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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dual Not Dull

I love to read through collections of ideas for dual purposing objects. People send in their ideas to a magazine, and then the editor publishes the ideas that are most clever. Dual purposing products is important as it not only eliminates clutter, it also helps the environment by reducing waste. The only problem with these articles is that they can be difficult to apply to your own life. For example, using a crab knife to remove old grout is a great idea, but I don’t own a crab knife and I’m not sure what to do once the old grout is gone.

So using this concept I've identified some dual purpose objects that will help you get organized. These are ideas that will work for almost anyone. No crab knife, no problem.

  1. Choose dual not dull. I love a play on words, but in this instance it truly works. Dull office supplies serve only one purpose. An ugly pencil cup, calendar, tape dispenser, (fill-in-the blank) is only good for one thing. On the other hand attractive office supplies not only serve their intended purpose, but also enhance your d├ęcor.

  2. Think outside the box. While I’m a big fan of purchased storage boxes (I did after all create the See Jane Work Storage Collection), I realize that it’s not possible to buy storage boxes for everything you own. Save the fancy storage boxes for open shelving. Used gift, shipping, shoe or even liquor boxes work great inside of closets or in the garage. Over the holidays request department store gift boxes in just one size. When you give gifts in your home people often leave the wrapping behind. You could be left with several same size boxes that will stack easily in a closet. If you’re a wine drinker you may be on first name basis with someone at a local wine bar or shop. Ask them to set aside boxes from their next shipment of a particular brand. The boxes will be uniform in size, color and design.

  3. Dual by design. Some products do all the work for you. No need for clever ideas here, the No Tomorrow Planner Pad is triple-purpose. It has room for your daily appointments, tasks, and notes. The Mouse Pad Notepad comes in several styles that at minimum are dual-purpose, acting as both a note pad and a mouse pad. Some styles even include room for tracking tasks and/or appointments.

  4. It’s all in the bag. Carrying both a laptop bag and hand bag used to be a necessity. Laptop bags were so devoid of style you wouldn't use them for any other purpose. A lot has changed. A well-designed laptop bag can function as a hand bag, laptop case, and sometimes even a diaper bag (Baekgaard Laptop Tote shown).

  5. Save it. Saving money is very important, but saving time, storage, and your mind is also important. If you find yourself keeping slightly similar items on hand, it’s time to simplify. For example you may have acid free glue for pictures and art, and regular glue for everyday use. Skip the regular glue and just buy the acid free. If you’re anything like me you can never find the exact size of binder clip you need. Skip the small size and just keep large on hand, or buy a small mixed set.

Post your great idea in the comment section, but please keep it clean. While a used tissue could technically be repurposed as a sticky note it's a very disgusting idea.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Do's & Don'ts of Office Style & Organization

I’ve always enjoyed the Do and Don’t sections in fashion magazines. You know the ones that have photographs with captions under them “Do wear an animal print belt, don’t wear an animal print spandex body suit.” In these instances a picture is worth a thousand words. Being an entertainer and dressing well are not mutually exclusive so with the paparazzi following celebrities all over town it’s easy to catch a few fashion disasters. The Do’s and Do Not’s of office style and organization are just as funny, but much harder to capture in print.

I recently saw a cubicle that was a perfect example of an office don’t, but it would have been obscenely obvious if I had snapped a picture. It was filled with a collection of bird houses. I may be misinformed, but bird houses probably don’t
belong inside and certainly don’t belong in an office. Here are a few more Do’s and Do Not’s for Office Style and Organization.
  1. Do let your workspacestyle. Don’t let your personal style clutter your workspace. Color is a great way to convey your personal style at work. Pink paper clips, a pink stapler, and pink pencils will allow you to work efficiently while still enjoying your “Pretty in Pink” themed cubicle. On the other hand, your collection of salt and pepper shakers is best displayed at home. You need your desk space to work, if you really want to be surrounded by your collection snap a picture and frame a few shots for your desk.
  2. Do add a few touches from home. Don’t bring your entire home to work. A mild scent diffuser can freshen up your space and make it feel a bit more serene. A double-strength floral scented candle is a fire hazard and may offend your co-workers. A small dish of candy on your desk can be hospitable, but not if your office mate is desperately trying to lose weight.
  3. Do keep important information close. Don’t cover your walls with notes. Frequently used extensions, addresses, and accounting codes should be kept handy. Neatly type this information and post it on a strategically placed magnet or bulletin board. If you really don’t need to reference the information all day every day, create a frequently used binder and use sheet protectors to protect the pages inside. A wall covered in paper just looks messy. Although you might not mind the mess, your boss probably does.
  4. Do spend a few extra dollars for a fashionable alternative. Don’t keep every free gift that comes your way. You may not be able to afford actual art for your office, but for less than $20 you can buy a great artistic calendar. It’s useful and attractive. The only thing good about a free calendar is that it is free. Spend a few extra bucks and brighten your workspace.
  5. Do give useful office gifts. Don’t add to the clutter. Don’t buy the desktop Zen garden or any other executive “toys.” It’s hard to buy for a boss, client or office mate, but adding to the clutter on their desk isn’t helpful. Take the time to find out what they really like. Office supplies have come a long way, buying something they actually need in a style they like will leave a lasting impression. Check out the See Jane Work gift category if you need ideas.

