Office Purge - Anyone Else?

jamie_mtJuly 28, 2008

I'm inspired by my clean closet (which is in our office), and alisande's clean new desk to finally get back to decluttering/organizing our office. I started earlier this spring, but haven't made much headway, because (much like my closet), I haven't had a long block of time to just work on it full tilt. And now I have some of the "closet clutter" piled up in the office to deal with. So this week, I'm going to use the 15 minute plan again, and try to work just 15 minutes every night on decluttering the office.

If you'd care to join me, feel free to add your progress office area, desk, guest room, perhaps?

Here are a few "before" pics of my office space, just so you know what I'm dealing with (warning - it's bad!!):

My Computer Desk

The other wall, which includes my secretary, the filing cabinet, and several plastic sets of drawers hidden behind boxes.

Anyone want to join me (or just wish me luck)?

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jamie...I am so proud of you to show us your office...because of the courage it must have taken, I decided to show you mine!

We could be sisters! The other wall has a full closet that also has a filing cab in it and a white wire type storage with drawers.

To my defense, some of the extra stuff in this room is from the recent remodel of my bathroom. I don't want to put the stuff back in the new bathroom and don't know what to do with it! Tossing it is probably the best decision!

I can spend 15 min a day working on it, even though I will still continue to be getting ready for our guest.

How could I refuse, when my room needs it so badly!

I will join you and I will wish you luck!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 12:12PM
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I'm in!! I started purging this room last June, and need some oomph to get it finished. I'll take some photos after my camera battery charges.

I started with over 50 large moving boxes that got stashed here when we moved 10 years ago. I periodically went through a box or two, took out what I needed, but just consolidated boxes instead of purging. It is actually a bedroom, but I now try use it as my office and a plant room.

I've gone through all the boxes, repacked into smaller boxes things I wanted to keep, donated to Goodwill carloads of stuff, and just need to finish it off.

While the battery charges, I'm going to bring the big garbage can upstairs, get a few supplies, and be all ready to go.

Thanks for posting this, I needed the prod!


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 1:48PM
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Thanks for joining in, ladies! And bruglover, thanks for sharing pics...that actually helps, since I always think I have to be the *only* one with so much stuff piled in there. Good luck, and keep us updated on your guest room too! :-)

Barbara, glad I could help. Moving is such a messy thing. I'll look forward to seeing your pictures...

The boxes in the corner weren't there until I cleaned out my closet - I was using them for shoe storage, and moved the shoes. The big pile of stuff to the right of my secretary is yarn, quilts and sheets, the yarn and sheets need to be donated, the quilts (which my grandma gave me)will have to be stowed away somewhere. The boxes on the secretary are "sorted" from the last time I started cleaning - some for filing, some for tossing. I just never got any further.

Progress report tomorrow...good luck to both of you!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 3:18PM
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I don't have an office just a desk in the family room. I try to keep that somewhat neat as it is in the open. It does get clutter with paper so now I have been writing in a notebook instead of little notes on computer paper that ends up all over. I am still cleaning out the file drawer but thankfully most is junk that can be tossed. I am still working on organizing my pictures that seem to be taking forever.

Good luck everyone because once you are done you can stay organized and it will be so much easier to find things.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 3:27PM
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Do it!!!! I was inspired by Alisande's office, too, and am I ever glad! It's so much nicer this way. The thing is, I KNOW it's nicer, but I can't keep it this way. Oh, well, don't let me discourage you...I'm loving my clean office right now, and you will love yours.

GET OUT THE BLACK PLASTIC BAGS AND START DUMPING!!!! And don't look back. Just do it.

Maybe what we need is an after-thread to keep us all motivated to KEEP our new-found rooms organized and neat. Hah! Now quit reading and get going!


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 5:06PM
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Okay, I took the pictures, but I'll figure that out later. At least I got them pre-purge.

I pledged 15 minutes, but knew I would spend more once I got going.

Out went: catalogs from 2001, travel literature from a trip to Nova Scotia (2001), correspondence from 1997-2001, old paid bills, shredder basket full. This was in one file drawer that I cleared to make some room for tax info, etc. that I need to keep.

Moved to basement storage: paint tray, wallpaper tray and rollers, step ladder, humidifier water containers.

Put away: binder of African violet magazines, potting tools.

Vacuumed one side of the room.

I eventually want to use one surface of the desk as a potting area for my plants, which I usually do on the kitchen table. The desk is laminate, the table is wood. That will make cleanup so much easier.

I have a dustbuster new in the box, I'm going to charge that and find it a home here, and then I am done for the day. I'm saying that because I really want to goof off, so that one more task will make me feel as though I earned it!


    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:10PM
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I also pledged 15 min and the way I was feeling today after a wedding on Sat. and a BBQ on Sun. I still feel beat and I only attended them!
So I thought I would do my 15 min. sitting down. I started to go through files, medication and medical bills back from 1997. Since DH said 7 years were plenty to retain I sorted them into recycle and destroy. Made some room in a file drawer to fit other files that had been out. The info. that needed to be saved for taxes, I am putting in a separate filing container I had empty.
Also turned some gardening papers into scrap paper for the computer when I have something non-important to print out.
Turned into almost an hour and I think this will be about it for today. I know every little bit will help!
Good luck all of you,too!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:43PM
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An office purge is definitely something I need to do! I recently sorted out the surface of my desk, but I have years of old bills and paperwork lurking in my files. With the kids home and summer vacation activities, it's been hard to find any motivation or time to get to this stuff.

