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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Home Sweet Home Office

For them, Back to School means the end of carefree days of sleeping late, playing with friends and family beach trips. For you, it’s the return to relative sanity as you drop them off and let someone else think of something for them to do all day.

Once you’ve spent a couple of days vacuuming, wiping and scrubbing the summer fun out of your carpet, car, and furniture, Back to School time can also be an excellent time to get started on creating or improving your home office.

Whether you’re looking for a way to balance work and family, seeking an economical way to turn that great idea for a small business into a reality, or considering giving full- or part-time telecommuting a try, your home office (or dedicated workspace) can be as professional, organized and efficient as any cubicle or office building.

When you’re working from home, managing your time is essential, and staying organized comes with an all new set of challenges, but with a little flexibility and a few tips from See Jane Work, you can make your home office a functional and stylish extension of both your professional and personal lives.

Make Office Rules
Success in any venture requires focus, self-discipline and cooperation. Nowhere is that more evident than when one is working for from home. In order to stay on track, it’s helpful to lay down some ground rules and then stick to them.

  • Set regular working hours. Whether you work from 9 to 5, or from 3pm to midnight, establish a regular schedule so that family members know when you are, and are not, available for non-emergencies. If you have to park your car around the corner so that friends don’t see that you’re home and decide to pop by to chat, you need to gently but firmly explain your office hours. If they’re just not getting it, suggest going out for a cup of coffee. Then when your “coffee break” is over you can leave and get back to work.
  • Make sure your workspace works for you. If you’re comfortable and productive spread out on the kitchen table, don’t force yourself to set up your office in the back room. Designate a few drawers in the kitchen for office supplies, or use letter boxes to hold desk tools and paper. Then just make sure you wipe the jam off the table before you start work.
  • Enforce the dress code. No you don’t need to put on nylons and heels, but you do need to shower and put on clean clothes before you start your work day. Even if your client can’t tell over the phone that you’re wearing bunny slippers and a bathrobe, your ‘just rolled out of bed’ demeanor might come through. It’s okay to check your e-mail while you’re waiting for the shower to warm up, but before you take your first call, or make any critical decisions, be sure you are dressed for work.
  • Don’t forget to “clock out” at night. One of the downsides to working from home is that you never leave the office. Avoid burnout by stopping work at, or around, the same time every day. Shut down your computer if that helps, or at the very least close all the files you’ve been working on. Let business calls go to voice mail, and put your Blackberry in a drawer so you won’t be tempted to “just check on one thing.”

Don’t Let Your Worlds Collide
Some interruptions are unavoidable. If your 9-year-old takes a softball in the eye, your inventory report may have to wait, but you can cut down on the number of starts and stops in your workday by maintaining a division of work and home.


  • Take real breaks. You didn’t mop your kitchen floor, or mulch your flowerbeds on your lunch hour when you drove to an office…don’t start doing it now. Do household chores after work, or better yet, hire help.
  • Go wireless, if you dare. If having a Blackberry means you can make it to your kid’s baseball game without missing an important call, that’s great. If it means you spend family time surreptitiously replying to e-mail, you’ll need to get that electronic monkey off your back.
  • Always keep business and household paperwork separate. When your client calls and needs information, you do not want to put her on hold while you sift through the stack of spelling tests and grocery store coupons that landed on your desk. Designate an in box or bulletin board for family paperwork and make the rest of your desktop a business-only zone.
  • Keep at least one file cabinet just for your business. If you don’t have room for file cabinets, keep file boxes on your desk or bookshelf. Use one color for business and another for home, and then label them by year, account or category. Magazine Files for catalogs and directories, and large binders for documents are also space-saving alternatives to traditional file cabinets.
  • Consider using a post office box for work-related mail. If the nearest postal center isn’t conveniently located, sort mail daily using office tabs and letter trays to keep personal correspondence from getting mixed in with business mail.

Don’t Buy Too Much…or Too Little
The excitement of creating your own office can sometimes get in the way of efficiency. Before you run out to the nearest office superstore to buy everything you had when you worked in an office building, take a moment to consider exactly what you need and how much to keep on hand.

  • You won’t need a storeroom full of office supplies. For most of us, working from home means borrowing space from other rooms. You may have your desk in the den and store copy paper in the hall closet. That’s fine as long as you don’t buy so much paper that the vacuum cleaner will have to be kept in the living room. Now that you are a staff of one, resist the urge to purchase in volume. Instead of buying the “value pack” of ballpoint pens, choose one nice pen with some refill cartridges.
  • Look for products that do double duty. A file tote keeps folders and paperwork orderly on your desk, and is also easy to take along to business calls and appointments. The handy Marker Wheel has five different highlighter tips for categorizing line items, and a Memo Mouse Pad saves space on your desktop.
  • Purchase a separate set of desk tools and supplies for your home office. Getting up to find the scissors in your sewing basket every time you need to clip a tear sheet is not time-efficient, nor is digging around in the kitchen junk drawer for a paperclip. Keep scissors, tape, a stapler with extra staples, paper clips, and a letter opener in or on your desk. (It may be necessary to threaten your family members with a month of laundry duty if they are caught “borrowing” things from your desk.)

When Managing the Household is Your Job
If the purpose for your home office isn’t to conduct business, but rather to be a hub for household scheduling, bill paying, and communication, you may be less concerned with file storage and more concerned with clutter control.

  • Keep it current. Hang a row of magnet boards over your desk for messages, to-do lists and schedules. Edit frequently tossing outdated notes and invitations.
  • Look for family friendly storage solutions. Large art boxes are perfect for storing art projects, award certificates and A+ tests. Keep one for each child, labeled by year or grade level.
  • Have an action plan. A planning calendar designed just for busy families will remind you to drop-off at soccer practice before you have to pick-up at ballet lessons.
  • Get it in writing. Encourage older children and tweens to actually write down a phone message, and leave a note telling you where they are by keeping a supply of notepads and pencils on hand.

