Diane Albright
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Archive for the ‘Paper Management’ Category

How to Avoid Mistakes Getting Organized

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
January 11th, 2016

7 paper-_folders_pileMistakes to Avoid in Getting Organized

Nothing can be more frustrating then spending time on getting organized only to find that over time it returns back to the way it was. There are common mistakes made in getting organized – most often because you tried to hard. When getting organized at home or work, remember to set up a system that will work for everyone in your environment – not just you. You don’t want to be the only one who can understand and use the system. Seven common organizing mistakes are below. 

1. Be Careful with Color Coding Files
Use caution when color-coding. When setting up a filing system don’t color code with file folders. The only color you will probably remember is green for money. If you can’t remember the color-coding, how will others remember it?

It is okay to use simple color-coding. For example, you may want to designate files that belong in one location. You can designate them by using two different colors, one color for each location. This way it will be very obvious when a file was put back in the wrong place.

You also can designate important files versus unimportant files. Important files can be red. A good rule of them to keep it simple is to use no more than 2 colors.

2. Getting Rid of Air Space, aka Wasted Space
Don’t fall victim to thinking that all items of the same category have to be on the same shelf. If you do, you may have air space or wasted space above them. For example, if you place baking items on a shelf and you place a bag of flour and box of baking soda on the same shelf, you’re definitely going to have some wasted space above the baking soda. If you find considerable air space, you may want to get rid of it by making some easy adjustments.

To understand the concept, think of the soda isle at the grocery store. All Coke products are not on the same shelf or row. Instead, all Coke products are in the same column. You’ll find each shelf, or row, with soda of the same height. All 2-liters of soda are one shelf. All 22-ounce bottles of soda are on another shelf. All soda cans are on yet another. This way there is no air space or wasted space above the different heights of Coke or other sodas.

To maximize storage space, always choose pullout shelving over stationary shelving. With stationary shelving you need to leave space above items to see and reach to the back. With pullout shelving you do not need to leave any space. You will be able to put in more in pullout shelves than with stationary shelves.

3. Don’t Buy Containers
When taking on an organizing project, don’t buy containers before you begin. You’ll need to sort and purge to determine what and how much you have left to organize and containerize.

4. Don’t Let Your Giveaway or Recycle Pile Stay
The first step in getting organized is to purge and get rid of what you don’t need or want. Designate two bags or boxes as giveaway and recycle. But more importantly, make a definite plan as to when you will be dropping these off. A common pitfall is letting the giveaways and recycling sit in a room or garage. If you need to, designate someone, a family member or friend, to see it through.

5. Organizing Takes More Time than You Think

Divide your organizing project into achievable segments. Don’t pull everything out of your garage or clothes closet and think you will get it all done. Before you know it, it’s nightfall. The car needs to go in the garage, but there still is stuff that you pulled out and put on the driveway. Or it’s time for bed and now you need to move your clothes from the bed to chair. Your organizing project looks worse than when you started.

To avoid this common pitfall, first decide the area you want to get organized. Then, determine how much time you have or how much time you can realistically last working on organizing. Then decide what specifically you are going to work on and divide it into achievable segments. Keep in mind the first step in any organizing project should be to sort and purge. Then you will see what you have left to organize.

6. Hire Help or Take a Class
Realize that you’re not an organizing expert and that you can’t be good at everything you do. Your niche may be crafts or cooking. If it is, let it be just that.  Some artists are born with the natural talent to paint. The same is true for organizing.  You’re either born with the organizing gene (passion) or not.

Books on organizing may be great but most people have trouble getting organized from a book because there is no one to talk to and ask questions. If this applies to you, consider taking a class on organizing or hire a professional organizer. This way you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.

There is so much to learn and know about organizing. Keep in mind, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

7. Organization Takes Maintenance
There are very few things that don’t require maintenance. Just like your lawn and laundry, organization requires maintenance. Your house or office is not going to stay organized unless you take the time to maintain it. For example, your file folders and clothes closet will be bursting at the seams if you don’t take the time to purge once a year.

Have a designated place for everything and put things back right away. If your life gets chaotic, stop and take a half-hour to put things away. For consistent ongoing maintenance to have a clutter-free home, consider having clutter patrol once a night. That means taking 10 minutes at the end of each day when everyone in the household goes around putting their things away.

The same techniques appliy at the office. Stop a half-hour before quitting time. Take 10 minutes to tidy-up. While tiding-up, create your to-do list for tomorrow.

Happy Organizing!

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Posted in General, Maximize Space, Paper Management | 2 Comments »

How to Clear Off Your Desk

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
November 10th, 2010

According to the P-Touch Means Business survey, 87% of office workers say when their workspace is disorganized they feel they are less productive than when their workspace is organized. Also, 86% agree that having a disorganized workspace is unprofessional.

To help clear off your desk, create and label a file folder with the title “Pending.” In this file folder place all papers that are waiting for another person’s response or action. Typically these are papers that you don’t want to forget about but you can’t file or toss until another person responds. For example, you may be waiting for an approval, an edit, or signature. Look in the folder periodically to make sure the action needed has taken place. Keep the papers in the pending folder until the response is received. If you find you are hanging onto emails for this same reason, you may want to duplicate this same idea by creating a “Pending” folder in your email inbox. Once you receive the needed response, delete the “pending” email.

Do you have piles of papers on your desk due to projects you’re working on? If so, you probably fear “out of sight, out of mind.” To keep those papers in sight but organized, first group together the papers by project name. Next, set up a file folder for each project. If there are too many papers to fit in a file, don’t worry. Place either the file folder or pile of papers for each project in a desk top file or bin. Label the bin or file folders with the name of the project. Standing the papers upright will take up less space and provide you easy access to each project.