Please remember. Pointing out Do Not’s is only funny if no one’s feelings are hurt. Sending someone a link to See Jane Work’s Pulling It Together section is discreet. Printing this out and taping it to a coworker’s monitor is not.

I can hardly wait to see the comments on this article. As always, we love to see before and after pictures so please feel free to

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scheduling And Other Dilemmas of Modern Life

Scheduling has always been a problem for me. I'd like to think it's because more demands have been placed on women today. The reality is that although I have to bring home the soy bacon and fry it up in the microwave, my grandmother was up at dawn milking cows. When I think of it in those terms, my hectic life suddenly seems more appealing.

It's not that life was any easier then, it was just more repetitive. There also weren't as many choices when it came to keeping track of tasks and events. My grandmother was happy with a free wall calendar from the local drugstore. That would never work for me.

I like the idea of a smart phone, but without a wall calendar my kids would end up at practice when they're supposed to be at tutoring. A paper based Agenda is visually more appealing, but communicating appointments to my assistant would be frustrating. There just isn't one perfect method. The key to staying organized is knowing who you are and what method or combination of methods will work best for you at any given moment.

When deciding on an Agenda or Planner, take note of the following:

  1. Life is full of change. You get promoted, change jobs, and your children grow up. You don't need to stick with a system that doesn't work, allow it to change with you.
  2. There isn't a rule that says you must use one method. A combination of methods may be more effective.

Here are some ides:
  1. Work in an office and have kids? Try a combination of the Whomi Wall Calendar and your computer. This stylish alternative to the ugly wall calendar you get every year in the mail will actually complement your kitchen decor.
  2. Visually minded? Try a Sarah Pinto Planner. Stylish and simple, this planner has a section at the end of each week that is great for tracking personal goals.
  3. Indecisive? Try the Bob's Your Uncle 8 Days-A-Week Planner. It's undated, so if you forget to use it for a couple weeks, no pages are wasted. Simply pick up where you left off.
  4. Busy mom? Try the Mom Agenda. Each day is divided by family member.
  5. Student? Try the My Agenda. Each day is divided by subject.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Organizing Books and Publications

I would be curious to know the percentage of people whose New Year's Resolution is to become more organized. I know for me this always tops the list. And unlike the familiar but slightly unrealistic goals we tend to set for ourselves, becoming more organized is not only achievable, it's really essential in our busy lives.

That's not to say I wouldn't like to be as thin as a super-model, but the fact of the matter is that I am not a super-model, I am a business woman and a mother, so while being ultra-thin might have its advantages - in my life being organized is an absolute necessity.

Please spend this next year with us organizing one aspect of your life or office each month.

I could definitely be considered a collector, not of a particular object, but of information. I keep articles on travel destinations, jewelry, fashion, business and parenting. I am only limited by the space on my bookshelf and the memory in my computer.

I have occasionally tried to give up my collection, but I just can't. I became the office darling when I magically pulled out an article on New York hot spots just as two co-workers were preparing for a trip there. A new mother was ecstatic when I brought in my dog-eared parenting book on managing colic. My business partner was impressed by my collection of articles about starting a new business.

Now that I have a reputation to uphold, I simply can't give up my collection. If any of this sounds familiar, I can help. I have learned a few things over the years that will help you maintain your collection and your sanity.

# 1 Edit your Collection
The most important issue when saving books, magazines, or articles is to carefully edit.

If you use just one recipe out of a cookbook, photocopy that recipe, put it into a clear sheet protector and then into a binder with other “one hit wonders” from your cookbook collection. Then donate the cookbook, or organize a cookbook swap with friends or co-workers. Tip: Once you have several pages worth of recipes, add index tabs dividing them into categories such as appetizers, main dishes and desserts.

Thin out magazines and paperback books monthly and donate anything you’re unlikely to read again to a local hospital or senior center. When trying to decide whether or not to keep a magazine, try going through it with a pad of page markers. If you’ve marked five or more pages, go ahead and keep that issue. If you found only one or two pages that you think you’ll refer back to tear them out, place them in sheet protectors, then put them in a binder labeled by subject and recycle the magazine. Tip: Store back issues in magazine files to avoid unmanageable stacks, and label your magazine file boxes by subject (for instance Holidays) rather than magazine title or year.

