All Posts by MichelleG

On Being A File Sherpa

Organzing Your Files Is Easier
Than You Think

A Home Filing System doesn’t have to be difficult.

So a year ago you went out, bought manila folders, hanging folders and a label gun, planning on organizing the growing pile of paperwork on your desk.  But you have been too busy to start your organized file system but you know you have to soon.  You realized that the invoice you are looking for is lost in the pile and your tower of paperwork is preciously threatening to topple over.  You’ve already pushed it over once and some of the paperwork ended up in your coffee.  But that can be in the past.  There’s a way to get that eyesore of chaos off your desk and into neat files.  It’s really not that hard and I’m going to share with you the best way to go about doing that.
When your files are disorganized, it’s difficult to manage your business.  Having a folder for each client makes it easier for you to get the information you need at your fingertips.  Working from a home office?  Those homeowners’ insurance policies should be together in order to be easily accessed so when the pipes burst in the bathroom, you’ll be able to look up your account number even before your boyfriend gets off the phone with the plumber. 
The secret to creating your own file system?  LIKE WITH LIKE.  You are going to be putting all your individual bills in the same but separate folders.  For example, all your Chase Credit Card statements will be in one folder and your Mortgage payments in another.
By buying all your filing supplies you’ve taken the first step in creating a system that works with your needs.  But the real work comes from looking at that monster of paperwork you’ve got in front of you.  You are going to put “like with like”.  You need to separate each paper into specific piles and put them into folders you label with your trusty label gun. Your DWP bills will have their own folder.  Same with a particular doctor you see.  Next you’ll grab your box of hanging folders and reapply the system of “like with like”.  All the folders that have to do with medical will be put together into a hanging file.  Etc.  Before you know it, you’ll be able to run your fingers through your file cabinet and everything will be neat and tidy and most of all organized.
Setting up a paper file system can be very time consuming so hiring Free Your Space Professional Organizers to give you a helping hand will save you time and aggravation.  You’ll instantly feel at ease when you open that filing cabinet and see that whatever you need or might need is right there at your fingertips.

Even A Chef Can’t Make Waffles In A Garage

When it comes to organizing your garage, planning is everything.

Organizing your garage doesn’t have to be daunting.

Organizing your garage can be a daunting prospect but with determination and patience, you can easily have a space that doesn’t stress you out every time you go in it. I’ve seen a lot of garages and while each one is different, they all have one thing in common; too much stuff.  The garage tends to be the dumping ground for old photos, books, exercise equipment, maybe a waffle maker you’ve never used. Or two waffle makers because you forgot you bought the first one.  But now the garage has become overwhelming and you’ve got to do something about it.

Here are some tips to getting your garage into shape once and for all:

  1. Make sure you’ve got a helper or two. Bins and boxes can be heavy and awkward and you will definitely need an extra set of hands to lift and move things.  Offer your helpers pizza as incentive.  Everyone loves pizza.
  2. Plan ahead. You might be an incredible task master that finishes everything in record time, but you’re going to need a minimum of two days to truly organize your garage.  You’ve got years of stuff in there and going through it will take a little time.
  3. Schedule a trash hauler and donation pick up.  You’ll be surprised at how much junk you’ve been storing and it’s got to go somewhere other than back in the garage. You’ll also find things in good condition that you don’t want to go to waste.  They don’t have to.  When you donate items you don’t use, someone else can benefit from them. (Like the two waffle makers) Give those things away and get a tax write-off at the same time!
  4. Put delicate and important items in plastic bins to save them from the elements. Whether you’re in Southern California or Alaska, weather can damage your precious items.  But be judicious about what you’re putting in those bins.  It’s easy to save an out of focus picture of some great, great, great-aunt twice removed but that photo is just taking up space. If something’s not relevant to your life now, trash it. 
  5. After your garage is organized, you might end up with some empty bins.  They’re  great for organizing but there comes a time when the unused bins take up too much room. Empty plastic bins are space-eaters and can make your garage look cluttered even after all your hard work.  All you need are a few (say 4) extra bins.  Remember you can ALWAYS buy more.   For the ones you are keeping, make sure they have matching lids.  Anything that doesn’t have a top and bottom should be tossed immediately.

After all your hard work the things you’re keeping will be accessible and easy to put back. So pick a weekend, set up the companies taking things away and get some bins (keep the receipt!).  When you’re finished with the garage, you can feel even better knowing that there’s a happy family enjoying fresh waffles thanks to you.  (Truth be told, waffles are overrated, pancakes are the way to go).

Happy organizing.

Bulging Closet Cure – Not What You Think

The cure for a bulging closet is easier than you think.

Do you suffer from bulging closet?  Is it so packed that you are almost afraid to go in there?  Do you have clothes jammed onto the rods, squashed together with wire hangers?  Maybe you’ve got a couple outfits taking residence on the floor. Eventually the chaos doesn’t just stay in the closet, it begins to creep onto the floor near the bed.   Piles of clothes that are even less organized than the scary closet.  I’m about to share with you the most important step when you’re organizing your closet… and it’s the step that most people never do… and the step that, when missed, causes everyone to fail.

Having a messy closet (and subsequently floor) makes it almost impossible to get dressed in the morning.  It’s not because you haven’t had your morning coffee yet, but because you can’t find anything you want to wear.  Truth be told, you don’t even know what clothes you have, it’s been so long since you’ve gotten a good look at them.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can do it yourself.

