After all the presents are unwrapped, the parties have come and gone & the decorations are starting to come down, your house most likely is in need of a tune up!

January is Get Organized Month and we want to help you not only recover from the holidays, but establish systems and practices that will help you live out your priorities this year.

Tiffany making labels at a desk

Tiffany, one of our professional organizers, recently completed a “desk refresh” with a Portland client who had fallen behind on processing incoming paper and mail.

Although this client had taken the time to establish systems for dealing with incoming paper, she had not been utilizing them.

Her overhead shelving unit had become a stashing area behind closed doors (stashing is a common problem that occurs when we quickly “clean up” for house guests and parties!)

It was time to refresh the space.

Cluttered Desk BeforeThe first thing that Tiffany evaluated was: the array of items taking up valuable desk surface space.

         TIP: They went through every item on the desk and sorted it by the action that needed to be taken.

Any items that she did not use frequently were kicked off the desktop. This cleared up space for daily processing of incoming paper and mail.

Next they examined the type of items accumulating on the desk, they found that it was often memorabilia.

If you find a lot of any one type of item stacking up on surfaces it’s a pretty good clue that either:

1. A new system is needed or

2. You’re not utilizing the system you’ve set up!

Tiffany and the client realized that she didn’t have a system established to capture memorabilia. So, after sorting the items on the desk, Tiffany and the client created a place to put memorabilia that doesn’t take up valuable desk space. Now the client knows exactly what to do when she collects photos and special ticket stubs and the like.

As is common to most desks, the other types of items that were taking up space were coupons, greeting cards, family recipes, articles to be read, etc. These were items that the client needed access to, but that were used less frequently. By moving these types of items off the desk and finding systems for each of these types of paper, the client could see what actually needed to be taken care of right away.

Lastly, Tiffany had to evaluate the “currency” of the client’s paper. When you have projects or papers with different actions and timeframes in the same location, it can be difficult to keep track of “hot” items that need to be dealt with immediately. In this case, these long-term projects and papers were stored in the overhead storage space, freeing up desk space for short-term actionable items.

TIP: Physcially separate paper into different systems and locations by its currency (ie: permanent files in drawers, long & medium term projects within reach, & short term active paper in your immediate workspace.)

Desk after tune up

The two most important organizing strategies that Tiffany helped this client implement were: analysis of backlog and maintenance.

After sleuthing the array, types, and currency of paper, and creating customized systems for each, Tiffany then tackled maintenance. She recommended that this client
schedule 15 minutes a day on her calendar that is devoted to processing incoming paper and keeping her work surface clean.

When it’s scheduled into our day and given priority, maintaining our organizing systems is manageable and pays off in peace of mind! 

So, if your spaces are in need of a “tune-up” – or a complete overhaul! – we hope you’ve gathered a few ideas from this client’s experience. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram (@vickinorris) for more inspiration and ideas this year!



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