I will be paying bills later today and I'll see if I can get through at least a couple of file folders. Thanks for the motivation!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 7:39AM
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Boy, do I get that!
And thank you, Jamie and Margie. Your work rooms are worse than mine, and you have made my day.
But that doesn't make mine acceptable...there is something about the mess that becomes an energy sink, and I am sure that everything I do in a newly organized place will take a third of the time it takes now.
And that I will be much less likely to bounce off of starting at all.
Do you have the same feeling?
As soon as I find the camera I'll share my not-so-bad-but-bad-enough bits, too.
Then I am dedicating a half hour, and making room for a whole one, every day this week, to my two work places.

I think we could make it a two-step process. First, we encourage each other to throw away everything we possibly can, and go all the way with it...don't just box it, but get it out of the house.
And then let's start another conversation about how we re-establish the spaces so that they actually work for us.
(Otherwise, you and I all know that we will just start making the same mess all over again.)
What do you think??

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:00AM
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I agree bmom...first getting rid of the extra stuff and then making spaces that work for us. Actually that has been my trouble in the past...clean it up and before I know it, it is piled high again!

I know for me...I find it easier to get rid of large stuff, I can see the difference and progress pretty quickly. But, when it comes to the little stuff, like pieces of paper I have trouble staying with it and making the decision to toss or keep and where to keep. I have 3 2 drawer file cabinets and I have stuffed them all! Some or maybe I should say most things I never look for again.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:19AM
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Yep - it's like I had to do with my closet...I couldn't reorganize *anything* until I cleaned out the "chaff", so to speak. Same deal with the office. Purge first, organize afterwards. :-)

That said, I went in there last night, stood there turning in circles wondering where in the heck to start, and ended up walking back out again. I know once I get going it will be easier, I was just completely overwhelmed last night, looking around at all the "stuff" to deal with, and no plan of where to start or even *how* to start. Not good.

Tonight will be different. I have a plan. First I'll break down those boxes for the recycling, then spend whatever time is left cleaning the top shelf of the computer desk of garbage/paper. I really have to limit it to 15 minutes, or I won't get my other "chores" done before bed, but I'll set a timer, and work hard until it goes off.

Hopefully I'll have way more to report tomorrow! Keep at it ladies! :-)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:46AM
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jamie...I know the feeling of being over-whielmed! Looks like both of us are in about the same place.
After reading bmoms post...I thought what can I get rid I took out my large flat rate box and filled it tight with fabrics for the gal I met on-line, who makes quilts for kids. It is all packed and in my car ready to send!
Now, I have to get back to the guest room...the count down is nearing for Friday...3 1/2 days left and I have some outting planned the next 2 today has to be a big one for me!
Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 2:43PM
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Kept up with sorting more paper this afternoon and getting rid of a bunch.
I needed a place for my canvas bags and saw a space under a small standing bookcase in my office. I found a box that just fit under it and decorated the box with some photos I had taken and had no use for.
Here it is...I like it! I may even do this to some of my cookie tins and other boxes if I find a use for them.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 9:31PM
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Day 2

Today was watering day.....28 seed flats holding 40-50 plants in varying stages of propagation....but worked on it while I watched the baseball game. Tomorrow, back to real work on the office.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 12:39AM
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Wow Barbara...lots of work watering, but I'm sure it will pay off. Bruglover, great idea for the photos! I might have to do that with my plastic drawer bugs me that they're clear, because I don't *want* to see what's in them! :-)

Last night it actually did take me the whole 15 minutes to break down that pile of boxes. But they're done, and I can get to those drawers now, so that's good. Tonight I plan to work on the computer desk, since I need to get an invoice done for my freelance work.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Day 3

Hey, I'm sticking with it!! I spent a couple of hours today going through some of the desk drawers to purge old stuff and have a home for current needs. And the pen drawer.....went through that drawer, checked all the pens, pitched a bunch of crappy ones, did some drawer rearranging. Went through a box of inks, specialty pens, etc, and found some turkey feathers I was saving for WHAT? A friend's nephew had told her he wanted a quill pen like they use at Williamsburg, so off to her they went! He can experiment with them and find out why they invented rollerball pens. LOL

Tomorrow I think I'll tackle the 'paper organizer'. It's this shelf unit thing that has 12 shelves about 2 inches apart, 6 on each side, for storing papers, forms, etc. There are two of them, one stacked on top of the other. I use it for stationery, phone books, address book, stationery, steno pads, stationery...well, you get the idea. I haven't hand written a letter in years, why do I need 18 different boxes of stationery? I can use most of the paper in the printer, which is what I will do, but 18 boxes worth? I think I'll send some to Mom, she still sends hand written letters to a few.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2008 at 10:23PM
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Good thinking, Barbara! I rarely hand-write letters anymore either. I do send notes here and there though, so note-cards are my "weakness". :-)

I spent my 15 minutes on my computer desk last night - got a bit of it cleared off, but some of it is tax docs that I need to file (had them there doing my taxes in April). And of course my filing cabinet is buried, more or less...

In any case, no working on it tonight. Today is my hubby's birthday, so we're going out. :-) I'll get back to it on Friday - find the filing cabinet, file those tax documents, and see what else I can get done.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 1:39PM
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I'm wondering what happened to my post from yesterday in this thread, where I mentioned that I'd seen one of these photos somewhere else.

Is someone purging this thread?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:43PM
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Oops - nevermind! I just found my post in the "infrastructure" thread. :-)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Day 4.....

