For many people, the constant onslaught of paper is a challenge that never seems to end. I often hear:
"What should I do with this?"
"I have a file cabinet, but I have no idea what's in there."
"Do really I need this?"
The answer, of course, depends on the paper and the person. I have found the trick to managing household papers is to have a system in place that reliably catches all that paper and helps you decide what to do with each item. Think of this as your paper flow.
In the Pick It Up Quick-Guide to Paper Flow, I discuss the three steps to creating an effective paper flow. Papers should land in the same location each day. They should be processed with regularity, and a system is needed for both short and long-term retention. For additional tips on creating your flow, subscribe to the Create Your Home quarterly newsletter and get the Quick-Guide to Paper Flow as a free download.
An area where many people get hung up is reference files. Most of us have a filing cabinet, but for many people, it is full of old files and is often in an inaccessible location. By following the below steps, you can bring your filing cabinet back to life!
1) PURGE. Dust off that cabinet and purge it like crazy! The older the files, the greater the chance they can be tossed or shredded. Ask yourself if you really need the papers for reference? Are these documents accessible online? Tax documents only need to be kept for seven years. Ask your CPA if you have any specific tax-related questions or check out the IRS retention guidelines. Always shred any documents with personal information like your social security number or account numbers.
2) STRUCTURE. Now that your file cabinet has been whittled down to current files, start giving it some structure. Do your remaining files fall into natural categories? Common categories would be Auto, Finances, Home, and Health. Create a broad category and nest appropriate files under this heading. Here is an example:
AUTO (the broad category)
I find it is visually helpful to keep the broad category tab on the far left and the sub-folder tabs to the right. If you like to alphabetize, go for it!
3) MAINTAIN. Now that you have an easy-to-use filing system all you have to do is maintain it. Easier said than done, I know! File your papers right away, to avoid a huge pile of documents that need to be filed. Purge your filing cabinet a few times a year to keep it current.
Filing may seem tedious, but with a little time and work, it can become a routine that helps keep your life running smoothly. If you're looking for help with your paper pile, schedule a free virtual assessment. PICK IT UP works virtually with clients nationwide!
Another Fall and the kids back to school... kind of. This has not been a typical year and is not a typical "back to school" season. There is no denying it can be tough with everyone Zooming in their own room, be it for school or work!
I love the above image because it's how I feel several times a week. With everyone home, getting the house under control right now can feel like a monumental task! Take a few minutes to congratulate yourself on small victories, even if it is just organizing a drawer.
It does seem that all this time at home has made people really want to invest in their homes, which is a wonderful silver lining of all of this. I see lots of houses getting painted and back yards getting spruced-up. Places like Goodwill are also overwhelmed with donations as people simplify their lives and learn how good it feels to live with less.
Take care and stay well,
Over the past six months my business, like many others, has changed in significant ways. The biggest change is that I am now offering virtual organizing services. In these mini 1-2 hour organizing, coaching, or planning sessions, we meet via Zoom and choose a limited area to dive into. Whether it's planning for a move, strategizing how to tackle a larger project, or purging your closet, you are doing the hands-on work and I am coaching you through it. After the session, I do offer contactless donation pickup for SF residents. Simply place the items outside at the appointed time and watch them disappear!
To find out if virtual organizing is for you, take a look at my website. Of course, you can always call or email me with questions or book a free assessment or virtual session.
I am happy to announce that PICK IT UP has been a certified California green business for over 5 years! Being a green business is important to me because it shows my community and clients that I care about sustainability. In the context of being an organizer, this means:
Clockwise from top left: one of our many puzzles, Buttercup, bike rides, and a Zoom party!
What a time we are living in. I hope this post finds you well as we shelter-in-place. I also hope you are finding some silver linings in all of this. For me, they are puzzles, lots of bunny time, zoom birthday parties, and bike rides.
Spending so much time at home can be challenging, but maybe we can use this time in positive ways. It could be as simple as clearing out a drawer or dusting off your art supplies. Action always feels good, even if it's confined to our home!
I wanted to let you know that I have started offering Virtual Organizing Services. In these mini 1-hour sessions, we meet via Zoom and choose a limited area to dive into. You are doing the hands-on work and I coach you through it. When donation organizations are open again, I will pick up all donatable items (for SF residents) at no charge. Learn more about Virtual Organizing or book a session here. Of course, you can always call or email me with questions.