Nearly all electronics and appliance manuals are available online. If you will only need to read through the manual once to figure out how to set up and use the product, consider tossing the paper manual. If you come up with a question later, the manufacturer’s website can probably search for the answer more quickly than you could look it up in a printed manual. Tip: Before you toss the manual consider when and where you’ll be using the product. For example you may want to take the directions for your digital camera with you when you go on vacation in case you don’t have convenient access to the internet. Also factor in the potential resale value of the item. Designer products and high-end toys that include the original packaging and accompanying manuals might fetch a better price on eBay.

#2 Create a Place for Your Collection
It's really only helpful to save written materials if you can find them when you need them, so storing things accessibly and labeling them accurately are critical.

Bookshelves needn’t be only for books. If you find your travel information is mostly in the form of brochures, newspaper articles, pamphlets and maps, put these items in a labeled See Jane Work Basics Art Box. They stack nicely and keep odd-sized publications together. Tip: Newsprint yellows and becomes brittle with age. Consider making a photocopy of articles you plan to keep for more than a few months.

Desktop File Boxes are another way to contain and organize printed materials that can’t stand alone on your bookshelf. Sort loose pages into file folders and then create hanging files labeled with specific categories.

If you like to look through magazines and catalogs in bed, put a basket next to the nightstand so you can deposit new arrivals there as soon as they come in the mail. Keep a few clear, re-usable project envelopes in the basket so you have someplace to keep pages that you tear out. Tip: If you plan to place an order later, tear out the order form, and/or catalog cover so you’ll have the catalog edition, your customer number and any coupon codes handy.

#3 Sort Materials by Subject Matter
There are two ways to go wrong here, either by over-categorizing, or by under-categorizing. Fortunately it’s fairly easy to recognize both.

If you’ve got a binder titled Party Decorating that only contains two pages, try instead labeling it Party Planning, or maybe just Entertaining, and include recipes for appetizers, decorating ideas, a note pad for making guest lists, and flyers from caterers and party rental stores.

Likewise if you’ve got a file box labeled simply Home that the lid won’t quite close on anymore, you probably need to make a box for each room or even just divide your files into indoor projects and outdoor projects. Tip: Divide your reading material into categories that make sense to you. Just because your file cabinet came with preprinted files labeled Home, Auto, Taxes and the ever useless Miscellaneous, doesn’t mean you have to use them. If you know that you’ll look for an article on scuba diving under Travel rather than Sports, go with your first instinct.

#4 Know Your Organizational Style
We’ve all met someone whose idea of order seems to lie somewhere between utter chaos and random disarray, yet she can somehow find, and photocopy, the directions for a fantastic grade-school science project just in time to save your 12-year-old’s 6th grade career.

It doesn’t matter if your method of organization is a little unconventional as long as it works for you, but do try to pick one system. If you will really take the time to scan everything into your computer, then ditch your paper files. If your inbox is overflowing with articles waiting to be scanned, just admit that system doesn’t work for you and put the articles in binders instead. If getting your tears into binders sounds like a project unto itself, start by using Jane Marvel Pouches to contain tears until you’re ready to sort through them. If your tears never make it into binders, but you can always find what you need in your decorating zip pouch or accordion file, then skip the binders. Tip: Schedule time at the end of each week to go through your inbox, stacking trays, and the pile of paperwork on the corner of your desk, putting everything in its proper place. It’s a lot easier to stay on top of your filing if you never allow yourself to fall more than a week behind.

If you’ve let yourself go a little in this area, don’t despair. Just as children, career changes and other major life upheavals seem to add ten pounds in all the wrong places, we tend to gain unsightly clutter for many of the same reasons. And, like losing those ten pounds, getting our living and working spaces back into shape requires setting realistic goals and then following through to accomplish those goals. By focusing on one problem area at a time we can help you achieve and maintain your organizational objective.

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

Friday, August 07, 2009

How to Overcome Organizing Obstacles - Part 3 - Separation Anxiety

Judging by the growing number of self-storage facilities and professional organizing services popping up everywhere, many of us are struggling with an almost paralyzing inability to manage our belongings.

From last season’s fashions to last month’s periodicals, we are spending too much time and energy searching through heaps, sorting through stacks, and sifting through piles. It’s just so hard to let it go.

