Category Archives: Drawers

You Can Do It: Conquer Paper Clutter

Today’s guest blogger is Daniel, an IT consultant extraordinaire and all-around geek, who blogs about business, life, and coffee (not necessarily in that order) over at his blog, BrameStorm. I have to admit: I think he’s pretty amazing. Granted, I’m a little biased, since he’s my husband. Daniel’s been a trooper during the process of getting our home organized and I’m very blessed (thank you, God!) that he a) doesn’t think I’m crazy, and b) actually wants to contribute to and maintain the organizational efforts that I’ve put in place. He’s paid particular interest in efforts to organize files and technology … In fact, when I mentioned I was asking blogging friends to contribute to a guest post series, he suggested that he could write a post describing how he’s ended his “paper pandemic.” Considering that so many entrants in my book giveaway last month said that their chief organizational challenge was paper, I accepted his offer gladly, and am excited to share his results with you!

{Image: Kate Ter Haar}

As a generally technical sort of fellow, I have a deep-seated hatred of paper.  It stacks, piles, gets ripped apart by the dog, and may yet still contain valuable information to be perused.  No matter how far technology advances, I just can’t totally get rid of the stuff.  Therefore, I decided that it was high time that I designed a filing system that worked.

In general terms, I have three filing locations:

  • A single “Inbox”
  • A filing cabinet
  • The trash can / shredder

When I come home, my first instinct is not to sort through my paper.  I want to dump it somewhere until I can deal with it.  That place is the inbox.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  I use a simple wire basket.  The idea is that when I intentionally sit down to file mail once every couple of days, I can process the pieces one at a time and decide precisely where it goes.  A lot of this has to do with whether or not it’s actionable or not.  If I can do something with it, it becomes a project in the filing cabinet or gets done on the spot.  If I can’t do something with it, it gets filed as reference or sent to the mighty trash gods.

I’m not going to reiterate a lot of this process because David Allen does a remarkable job of explaining this thought process in his book, Getting Things Done:  The Art of Stress Free Productivity.  Instead, I’m going to focus on reference filing, as that tends to be the sticking point for most individuals.

Warning:  Coming from the digital world, I’m used to acronyms.  I’m comfortable with them.  I love them and they love me.  It was inevitable that I made them part of my filing system.  While this may not totally work for you, it might give you a starting point.

Moving on…

I needed a way to establish some control over the types of information that came into my world.  Sure, alphabetizing files are a given, but what about the titles themselves?  I needed something reproducible that gave me a degree of granularity while maintaining scalability.  That’s a tall order…  I came up with something like this.

PER.INS.ATO

In human language, that’s Personal Auto Insurance.  After about fifty attempts, a useable pattern started to emerge.  Here are just a few of the tags that I used.

PER.TAX.2010 / Personal Tax Return from 2010

BIZ.LGL.LIC / Business Legal Licenses

BIZ.INS.ERR / Business Errors and Omissions Insurance

I could then file them alphabetically by section and subsection.  It was easy, extensible, and short.  There was still a challenge, though.   I needed details on what was in the file.  I already had a sharpie in hand at the time, so I did what any lazy programmer would do.  I started scrawling out lines that detailed the documents inside of the files in order of appearance.

Problem Solved!

Below, you can see a few examples of my filing system.  I hope this helps you in your own quest to kill the Evil Paper Monster of Doom ™

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Filed under Balance, Drawers, Office, Organizing, Paper, Sorting, Storage

Home Tour Tuesday: The Kitchen, Part 2

I think one of the most uncomfortable things about blogging is opening up your life for anyone and everyone to see. It’s kind of the point of having a personal blog, but at the same time there are certain things that you just keep under wraps. Like, say if this lady had a blog where she wrote about having an organized home, she probably wouldn’t want to take pictures of her kitchen cabinets and drawers that were in chaos, right?

Right?

Yikes!

This blog post is probably all the things you shouldn’t post in a home organization blog. First, the photos aren’t my best. (Sorry, iPhone, you just didn’t cut it this time.) Second, all these shots begin to look a lot like the other ones after awhile. Third, well, I’m not Martha Stewart and while my cabinets and drawers are organized enough for daily use, they’re hardly drool-worthy.

Yet.

In the meantime, here they are. In the spirit of “keeping it real,” I’m holding nothing back.

For additional home tour posts, check out my home tour page. To subscribe via RSS, click here.