Wishing you lots of silver linings,
With lots of recycling and composting going on in SF our trash bins can get kind of gross. A few months ago I signed up for a trash bin cleaning service and I am loving it!
Bin Cleaners comes by quarterly and cleans my trash containers with hot, high-pressure water right after they have been emptied by Recology. It's a non-toxic way to keep them sparkly clean! I swear it is SO worth it. Now I never dread taking out the compost. See my bin cleaning below in action!
Looking for a great place to donate gently used dog supplies? Look no further than Wonder Dog Rescue. This great local rescue organization is focused on small dogs and dogs facing the greatest risk of euthanasia in shelters due to medical conditions.
Their website states:
In addition to small dogs, "we also rescue dogs who are at the greatest risk of euthanasia in the shelters due to medical issues, both physical and emotional. While some of these dogs continue on to being adopted, many remain with us as foster/hospice, or fospice dogs… beloved dogs who need care and compassion at the end of their lives."
Wonder Dog Rescue is always in need of the following items:
Exercise Pens – our GREATEST need for foster homes!
Leashes and collars for small dogs
Dog food (check with us about brands!)
Flea and tick control
Learn about Wonder Dog's specific donation needs here.
WONDER DOG RESCUE
2926 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Thanks to Freepik for use of the dog icon!
The Home Edit Starter Solution from The Container Store.
I spend a lot of time organizing clothing and closets. Along the way, I have come up with a few tips I wanted to share. It goes without saying that any closet spruce-up needs to start with a purge. Go through each category and ruthlessly purge out the items you no longer need, want or wear and toss them in a bag for donation. Once that's done, move on with these tips and your closet will be spruced up in no time!
Tip #1: Return the Wire Hangers
Wire hangers bend out of shape easily, get tangled, and don't hold clothes nicely. If you are used to getting your hangers free from the dry cleaner, it's time to upgrade. I recommend switching to velvet hangers. They're affordable, super-slim (so they maximize the space in your closet) and hold items with skinny straps. Trust me, you won't miss those wire hangers! Most dry cleaners will happily accept them back.
Tip #2: Use the Space You Have
If you have lots of hanging space and very little drawer or shelf space, don't be shy about hanging things like tees and jeans. You can even purchase a hanging shelf for folded items or a rod expander to increase your short hanging space.
If you are long on shelving space but have no drawers, consider using open bins to hold things like socks and underwear. Just don't make the bins too deep or things will get lost at the bottom. There is no "right" way to organize a closet. My advice is to use the space you have!
Tip #3: Organize in Zones
Organizing your closet into zones helps keep what you need at hand and everything else out of the way.
If your shelves are a mess of disorganized stuff, consider dividing up the space. Clear shelf dividers are an easy way to delineate areas for different items such as shirts and pants. A large drawer is in dire need of drawer organizers when used for small items like bras and underwear. See if you can find other areas where dividing up the space would make it more manageable.
Tip #5: Organize By Color
Once you have edited your closet completely, group all items of a category together. For example, all blouses together, all dresses together, all jackets together. Then, I love to organize each category by color going from white, through the color spectrum to black. It makes your closet look neat and makes it easy to find what you are looking for.
Tip #6: Use Hooks
I love hooks in a closet! Whether it's over the rod, over the door or on the wall to hold your outfit for the next day, hooks are essential in the closet.
Tip # 7: Upgrade the Shelf and Rod
I see so many closets that are just a shelf and a rod. Now, this closet design (a favorite of contractors I have noticed) can work, but if your closet really needs an upgrade, consider getting a custom closet from The Container Store. When we hear the words 'custom closet' I know that sounds expensive, but it doesn't have to be!
Elfa is The Container Store's most affordable closet solution and my favorite. If you want a little more from your closet design, go for Elfa Decor which adds wooden drawers, shelves, and trim. If you want to go all out on your closet consider Avera or Lauren, The Container Store's highest-end closets that are absolutely gorgeous. You can see all of these designs at their website, plus all closet systems are 10-25% off right now!
Tip #8: Create-A-Closet
If you are in a space with no closet at all, consider an armoire or garment rack. For a minimal wardrobe, this IRIS garment rack even has shelves and would look great in any space!
