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Professional home organizer practices what she preaches

10 Feb 2008 8:00 AM | Deleted user
By  By Kevin Kidder

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH Sunday February 10, 2008 8:49 AM

The No. 1 problem that Julie Riber's clients have is paper.

They have piles and piles of the stuff. The junk mail, bills, school assignments, magazines and cards just keep accumulating.

Riber, a professional organizer who owns Transformare, obviously has a handle on how to deal with the overwhelming challenge.

Her office, in the basement of her Orange Township home, is bereft of piles. The room is small but has ample space. Everything has a place.

Corkboards with family schedules line two walls; on another, a tall bookshelf holds binders of all kinds. Everything is labeled.

On the L-shaped desk are a laptop computer, a coffee mug, several pens and a small U.S. flag.

The Dispatch recently talked to Riber about her specialty.

Q: Is your personality reflected in this room?

A: I'm pretty organized -- even as a kid (I was).

I remember being in high school, and a lot of my friends, you'd walk into their rooms and it was pretty crazy -- a lot of clothes everywhere, stuff all over the place. My room was never like that, ever. . . . I've just always been fairly neat.

Q: Is being organized ingrained in a person?

A: I think it's a combination. Part of it is learned, if you have lived in that environment, and part of it is personality. Some people are more apt to be organized. But different people have different systems. You just have to find a system that works for you.

Q: You don't have any piles down here?

A: Just this (pointing to books and brochures). I'm going to Disney, and I'm planning.

Q: How do you keep this office so orderly?

A: Really it starts when you get your mail. Immediately get rid of any junk mail. You probably get three or four credit-card offers at least in a week. Just throw those in the shredder every day. And you don't need a really expensive shredder.

Q: What else do you toss?

A: I use the rolling 12-month method of filing -- in other words, as soon as I get

a bill, I take the year before out.

Some people don't like to do that, but bills -- like electric and gas and all of those other bills -- you can really get all of those online.

And the other thing is: If you ask me to find my 2006 taxes or my son's medical records, I know exactly where they are.

Q: Have you ever gotten rid of something you later regretted?

A: Not really. Well, actually, there was one wooden train set that I wondered if I should have kept.

It was a Thomas train for my son; he outgrew that. But throwing away the plastic ones, I never regret that.

Q: What do you have on the bulletin board?

A: My son's schedules. If it has an end date, I put it up there -- which, you know, school has end dates.

There is always summer; there are always schedules coming out.

Right now we have flag football out. Next it'll be lacrosse; after that it will be baseball; and after that we take a break.

Q: For an office, this is pretty small, isn't it? What is it, 10 by 15 feet?

A: When you move into college and you're in the dorm, or you move into apartments in college, all of those places are really small. I always try to keep it neat. With the smaller spaces,the neater it is, the larger it works.

Q: How often are you here?

A: I'm down here pretty much all day when I'm not helping people out with organizing.

Q: Is that toolbox in the corner an emergency organizing kit that you use with clients?

A: I do. I have my tape measure, my stud finder, regular tools and a label maker. Now that's a big deal.

Here are scissors, and then just other things like different kinds of screws, different nails and pushpins.

These are furniture movers, We use those to move the furniture if it's too heavy. That's what I take with me.

Q: So what is in the binders on the bookshelf?

A: Here we have business cards. I tell clients that these work really well and not to use a Rolodex, and to use one of these (opening up binder with plastic sleeves of cards.) You can put different cards in it and keep it up to date.

This one (pulling out a thick binder) is kids' artwork. People like to keep a lot of artwork, and I know people do, but what I try to do at the end of the year is pare it down.

You know, when they have a large project, try to take a picture of it. What are you going to do with a giant piece of cardboard that is probably going to fold up and wilt in the future?

Q: Is your computer this organized?

A: I try. I try to keep files all in different folders -- so when I get something I just put it in that folder.

If I had a bunch of Word files all over the place, I would be crying.

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