I purged one whole paper organizer thing and cut it from two to one. Now I have a lovely wall space to hang a beautiful daffodil watercolor from a well known Maine artist. Made up a box of new stationery to send to my mom. I took the boxes of 8.5x11 paper and will use it in my printer.

Thnak goodness for microfiber cloths for dusting. They sure pick up the crud.

I've come across a lot of reference materials that I used in my career. I'm going to post a separate thread, because I need some input.

Treated myself to a movie tonight, "Mama Mia". What fun!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Congrats, Barbara! We went to "Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D" last night (which was most entertaining), and saw a *ton* of women coming out of Mama Mia. I think that theater would have been scary for any guys wanting to venture in... ;-)

Ah...references. I need to go through mine too, but for now, I have to stay focused on cleaning out the actual floor/desk areas of the office (will work on that more tonight).

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Busy cleaning for our company this evening...for 2 weeks, so my office will have to take a back seat for the next few weeks.
I saw both "Mamma Mia" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D". Really enjoyed them both! Even purchased the sound track from Mamma Mia & am enjoying that too!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:45PM
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Day 5

Less productive, but I spent 30 minutes putting into the real homes some of the stuff I purged from the office. I had the 'keep, relocate' box going, and putting that stuff away is all part of the whole picture. It's a part I hate sometimes.....


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Paper is probably the hardest thing we have to deal with (in general as a community). We receive more junk in the mail than our parents did and they received much more than their parents did! Even though I "opt out" once a year with a mail preference program I'm just like everybody else with JUNK in the mailbox, six days a week. Yet I love to send little notes, just like Jamie. And true, everything that comes in the mail is not junk. But it does come into the house and get put in a pile!

The very best book I ever read on organizing, and one that helped me tremendously in this area is called "Order from Chaos" by Liz Davenport. She made a point that of all the paper piles we have in common, 98% of it is pure trash. Instead of investing in blocks of time organizing these paper mountains just weed through them and pick out the 2% that isn't trash, i.e. personal items (photos, birth certificates, love letters, checks) and trash or box up the rest while you set up a new, working system. She made a very valid point that anything of importance will be sent to you AGAIN.

I was banned on another organizing website for mentioning this book. The person that owned the website forbade information from other sources because she was selling her own book and products. Yet she encouraged people on her forum to go through these tedious processes!

I am probably not explaining the Order from Chaos system very good. Her system of setting up a dayplanner was a godsend for me. I make my own out of 5 X 7 notebooks as needed every three months or so. They have streamlined my life and make so much sense to me that I couldn't imagine being without them now! I hope you will be inspired to check out her book, it was really fresh advice in my eyes.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 10:41PM
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I have been forcing myself to deal with the mail when it comes in and I have to decide what to do with it then. Of course if the kids bring it in when cooking I will do it later but have it put away before I go to bed each night.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 12:27AM
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Day 6
It's Saturday, and I'm taking the day off except for some laundry. I'm being treated to a baseball game at Fenway Park tonight, and yes I am trying not to gloat! Very excited, never been....

So it's Saturday. Actually, ever since I terminated 'gainful' employment, my motto has been 'every day is Saturday".

On the other hand, as I sit here I espy the bills I brought to the desk last night. If I pay those now, I have fulfilled my commitment. Yeehaw!

Wait! Laundry. Go put in washer, pay bills while that is going. Must stay focused and organized.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Day 7 was very non-productive on this task, but laundry done, ironed 5 shirts and slacks for hubby's trip, and have a houseguest. She has to deal with a soon to be ex-tenant and is thinking she is overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done to get the property rentable again. Using many of the things I learned here, we have a plan for tomorrow and the next day too to get balls rolling. The office will have to be on the back burner while I help her.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 11:25PM
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My office is on the "back burner" for a couple days too. I did take out a huge bag of yarn that was on the floor (one of those plastic bags that big blankets come in)'s in the car to be dropped at Goodwill tonight, with the *bags of clothes my hubby cleaned out* of his closet and the laundry room this weekend. Hooray for another clean closet, and a shiny, *empty* laundry room rod! That was exciting, so I didn't mind letting the office go for a few more days to get that done. The laundry room and bedroom are both on the list for cleaning/organizing this coming weekend...

Now I'll just wait a couple days. Tonight we're running errands and it's "manicure night" for me. Tomorrow night I'll be helping hubby pack for a business trip. Wednesday he's flying out, and I have a whole week to myself to get things done...I miss my hubby while he's gone, but I do get a serious amount of stuff done then too - especially when he's gone over a weekend like this.

So back to the office on Wednesday night this week. I think I'll make a point of having something super light and easy around for dinner, and then jump in on it right after work for a "marathon" cleaning night in there. My new PDA is scheduled for delivery on Thursday, so I'll make it a goal to have at least the computer desk all cleaned off and organized by then so I can get the new PDA set up easily after work. :-)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:13AM
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I also took a sabatical from my office clean-up for a long week-end while getting ready for our guest and then entertaining him.
This morning my DH and guest are getting ready to go up to Lake Tahoe for 3 nights. No more excuses here! It will not be all work though. I already invited a girlfriend to spend an evening watching movies and dinner at my empty house. I will have time though to get back to my office. Actually I am finding that I feel so much better when I accomplish something rather than not. So it feels good to be coming back. And like others, I love the look of space not filled up with stuff. I think I will plan a charity drop off tomorrow too.
Have a good week, all. Coming here to post how I am doing really is good incentive for me to keep at it!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:52AM
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Well...I did spend alot of time in my office today, but not really what you would call organizing. I searched and found my PDA after reading the post of them. It was still working and I was able to figure it out enough to hook it up to my computer and syncronize the two of them. This took quite ab it of it is going to be considered my task for today!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:57PM
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neesie...I went ahead and ordered your "Order from Chaos" book recommendation! Paper is a very large problem for me and I am hoping it will help. I will let you know!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:06AM
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Nessie, I meant to mention that I do intend to check out the "Order from Chaos" book on Amazon (I love to read lots of reviews before buying anything)...thanks for recommending it! I doubt you'll ever be banned for sharing too much resource information here...