If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to office design and d├ęcor, be sure to check out the Desk of the Month archives on See Jane Work. From Basic Brown to Silver Sparkle, we’ve got all kinds of ideas for making your workspace as beautiful as the rest of your home.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at
ideas@seejanework.com.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Managing Your To-Do List


Whether you’re planning your day, or planning your future, nothing beats a well organized To Do list for getting all your tasks, large and small laid out in front of you.

The way you manage your To Do list says a lot about you. Are you efficient and orderly, or spontaneous and creative? Do you have one master list that is the outline for all of your plans, or do you keep a number of short lists that somehow all fit together? Do you make your list everyday, or only as needed? Maybe your styles overlap, or vary depending on the day.

Whatever your approach to getting through your daily, weekly and monthly tasks, we have some tips on ways to make your To Do list suit your organizational style.

Where to keep your “To Do” list

Bulletin or Magnet Boards. Your list is only helpful if you can find it, and for some of us, that means having it staring us in the face. A prominently placed bulletin or magnet board can be an excellent way to manage multiple lists. If you don’t have the desk or counter space, go ahead and use the fridge or the side of a steel file cabinet. A set of coordinating magnets will keep even busy surfaces from looking cluttered.

Tips:
  • Remember to edit frequently. If your board is full of old lists, reminders for events that have passed, and expired coupons, urgent items are likely to get lost.
  • Divide and conquer. Use magnets or push pins to separate your board into categories. If your shopping lists are all in one area it will be easier to take them with you or recopy them before you head out the door.
  • Think before you tack. A bulletin board should be used for items that require immediate action. Don’t use it to hold items that really just need to be filed.
  • Consider your needs. If you spend your day in the car, a bulletin board on your desk is probably not for you. Consider a pad of sticky notes or a portable agenda instead.

Electronic or Paper Planners. Keeping your To Do list with you at all times is one way to make sure critical tasks are not overlooked. An electronic calendar or paper planner makes it easy to check items off your list whenever there is a lull in the day. You can also add and schedule tasks as they come up instead of trying to remember them later.

Tips:

  • Don’t use a method that’s not suited for you. If you find programming your cell phone frustrating, an electronic PDA is probably not the right tool for you, even if your co-worker claims she can’t live without her’s.
  • Keep your organizer organized. In an electronic planner one list works best, but in a paper planner there are usually categorized sections. Keep your correspondence list, shopping list, work tasks, and home tasks separate.

Notepads and notebooks. For those who prefer a more informal scheduling system, a few pages of lined, or even blank, paper can be a flexible, versatile To Do list.

Tips:

  • A small notebook or composition book that you can take with you to appointments lets you jot down contact info and items for follow-up.
  • Notepads or sticky notes in your car, tote or briefcase can help you stay on track. Pair them with a master calendar on the wall in your office or home for scheduling items with a specific due date.

Organizing the stuff that is attached to your To Do list

Sometimes a To Do list isn’t just a list…it’s a bag of stuff that needs to be returned, or letter that requires a reply. Keeping the things that go with your list orderly ensures you’ll have what you need when you need it.

Tips:

  • Returns. Avoid making a special trip by keeping a bin in your car for items you need to return to the store along with the receipts. If you find yourself in the area, you can easily swing by the store and take care of the return.
  • Invitations. Whenever possible respond to invitations as soon as they arrive. If you’re not sure of your schedule yet, attach the invitation to your task list so you won’t forget. Once you’ve accepted an invitation, place it in a tickler file labeled by month, so that you’ll be reminded to purchase a gift if necessary and you’ll have the location and directions handy on the day of the party.
  • Correspondence. Keep a Jane Marvel pouch filled with correspondence items including a pen, note cards and stamps. Grab the pouch on your way out to appointments or take it with you when you travel. Use time spent sitting in the car, waiting room, or on an airplane to get caught up.
  • Errand Day. If you’ve got more than a few errands to run, consider making a day of it. Load up your car with the dry cleaning you need to drop off, the packages you need to mail, and items that need to be dropped off or returned the night before. Take a minute to plan an efficient route on paper before heading out on the road. Double-check store hours so you don’t drive all the way there just to find out they are closed on Mondays.
  • Phone calls. When making phone calls it helps to take a few minutes to organize the calls. If Aunt Mary has a habit of keeping you on the phone for an hour, call her last, and then make sure your time is limited. Start the call by explaining that you have an appointment in twenty minutes and won’t be able to talk for too long.

Keep it Fun
Your To Do list needn’t be all about chores and errands.

Tips:

  • Give yourself a little lift by adding a few items to your “to do” list that can be done quickly and nearly effortlessly, or which you’ve nearly completed. It will make you feel good to cross them off your list.
  • Don’t forget to add some enjoyable tasks to the list. Schedule a pedicure immediately after your dentist appointment, and make having lunch with a friend a weekly goal.

Finally, if a particular task never seems to get done, no matter how many times you put it on the list, it’s okay to occasionally admit defeat and cross it off for good. If you can’t delegate it to someone else, or hire help you may just need to forgo the task. If you’ve managed this long without re-painting the baseboards, maybe they’re actually fine the way they are.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at ideas@seejanework.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Alternative Sources of Income During a Recession

Everyday the news reports more and more pink slips. It’s hard to not worry if you haven’t gotten the slip, and if you have you’re probably overwhelmed at finding a job in this economy. We’ve talked to people who have gone through this same thing. Here are some things people are doing to make extra money until they can find a job.

1) Pet Sitting: Believe it or not, people that haven’t gotten a pink slip need someone to help with their pets. From walking pets to staying overnight this service is in demand. There’s no reason you can’t send out resumes from someone else’s house and make some extra money while you are at it.

2) Meal Service: Do you like to cook? Print a weekly menu of what you plan to cook and share it with your neighbors. Offer to deliver a home cooked meal to their door if they order at least 24 hours in advance.

3) House Sitting: For short and/or frequent business trips calling to cancel the paper or hold mail is a pain. Make sure neighbors, friends, and family know that you are willing to stay in their homes for a fee.