Lastly but just as important, don’t wait until the last hour of the day to clear off your desk. Start to restore the order of your desk or workspace one hour before the end of your day. This way if you discover an item that needs to be dealt with the same day, you won’t need to stay past quitting time.

Happy clearing-off-your-desk!

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Posted in General, Office/Workplace, Paper Management | 0 Comments »

How to Organize Sales Receipts

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
December 7th, 2009

cargo_file_box_sageEnd sales receipt clutter and the hunt for lost ones by placing your sales receipts in a small decorative box. Add an A to Z alphabetical file card index inside the box so you can organize your receipts by store name. If you have a Target receipt, place it behind the letter “T.” If you have a Bed Bath & Beyond receipt, place it behind the letter “B.” If you have no reason to keep the receipt, toss it.

Use a box that is decorative or stylish so it looks like it is part of your décor. If your box is tucked away in a cabinet or drawer, it may not get used.

If your receipt is for an item with a warranty, photocopy the sales receipt and attach it to the item’s manual and warranty. If you don’t photocopy the receipt, you may find that in just a few months your receipt is so faded it appears blank. Most sales receipts these days are on thermal paper. Thermal paper images will fade eventually making your sales receipt blank.

For the DYI’er cover any existing box on hand with fabric or paper to match your décor. Then make your own A to Z tab index cards out of cover stock paper or index cards.

Encourage all the members in your household to use the sales receipt box. Purge your sales receipt box every 6 months. You can do it effortlessly while watching a television show.

Happy receipt organizing!

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Posted in Clutter Busters, Holidays, Paper Management, Save Money, Time Management | 3 Comments »

Hang Up Papers or Photos

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
June 9th, 2009

Sometimes the simplest things can make life so much easier. In this case, I am referring to the Command™ Quick Clips from 3M. The Quick Clips can be used at home, in the office, or at school to simply hang up papers or photos where you never thought possible.

The Quick Clip is a small clear clip that adheres to almost any smooth or semi-smooth surface, such as walls (with paint or wallpaper), wood, metal (your refrigerator, washer, or dryer), tile, glass, and mirrors. Command™ strips allow you to decorate and organize damage-free with no tools, nails, or screws needed. The Command™ strip has special adhesive technology, so when you are ready to remove the Command™ adhesive strip, simply pull straight down and as the strip stretches, the adhesive releases. Walla, the adhesive strip is off with absolutely no surface damage.

When it comes to Quick Clips, all you really need is your imagination as you decide where best to hang a schedule, a list, a photo, or a piece of your child’s artwork. You can put a Quick Clip inside your kitchen cabinet door, on your stainless steel refrigerator, or on your cubicle walls at work.

If you are considering trying the Quick Clips by Command™ or other Command™ products, take advantage of $5.00 in coupons from 3M at www.commandcoupon.com. The coupons expire June 22, 2009, so hurry on in now to a store carrying 3M products. You’ll be sure to find Quick Clips at Target, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and Menards. Command™ products can also be found at a variety of other stores including grocery, hardware, office supply, and craft.

Happy paper hanging!

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Posted in Favorite Things, Moms, Paper Management | 1 Comment »

How to Organizing Coupons for Retail Stores & Restaurants

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
April 14th, 2009

Over the past few years more and more retail stores and restaurants are offering coupons. This is great for the consumer but it can be a daunting task keeping these coupons organized.

First of all, don’t mix grocery store coupons with non-grocery store coupons. Grocery store coupons should have their very own organizer and a totally different type of organization that isn’t being covered here.

Now for your retail store and restaurant coupons (like Bed, Bath, & Beyond and TGI Friday’s), keep them together in an organizer that allows you to have dividers with alphabetical separations. You’ll want to organize your coupons alphabetically by the name of the retail store or restaurant. A coupon for Chico’s would fall behind the letter “C” while a coupon for Macy’s would fall behind the letter “M” and a coupon for TGI’s Friday would fall behind the letter “T.” You can group 2 or 3 alphabetical letters together, i.e., AB, CD, EFG.

If the store begins with the word “The” don’t file it under the letter “T”, instead use the next main word. You will find that some coupons are so large that they need to be trimmed on the sides. Use an organizer similar to the one pictured above. You can find this particular organizer at Office Depot. There are 13 divided compartments and 13 small paper tabs that group alphabetical letters together.

Now that you have taking the time to organize your coupons, you’ll want to make sure that you use them. To increase your chance of using the coupons, I highly recommend keeping your coupon organizer in your car at all times.

Please note, if you use the type of organizer pictured above, place a tiny piece of Scotch™ tape on each side of the clear tab to hold the white paper tab inside. If not, when the organizer is tipped, the paper tabs may fall out.

Happy coupon cutting,

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Posted in Paper Management, Save Money | 4 Comments »

Paycheck Stubs – Keep or Toss

By Diane Albright CPO, Organizing and Productivity Expert
March 31st, 2009

As Professional Organizers, we often get asked how long to keep a particular type of paper. Online there is an easy to follow record retention guide. On this chart you’ll find that Bank Rate recommends keeping your check stubs for “One year, and then when you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer, make sure the information on your stubs matches. If all information matches, shred the stubs; if not, demand a corrected form, known as a W-2c.” 

Remember to record the direct deposit in your account register as soon as possible so you can reconcile it with your bank statement or online records.

I wish you organizing success!

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Posted in Paper Management | 0 Comments »


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