Bruglover, congrats on finding your PDA! If you need help getting it set up, let me know (I think my email address is still in my profile, but if it's not, post and I'll email you). It does take quite a chunk of time at the outset, but it's worth it to me (now...believe it or not, I was a die-hard paper planner addict for a long, long time). :-)

As for my office, I took stock this morning while I was getting dressed, just mentally making a list of where to start when I dig in tomorrow night. Anyone care to join me in a Wednesday night office cleaning frenzy? Something where we clean like fiends, posting our progress every so often from...say...6:30pm to 11:30pm (in your own time zone)? If there's any interest, I'll start a specific thread for that tomorrow night (well, afternoon for anyone on the east cost joining in)...

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:06AM
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Day whatever....I've lost track.

So, DH's cousin is here to get a tenant out, prepare house for new tenant, etc. I'm so thankful not to be in the situation of either of them. I think cousin is AADD, and I was so frustrated yesterday trying to keep her focused on what needs to be done. I helped her make lists, prioritize, organize information like phone numbers, etc. so we could have a plan to get things going. And two hours to get dressed? AAACK! I know she is overwhelmed, but appears to not be really thinking very straight. And the tenant......

Long story short, I bailed today, I have enough work of my own to think about rather than spending it watching two poor-me whiny twits dither about. In a house that smells so bad of cat pee and smoke, well, you get the picture.

This office looks perfectly FINE. Uh, not really, just relatively speaking. LOL And I realize that both of them are really overwhelmed, but they seem to be feeding off of each other.

On to something productive, a report later.

Impatient Barbara

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:09AM
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Okay, so now that THAT little rant is over....

Jamie mt, I know you'll miss your husband while he is gone, but what a perfect opportunity to really be super productive. I'd love to be in on the Wednesday night project, but I have a meeting to go to that evening. I'll check in though.

Brugloverz, Tahoe is so beautiful.. I lived in Rancho Murietta, outside of Sacramento, for 9 years. I wasn't any better organized there than I am here. Worse, in fact.

Neesie, does the "Order From Chaos" book address other areas, or only paper. I've finally got a pretty good handle on paper, especially since I went to on-line banking.

Kudos to ALL of the people on this forum, and many thanks for all the inspiration, help, and support so generously and freely shared by everyone.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:18AM
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I'll just go ahead and add my progress tonight to this thread - that will keep things "neater" around here. :-) Anyone who wants to join me can. I'm making a committment to have at least one "after" picture to post by midnight tonight!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:36AM
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I'll probably not get anything done today on the office, but...I am preparing for a meeting this evening, and because of the previous days work, I have had an easy time of it. I found some items that I needed, do not have to spend the day tearing the place apart, and will be prepared, refreshed, calm, and ready to go in plenty of time. Life is good!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:53AM
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My copy of "Order from Chaos" that I ordered from amazon yesterday arrived today. That was quick. I had 2 day shipping with a trial Prime account.
I think instead of doing any organizing today, I will read this book. Maybe it will give me some ideas before I go on with all of the paper stuff.
Plus my friend just left from spending the evening and night on a mini vacation while my DH and his visitor are away. I am feeling so relaxed that I don't want to ruin it by working! We watched a DVD this morning called "Saving Sarah Cain" it was so sweet and good. I still have 2 more movies to watch, so you know what I will also be doing tonight! Relaxing!
Barbara...yes, Tahoe is beautiful! They should have a good trip.
Also, I will try and answer your question about the book after reading it this afternoon.
Jamie...I will look for your after photo. You are really good to keep at it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 6:01PM
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Jamie...Thank you for offering to help set up my PDA. I have a connection between my computer and my PDA and had all of my information from outlook like e-mails, calendar, notes and contacts up-dated on the PDA from my desk top.

I am wondering if there is other information that I should put on it also. Any suggestions?

Thanks, Margie

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 6:42PM
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I just dropped in before I get started my trash bags, my paper recycling bin, and I'm ready to go! :-)

Barbara, congrats on being able to prep quickly! Isn't it great how even just a little bit of organization helps so much?

Margie, enjoy your book. That sounds like a most pleasant way to spend the evening, and I'll look forward to hearing what you thought of it as well. I'll think about what all I have on my PDA (downloaded some new free software and a trial for the new one today), and post back on that later.

But now, time to get to work!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 8:45PM
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It's a little after 9pm here, and I'm giving up for the night. This is a much larger job than I wanted to admit! But as promised, I do have an "after"'s what my desk looks like as I sit here posting tonight:

Ah..."order from chaos" indeed. Now I'll have plenty of room to get my new PDA all set up tomorrow. :-)

I did spend about an hour moving the computer tower up to the desktop from the floor beside it. I have a bad habit of just "tossing" paper beside the monitor to deal with it later. Well, now I can't. So that should help with that bad habit. I still have to do the drawer and bottom shelf for the desk, but that can wait for awhile - I'd like to get the "big stuff" at least dented while I'm on a roll. I'll start another section tomorrow evening - maybe the little "all-purpose" table under the windows (will post pics).