4) Concierge: Let friends, family, and local businesses know that you are an expert on your area. You can schedule site seeing, recommend and make restaurant reservations, and even book hotels. If you live in a well-known tourist location you may find that your neighbors would be relieved to have house guests taken off their hands.

5) Homework Club: Patient with children? Remember your math lessons? I would pay any amount of money for someone to do my children’s home work with them. Invite kids to your house for “homework club.” I think you’ll be surprised at how many parents will pay for this service.

6) Personal Assistant: You have to go to the grocery store anyway, why not go for all your neighbors. Offer to run errands, take an elderly parent to the doctor, do banking, grocery shopping, make phone calls, pay bills.

While these may all seem like great ideas, please check with the local licensing agencies to make sure that you don’t need any special permits or licenses. Please let us know if you have any other ideas.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Get Your Desk In Working Order


Straightening your desk at the end of the day might seem a lot like making the bed before you leave the house in the morning. Why bother when it’s just going to get messed up again as soon as you return, right?

But just as a bed with fresh linens and neatly tucked blankets is far more inviting than one with a ball of sheets kicked to the end of the mattress, so too a tidy desk with everything you need tucked neatly away can make work more appealing.

Since many of us spend more time at our desks during the week than we do in bed at night, it really is worth our while to make our workspace tidy and comfortable.

While we won’t insist on “hospital corners” we would like to offer some suggestions on ways to keep your work area organized that require little more effort than pulling up the bedspread and fluffing the pillows.

What Does Your Desktop Say About You?
Whether you’re working from a penthouse office or the reception counter, the first thing clients, customers and co-workers notice when they enter your workspace is your desk top.

Is it covered with heaping piles of unfinished work? Is it decorated with bean bag toys you got with the drive-through ‘kid’s meal’ you picked up at lunch? Is it so austere and devoid of any style that it looks like you might not be planning to finish out the week?

It doesn’t take a lot of time and energy to design a desk top that reflects both your style and your professionalism. Focus on a few essential elements.

  • Personal items. While a desktop should have a professional appearance, it’s certainly okay to reveal a little bit about who you are outside of the office. The key here is moderation. A framed photo of your child, spouse or even your dog is acceptable. A snapshot of you in a bikini drinking a margarita in Mexico tacked to your bulletin board is not.

  • Decorative items. If you’ve got room for it, there is nothing wrong with a few carefully chosen items that only exist to bring beauty to your workplace. A potted plant, a framed print on the wall, or a vase of flowers adds warmth and welcome. A dead plant, a poster picked up at the dollar store, or a wilting bunch of blooms might make people question your attention to detail.

  • Desk top tools. Especially in small workspaces, desk tools that do double duty as design features are a great way to add style without sacrificing space. A fashionable desk set or even just a pretty pencil cup can make your desk look coordinated but not cluttered. If you keep files on your desk, put them in colorful folders, or if you prefer a more clean, contemporary look, choose bright white. Avoid paperwork pile-ups by using a desktop sorter, or stacking trays.

Make Your Top Drawers Top Notch
My mother always taught me that true beauty came from within. With four daughters sharing one bathroom, she had good reason to promote the philosophy that it’s what is on the inside that counts. Nevertheless she made a good point. If your desktop is spotless, but your top drawer is full to bursting with decaying breath mints and business cards from people you have no intention of ever calling, you might need to work on your desk’s inner beauty.

For most people it’s just a matter of clearing out the accumulated junk and replacing it with necessary items ( HERE IS OUR LIST ). Once you’ve determined what stays and what goes (and what stays in theory, but is replaced with something newer and nicer), keep loose items contained with individual boxes or a sturdy drawer organizer.

Work Your Way Down
Fitness gurus tell us that an easy way to get more daily exercise is to simply take more steps. Park in the back of the lot. Walk to lunch instead of taking your car. Use stairs instead of the elevator. All good advice, unless you have a deadline to meet and every single file you need in order to complete your project is in a different cabinet, in a different office and on a different floor in your building.

Save time and energy (you can burn it off at the gym after work) by taking a good hard look at the files you’re storing in your desk drawer. Do you really need to keep a folder full of receipts from a business trip you took in 1998 at your fingertips? Do you really need to keep it at all?

Desk drawer file space should be reserved for Current Year, Current Accounts and Current Product Lines. Everything else can go to storage, or maybe to the shredder.

While you’re sorting it out, it may be a good time to freshen things up a bit with new hanging file folders in coordinating colors. Use your computer printer or a label maker to add a uniform, professional look to file tabs and folder labels.

Now Keep it That Way
Once you’ve got your desk in order, take a few minutes each day to keep it neat. Probably the best thing to do is simply put things away when you’re done with them, but if you can’t or won’t work that way, then at least make sure you put everything away before you leave for the day.

Keep a micro-fiber dust cloth in the back of your drawer to wipe off your desk, shelves and monitor, and, if your office doesn’t have a custodian, make sure that the trash, especially if it contains food, is emptied every day.

A beautiful and efficient workspace will make your work days more productive and pleasant…which may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at ideas@seejanework.com.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Getting Organizationally Fit


We’ve noticed a lot of comparisons lately between organizing and dieting. Many of these comparisons are apt. Like dieting, organizing is a good way to get rid of unwanted pounds (of clutter) and inches (of paperwork piled on your desk). Being well-organized has proven mental and physical health benefits. And, similar to a weight loss regimen, a solid plan for getting organized is far more likely to be successful when we have the support of our spouse, kids and co-workers.

As with a diet and exercise program, there is no shortage of “expert” advice on how to lose clutter without even trying, or how to be totally organized in 30 minutes or less. While it may sound tempting, the truth is, truly getting and staying organized requires changing deeply ingrained habits and committing to long term maintenance.

Here are some common organizing pitfalls, along with some tips from See Jane Work on how to keep them from sabotaging your success.

Fad Organizing
You just read an article in your favorite women’s magazine about how to be completely organized in a week and you can’t wait to get started.

