As I was flipping through the YOU CAN DO IT Handbook, the chapter on Organization jumped out at me. Literally jumped off the page and said “read me.” Perhaps it is because I have a home office that looks like this:
I’ve tried to organize it before as you can probably see from the various boxes on the shelves, but for some reason it just didn’t stick. What? It doesn’t look too bad, you say? Well, that’s because I haven’t shown you the close-up view. Prepare yourself, it gets pretty bad.
I’ll start with the shelves – nothing unbearable there really. It’s not completely organized, but at least you can see the labels on everything and they’re easily accessible. The only problem is that there are several of these stacks lying around with no real order to them.
Okay, moving on to the other side of the desk. Here we have my perpectually over-flowing inbox. It’s full of the papers that I can never find and that I never know what to do with once they’re found.
And now, the other side of the desk (I saved the best for last). Consider yourself warned.
I’m not sure how to even explain it or justify it. Especially the dog hair. It’s embarrassing really.
This is what I’ve been living with for the past several months. So when I opened the YOU CAN DO IT book and saw the Getting Organized chapter heading, I realized that it was written for me and me alone.
Okay, on the off-chance that it was written for you too, I’m going to show you what it suggests. First, let me say that this chapter is based on the advice of Meryl Starr, a professional organizer in New York. And I like how she said, “organization doesn’t just look good, it feels good.” How true!
Select the space you want to clean. It can be a closet, an entire room, or a cabinet. Make sure that you have an appropriate amount of time to devote to the project and that it can be done within that time frame.
For obvious reasons, I chose my office space. It’s actually part of the den and sits in between the TV and my husband’s computer desk. Since we live in a small house, we have to make do with the limited space we have. The shelving system is called Elfa and was purchased from The Container Store earlier this year. It’s a great system and very easy to put in place.
Have your supplies that you’ll need such as garbage bags and things with which to clean. Meryl suggests that you don’t run out and buy a lot of cute boxes and things until you know exactly what you need.
Remove everything from the space that you are organizing and then clean. I took this step very literally and removed everything from my desk and shelves (except for the computer) and then dumped it onto the floor.
Then I cleaned. I mean I scrubbed those shelves until they shined.
I almost didn’t want to put anything back and I probably wouldn’t have either, but the CPA said I couldn’t leave my pile on the floor.
Separate your mess stuff into three stacks: 1) stuff to keep, 2) stuff to donate, and 3) stuff to throw away. The object is to keep only those things that you need and to get rid of everything else. Meryl even includes a little pep talk about why it isn’t necessary to keep the shell you found while walking on the beach with your first boyfriend. She said that, “you can hang onto the memory of your first love … without hanging onto the physical memories.”
So I sorted and I separated and finally came up with my three piles.
Throw away: Donate: Keep:
Now it was time to put everything back. Things had been pretty easy until this point but suddenly I broke out in a cold sweat. I had been down this road before and was scared to try it again. I mean, being organized isn’t a thing that comes naturally for me, I have to work at it. Hard. Just as I began to wonder if it was worth the effort and maybe I should just accept a life of slothfulness, I started to get ideas in my head. Mental images of what my desk could look like.
So I ran upstairs and grabbed the tv/monitor that was sitting unused in the guest room. I hooked it up beside my computer so that it could act as my second monitor, one to be used just for working on photos. Then I followed some of Meryl’s suggestions to take advantage of organizational tools such as divider trays, boxes for cds or photos, baskets, hooks, etc.
So I filed away the extra magazines…
and then rearranged my boxes.
I even made sure they had labels on them to help find things quickly.
I changed the layout of my books which helped to make the stacks look neater and to keep them from constantly falling over, which was a problem I had struggled with before.
Then I made a quick trip to The Container Store for some drawers as I previously did not have any in place. I think that is the key to keeping my desk organized – having a space for the little things to go. So the CPA and I installed the three new drawers (which are currently on sale for half off, btw).
In the bottom drawer I stored my collection of stationery. (Some people collect stamps, others collect coins. I collect paper products.)
In the next drawer, we added an insert that provides individual spaces for things like post-it notes, pens, and chapstick.
And the top drawer is the place for my miscellaneous papers. Only this time, I have a system to use. I put in three separate containers to help keep my papers from being thrown all over the drawer.
Then, I grabbed some of these fantastic paper clips and wrote titles on them such as “file”
Also while at The Container Store, we had picked up this great cord organizer. You probably don’t realize it, but behind that white “pipe” is about four different cords. The idea is to try to hide them as much as possible since they can look very unsightly. I’m still working on hiding the other cords, but it’s a start.
A few finishing touches such as the clock,
and this floating shelf (to be used for the books I am currently reading) and voila. We were done!
And now for the end result of all of our hard work…
Isn’t that amazing? With all the extra space that was created, I even had a place for my new scanner.
Here’s the breakdown:
There you have it. Was it a lot of work? I won’t lie to you – it took me several hours, the better part of a day really.
Was it worth it?
Hmm… to go from this:
Okay, now that you’re all fired-up and ready to get going, what space are you going to organize? Do you have any suggestions or tips that work for you?