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:17PM
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Jamie mt,

Look, even Garfield is pleased!!

Nice job! I went back and looked at the 'before' picture, WOW, what a difference. The only thing missing is a pretty cup for your favorite morning or evening beverage.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:51PM
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Jamie...Wow, it is looking GREAT!

I ended up reading the first pages of the new book and then decided to set my timer for 15 min. and see what I could clear out of my file cabinet to make a "vacuum" for new stuff to go in. I just worked quickly and don't think anything that I am getting rid of was really that important. It couldn't have been if I haven't looked at it for the last year or more. Plus if I really need it I can refind it again on a google search.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 11:53PM
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"I have a bad habit of just "tossing" paper beside the monitor to deal with it later".

I have the same habit, and piles of paper on each of my five desks (can't have a room without a desk, can I?). I thought dividing my various types of work and projects among the five spaces would keep me organized . . . but no, I just have piles everywhere.
I'm thinking of getting a rolling file cart to keep beside a desk so that it is just as easy to file the papers as to pile them. I hesitate to give the space to the cart. I'm trying not to buy any more organizers without thinking carefully about how they will work with what I already have and where I will keep them. Has anyone used a file cart at home?


Here is a link that might be useful: file cart

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 7:46AM
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Here are more carts. I like the compact mobile cart - it tucks away under the desk!

Here is a link that might be useful: more file carts

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 7:57AM
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elizabethzen...I don't know about you, but I have 6 drawers of file cabinets & they are packed full !
I am trying to manage paper which is one of my biggest problems in my office.
I just started reading "Order from Chaos" and in it she describes how to first get rid of unnecessary papers from the files. Either to throw them away or to make boxes to store in another location for things we really might want in the future and to lable them well. After that she says to make a fast decision on each new piece of paper. I haven't read it thoroughly yet, but she has a "pending file" and in order to put something in there, you also have to put it on your calendar and schedule when you are going to deal with it!
I think one of those files would be great if you are truely out of space or don't have a file drawer now. Otherwise I know for me at least, it would be just one more area to fill up and pile on !

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:59AM
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Thanks, gals. :-) I wasn't pleased it took me so long, but I'm definately pleased with the outcome! Barbara, Garfield is actually a phone that was given to me by a friend last year (he opens his eyes when the phone is off the hook). I haven't had a place to put him before, so I'm sure he's grinning because he actually has a "spot" now!

Elizabeth, part of my problem is that I don't have a garbage or a recycling box in the office - not anywhere. So paper that is trash or needs to go into the recycle bin just gets set aside for "later". Really, super bad habit on my part. I'm lazy about filing too, and no matter how many times I read "touch it once, file or toss immediately", I just can't get that "filing" step down right away. And part of *that* problem is my buried file cabinet!! :-)

Part of my plan for this office dredging is to add both a garbage can and a recycling box/bin for just that purpose. Then the file folders on top the desk will be relabeled for things like this year's reciepts, freelance copies, etc (whatever I'd normally toss on the desk that isn't trash or recyclable).

I have a box out by where I sort the mail that is my "to be filed" box - I pile stuff in there until it's full, then spend a couple hours actually filing those papers. It's not what "they" say to do, but it's what works for my personal habits (lazy as they are).

Rather than file carts that take up space, why not use stacking trays or boxes? Have a set for each desk, then file when a tray is full. The kicker is that you *have to file* when the tray is full, but at least you can schedule that when you notice it's almost there. Then you only have to have one file cabinet. Otherwise what happens to the papers on the other desks if you forget to bring the rolling files with you? Just some thoughts to mull over...

Stand alone file boxes might work too, if you just want to file once and be done with it. One box for each desk wouldn't take up as much room, and when it's full, you could store that and add another one. Maybe I should replace my "to be filed" box in the kitchen with a file box (I have two sitting in the closet empty). Then I could take my own advice... ;-)

As for tonight, I'd like to think I'll get something done, but my new PDA is at home charging, and I'm excited to get it set up, move my information over there, and install some new programs that my current pda couldn't handle. So while I'm going to try to clean off the little all-purpose table in the office, I'm not promising for tonight. :-)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 6:54PM
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Ditto what Jamie said.

Also, those open file carts will get extremely dusty (I have the one shown below at work, mainly for long term filing, that's how I know). Although I do like them, especially the small ones with a shelf below and rounded handles, for multiple ongoing projects, so they don't stand still and catch dust - not for long term filing!

Another solution to consider: a rolling cart with plastic drawers. All papers for one project get dumped into a single drawer dedicated for this project only, when you are done for the day. I believe it would work well, especially if you are a "pile" person.

Just my 2 cents...


Here is a link that might be useful: the hanging files I have at work

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 2:21AM
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Wow, I didn't expect so much response - thank you brugloverz9, jamie_mt, and Maria. Sounds like no one likes my file cart idea.

"I don't know about you, but I have 6 drawers of file cabinets & they are packed full!"

I've already done The Great File Cabinet Purge - not that it is ever finished! Its a continual process. But now its not so much space as convenience I'm seeking :) I need to file is current records I must keep for taxes, etc and pending matters - where I am awaiting response to actions I've already taken (these get tossed as soon and whenever possible). So really the whole rolling file would be just the current year's active files.

"Otherwise what happens to the papers on the other desks if you forget to bring the rolling files with you?"