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Filed under Drawers, Home Tour Tuesday, Kitchen

Coming Soon: Dresser Drawer Divider Hack

So, I went on a laundry rampage over the past few days. I have one load of delicates/handwashables/possible dry-cleanables left but I got it done. This battle has been won (although we all know the war is never over. Eek. I can understand the aristocratic appeal of having a laundress on staff. Any volunteers? I pay in free dinner and crafts.)

While I was at it, I found an item or two I thought I was missing (funny how things disappear into the depths of a dresser drawer) but have yet to find the one pair of pants I wanted to wear.  The hunt is on. Perhaps one of the  few boxes yet to be unpacked in the garage contain the elusive pants in question? Hmmm.

In the meantime, I managed to fit more items into my dresser by utilizing a couple of tricks I uncovered via Pinterest and Google. And the peasants rejoiced! (Fist pump. Yeah.)

First, because Daniel and I share a single dresser and space is at a premium,  I removed all the items from our dresser drawers that we didn’t use on a routine basis. This included out-of-season items like shorts, as well as little-worn belts or articles of clothing. This freed up a significant amount of space. I simply purchased an under-the-bed plastic tub from Target to store those items in for easy access without taking up space.

Then, I filed our folded t-shirts vertically, like cards in a card catalog or recipes in a recipe box (inspired by this drawer organization example via sydoniah as found at Apartment Therapy) instead of stacking them. Brilliant. We can now see them all at a glance and access them more quickly and neatly.

Finally, I stored like items with like in the range most needed. Undergarments and socks went in the upper drawers, as always, while our t-shirts went in the second tier and our workout clothing (shirts, pants, etc.) went in the bottom drawers. Everything else was hung up in our closet. A separate trip to Target procured the additional black plastic hangers we needed to complete the task.

I searched in many stores for drawer dividers to keep our his-and-hers t-shirt “files” neat, as well as other items. Nearly every option I found was $15 or more. Like this one, at Bed, Bath, and Beyond:

Not satisfied (and wanting something even more adjustable/customizable), I recalled having stumbled across a solution for a kitchen drawer divider when browsing the Internet that I thought I could modify for our bedroom dresser drawers, so on a hunch I went to Lowe’s and purchased a $9 large sheet of corrugated white sign plastic, such as is used to make Yard Sale signs. I had to hunt through my browser history to find the link, but when I did I pinned it for future reference. Sometime this week I’ll take a ruler and an X-Acto knife and cut the sheet down to size. I have to figure out how I’ll attach the segments to each other (I’m thinking of hacking the original idea so it is more like this cardboard drawer divider, with notches that interconnect), but I am fully confident that when I’m done I’ll have nice, neat drawers with drawer dividers.

As a final touch, I am either going to use some  wrapping paper, as pinned here, or fabric, as pinned here, to create my own geometric-design drawer liner, as the current liner is pretty dated (I believe from the 70s, to be precise.)

I’m pretty excited to see how it will all turn out. Stay tuned!

p.s. As part of my “organize how it makes sense to you” campaign to simplify my life instead of add unnecessary extra work, I recalled a laid-back approach to the sock drawer that I saw in a book once. Sadly, I can’t remember the book title or author’s name. However, it really liberated me to not feel guilty about hating to pair socks. Daniel does it for me usually because he is wonderful and he loves me and he knows how I despise taking time to pair socks, but with this new solution, he doesn’t have to sacrifice for me. Our sock drawer … is just that. A drawer full of socks. Period. They are all in a single drawer and we take as we can. After all, so many of our socks are just multiples of the exact same style and color. (White.) This may end up being ditched if it adds stress instead of efficiency (in which case, I’ll  let you know), but for now I’m kinda loving it, to quote McDonald’s. And to quote William Wallace: FREEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM!

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Filed under Drawers, Laundry, Organizing, Sorting, Storage

Let’s Go Shopping: Drawer Organizers

One by one, the drawers in our house are getting cleaned, organized, and used on a regular basis with much more ease than before their transformations. I already have some organizers for our bathroom drawers and our kitchen “junk” drawer, but there are still more drawers to go. In particular, I’d like to organize my sock drawer. Silly, maybe. But true.

So I went shopping to see what was out there. Here’s what I found:

1) Modular Drawer Organizers, $29.95 – $36.95; 2) Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers, $2.99 – $6.99; 3) Madesmart Junk Drawer Organizer, $11.99; 4) Slotted Interlocking Drawer Organizers, $4.99

Ooooh .. #4 would be PERFECT for that sock drawer! Too bad there isn’t The Container Store here in Nashville. Sadness. I’d be in organizational heaven if there were and I could go and visit!

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Filed under Drawers, Products, Shopping