my favorite tips that I share with my clients to make the process a bit easier now–and for decorating next year.

> Take the Time to Do It Right

Whether you like to take everything down on the 26th or leave it up until mid-January, taking the necessary time to organize your décor now will save you a lot of time and frustration next year.  This is not an exercise that you should rush through. I typically recommend devoting at least a day for this process (depending on how many decorations you have).

> Have Appropriate Storage

In my experience, one of the biggest space-eaters that I find among my clients is loose items that have been tossed in the attic. To help combat this culprit of clutter, try utilizing clear, uniform storage bins that stack to take advantage of vertical space and save you a ton of headaches. BONUS–They will also protect your stored items from extreme heat or cold while in your attic, garage or basement.

Pro Tip: Avoid storing your decorations in cardboard boxes! Over time, they can hold moisture, collapse, and attract bugs!

> Look at Everything Twice

Before packing it away to deal with next year, be sure to scrutinize what you have. Rate items 1 to 10 if that’s easier for you. Anything below a certain number goes to the donate bin for someone else to enjoy!

> Store by Area in Your Home

Do you always put the same decorations in the same places around your home each year? Designating a storage container by area (kitchen, mantle, foyer, etc.) will make it quick and easy to set up next year.

> Store by Like Kind

If you are the type of decorator that puts out a lot of items at the end as “finishing touches,” they may not always go in a particular spot. Decorative Christmas balls or greenery are great examples of this. In this case, I recommend sorting these items into like kinds and packing all-together. Decorated garland? Keep those decorations on and carefully fold into a bin. This makes it easier to put up next year.

> Holiday Hostess Gifts & Party Supplies

Do your family and friends gather at your home each year for holiday festivities? Between hostess gifs and seasonal supplies, keep these items together in a bin so you can easily find them for next year as events come up.

Pro Tip: Cut down on the clutter and donate holiday specific hostess gifts and part supplies in favor of more “evergreen” options that can be used year-round!

> Store Gift Wrap Separate

I recommend designating separate storage for holiday gift wrap, separate from non-holiday wrapping supplies. Holiday wrapping can range from simple bows, to elaborate ribbons and ties, so it is often easiest to keep them on their own. By doing this, you can easily see what you have and only deal with it once a year.

> Tree Décor and Accessories

Reuse supplies when you can! Do you have a lot of leftover tissue paper from holiday presents? Use it to wrap ornaments from your tree to keep them safe and minimize the potential for damage. Lights can take up a lot of space, so try wrapping them into a ball (starting with the female end to make it easier to plug in) to save space and keep them from tangling. Be sure to store in a separate bin from the outside lights so you easily know what goes where!

> LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!

Make sure you label all of your decoration storage and be specific! These labels from Amazon are great option and they are easy to change. Put them inside a clear bin so they are more protected but still easy to read.

Less Clutter, More Life

If these tips worked for you, share some pictures of your holiday décor clean-up! Or if you are feeling overwhelmed and would like some help, let’s chat!

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The Declutter Challenge: Miscellaneous

The Declutter Challenge: Miscellaneous

January is a great time to start a home REFRESH – it’s the doldrums of winter, we are home A LOT and why not take a little time and LOVE your home again?

That’s why we are doing a home organization challenge concentrating on a different area of your home each weekend. How did it go last weekend when you organized the KITCHEN? Do you find that it was easier to prepare meals or put groceries away? Did you have more space on your counter?

Next up – MISCELLANEOUS!

You know, the annoying little items that are stuffed in drawers around your home – receipts, papers, junk mail, take out menus, old instruction manuals, old electronics and cords and MORE! These items might be hidden away so you or visitors can’t see them – until a door or drawer is opened. Or maybe you’re keeping them JUST IN CASE. The problem is that most of these items won’t be used in the future or just might be TRASH. But they are taking up valuable space or they keep you from finding what you are really looking for.

Some tips for organizing miscellaneous items:

  • Miscellaneous items are usually a pretty quick decision – you use it or you don’t. Also, there is usually not a sentimental attachment to items, so that helps, too.
  • Items can be found hidden in drawers, closets and cabinets. It’s messy but you can’t see it, so it’s easy to ignore – until you need to find something.
  • Sometimes it’s easy to work on one drawer at a time.
  • Gather items and sort by category. Decide where it’s going to live and where you can find it easy in the future.

We hope you have enjoyed the Declutter Challenge and are feeling organized to start the year off right! If you are still having trouble getting started, sign up for our newsletter and gain access to our FREE Declutter Quicklist. You’ll get our itemized checklist to help get the ball rolling, as well as even more spots in your home to declutter. Set a timer for 20 minutes and GO! At the end, either stop or continue. It’s that easy! If you need some assistance, encouragement, or just want to let me know how it goes…let’s chat! Schedule a call HERE.