I would not roll it from room to room. It would stay by/under one desk and be used for only the work I do at that desk. I do have a small horizontal file on my desk (the one in my DH's office where I take care of household bills and personal financial matters). and that is fine for holding incoming bills and letters, but its a very small desk and there is no more room on my desktop.

"Also, those open file carts will get extremely dusty".

That's a good point! I am also concerned about privacy so I searched again and found a rolling file I like even better;)
This one has a cover and a lock!
I do like the little desk top hanging file holders and I use them on my genealogy desk where I have more desk top space.

I'm still not sure whether the rolling file is my best solution. I'm still pondering . . . I COULD just get caught up on my filing and then be diligent about doing it every week. I do have the excuse that in addition to being lazy I have trouble walking/standing for more than a few minutes due to illness. I also kind of like the idea of having all the current year's files in one portable, compact place. So that MIGHT take care of one desk mess!

My five desks:
1)Home office desk: rolling file? maybe
2)Research desk (medical): still assessing need to file/sort! This one is in the living room with overflow on the dining table - highly inappropriate!
3) Research desk (genealogy): "filing" on computer, notebooks, etc. This is in my Florida room/gym/genealogy and archives room.
4) Other Research desk (genealogy): ditto. next to desk 3
5) Little lady's desk: this one is now pile free! YAHOO

I didn't mean to go into so much detail. I hope I'm not hijacking the thread.


Here is a link that might be useful: file cart with lock

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:40AM
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No worries, Elizabeth. Desks are still "office space", no matter where they're located. Obviously you need to find a solution that works for *you*, so if the rolling file cart will best suit, then by all means, go with it! :-)

Tonight, since it's Friday and all, I'm really going to tackle the office hard. I spent all evening getting my new pda set up last night (and love it, I might add), so that's all taken care of, and I can shift my focus back to cleaning/organizing.

Updates tomorrow - heck, maybe even tonight, if I get the urge to show off any progress!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 11:15AM
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I'm just now catching up to this thread, and have to say I have a filing crate on top of rollers that works extremely well for me. Since it fits under my desk, it's always ''right there'' and I find it's easiest for putting things into immediately. There are actually two crates; the highest one holds my most used files, since it's always ''open''. (The other stuff I need but don't access as much is in the crate under that one.) The nicest thing about it is I can easily pull it by the handle out from under my desk (it's a corner desk so there's a large bit of space underneath it) and tuck it away when I'm done. It was much cheaper than a filing cabinet yet works the same way. Since I don't have extra room for the cabinet, this works for me, and I don't find it gets all that dusty; two crates high it's right under the desk top.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:51PM
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Okay - update before I go downstairs for a workout (and to finish my load of laundry):

Here are two "mid-point" pictures of our office table, and the secretary.



Not too bad for an hour's worth of progress. It felt like three hours, to be honest, and I was relieved when the Indiana Jones theme played on my pda to tell me it was time to workout and flip laundry to the dryer (hooray for different alarm sounds!).

Back to work in a couple hours...

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 10:43PM
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Jamie_mt - I reread this thread this morning and I was encouraged by steady progress that you and the other ladies are making  interesting and confidence building. I was struck by the *tidy shelves* in you first before pics. The line of figurines standing guard above the fray :) and the matching notebooks, neatly labeled, seem to indicate an inner neat freak!
My messy spaces reveal the same sort of split personality. This is probably true in general for people who handle a lot of paper (that includes books!) Â paper is just so difficult to keep under control when a person values it highly.

Paper covers rock  the building material  in the old rock, paper, scissors game!

For most of my life I have been a procrastinator who prefers to wait until the last possible moment and then, under extreme time constraints, pull off a miracle and get a monthÂs worth of work done in a day. I found the pressure of doing the *impossible* exhilarating. IÂve been fighting this tendency for years, knowing that Rome cannot be built overnight, and it is unlikely that any significant accomplishment can be achieved in a momentary flurry with no thought given to it before or after.

Lately, I find myself saying, "Show a little respect for yourself," when I feel like postponing some task I know I should do. That helps me realize that leaving a mess in the house is unhealthy. My home is actually an extension of myself and reflects how I feel about myself.

There is so much psychology involved in this someone could write a book. Oh wait, a million or so people have. He he ;)

claire_de_luna - Thank you for sharing your rolling crates. I'm glad the concept of a file cart, handy to your desk, is working well for you. BTW, I seem to remember that you steered me in the right direction a couple of years ago when I was remodeling my kitchen - Gaggenau oven - was that you?


    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 8:41AM
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So should I mention now that those "neatly labeled matching notebooks" are either my totally unorganized stamp collection (upper shelves) or very uncluttered (read "empty") binders from when we cleaned out my mother-in-law's basement awhile back. Unfortunately, while they have labels, the labels are blank. ;-)

But I do have an "inner neat freak" - she's just normally squashed down by my "inner lazy slob". Ocassionally though, the neat freak wins, and sometimes I even end up with a sustainable solution, if I'm lucky! :-)

So here are my progress pictures from this afternoon:

The wire shelving above the secretary is now very neatly holding sweaters in my closet:

Look, my secretary closes!

And wow - there was more "floor" under that huge pile of "stuff":

Now I have three boxes of papers to file, which is what I'll work on shortly. Then I have a few things to find alternate places for, and finally, I want to move two bookshelves from the bedroom into the office (the wall my figurines are on). They'll stack on top of each other, and the figurines will grace the top. Lots of work left, but I really need to get this mostly "done" today, so I can do the laundry room tomorrow (back to work on Monday!). I'm hoping to make good time on the rest of this, so I can watch a movie later tonight while I go through and declutter my jewelry armoire. It's really nice to just be able to get a whole bunch done while hubby is off and out of the way (bad as that sounds, and as much as I'll enjoy having him home). :-)

So back to work for me...

