organize this, part two


It felt really great to have a few days off this weekend. Though I was thrilled to be invited on an amazing 36-hour trip in the middle of last week (more on that later), getting back from the Austin workshops on Monday night and leaving town mid-week left me with a lot to of hurried work and unfinished to-dos.

This week my priority is to get caught up on last week’s unfinished work, complete what I have for this week, and prepare for our summer vacation(!).

On Friday, Mr. Lively and I fly out to Crystal’s Napa wedding and will stay a few extra days to explore San Fran. I also am excited to re-visit Alcatraz, for which I have an unusually strong affinity.

Today, I’d like to return back to the organize this questions and address the remaining topics.

Again, these will simply be my off-the-cuff answers and I will say that organizing anything is easier when you’ve donated/tossed/recycled/passed on anything that you no longer need, use, or love.

Quite simply: the less you have, the less you have to organize! 

Now, onto the questions:


Office desk please.

– Pagie G. 

Personally, I have a large farm table behind my living room couch where I do most of my work. Because it is so open to my living space, I don’t have any room to store paperwork.

So right off the bat, my office desk is usually a small pile of consulting notes, a weekly priority list, and some notes for the website I’m designing for my hotel client.




The rest of my paperwork lives in filing folders for bills, taxes, etc. or in binders for client notes. Those are all in the guest room in Ikea shelving (above you can see the white and gray filing box I got from The Container Store).

Because I have an online business, most of my paperwork is on my computer.


I second office desk. And email! Mine is always a mess. Also, how do you organize email addresses so that they’re all in google, even if they’re not an @gmail account? (is that even organization?)

-Jessica H.

When it comes to email, I’ve had Mr. Lively direct all of my email addresses to two gmail inboxes. I’m not sure how he managed this, but I do know that he looked up the directions online.

As far as actual inbox organization, I’ve covered how I simplified things in detail here.


The mountains of papers kids bring home….storing the ones you want to keep.

– Michelle F.

If I put myself in my (future) mom shoes, I think my first inclination is to hold on to a fair amount of the paperwork for a few months, if not a whole school year. I’d probably get plastic folders with the Velcro closures for each child (I use these for my yearly receipts and love them).

Then, at the end of a semester or school year, I’d go through and sort out the items I feel are going to be significant for several years to come.

The items that I keep from this sorting would go in a long-term folder or box for the child. And any artwork that I feel is truly special, I would frame and hang in a playroom or along the walls of a hallway in our home. This way we can enjoy the art on a daily basis, without feeling overwhelmed by too much volume tucked away into drawers.

The rest, I think I’d feel good about letting go of – knowing that the important items are getting their proper attention in the home.

(If you have dealt with children’s paperwork in your own home, please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject as well!)



– Esha S. & Jen M. 

For Email, please see the answer above in Jessica H’s question.

As far as computer, this one is pretty simple. I don’t think have too much to share here other than I have folders for our family, the blog, With Intention, my hotel design project, and my residential design client home.

Within these major folders I have sub-folders for other items like website graphics, tax paperwork, etc.




When it comes to makeup, I have always had pedestal-like sinks for the past six years. This has made storing and using makeup on a flat surface problematic.

To work around the lack of space, I have used some form of tray for my makeup that gives me a flat work surface when applying the makeup and stays in the cabinet below when not in use.


Desk/office space (especially when it’s a part of your living room).

– Joanna P. 

I have had my office set up in my living room for the past three years in two different apartments and I love it!

The thing I’ve learned is that I cannot keep much clutter simply around because there isn’t room for it.

I use my guest room currently to house any unneeded paperwork like consulting notes and I have a drawer in my kitchen that has the few office supplies, like a stapler and three hole punch, that I need.

When I do have any paperwork on my desk, I try to limit it to one pile of just the items I need to address that day. Any other papers get tucked into a drawer in the guest room desk for later in the week.

If you need a place for items like tape and paper clips, I suggest using a pretty jewelry box (you can usually find them at Home Goods) or lacquered box to hide the functional items in a pretty way. You’ll notice the one I use in the office storage photo above.


My family of 5 is moving from Japan back to the US in a month. We’re blessed to have movers who will come pack us up, but I want to have the kitchen and craft closet organized before they arrive.