If you need a pro to help with your closet, book your free assessment today!
I have long been a fan of Marine Layer. With super-soft clothes in great styles, it fits my life perfectly. When I recently learned of Marine Layer's t-shirt recycling program, Re-Spun, I was hooked! Drop-off (or send in) old t-shirts of any variety and in any condition and they will send you a $5 Marine Layer credit for each shirt (up to $25, but no limit on donations.)
They sort the tees by color, break them down to the fiber level, add recycled plastic bottles to the fibers to create their recycled yarn, and create a brand new(ish) shirt using sustainable methods. No water, dye or new materials are used! Pretty amazing!
So far they have collected 100,000 tees and plan to keep going. On the Re-Spun FAQ page to the question "How long will you be collecting T-shirts?" Their answer is:
"Forever. (Or at least until we go out of business.) But seriously. We want Re-Spun to be a core part of what we do — and t-shirts are just the beginning. We're working hard to expand the program to other kinds of products. Stay tuned."
If you want to find out more or get a prepaid mailer, visit the Re-Spun site. If you want to drop off your tees in store, check out all of their locations. I had no idea there were so many!
Marine Layer (SF Locations):
2106 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
498 Hayes St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
If you enjoyed reading about interesting ways to repurpose items, take a look at my recent post about La Casa de las Madres.
All images from The Real Real Instagram feed.
When it's time to clear out your closet, most items happily to go Goodwill. However, if you have some luxury items that need a new home, let me introduce you to The Real Real.
The Real Real is an online luxury consignment site. Authentication is so important to this company that they put "real" in their name twice! They have everything from apparel to jewelry to handbags and more. Whether you are looking to sell or buy the process is simple. If you have just a few items to sell, they can send you a Consignment Kit or you can visit their SF offices. If you have more items, call Miranda to book an in-home appointment and review everything at once. If you happen to be in LA or New York, stop by their beautiful clothing consignment shops!
If you also have luxury home items that you are looking to sell, you're in luck! The Real Real recently added home consignments to their business. With everything from furniture to lighting to artwork, it's a virtual estate sale, with all the work taken off your hands. Give The Real Real a try and let me know what you think!
The Real Real
If you enjoyed this post take a look at Organize Your Closet with StyleBook.
One of my fabulously well-dressed clients recently informed me about StyleBook. What is StyleBook, you ask? It's an app that helps you virtually organize your real closet.
In the app, you can snap photos of your clothing, categorize individual pieces, and create virtual "looks". You can also put outfits on your calendar, create a packing list, save fashion inspiration, and shop at your favorite brands directly from the app.
If you're a person that loves all things fashion, this may be the app for you! If like me, your wardrobe is minimal and consists of too many pairs of jeans and t-shirts, it may be overkill. It's not a quick process, but I can see how it would pay off over time. StyleBook would be very handy when out shopping because you have your whole wardrobe at your fingertips! Finding items that work with what you already have would be a snap. It may even inspire me to upgrade from my jeans and t-shirts!
Give StyleBook a try and let me know what you think!
If you enjoyed this, check out my post about the West Portal Goodwill Boutique!
The mission of La Casa de las Madres is to help victims of domestic violence of all ages, 24 hours a day, 356 days a year. They help survivors to transform lives through emergency response, support services, and prevention education. La Casa De Las Madres works in partnership with Community Thrift to directly help those in need.
Their website states:
"When you take your in-kind donation to the Community Thrift Store and make it in La Casa’s name, your contribution will transform into shopping vouchers that La Casa provides to the women and families in our programs. These vouchers are redeemed for necessities at the thrift store, providing a direct link between your donation and our program participants."
La Casa also has a wonderful Adopt-a-Room program! If you have gently used furniture and home decor, consider donating them to this wonderful organization.
Their website states:
"The Adopt a Room Program allows donors to decorate our shelter rooms with a homey touch and purchase items such as linens, draperies, paintings, and lighting fixtures. Generous donors have furnished bedrooms, equipped our kitchen, and created a colorful mural on the living room walls. Let your creativity take off and enhance a single or family room with your choice of theme and color scheme."
LA CASA DE LAS MADRES
1269 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
COMMUNITY THRIFT STORE
623 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a