Dear K&K: I currently work in my family’s real estate business … We have a lot of files (documents, leases, legal documents, etc.) that go back more than twenty years. I think we need to put all of these on the computer (digitize office files), and throw out what we can, though there are documents we do need to keep. Our office manager has scanned some documents and filed them onto external memory sticks, but I feel like that is inefficient. I think the main obstacle is that the office has been run the same way for the last 30+ years and while there is a recognition and desire to get more organized we do not know where to start. Any tips, advice, suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you! Documents in Detroit
Dear Documents: What you should keep in mind is that at its core, organization is about retrieval. Can you find something when you need it at a moment’s notice without stressing out? If you can, your company’s paper & digital systems are basically organized. If you can’t? You’re not really organized and potentially losing value to inefficiencies because of it.
Yes, there are more efficient ways to digitally store older documents. We’d suggest hiring a firm to digitize documents and then set you up with an electronic data management system. This way employees can search for saved documents at their computers without wasting time figuring out which memory stick it might be on. The latter method is more time-consuming. There is a reason for that saying, time is money. It’s true. The more time people waste trying to find a document that’s been digitized, the less time they have to work on things that actually produce value. All our best! Katie & Kelly
Data management companies: SAS or Iron Mountain
Dear K&K: Wondering if you had any thoughts on the best resource for closets. My daughter moved to a new apt in Williamsburg last week. Great space, but bedroom has no closet. It’s not massive… 10×11, if even that. Trying to think out of the box a bit. Do you think there are options outside of IKEA that can work with someone’s small budget? I may help her out but as this is not her last dwelling, something practical would be best! She just moved in last Saturday but is surrounded by boxes. I think that novelty has worn off. Sincerely: Boxes in Brooklyn
Dear Boxes: Of course, we have a solution! Elfa’s basic closets are the bomb. Frankly, I’d probably install them in a permanent home too because they can change easily and I feel like my closet needs never stay the same forever. Anyway, you’d obviously SEE the clothes in her bedroom since she doesn’t have a closet but you could hang a top track on the ceiling for curtains like they have in hospital rooms for privacy.
Go to The Container Store (TCS) with the space dimensions including any architectural details or impediments. Next, tell them what you have clothes wise. I tell clients to literally measure the width (and length) of your hanging clothes to let them know how much long hang and short hang you need and what length each needs to be. Don’t forget to do the same for shoes. The closets are easily installed — I use TCS installation services but technically anyone can install them as it all hangs from one top track. The reason these closets are the bomb? TCS keeps a record of what you bought and when you move, you can easily bring the closet with you. I save whatever crappy closet the landlords had in there under a bed or in storage or back of a closet. After a move, you return to TCS with new closet dimensions and they can reuse a lot of what you already own. Hope that helps! Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: My husband drives me crazy asking where things are — batteries, light bulbs. I never move these things. They’re exactly where they were the last time he asked. I don’t think I could possibly be more organized but clearly, if he can’t find things on his own, I don’t have the right homes for everything or something!?! Crazy in Carmel
Dear Crazy: Sometimes things don’t need to make sense to live together and we’re talking possessions and people! We think you’re right that for some reason your system isn’t working for your husband. First, try asking him where he’d put the things he can never find if he were in charge. For instance, I keep stamps near my passports in a drawer with other insanely important documents. Stamps are not exactly connected to those items but it’s where I’ve always kept them. I keep doing it despite the nonsensical nature of it because it works. Two wise women once said: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now, if your attempt to have his input craft a new system fails, then figure out what things he’s usually looking for and create a central home for all of them in one place like a drawer. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, having things in one spot will end up limiting how many times he asks you because he will eventually learn anything he needs is in that one drawer. All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: My husband can’t stand how I leave piles of paper on my bedside table. But, it’s where I like to do my leftover work reading after dinner. Eye roll. It’s like one pile of paper. He says bedroom clutter stresses him out and he wants the bedroom to be a place where he can relax. Do you have any suggestions to resolve our standoff?? Many thanks: Reading in Reading
Dear Reading: Ever wonder why a luxury hotel room is so relaxing when you first open the door? It’s because someone has put thought into every inch of the decor AND your pile of work reading isn’t hanging out there! That being said, old habits die hard. Therefore, the chances of you changing your reading routine are slim to none.
Now, the first step to a clutter “free ” bedroom is to get a nightstand with a cubby. One of our Organic Structure clients hides her nightstand clutter from her Classic husband’s view with one of these; it’s both open and hidden at the same time. Finally, the second step is to make sure everything else in the bedroom has a purpose and is beautiful. Hope that helps cool down tensions! All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: How do I get my husband to put his clothes in a hamper. I think he’s a Classic Freedom based on the description on your website. He always puts his clothes on top of hamper or folds them neatly at the foot of our bed in our bedroom. It drives me crazy because it’s not that difficult. Or am I crazy?? Signed: Hampered by a hamper
Dear Hampered: Easy … and we are not trying to be glib … remove the lid from your hamper. You’d be surprised how much that one extra step hampers clothes going into a hamper. That’s step one. Now, if you’re in the market for a new hamper, get no lid hampers such as these Pehr bins. If that doesn’t do the trick? Then take his clothes and put them back in his drawers. Or, do as Kelly started doing when her husband does something similar which is to put those carefully folded clothes IN the hamper. She’s still waiting for him to notice and yell at her but hasn’t happened yet. All our best: Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: I was thinking of asking a group of mom friends/acquaintances to go in on a group gift for a fellow mom who is about to have a baby. Is it okay to ask for money even if not everybody financially can contribute to the gift? Baby Showering in Biloxi.