On Day One you get up at 5am to alphabetize your pantry. On Day Two you put eight years worth of photos into albums…in perfect chronological order. Day Three is toys and games day, so you wait for the kids to go to school before you ransack their rooms tossing anything that isn’t in the original shrink-wrap. On Day Four you purge your file cabinet throwing away any receipt more than a month old. By Day Five you’re feeling a little light-headed but you go through your closet and decide that last season’s wardrobe will be this season’s charitable donation. On Day Six with half the contents of your home sitting on the curb waiting for the rescue mission truck to pick-up you beam at your achievement. That is until Day Seven when you go to look for your pearl earrings and realize you left them in the pocket of the corduroy blazer you just gave to charity.

In short, this type of extreme organizing is about as rational and sustainable as a diet consisting entirely of grapefruit and dry toast.

How to Avoid It
According to the so-called organizational mavens, we’ll all feel much better when we have less “stuff”. While there is certainly merit to getting rid of useless items, there is a fine line between useless and not-often-used…like, for example, your turkey baster. Sure you could save a few inches of drawer space by only keeping the things that you use everyday, but how practical is it to go buy a new turkey baster every November? By taking a more moderate approach you can implement organizing systems that will produce lasting results.

  • Apply the “Something In, Something Out” rule to most purchases. In other words, if you buy a new toaster, don’t keep the old one “just in case.” (What are the odds you’ll have a true emergency that could have been averted by a second toaster?)

  • Don’t buy more hangers. If you add something new to your wardrobe, donate the oldest or least often worn garment in the closet. (But make sure you check the pockets first.)

  • Designate one kitchen drawer for infrequently used items. Keep the nut-cracker, lobster forks, and that “hilarious” talking bottle opener your father-in-law gave you together in one drawer so that you don’t have to dig through a bunch of random utensils every time you need the salad tongs.
  • Keep receipts, appraisals and insurance info together in a binder so that in the event of a loss you’ll be able to find your insurance company’s toll-free number and the necessary documentation. The Valuables Kit has sections for jewelry, furnishings, art and more.

While lightening your load is generally a good thing, don’t force yourself to give up things you love. A well-organized life should make you feel empowered, not deprived.

Yo-Yo Organizing
After weeks of emptying closets and drawers, cleaning out the garage and diligently filing, shredding or tossing every piece of paper that enters the house, you’ve grown a tad complacent. “It won’t really matter if I just sort through that stack of mail on Monday,” you rationalize, or “I’ll just put this box of old toys in the garage for a couple of weeks until I can get to the thrift store.” Before you know it, you can’t see the top of your desk and you’re back to parking your car in the driveway.

How to Avoid It
Stop the vicious cycle of order and disorder by establishing routines for staying organized that work with your lifestyle.

  • Sort your mail over the recycling bin so that junk mail never gets to your desk.

  • Have bills sent via e-mail and pay them online. The Open Sesame Password Reminder Log can help you keep websites and passwords handy.

  • Put letter trays on your desk to neatly sort and hold paperwork that needs to be dealt with, just not right this minute.

  • Keep the phone number to a local charity that picks up donations in your planner so that a busy schedule doesn’t get in the way of your organizing efforts.

By making maintaining order in your home and office part of your regular routine, you’ll eliminate frustrating highs and lows. But keep in mind that staying organized requires vigilance. You’re simply not going to get it done once and then never have to think about it again.

Binge and Purge Organizing
You’ve had it up to here with piles of paperwork, shelves out of order, and lost books, toys and homework assignments. Determined to regain control, you go on a storage container spree, voraciously buying all the baskets, boxes and bins you can find. But when you get home, you realize that the cute little drawer organizer with all its tiny compartments serves mainly to take up more space in your drawer, and those deep plastic bins that can hold everything make it nearly impossible to find anything.

How to Avoid It
The secret here is to purge first. Before you buy so much as a file folder you must first decide what actually needs storing and what should really just be tossed.

  • Keep an eye out for household items that are redundant or obsolete. (When was the last time you used a popcorn maker?)

  • When cleaning out closets and drawers, be pragmatic. If you can’t get into those pre-pregnancy jeans right now donate them. (You can reward yourself with a new pair once you’ve dropped the baby weight.)

  • Think it through before you renew. If your coffee table looks like it should be in the dentist’s waiting room you’re probably subscribing to more magazines than you can really read in a month.

  • When you get to the garage, look for anything that has a layer of dust over it. (That whole ‘biking to work’ thing sounded good, but since you live in Seattle you’d need scuba gear to pull it off.)

Once you’ve done a complete physical inventory, you can go ahead and buy a few necessary storage items. Storage Boxes from Hable Construction are durable, easy to carry, and best of all they fold flat when they’re not being used, and See Jane Work Basics Magazine Files will keep your periodicals from piling up.

Remember when setting organizational goals it is important to have realistic objectives. Like those impossibly thin models in fashion magazines, the impossibly tidy rooms featured in decorating magazines have been professionally styled, lit, photographed and then touched up by an editor to eliminate any unsightly wrinkles in the bed linens or blemishes on the moldings. Your desired outcome should be continuous improvement…not unattainable perfection.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at

ideas@seejanework.com.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Graduation Gift Etiquette


by Lisa Friedman/someonespoilme.com

Graduation is Bittersweet
These are just some of the emotions graduates face as they close one door and open another. That being said, it is important as a friend, parent, spouse, cousin, aunt or uncle to show your support for the graduate as she (or he) goes out to conquer the world (or high school)!

Here are some basic graduation etiquette tips…

Whom do you acknowledge?
It is thoughtful to acknowledge anyone you know who is graduating – whether they are graduating from 5th grade or med school. Graduation is a meaningful time in people’s lives, so if someone you know is graduating, it is thoughtful to show your support and acknowledge them.

How do you acknowledge?
This can be done with a gift, card, phone call or even an email. In your note to the graduate, you should express how proud you are of her achievements and the confidence you have in her future.