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 7:16PM
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Final Pictures - I think I'm done for the time being now. The drawers in the secretary are loosely organized, as are all the plastic drawers. I still need to work on the desk drawer and bottom shelf, and there's a pile of software CD's on the top shelf of the desk that hubby will have to go through before I can "declutter" them. The actual secretary desk needs organizing too. But I can do that in small spurts in the evenings - the big cleaning is what I needed to get done the most.


I decided to leave the bookshelves in the bedroom - just rearrange them for better use of space. That way I had room for my big recycling bins in the corner *with my broken down boxes*, which means I won't forget to put the cardboard out when I put the other bins out! I've forgotten the cardboard the last two times, so this will be a vast improvement. I need to get rid of the large blue case in front of my mirror, but will do that soon.

The box with the lid on it in front of the plastic dressers has tax docs that need to just be stored, in the box "in case". So I'll move the box downstairs to the storage room this afternoon.

I'm pleased with having made it this far...but time to move on now for awhile. New post on the laundry room coming up...

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 2:26PM
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Jamie mt,

Isn't it amazing that cleaning and clearing gives you more floor space than you remembered having? LOL. Nice job!
I've had to address some other things the last couple of days, so today I have two goals...finish the office and water plants.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 9:00AM
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Yes!! I can't believe how much bigger the whole room (normal bedroom) feels! Amazing...

Good luck with your office today...I'm moving on to the bedroom this evening.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:07AM
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I took the challenge and am half done. I moved the computer desk to the other side of the room and took my 5-drawer filing cabinet that I have really come to despise how it looks and is so big to where the desk was. Before, the filing cabinet was the main focus in the room and was about the only thing noticed when looking in from the doorway. Now, I'm going to put a large poster over the side of the filing cabinet that I see from my desk.

I want to move my small TV to the other side of the room as well. But I don't think the cable wire is long enough.

I have one large bookcase in the room with all my non-fiction books that I can't ever seem to get rid of but at the same time I never open them. I wish I could force myself to "read" a book a week and finally dispose of those that I can't get through or are outdated. I do find that I'll look for information on the internet before I look in any of my books. It's difficult when you come from a generation that appreciated the library growing up and now everything is available with just one click.

There are still many boxes of cookbooks in the cupboard in this room. I honestly have no place to put them out. Maybe I'll get rid of enough books from the bookcase that I can start putting out one box at a time. Then, if I find that I won't use a certain cookbook, it's time to get rid of those as well. This all sounds really good, at least in theory.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Lena M

Sorry I am late to this Office Party.
Great job y'all, and good luck to everyone working on this.

One book I found really helpful for organizing my office (and my life...) is Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. He presents a simple flow chart for deciding what to do with stuff.

Here is one of his diagrams:

hth, Lena

Here is a link that might be useful: David Allen Tips & Tools

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:18PM
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Jamie, I looked at your before when I first started posting on this forum, but was too afraid to reply since I feel guilty about what needs to be done in both our computer areas. My hubby's is in the library, where I'm at now, and mine is in what used to be our daughter's room Now my "den", so to speak. It's not so much the computer areas that needs help but the rest of the rooms. I used mine as my bring everything here room until I know just what to do with it room. Right now the sofa is full of "stuff" I need to find a home for. The library has boxes of things we need to go through and store in our recently installed bookcases. Maybe that will be next weeks projects.
Anyway, I just wanted to say you are an inspiration with all you've done in this room. It looks amazing!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 5:20PM
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Thanks for your project flow and book recommendation Lena...I have taken a break from organizing with guest(s)...but plan to check it out! I will look at anything that may help!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 12:03PM
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Great job, Marie! Half-done is better than it was!

Is your hubby handy enough to go buy & install you a longer cable for the TV? That would solve that problem nicely, and it shouldn't be all that much work.

Sorting through books is hard for me - mostly, because I love being surrounded by them (whether I've read them or not). So I give myself permission to "be surrounded" by them, to a certain point. Once the shelves we have get full (which is a lot), then I have to go through and clean out again. I'm at that point now - perhaps I'll do a "book purge" this weekend (hubby's leaving again on Friday, so I have another weekend free to declutter with). That would help my office, bedroom and basement shelves a lot...

Thanks Becky. :-) You shouldn't feel guilty or embarrassed about anything in your home, but I know we all do anyways. Hence my pictures - I figure if people see how bad some of *my* areas are, maybe they won't feel quite so bad about thier own (or at least not so alone).

Lena, thanks for the book recommendation. :-)


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 11:12AM
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Yesterday, I went through 5 drawers in the office. I hadn't remembered that I had purged and organized them before the move and I hadn't stuffed these yet with other papers. There is another drawer that I have stuffed which I'll get to this week. Then there's 2 boxes of papers that need filing. After that, I have 2 boxes of other papers that are sorted and I've decided they should be in the filing cabinet. So that means a major purge of the papers in there.

Slowly but surely it will get done.

I realize that the TV doesn't have to be moved. It actually is in a good spot on top of my drawers. It's a really small TV but a bigger one wouldn't fit in this tiny room. And with the drawers there's double duty.