So are you ready for the most important step? Here it is…. you need to PURGE!

That’s right… you need to get rid of stuff you don’t need before you ever start organizing . First off, take all your clothes, shoes and purses out of your closet so that you can figure out just what is in there.  You’ll be amazed at what you find; a velour sweat suit from the 90’s.  Jeans from high school that didn’t even fit back then.  Or maybe a pair of boots that are so worn there is a hole in the sole.  Clothes that not only do you not need, on second look, you probably don’t want anymore.

Solution?  Get rid of them so your closet has room to breathe again.  The less clothes you have in there, the easier it is to find the ones you love.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not an easy task.  It might be so overwhelming that you need a little help in figuring out where to start.  That’s where a professional organizer comes in.  She will help you decide what clothes you want to keep and what you want to get rid of.  And a good professional organizer has no judgement about why you needed her in the first place.  She’s there to help you put your life back in order.

Once you’re There is an even better reason to clean out your closet, you can donate the clothes you no longer want to your favorite charity.  Not only are you helping someone in need, you get the bonus of a tax write-off at the end of the year.   Three good reason to clear out that bulging; closet;  more room for your clothes, helping those in need, and getting a little something from your taxes.  

And let’s face it, you don’t want to be fighting with your clothes before you’ve even had your morning cup of coffee.  

Costco – The Good, The Bad and The Toilet Paper

Shopping At Costco Means Having To Find Places To Put The Goods.

Shopping at Costco doesn’t have to be stressful.

Some might say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I’d venture to say for most adults, that destination is nothing compared to a trip to Costco on a Sunday morning.  The crowds are the same, but Costco comes with a slice of really good, $1.99 pizza. But before you hand your membership card to a sales associate be aware of the dangers of your trip, both financially and with how it impacts your storage space.    
We all know the best part of Costco are the deals.  It’s got a lot of everything and everything and everything.   And we all want everything. But everything can be an organizing nightmare.  Five million paper dessert plates might look enticing, if you’re opening a restaurant, but for the normal shopper, it’s not productive.  They are taking up precious real estate in your garage. Here are five tips to manage your Costco purchases:

  1. Organize your garage first.  The garage is easily the biggest dumping ground for all your bulk items.  But if is not organized, your Costco excursion can become a nightmare. You need to have a place specifically designated for your purchases.  If you can fit it in the garage, I suggest having a rack for the excess items.
  2. Take inventory of what you already have and buy accordingly.  Do you already have paper towels from the last time you went? Beyond the excitement of a full cart, do you really need more?  Can they wait until your next visit?  
  3. Make a list before you go.  It doesn’t have to inhibit your fun, but sometimes we do buy things we don’t really need.  Buy another 25 pounds of dog food when you already have four bags at home.
  4. Respect the space in your refrigerator.  Impulse buying is synonymous with a trip to Costco but try not to give in.  You taste that little paper cup of chocolate covered cheese balls and you’re suddenly hooked and have to buy a 5lb bag of them.   But if you take a moment and think about the lack of space in your refrigerator, it might be something you can say no to
  5. Remember things do expire.  If you’re going to buy food in bulk, make sure you’re going to use it.  10 gallons of low-fat milk for $7 can be a bargain but if there’s only two of you in the house, that’s a $6.50 worth of waste.   Not to mention, you’re both lactose intolerant.

Your Costco trip doesn’t have to be a storage nightmare if you are judicious with your purchases.  Make sure you’ve got the space to store the stuff, make sure you actually need the stuff, and make sure take advantage of those Disneyland discount tickets.  The kids need to have a fun time, too.

Buried In Books? The Breakthrough Beckons

Organizing lots of books is easy when you know the secrets.

Organizing Books – Doesn’t have to be a mystery.

You don’t have to have majored in English Lit to have a small library in your house.  Hardback, paperback; you’ve got them both and have been carrying them around since you can remember.  There’s the book your nephew’s girlfriend gave you for your birthday and the Gideon Bible you picked up in your hotel room on a business trip.  (They are for taking, right?)  But before you realized it, your bookcase exploded and suddenly what could have been a accent piece to your living room is now a disaster area.  But there’s a way to control the torrential mass of bound treasures and finally organize those books! And I’m going to share with you exactly how to do it.
When you first look at it, your mushroom cloud of a bookcase can be intimating.  There are books haphazardly stacked on top of the spines of other books; and when you couldn’t cram anymore onto the bookshelves, there was the floor. Not only is this unappealing esthetically, if you’ve got enough of books shoved onto your bookcase it could fall forward and hurt someone. Even with the earthquake straps those of us in California use, over wrought bookcases can be dangerous.

How do you salvage your bookcase and bring safety to your home?  It’s simple; GET RID OF SOME BOOKS!  If your bookcase can only handle 100 of the 200 books you’ve got jammed in there, it’s time to pare down your library.  Don’t worry, we’d never suggest a crime to literature by throwing books away.  No way!  But if you really want a clean, organized space to showcase the books you love, you’re going to have to get rid of some.  And by get rid of, I mean DONATE.  Your local library or favorite charity will love to have the books you no longer need.  They will pass them on to someone who can really benefit from them.  And on top of it, you’ll get a tax write-off.   
Try it and if you still need a little more direction, we at Free Your Space Professional Organizing, can assist you.  We know that the wine stained compilation of an e.e. cummings collection that you re-read a hundred times needs to stay in your library and we’ll help you find the perfect place for it.