What do I give for a gift?
You can help them cherish the memories of the past few years or help them look forward to a new beginning. A monogrammed photo album, photo printer, engraved photo frame, customized bottle of wine or personalized memory book would all touch the heart of the graduate and let her know that nothing was left too far behind. To show your support for her new beginning, opt for a designer business card case, passport cover, cool alarm clock, engraved cuff-links, or a customized laptop bag. To simply pass along your well wishes, you can send flowers, cookies or an edible card.

How much should I spend?
It is not so much the dollar spent, but the thought that counts, especially when it comes to graduation gifts. Graduation is not a mandatory gift giving occasion for people outside the immediate family. That being said, anything you do give will be enormously appreciated. Whether it is a $10 edible card with a sincere message or a $200 engraved locket, she will be touched by your thought during this exciting time in her life.

See Jane Work picks for graduation. Give your graduate a gift they can put to use for years to come:

Island Leather Luggage Tag/$10
Island Leather Passport Cover/$21

Other great gifts:
Built NY Laptop Sleeve 15.4"/$42

Patent Leather Card Case/$20
Moonsus Glamour Laptop Tote/$288
College Survival Kit/$49

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sites We Love: Basic French



Basic French is a favorite site for both Holly and I. I go there regularly to get my bathroom soap and candles but always seem to find a special treasure or two as well.

The
Cote Bastide Hemp Candle is touted as the owner’s favorite and it has become mine as well. It’s such a clean, refreshing scent and it lasts forever. I also like the simple design; it goes perfectly in any interior.


I also think having a soap dispenser with great smelling soap is one of those little things in a stressful life that can bring you brief moments of joy. I always order refills of the La Compagnie de Provence Hand Soap and Orange and Grapefruit are probably my favorite.

Check out Basic French to find your own little treasures!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Real Simple Office Makeover


I can’t get over this office remodel that Kate Parker from Real Simple did and I think you’ll love it too!
















This room is so common in so many people’s homes. The multi-task room office/reading room/makeshift guestroom/storage, whatever it is, it’s a mess. Not to mention that the woman who’s office this is spent 30 to 40 hours a week in this office. Not terribly inspiring.
















And here’s the after. Just beautiful. It is warm, contemporary and clean. I love the whiteboard above the desk, so much more decorative than a cork board from Staples. I also like having an extra table area behind the desk to give more room to organize piles of paperwork.
















This is a great idea for a desk which Carly from Real Simple tells me is from IKEA. It gives you two layers of work space. You can easily store your calendar and comp books below so there is always room to work on top. Here’s a better view of the desk. I also love the printer/fax machine cubby to the left of the desk. It has roll tops so you can disguise that ugly printer.
















To see more on this miraculous makeover go to Simply Stated.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Designer Spotlight: SusyJack*

The minute we saw the SusyJack* line we all died and went to heaven. The bold colors and beautiful prints are inspirational and the entire line has been flying off the shelves since the day it arrived. Not only is Susy an incredibly talented designer, she’s adorable and fun to work with.

Here’s a peek into what inspires her…

What inspired your product line?
susyjack* is inspired by the desire to create a basic, simplified, alternative choice in the paper goods market, by trying to use paper as a material in a new way, and by the utilitarian objects I find fascinating at the hardware store. Also, many of the designs come from my own, personal efforts to be ‘lightly’ organized.

The patterns and illustrations on each of the products are inspired by my love of minimalist art. I enjoy the challenge of working with as few elements and colors as possible…and still trying to come out with something that feels spontaneous, artistic and meaningful.

–My life, and many of my friends lives, are so varied…family member, worker, employer, friend…home decorator…community member…the list goes on and on, and I hope that my items address needs for a variety of people, settings, and lifestyles. I love that people often find their own, personal uses for the products. Keeping the items simple and fun is really important to me. None of the items really have a completely prescribed function…and for me, looking at how different people invent new uses for an item is really inspiring and always enlightening!

Name five office products you can’t live without.
…in no particular order…

Classic Silver Paper Clips– They’re a beautiful object, and so very, very useful. Especially for making sure your business card is front and center when you send correspondence.

Sketchbooks– I always have one with me….on my lap…on my desk…or in my purse.

Colored Binders + write-on tabs– I am all about binders…and I never use filing cabinets. Binders are a great way to know right where things are without having to search for them. I always punch and file things right away. I hate piles of paper on my desk and it’s nice to know my stuff is securely stowed somewhere for easy access later.

Pencil Cups– I can’t stand not being able to find my pens, pencils, xacto knife…scissors… I have strategically placed pencil cups all over my workspace so that I don’t waste time trying to find the right implements over and over.

Accordion File– I try and keep all of my bills, receipts and other official, money oriented stuff, in one easy place, organized by month…my little accordion file! By using it, I limit my rummaging time when I’m looking for something, trying to figure out if I paid something, or…eeek! doing my taxes…

What’s your favorite item on See Jane Work?
Oh…there are so many! I have been a SJW fan since WAY before starting my own line!I would have to say it’s a tie between…

The Sew Chic sewing kit– This is such a handy item for the office– and it’s so beautifully packaged.

The Folle Classic Stapler– These are incredible a stapler for life!! They are great quality, and worth every penny. They go through anything without jamming…and it’s just so oddly satisfying to press down that big round silver top!

and…the Coccoina Paste. Call me a nerd, but it’s a beautiful design, safe for kids, and I love the way it smells!

What would be your dream view from your window office?
I know it’s asking for a lot here in nyc, but I’d love to see a big, big tree! I hope it’s not asking for too much, but maybe a spot overlooking Central Park?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Take Five: Wall Clocks

Sure, your laptop has the time on the bottom right, all of your e-mails state the time and for most of us, we have a watch on our wrist that tells the time. But clocks are a fun way to decorate our home office. They can make a bold statement, be traditional or whimsical.

