The first step in creating a paper filing system is to get a banker’s file box with raised tabs for quick visual recognition.


When it rains, it pours. Just when you think you’ve had enough, you get more. So slide over and make room for all of life’s curve balls...

Trying to survive cancer while caring for your aging 80-year-old parents is an enormous challenge. Top that with sifting through years’ worth of their collected stuff before moving them to long-term care.

Nancy is an amazingly strong woman. She called when she just had enough, no more steam left in her engine. She needed our help and wanted a reprieve before the holidays.

Her apartment was lined with boxes and piles of paper moved from her parents’ home. A visual reminder that she had the world on her shoulders. Organizing her living environment gave her back a sense of control.

We started off decluttering and organizing her bedroom. The goal here was to get her full floor mobility and a good night’s sleep — something she has not had in a long time.

First we dealt with the clothing issues. The closet had to be better managed to accommodate the clothing. There was no reason to store clothing over the door, on the chair or in baskets on the floor. All that was necessary was to remove the empty shoeboxes, memorabilia, unusable clothing and voilà, we had space in the closet.

The living room, or “paper cyclone,” was Nancy’s priority. There were boxes and piles of papers in no particular order everywhere. Nancy focused and made fast decisions when it came to allocating paper. The first step in creating a paper system was to create separate banker’s file boxes for her parents, herself, husband and kids. In each file box we had appropriate broad alphabetized categories with raised file tabs for quick visual recognition. We were able to eliminate many bags of paper documents.

With the living and bedroom now under control, Nancy gets her reprieve and can decorate her home for the holidays. It’s good to have something to smile about.

Until next time, happy organizing and remember, there is nothing I haven’t seen and nothing that can’t be overcome.

Brenda Borenstein is your professional organizing guru. Look for her column every second Thursday in Metro, in the home fashion section. For more tips and ideas, visit or call 416-665-2165. Brenda has organized hundreds of homes and says, “There is nothing I haven’t seen and nothing that can’t be overcome.”

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