Personal Space

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When it comes to home offices, there's no one-size-fits-all organizational strategy. But how do you figure out if you're a file cabinet person or a bin person? New York Times reporter Sara Rimer talks about how she tamed her home office with the help of certified interior designer Lisa Whited.


Sara Rimer and Lisa Whited

Comments [18]

Lisa Whited from Portland Maine

Jennifer from NYC - just wanted to respond to your question about personality and clutter. I think there are a lot of things going on in our lives and in our backgrounds, as well as psychologically, that contribute to who we are and how we deal with clutter. The good news is that you recognize it is a problem and want to do something about it. The even better news is that there are qualified people who can help you out. Whether it is a professional organizer, a certified interior designer, or a combination of both -- having a neutral professional (rather than a friend or relative) help you make decisions and find peace in your personal space, can happen. Check out and click on QSearch to find a certified interior designer in your area. A writer above lists the web site for professional organizers -- and, I have a link to a great organizer on my web site, too. Good luck!

Mar. 31 2009 12:57 PM
Jan Jasper, Jasper Productivity Solutions from Metro New York

Telling people "you don't need to save all those articles, you can find the information on the internet" is often not helpful. I've been a productivity coach since 1988 and I can tell you, it's not so simple. People often have a legitimate need to save a specific web article - they may have even highlighted parts and added their own notes. Still, there's a more efficient way than printing it and filing (or not). You can download the web pageand save on your hard drive as a text or WORD doc which you can mark up.
Another option are the internet browser add-ons that allow you to mark up, annotate, and organize internet pages while retaining their look and graphics. This takes no file space and it's also much faster to file - and retrieve later - when done electronically.
As for scanning, that takes time - so should only be done for papers you really need.
Also, ask people to send you information electronically. Whenever someone wants to mail or fax me something, I ask them to email it to me instead so I don't have to deal with the paper.

Mar. 31 2009 12:14 PM
Lisa Zaslow from Manhattan, NY

As a professional organizer, I love seeing all this interest in getting organized! A few comments - RES, you have to try a labelmaker to really see/appreciate the difference it makes. You can use a variety of fonts and colors if that helps you remember things (the eye/brain does see color before it reads, but too much variety can be distracting). Andy, professional organizers absolutely help people with organizing their electronic space too. Raymond, I recommend that couples discuss their needs and preferences and work to develop systems that accommodate both as well as possible - as with everything, some compromises will probably be necessary.

Mar. 31 2009 12:12 PM
Ishah Janssen-Faith from New York, NY

Hi there, I just heard a caller ask about someone to help them organize for a tag sale. There are so many of us personal assistants out here who are perfect for the job! Maybe people don't know to call a PA for a specific job, but that's what I do, and that's what I lot of people I know do. We're great at coming in and project managing a specific job, moving, tax organization, space utilization... Anything. You need a personal assistant. It's not scary!

Mar. 31 2009 12:00 PM
lauren from Asbury Park

are you kidding? an extra room is the perfect solution - you can shut the door and problem is solved!

Mar. 31 2009 11:59 AM
Collette Shine from Manhattan, New York

That association is NAPO - the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Mar. 31 2009 11:58 AM

Moving to a Mac and Gmail have helped get rid of clutter for me.

A huge improvement in productivity

Mar. 31 2009 11:57 AM
Raymond from Upstate

Any advice for getting married couples working together on an organizational system?

Mar. 31 2009 11:57 AM
Rory Bernstein from Brooklyn, NY

There's nothing like a move to force you to get the clutter under control. I recently put about 40 boxes of clutter in storage in order to have a more spare looking apartment to show to potential buyers. I can't believe how much stuff I had that I don't really need; my life is so much better now that I got that stuff out of the house. My desk is empty. Life is good.

Mar. 31 2009 11:56 AM
Rob from The Bronx

If you are afraid to throw away papers then perhaps a scanner would help. Just don't forget to backup.

Mar. 31 2009 11:56 AM
Paulo from Paterson, NJ

I was going to print out the NY Time sarticle, but I didn't want to add to my clutter!

Mar. 31 2009 11:56 AM
Jennifer from NYC

I am a full time working mother of a 16 month old and I feel like my life is complete chaos! I am completely cluttered and it really is messing with my mind. Makes me crazy. I also am a complete pack rat. I feel like it is a personality thing. What does your guest say to that?

Mar. 31 2009 11:55 AM
Donald Wade from Jackson Heights, Queens

P-touch can have many font variations - it is necessary only to choose them

Mar. 31 2009 11:55 AM
George from Manhattan

For 2009, I've begun scanning all receipts for my home business and keeping backups of all the scanned receipts. No more paper.

Mar. 31 2009 11:54 AM
Matt from UWS

Here's a fabulous related TRIVIA QUESTION:

WHO INVENTED THE FILE CABINET (i.e. for hanging folders)?

ANSWER -- MELVYN DEWEY (also the creator of the Dewey Decimal System)!!!

Mar. 31 2009 11:54 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

I find myself often procrastinating cleaning my office by reorganizing the files on my computer. While it's a definite cop-out, I do find having my computer's desktop organized is often as important as my actual desktop. Are professional organizers helping people with organizing their electronic space too?

Mar. 31 2009 11:52 AM
RES in Brooklyn

I am always shocked that the P-Touch label maker has such a devout following (as is mentioned in the Times article) because it seems to me that with its uniform, all-caps font makes every file (or box, or labeled whatever) indistinguishable from the next—at first, speedy glance. And isn't that how you're often looking for a specific file or box, in a rush? Doesn't the eye respond to variety--color coding, your own (neat) handwriting, etc.?

Mar. 31 2009 11:40 AM
Alan Shamoun from Elmont NY

I am looking forward to this morning's show about personal space! I would love to see my desk again, as it only happens typically on a leap year. HELP!

Mar. 31 2009 09:05 AM

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