One of my favorite clocks that I actually have hanging in my living room is the
Silhouette Cuckoo Clockfrom Anthropologie. Although the cuckoo doesn’t work, it is a bold color statement against my dark brown walls and it adds whimsy which I love. The George Nelson Sunburst Clock is a classic and can brighten up any dull space. The BRAVUR clock from IKEA is simple, inexpensive and goes with pretty much any decor. Clean, simple design is what you’ll get with the Junghans Clock from Nova 68. If you’re going for a more traditional look, the Roman Numeral Clock from Wisteria is a simple, yet stylish statement.

No matter what your style, a wall clock is functional and beautiful. So get ticking!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What We’re Reading: The Lazy Environmentalist

I love the book The Lazy Environmentalist by Josh Dorfman. Although I like granola, I’m big on shaving my legs and not particularly fond of Birkenstocks. This book shows you little ways to make a big difference. The premise of the book is to make the reader aware of choices. Next time you buy light bulbs buy the energy efficient bulbs. As you replace cleaning supplies use all natural supplies. Drugstore.com allows people to rate supplies so you can see what works, plus they have free shipping on large orders. Although I’ve been known to wear a disguise to buy Tilex, I’ve mostly given up all the other chemicals in my life. He also has ideas for the office which can make for a healthier, happier work enviroment.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gifting In The Office


Gifting in the office can be difficult. You never want to spend too little or too much, but how do you know what just right is? We turned to an expert for advice. Lisa Friedman is a gifting expert. Her website www.someonespoilme.com not only tells you what to give, but helps you remember when to give it.

Lisa, what are the must give occasions in the office?
There are two occasions that are ABSOLUTELY necessary to give gifts in the workplace: Administrative Professional Day (4/22/09) and National Boss Day (10/16/09). Birthdays and holidays are not necessary to give gifts but should still be acknowledged whether it is with a group lunch, a secret Santa, or even a birthday cake for everyone to share.

It’s always difficult to buy for your boss. They know how much you make, so you don’t want to over buy and seem like you don’t manage your money properly and/or are trying to score points. On the other hand if you spend too little you may seem like a cheap skate. What occasions must you buy for a boss? How much should you spend? Do you have any no fail gift ideas?
While you don’t want to seem like you are trying to score more points with your boss, you also don’t want your boss to think that you do not appreciate this opportunity as well as his/her mentorship. I suggest either giving your boss something that he/she can use at the office from a personalized notepad to a stress relief kit. If you want to give something more expensive, ask the other employees to chip in on either a lunch for your boss, a favorite bottle of wine, to even a personalized leather portfolio case.

At some offices it seems like someone is always collecting for a group present. Am I obligated to participate? Can I purchase my own gift?
While you may want to give your own gift, I suggest that you go in on the group gift so that you don’t offend everyone or give them the wrong idea. If you really want to give your own gift, perhaps just give a card and a small token such as a piece of candy or chocolate.

What are some great inexpensive ideas for co-worker gifts?
Gifts for co-workers can range from hilarious and pointless gifts to very functional. Below are my top four favorite co-worker gift ideas:
1. Notepad Mouse Pad from See Jane Work.
2. I’m not a Plastic Cup
3. Bob’s Your Uncle File Folders from See Jane Work
4. Personalized Moleskin Notepad

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

“Stress Busters” – My Top Tips for Handling It All


By Nina Restieri
President, momAgenda


As a mother of four, founder of my own company, loving wife, loyal friend and community activist, I understand the constant struggle of balancing it all. That’s what drove me to start momAgenda, a range of stylish organizational tools meant to help busy women keep all of the pieces of their personal puzzle – family, career, home and social life – together. But we all know that even the most trusted tools sometimes fail you, which is why I have developed the following three rules to live by:

Keep It Consistent
I find that everyone is happier in my house when there is an established routine. When the kids are young and you don’t have the structure of a full day of school, it is a good idea to create structure in the home. Regardless of your own schedule, you as a mother will benefit from this as well. Set up a schedule that incorporates preschool, naps, meals, baths, play groups, and activities. Make sure to leave time in the schedule for play!

Seek Support
Nobody can do it all alone. Make sure you rely on your partner for emotional support as well as assistance with household duties and parenting responsibilities. If your children are old enough, make them an active member of your house as well. Try delegating chores, for example, your seven year old can clear the table at the end of meals, your six year old can set the table with you, and your teenager can help with dishes or yard work. Write it all out for them so they won’t be confused – plus it provides satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment when they check off a chore.

Take Time for Yourself Each Day
This one can be hard. We put so much energy into our kids and don’t think to take care of ourselves. I remember once trying to take time to meditate when my kids were young; I snuck up to my room while our babysitter fed the kids dinner. My middle son promptly came upstairs to my locked bedroom door and started knocking loudly. When I didn’t answer he started repeatedly hurling his body against the door! I learned my lesson; now I schedule my breaks for when the kids are at school. You can also try it when they are napping, out on a play date, or when you have help. Here are some ideas for your break time: take a bath, read a juicy magazine, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or call a friend and catch up. Do what works for you!


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Using Color to Organize Your Office Files

by Diana Peck
President, Jamie Raquel, Inc.

When you stop to think about the significance of color in our everyday lives, it’s fascinating. As infants, our mothers wrapped us in pink, baby blue and yellow. As children, we played games such as “Red light, Green light” and understood their meanings of Stop! and Go! Today, we appreciate the beautiful colors that appear with the changing seasons, or the colors that represent our favorite holidays. We wear color to demonstrate our loyalty to a team or company, and wear color to highlight our styles and personalities.

It’s refreshing to see the changing workplace, as color makes its way into the offices of women and men everywhere, as more and more professionals make use of color for both office supplies and business accessories.
Three years ago, I began using color to organize every file and paper in my office. I’ll share a simple way to organize a home office, as the subject matter is universal.

First, treat all your paper documents as you’d treat files on your computer. They are easily located and retrieved when they are grouped in small file folders, as part of a larger folder group.