Jamie, I, too, like being surrounded by books. But I'll admit many of these looked interesting and came from the clearance section of Borders. Not that that makes them less important, just that they were impulse buys.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 8:10PM
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Jamie, I'm late to the game but am SO down with this. I work from home and used to be very organized (thanks in GREAT part to this forum!) So much so, that I had an Access database that I would use to designate which box, in which room, seldom used items were in. (How anal is that?!?!?!) If I didn't kind of sort of know where something was, I would look it up in the database & voila!

But in recent years, we've had some lifestyle changes including my 91 y/o mother moving into assisted living. And so I have "inherited" some of her things (that either I wanted or she wants & doesn't want to keep at the assisted living place) and do alot of "hands on" care for her (IE doing her books, refilling her pill boxes (we have four of those weekly thingies), keeping track of her medical info, etc.) That's one reason I've ramped up the usage of my PDA over the past ~1 1/2 years. Since she's legally blind, but her mind is pretty good, I try to keep good notes about how her hearing aids work, how her cell phone works, etc so if she encounters problems, I can hopefully walk her through troubleshooting over the phone, rather than make a special trip over there. (Not that she's that far away, but I do see her twice each week & work full time. So I tend to get disgruntled if I have to make a special trip b/c she ran out of pills.) Plus, since she made her living "doing books", she's often asking me about this investment or that bill & I have to stay on top of things & it's helpful to have the info in the "Palm (TX)" (hehehe!) of my hand.

Unfortunately, the "physical" aspect of my organization has suffered. :-0 My office is the worst, probably because I spend so much time there. My husband is always asking me to work on it. Over the past year (I'm SO ashamed to admit this...) my idea of "working on it" has been to stuff all the clutter into shopping/grocery bags & shoving them into the closet or the bathtub of the bathroom that's right next to the office. (Bowing head in shame.)

Having said all's a video I took this morning of my's password protected & the password is 'gardenweb'...(all lower case)

Here is a link that might be useful: RoxieL's Office 8/21/08

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 2:51PM
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Hey, look at that! Another person with a dog bed in the office! Much smaller than the three in my office though... :-)

I'll have to watch the video again later, Roxie, since I'm at work, and can't really turn the sound up to hear you. But when you first went in, I couldn't believe how...well...neat it was! All that clear floor space.

But I have the same problem as you do now - the floor is clear, the visible areas are fairly tidy, but my drawers are rather chaotic looking.

And I used to do the same thing - toss clutter in a box, put the lid on, pretend it had "disappeared". ;-)

I think I might tackle the "innards" this weekend, since hubby's leaving town again tomorrow. I'd really like to get the drawers and secretary reorganized, and maybe even go through some books if I can.

If you (and anyone else) are up for it, wanna hit the office organization this weekend? I'll be working on our bedroom as well, but I think I can devote a day to office organizing, now that it's mostly cleaned out...

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 3:39PM
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Hi Jamie! Yup, the dogs must have their place in the office, too! (There's another dog bed under the organ bench, that didn't show up in the vid.) Our first dog even had his own chair! But when he got older, I switched to the dog beds. If I was willing to spend the money, it would be fun to have one of those doggie couches!

Anyway, yes, I've always hated clutter you can see. But my solution has normally been to shove the clutter into closets & drawers. :-0 For the few years I had the closets & drawers organized, it was wonderful.

I don't know how much time I'll be able to spend on it this weekend. But I DO want to at least start the baby steps of cleaning out the drawers. One thing that motivates me is to think of the time I waste looking for something, when it's all in a jumble.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 4:12PM
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I finally did that one junk paper drawer. You know the one that has take-out menus, old receipts, scraps of paper with needed phone numbers, etc.

Next is sorting the papers that have been literally thrown into a box for filing. And then of course actually filing them. The odd thing is that I love paper but hate filing.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 6:20PM
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Funny how that works, isn't it Marie? Love paper, hate to file. But I'm having sort of a change of heart about my filing system. I know it's more "organized" to have everything filed, just in case I need to get to it. But as Tally Sue so often points out, we'll work harder to get something out than we will to put it away.

I have a "to be filed" box under my mail sorting area, where all the stuff that is "to be filed" gets tossed. But what if I just didn't file it? What if I just put the lid on the box, and replace it with a new one, just storing the whole box, marked "2007-08 Papers"? Would I still go through it if I needed something? Absolutely. It would take me more time and effort, but normally if I need "filed" papers, I really need them, so the motivation is there to dig through and find them.

I'm seriously considering doing that. The box is almost full...I need to decide by then.

Today I think I'll work on my secretary. I want to sort and mount some stamps for my collection, and normally I do that on a folding table in the living room, but I'd like the option of using the secretary for that purpose as well (it has a light in the top, which would make it easier to photograph some of them). So that's what I'm working on today - cleaning the main part of the secretary, then sorting stamps.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 1:01PM
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I'm coming very late to the party, but I managed to sort through (and toss out a ton of papers from) the kids' school work boxes that live under my desk.

I've been very good over the last year to only save big school projects, long writing projects, exceptional artwork, and awards vs. my old habit of saving every scrap of paper that came home with them. They sat with me to go through the boxes, and we kept just a folder of really exceptional stuff from each grade. As a result, the two file boxes beneath my desk are now only half-full and await this year's papers. The kids had a blast looking at their old stuff, too.

My next two goals are cleaning out my filing cabinets (ugh!) and clearing off the desktop. I can pretty much guarantee the desktop will be done before the files.

Thanks for the inspiration of this thread, I needed it!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 1:53PM
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