I am at a loss as to where to start in the kitchen and with the kids craft supplies and my scrapbooking stuff. I’d rather organize on this end than have to deal with mountains when we finally unpack as I’ll be about 8 months pregnant then!

– Laura S.

This is a tough one! To be honest, I would be really ruthless intentional about the items that I bring back. I would only bring those things that we use, or plan to use, on a very regular basis.

I would suggest using the same “hanger method” you mentioned in your comment that you used for your closets. Anything that you haven’t touched in the last six months in the crafts, scrap-booking, or kitchen I would consider up for donation.

Donating scrap-booking or craft supplies to a school or non-profit for children gives you a chance to help institutions who may not be able to afford the items in Japan. And you can always repurchase papers or paints in the US if you find you want them after you return.


Closet exfoliation and organizing.

– Christine L.

Please see my response to Ashley G.P. in the first post.


The computer! I have so many pictures/file from blogging & I don’t know what to do with them!!

– Here&Now

Over time, I’ve learned that I would personally rather save my blog images on my actual blog server than on my desktop.

Any unedited pictures from my DSLR are auto-imported into My Pictures folder on my Mac. But once they get processed and blogged, they are put in the trash because I can always reuse them directly from the blog’s media folder.

If I need to re-find a DSLR photo, I simply go back in the events in My Pictures and retrieve the one I need.

So my personal suggestion is to transition your blog image saving to the web, rather than your computer. I used to keep all my old pictures from my blog early on and found it to be a waste of space and organizational energy. Allowing things to just live on the blog has simplified things a lot.


I hope that these ideas may have been helpful for the ladies who asked these questions and anyone else who might be looking to simplify and organize in their own homes!


office photo by

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Dainty_Mom

    Ugh, I need to organize so many photos! They’re in the My Pictures, and I’ve backed up all on an external back up drive. Thing is, I feel compelled to categorize them further, but I can’t find the time!

  2. Chicspace/Marguerite

    Re kids’ schoolwork: honestly, one gets a large boxful in about 3 months, and going through 9-10 months’ worth would be insane. The best rec I have is to go through at least once a week and dump out worksheets, etc. (even if you just put them in a holding bin and dump a week later so the child isn’t offended). Artwork and creative work can be gone through on a quarterly or semester basis if you need to purge again. Having not purged during earlier grades, I have several very large bins of schoolwork already (with a 9 and 13 year old). As with everything, the best is to stay on top of it from the beginning, and, if you need to clean out a lot, start where you are and finish when you’re done.

  3. Christina Heinle

    For the kids artwork, find a spot to hang them or pin them to a wall and at the end of month take a picture of the hanging artwork and then toss the artwork.

  4. I’m personally obsessed with having a clean computer, so I think having a clear desktop really helps keep things calm when you log on. I make sure I have folders for everything and try to clear my desktop off at the end of everyday before I shut my computer!

    1. We are so similar! I feel the same way.

      Though I don’t think I’m as good about clearing the desktop as you are, that’s inspiring!

  5. dpirraglia

    I don’t have kids but I saw this on Neon Fresh a few weeks ago – the app Artkive. Basically, you take a pic of your kid’s artwork, store it int he app, and you can later print it (on things other than paper, too.)

    I’m in no way associated with the app – as a kill the clutter freak, I bookmarked it for my own future use, should kids come into the picture!

  6. Mel

    I’m not sure if you’ve covered this anywhere, but I would love to know what you do with old papers, like old school papers, etc. Do you keep any? Do you throw them away? Any thoughts would be really appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Hi Mel! I graduated in 2007, so since then I have tossed all of my school papers out, personally. I am not sure, but I think I might have saved some right after graduation, in my first apartment, but with future moves, I’m guessing that I exfoliated them as they became less relevant to me. : )

      Not sure if that is the right decision for others, but I haven’t thought about any papers from school since I moved to Chicago.

  7. Maria

    For forwarding emails from one account to another you just log into the account that you want forwarded, go to their settings and look for the action “forward to:” and type in the email that you want the account to be forwarded to. I do this with my work and school emails. They are both forwarded to my gmail account 🙂

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