For example:

  1. I use Green to signify a folder group of every document related to money. In the “green section” of my file cabinet, you’ll find green file folders individually labeled as part of a larger group, such as “FINANCES – Bank Statements”, “FINANCES – Income Check Stubs”, “FINANCES – Investment Accounts”, “BILLS – Mortgage Statements”, “BILLS – Utilities”, “BILLS – Credit Cards”, etc.

  2. I use Blue to signify important records. In the “blue section” of my file cabinet, you’ll find blue folders labeled “INSURANCE – Declarations Auto/Boat”, “INSURANCE -Declaration Home”, “INSURANCE – Pending Medical Claims”, “RECORDS – Social Security Cards”, “RECORDS – Birth Certificates”, “RECORDS – Immunization Cards”, etc.

  3. I use Yellow to signify anything related to family issues. In the “yellow section” of my file cabinet, you’ll find yellow folders labeled “SCHOOL – Report Cards”, “SCHOOL – Teacher Orientation”, “BOYS – Sports Schedule/Contacts”, “BOYS – Volunteer Schedule”, “FAMILY – Vacation Docs”, “MOM – Weight Loss Group”, “MOM – PTA Handouts” “DAD – Coaches Docs”, “DAD – Baseball Boosters”, etc.

I hope this small example of using color to stay organized assists you in simplifying your office both at work and at home. Eliminate stress when your child informs you five minutes before his baseball team meeting, that his coach needs a copy of his birth certificate, or when your boss makes an immediate request for a copy of last month’s profit and loss statement. Now, every important document will be easily located and at your fingertips in seconds.

Friday, February 15, 2008

File Style

The first step in creating a filing system that really works is to identify your natural organizing methods and thought processes. By recognizing your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to managing paperwork, you can design a system that works the way you work.

To help you get started we’ve outlined some common organizing styles along with solutions for each of these particular types.

The Stacker
Do you stack until the stacks fall over and then start a new stack? The obvious but frequently overlooked filing solution for a Stacker is stackable letter trays. Try stacking three letter trays and labeling one for incoming mail, one for outgoing mail and another for urgent matters. Another possibility for the Stacker is a desktop sorter. By putting your stacks in slots you keep your desktop manageable. If, for reasons you can’t quite explain, your stacks must be horizontal, try using lidded boxes. At the end of the day simply cover the boxes to give your workspace instant order.

The Over-Categorizer
Do you create a new file folder for every piece of paper that crosses your desk? If your workspace is spotless but it takes you 10 minutes of searching to retrieve a document, you may be an Over-Categorizer. Having hanging folders that contain fewer than five documents is a sure sign that you need to start broadening your filing categories. Not only is it tiresome and time-consuming to have to search through all those folders, there is also a far greater chance of misplacing something by using several different files than there is if you simply use one file for the entire category. For example, a hanging file labeled “2007 Deductions” is too specific. Instead label the file “Current Year Taxes.” You’ll simplify your tax return preparation by keeping all tax-related paperwork together, and by using the term “Current Year” you will also have made your year-end filing easier. You will always have a file for current paperwork even if you fall behind in setting up new files. A helpful starting point for the chronic Over-Categorizer is to begin making and using interior folders. Use general categories to label hanging folders, and then go ahead and create as many interior folders as feel you need.

The Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Minder
Do you keep everything on top of your desk or taped to your monitor, afraid that if you put it away you will almost certainly forget about it? The Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Minder has probably learned from experience that she needs constant visual reminders in order to get things done. What will work best for this organizing style is a combination of a bulletin board or magnetic strip and a hanging filing system or desktop expanding file. Put items that need immediate attention on the bulletin board. Once the work is complete or is awaiting authorization before you can proceed, you can store it in your expanding file until you need to look at it again. Sticky notes can also help you remember phone calls you need to make and meetings you need to attend.

While identifying your File Style will help you create a system that works for you, there are some basic rules of effective file management that apply to just about every style.

Rule #1 - Learn the difference between what to keep and what to toss.

Some of this is between you and your accountant. But a lot of it is fairly obvious. If you’ve still got the owner’s manuals for things you no longer own, it’s time to do a little file purging.

In this electronic age there really isn’t that much you need to keep. Most manufacturers make instructions and manuals available online. If you read an article in a magazine or journal that you find especially helpful or meaningful you can quite likely find it online and save it on your computer. If you never remember to do it then maybe it wasn’t that important.

If you toss everything as soon as you get it, you will cut down on time spent purging your files, however you may find that some of your bills are not paid, you can’t get reimbursed for your out-of-pocket medical expenses, and you’re stuck with store credit at a store you really weren’t planning on shopping at again because you couldn’t get cash back on a return without a receipt. An accordion organizer is a handy way to sort and store those little scraps of paper you accumulate during the week.

Rule #2 - Map it out.
Before you get to work on your new and improved filing system, get it down on paper. By first writing it out, you have the opportunity to evaluate the system and fine tune it before you go through the process of creating labels and actually putting everything away. Make sure that your written system is created in the form of an outline allowing for main categories, which will be your hanging file folders, and sub-categories which will be interior file folders. A written plan will also allow you to plan for supplies so that you won’t be interrupted by re-ordering midway through your quest for file organization.

Rule #3 - Make sure you have everything you need and enough time to finish the job.
There is nothing more frustrating than starting an organizing project and then running out of supplies or time. Before you begin, take a good hard look at your calendar. Depending on the current condition of your filing system you will need anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days to get everything in order.

When ordering supplies, it’s safer to order a little more than you think you’ll need. Unused supplies can easily be stored for future projects, or returned. But a partially completed filing system is worse than no filing system at all.

Rule #4 - Consider alternatives to hanging files.
While a cabinet full of hanging file folders is considered by some the gold standard for file organization, it is not the only option. A neat row of tabbed and labeled binders on your bookshelf keeps paperwork at your finger tips, and magazine files are just the thing for storing catalogs and directories. Storage boxes are the perfect solution for odd-sized items like brochures and pamphlets, and desktop sorters keep frequently used files in easy reach. Feel free to use one method or a combination of many. Just be sure it makes sense to you.