Dear Baby Showering: Of course, it’s okay to ask if people want to do a group gift. If you ask via email and use a blind copy email list, those that don’t want to contribute can ignore your email or pretend they “missed” it. In addition, if you make it easy to collect money by giving your Venmo information then people can give money at whatever level fits their budget without the hassle of getting you physical cash. If you don’t have the app. then download it, it makes life SO much easier for these sorts of expenditures. All our best! Katie & Kelly
Dear K & K: I was listening to your interview on NPR and I find this very interesting! I took the test and it turns out, I am the Organic Freedom type. Your description of this type fits me to the tee. I wanted to call the radio station with one question. What category does my husband fit in? I have been married for 22 years, and I am still trying to adjust to my husband’s habits. He is very neat, he puts all things in cabinets, cupboards, and closets. The problem is that he puts things wherever he finds room. I spend my life rearranging the silverware drawer, my kitchen, the shelves, dresser drawers, and everything else after my husband is done… I think he might be a hopeless case because he knows where things belong. For example, we had a house guest one time, and she was helping him in the kitchen. Of course, she asked him where things belong because she was drying the dishes and he knew it. He just doesn’t do it. Any suggestions? Thank you: New Fan in Illinois
Dear New Fan: Thank you SO much for listening. You’re Katie’s type so naturally, she thinks you’re awesome and feels your pain because it sounds like your husband is potentially a neatnik Classic. If they don’t see a clear organization system — and this doesn’t mean you don’t have one, it just means they don’t see it or know about it — they’ll put things away behind closed doors just to get rid of the visual clutter. The solution for dealing with these little clutter squirrels is three-pronged.
First, find a home for everything in your home and make sure it’s in its place. Second and this is potentially more important, give him a tour as if he’s the new guy in the office — a.k.a. your home — and you want to help him succeed. Then, review each and every system with him. Tell him what goes where and what NEVER goes where. We’d suggest doing it room by room over a period of time. Also, you need to be clear that some things are always going to need to be out in the open — you’re an Organic Freedom, THIS IS A MUST. But, make sure this visual clutter has proper homes — transparent bins/attractive bulletin board. Then, tell him “DO NOT TOUCH”.
If these two steps fail, ask him how he thinks you should change your organizational systems since he clearly knows they exist but doesn’t always pay heed. Essentially, convey to him that something must not be working for him and you want to make sure the house works for him and not just you. Finally, if that fails then we’d just put his personality type down as … stubborn! 😉 Hope that helps!! All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: Loved hearing you on NPR, and to hear about personality based organization. My sister and I were just talking about how difficult it is to organize and create systems to stay organized. Recently, I’ve realized how stressful it is for me not to able to control clutter in all aspects of my life. I’ve recently started a new job, for which I work out of my house, hence why I’ve been more aware of wasted time trying to get organized.
Of course, my job doesn’t generate enough income to be able to hire an organization consultant. However, I feel that having a good organization system would make me more productive, and generate more income and satisfaction with time. Looking forward to some words of wisdom. Sincerely: Interested in Illinois
Dear Interested: Well, technically the best bang for your buck would be to buy our book, Organize Your Way. BUT, you can also go on our website and take our quiz for free, then read about your type and some of our tips for each type.
The two things that are integral to making systems work no matter what your personality type: (1) Room to grow!! Set up a system that has room to grow, i.e., leave empty space and/or bins. Clutter always multiples over time. If a system fits your clutter after a purge, we can guarantee it’ll eventually overflow out of control one day. (2) Reduce organizing systems as close to one step as you can. Fewer steps mean easier, which translates to more adherence. The definition of what’s easy depends on who you are. If you’re an Organic Freedom it means setting up a coat rack instead of expecting yourself to hang up all your coats on hangers. It means taking off the lid of a hamper to make it easier to dump clothes in there and not on top of a lid.
Hope that helps!!
All our best,
Katie & Kelly
Book Trailer: http://www.pixiesdidit.com/videos/
Dear K&K: HELP! We’re having a craft explosion. My kids love doing crafts but they’re always everywhere and a total mess. Any great craft storage solutions? Sincerely, Crafty in Cohasset
Dear Crafty: Crafts are like grown up tools. You’ve got to have lots of big containers that also house some smaller containers, i.e., how a tool box also has smaller compartments within it. Our favorite is the Smart Tote from The Container Store. Ziploc bags are good in a pinch and sometimes the best solution. You also need to make sure you’re creating enough ROOM for all of these containers. We suggest trying to create a craft closet — if you’re truly overrun by crafts — or perhaps a storage bench with crafts inside. Maybe you could even reserve a whole cupboard for crafts in the kitchen. Happy Crafting! Katie & Kelly
Dear K & K: My young elementary school son has a crush on a girl but she doesn’t like him back. It’s really zapped him of his usual confidence. He wants to give her a birthday present even though he wasn’t invited to a party or anything. This is all new territory for me as a mom. Any advice you might impart to him (or me!?) on how to handle it when your feelings aren’t returned? Worried in Winnipeg.
Dear Worried: Our dad always says to us, “It’s shocking to hear the things you kids remember.” SO, knowing how much kids retain means you can plant some good seeds even when they’re young. This is the best time to lay the foundation for future relationships because they still listen to our advice!
Talk to him about your experiences with boys as a young girl — the good ones and the bad ones. Help him understand when to continue pursuing a girl and when to move on to something else (and why!). Kelly’s eight year old son was astonished to learn that girls feel embarrassed about this relationship stuff just like boys do.
We’d like to pretend that we came up with these great ideas on our own. But, Kelly read this great book called Raising Boys and its advice is worth its weight in gold. Good Luck! Katie & Kelly