The Declutter Challenge: Miscellaneous

The Declutter Challenge: Kitchen

January is a great time to start a home REFRESH – it’s the doldrums of winter, we are home A LOT and why not take a little time and LOVE your home again?

That’s why we are doing a home organization challenge concentrating on a different area of your home each weekend. How did it go last weekend with the weekend organizing challenge #2 – your CLOSETS? Do you find that it was easier to get ready in the morning? Did you have more space on your closet?

Next up – the KITCHEN!

I LOVE organizing kitchens. With the kitchen being the heart of the home, it is essential that it functions well, and people know where everything is located. Typically, people’s kitchen cabinets are stuffed (how many coffee mugs do you REALLY need???), so items end up on the countertop and reduces the working space available. And maybe since you’re working from home, you find that you are cooking differently. Now is a great chance to really re-organize for the life you’re living NOW – especially if you know you’re not going back to the office for a while.

Some tips for organizing a kitchen:

  • The kitchen can easily become a catch all area of the home. Depending on the space you have, only crucial items should be stored in the kitchen. (A bottle of ibuprofen – yes. A whole entire medicine cabinet taking up the prime real estate in your kitchen – no.)
  • Pull out kitchen items and sort by category. This is the messy, tedious part but then you can really see all the gadgets and duplicates you have and possibly don’t use.
  • Decide what you want to keep.
  • Figure out where it’s going to live depending on the space you have (drawers vs. cabinet vs. pantry) and ask if it NEEDS to live in your kitchen or could it be stored in somewhere else? The huge lobster pot you use once a year? Maybe that can live in the attic or garage.
  • Drawer organizers can help neatly keep things in place.
  • Give the inside of the cabinets and drawers a good deep cleaning while empty.
  • Put items back where it makes sense – keep frequently used stuff at your fingertips and things used less often you can tuck away.
  • After the kitchen, move onto the pantry – toss the expired food and spices and you’ll be amazed how much space you have!

Kitchen before and after

Having trouble getting started? Sign up for our newsletter and gain access to our FREE Declutter Quicklist. You’ll get our itemized checklist to help get the ball rolling, as well as even more spots in your home to declutter. Set a timer for 20 minutes and GO! At the end, either stop or continue. It’s that easy! If you need some assistance, encouragement, or just want to let me know how it goes…let’s chat! Schedule a call HERE.

Ready for the next step in the Declutter Challenge? Check it out HERE.

The Declutter Challenge: Miscellaneous

Declutter Challenge: Closets

January is a great time to start a home REFRESH – it’s the doldrums of winter, we are home A LOT and why not take a little time and LOVE your home again?

That’s why we are doing a home organization challenge concentrating on a different area of your home each weekend. How did week #1 of the Declutter Challenge go with the BATHROOM? Do you find that it was easier to get ready in the morning? Did you have more space on your countertop?

Next up – CLOSETS! Dealing with your clothes can be challenging – and this past year didn’t help. With so many people continuing to work from home and special events cancelled, you might have found that your work and dress clothes haven’t quite made it out of the closet in a while. Now is a great chance to really re-organize for the life you’re living NOW – especially if you know you’re not going back to the office for a while.

Some tips:

  • There are different ideas on where to start – I think it’s a little overwhelming to throw all your clothes on the bed. It’s easier to sort by one category at a time and start there. TOPS (Tank tops, short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, sweaters, etc.) PANTS (jeans, leggings, etc).
  • Decide what you want to keep.
  • Figure out where it’s going to live depending on the space you have (dresser vs. closet) and ask if it NEEDS to live in your closet or could it be stored in somewhere else? Work clothes and formal wear, for example, might go to the guest room closet or can be boxed up and stored.
  • Buy nice hangers to create a uniform look – I suggest the non-slip black velvet hangers – the best prices are found at Costco and HomeGoods.
  • Give your closet a good deep cleaning while empty.
  • Hang up your clothes by category and by color – lightest to darkest.
  • To maintain it, gather empty hangers together and don’t have more than about 5.

Closet before and after

Having trouble getting started? Sign up for our newsletter and gain access to our FREE Declutter Quicklist. You’ll get our itemized checklist to help get the ball rolling, as well as even more spots in your home to declutter. Set a timer for 20 minutes and GO! At the end, either stop or continue. It’s that easy! If you need some assistance, encouragement, or just want to let me know how it goes…let’s chat! Schedule a call HERE.

Ready for the next step in the Declutter Challenge? Check it out HERE.