Rule #5 - Make sure your files are conveniently located.
You’d be surprised to learn how many people spend half their workday marching back and forth to the file room. Many of these same people inexplicably have their tax records from 1994 tucked neatly in their right desk drawer. When thinking about file storage, take into consideration your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly needs. Desktop File Boxes are a great way to add some convenient file storage to a desk, bookshelf, or cart.

Rule # 6 - Looks do matter.
Opening a drawer of beautifully labeled files can make the task of filing a little less monotonous, and encourage you to stay on top of it, rather than letting it pile up. Add colors and patterns if you are so-inclined, or consider the crisp, clean look and feel of the bright-white M.O. Filing system. Not only can you download their software for free, but it looks as great as it works.

Rule #7 - Don’t be afraid to break the rules.
If you designed your filing system just like your hyper-organized co-worker, but you still can’t find what you need when you need it. Don’t be afraid to start over. Put the contents of your file drawer in a binder, or the pages of a binder in a storage box, or use a magazine box to hold file folders. There is no one filing system that is perfect for everyone.

The trick is simply finding what works best for you and the others who might need also need access to your files, and then making sure that everyone understands the where, why and how of your method. If you’re getting paged during a meeting because your assistant can’t find a critical document, you need to either rethink your system, or retrain your assistant.

It might take a little extra time initially, but an effective document storage system makes up for that time in the long run by keeping your office and home running smoothly. If spending 20 minutes learning how to use a label maker seems like a waste of valuable time, remember the eternity you spent looking for your client’s proposal while she sat on hold, (perhaps searching the internet for a new account rep).

And while we can’t promise to make filing fun, See Jane Work can make the process a tad less tedious with filing products in wide range of colors, patterns and even scents to suit your style or maybe just your mood.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at
ideas@seejanework.com.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Back To School Season


We all know time flies...but time seems to fly even faster when it's summer time.

Even though it’s been years since I’ve had a 3-month summer break, I still savor long summer days, warm summer nights and weekend trips to the beach.

While I will miss the lazy days of summer...if you can call two business trips, one family vacation and a week entertaining my in-laws lazy days…I always look forward to the Back to School Season as an annual reminder to stock up on fresh supplies for my home and office.

Whether Back to School Season means sending them back to school, going back to school yourself, or maybe just getting back to work after a summer vacation See Jane Work has the supplies you need.

If you’re sending the kids back to school this fall, stock up on these school year favorites.


  • Smencils are pencils made from recycled newspaper wrapped around #2 graphite and soaked in fragrance liquids. They’re available in a Little Girl Set, which includes Chocolate Milk and Bubble Gum scents, or the slightly more grown-up Big Girl Set with Hazelnut Latte and Peppermint scents. Order a set for your little girl, and another set for her to bring to the teacher on the first day of school.
  • O'Glue Jr. Glue Sticks are easy to use and put the sticky stuff right where you want it.
  • Pet and Zoo Rubberbands come in bright colors and assorted animal shapes. The re-usable plastic case helps keep them neat in desk drawers or backpacks.
  • Mom Agenda day planners will help you keep everyone "on the same page". Created by a Mom for Moms these uniquely designed planners have space for your schedule and the schedules of up to four others.

  • Pre-printed Note to School Pads from Family Facts are great to have at home or in the car to advise your child’s teacher about absences or plans to leave school early.

If you’re the one heading back to class in September, See Jane Work carries products that offer you a bit more style and sophistication than the Kitty Cat folders and Teddy Bear binders found in the Back to School section at most big box retailers.

  • Classic Binders from Semikolon look great and feature a dry erase surface on the inside cover for quick notes and reminders. The attached rubber band closure will hold your binder closed between classes.

  • Composition Books See Jane Work come with vibrant covers and feature perforated pages for easy tear-outs.

  • Zip Pouches from Jane Marvel are great way to keep paperwork and supplies together. Use the medium-sized pouch to hold writing implements, index cards and other small items. The large-sized pouch can hold file folders, notebooks and even the medium-sized pouch.

  • The 8 Days-a-Week Pad from Bob’s Your Uncle was designed for those of us with absurdly busy schedules. If you’ve got a full day of classes and a full night of study groups and/or work you may well wonder how you’re supposed to squeeze in a social life, or some days even sleeping and eating. The 8 Days-a-Week Pad has a column for every day of the week, and another one for the things you’ll get done Someday. If you seriously don’t even get back to your desk on a real regular basis, the 8 Days-a-Week Planner fits in your backpack or briefcase.

Even if your only Back to School plans involve taking a ceramics class at the community center, now is a great time to re-organize your drawers and bookshelves and bring order your home and office before the holiday season arrives.

  • Office Tabs from Girl of All Work make sorting through mail or other
    paperwork more productive. Tabs labeled 'To Do', or 'Outgoing' mean you won’t keep going through the same stack of bills, flyers and brochures looking for that misplaced invitation.

  • List Pads from Bob's Your Uncle will keep your 'To Do' and 'Shop' lists separate and easily managed.

  • If you’ve still got magazines with tips on how to dye Easter Eggs on your coffee table, it’s time to get some filing done. Put old catalogs, news periodicals and celebrity gossip mags in the recycling bin, and put your cooking and decorating magazines in a set of See Jane Work Magazine Boxes. The attached label holders make it easy to categorize by title and date.

  • Put your affairs in order with the Life.doc Organizing Binder. With sections for everything from Insurance info to your household Emergency Plan, you’ll be prepared, or at least well-organized, in the event of anything from a fender bender to a power outage.


Whatever your fall schedule has in store for you, we hope you’ll take a moment to check out our New Arrivals at See Jane Work. New items are added all the time.

If you’ve got a minute, let us know what you think of our new offerings, and what you’d like to see more of. We love to hear from our customers. Contact us anytime via e-mail at
customerservice@seejanework.com, or give us a call at 877-400-5263.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at
ideas@seejanework.com.