Before you start to panic, realize that you don’t need to give up treasured possessions, even if they don’t serve any practical purpose. If your grandmother’s favorite candy dish is stored in a box in the hall closet because there is simply no way to incorporate her signature pink poodles into your decor, that’s okay. But really how attached are you to that plastic piggy bank with your accountant’s name and number stamped on the side that’s gathering dust on your office shelf?

Try these tips…
  • Pretend you’re going shopping. Walk through your office and home like you’re in a boutique. What would you buy, and what would you pass over? Would you really choose that plain mouse pad that came with your computer, or is a designer mouse pad with matching folders for desktop files more your style?
  • Change your attitude. Think about it…when you clear your desk, your closet, or even your calendar, you’re not losing anything rather you’re gaining valuable space and precious time.
  • Give to a good cause. I know it feels wrong to give away a jacket you only wore once before you noticed that it makes you look kind of frumpy. But if you give unwanted items to a non-profit agency whose cause you support you can turn shopping mistakes into valuable donations.
    By recognizing the things that come between you and your organizing goals you can begin to overcome those obstacles and develop a strategy for getting and staying organized that will simply become a habit…and good habits are hard to break.

    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

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Overcome Organizing Obstacles - Part 2 – Too Much of a Good Thing

The only way you can truly get and stay organized is if you have a system for storing things where you can easily find them again. A closet full of unmarked boxes is just chaos waiting to happen, and if you are even considering storing something in a bag that was designed for collecting garbage, you need to think long and hard about whether you really need to keep that item.

On the other hand, if you’ve acquired so many storage boxes, baskets and bins that you’re running out of places to put them, you’ve got the right idea, you might just need to do some editing.

Keeping things contained is only half the battle. Before you purchase even one more storage box, think about how and where you’re going to use it.

Try these tips…

  • Storing your storage. Look for file boxes that fold flat when they’re empty, sets of nesting baskets, and bins that fit inside bigger bins when they’re not being used.

  • Make every inch count. Delivery trucks and warehouses are loaded with an eye towards using every inch of space. While you might not want to pack your closets or shelves quite that snug, with a little planning, you can maximize your space without making your home or office look like a stockroom. Corral small items in lidded boxes that can be stacked on a shelf, and use magazine files to keep catalogs and directories handy.

  • Hang it up. Wall-mounted message centers, hooks, magnet boards, and file collators are a great way to get notes, lists, and receipts off your desk. Mount them at eye level so you don’t forget to look at your reminders.
    Once you’ve got everything in it’s in place, make a concerted effort to sort through cabinets, closets and drawers from time to time to be sure you’re not keeping things you no longer need. You just might have more space than you thought you did.

For more on How to Overcome Organizing Obstacles check back with us for Part 3 in this 3-part-series.

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Overcome Organizing Obstacles - Part 1 – Living in the Real World

In a perfect world, your meetings and appointments would be scheduled in manageable intervals, your paperwork would be carefully filed in color-coded folders, and your home and office bookshelves would be so neatly arranged they’d make the Library of Congress look like a rummage sale in comparison. In the real world, half your clients are on east coast time, the other half are on west coast time, your file purging project was postponed when your 9-year-old called crying because her puppy ate a tray of chocolate cupcakes (foil liners and all), and your books, binders and catalogs are crammed on shelves in more or less the same order they were in when you unpacked them from moving boxes…three years ago. While there’s a lot to be said for learning to just ‘go with the flow’, by overcoming some common organizing obstacles you can make your home, office, and schedule a little more predictable and a lot more productive.

Try these tips…

Picture this. One of my favorite features in decorating magazines is the “Before and After” shots. You can use this same technique to help you with your organizing efforts. Take a picture of your current space to get a good look at what others see when they walk into your home or office. Once you’ve had a chance to tidy up and make a few improvements (like replacing that old coffee mug full of ballpoint pens with a designer pencil cup and matching paper tray, take another picture. Keep your “Before and After” shots in a desktop folder to inspire you to keep your living and working areas looking picture perfect even on your most hectic days.

Measure twice, move once. If you’re planning to give your office or a room in your home an organizing makeover, keep notebooks with detailed sketches that include the size and location of windows, doors and electrical outlets. Check your notes before you buy something new, or move something from another room only to find it’s not going to fit.

Have a master plan. Put together a “sketches and swatches” binder before you make major changes. Include design elements from magazines and catalogs, paint chips and fabric samples. Don’t lay down a drop cloth until you’ve got a clear idea of how it’s going to look when you’re done.

For more on How to Overcome Organizing Obstacles check back with us for Part 2 in this 3-part-series.

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

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Recession Proof Organizing

I hate to be the one to bring up the “R” word. Just like you, I’m tired of the newspaper headlines. Unfortunately, the reality is that for most of us the recession has brought about change. For some, those changes were out of necessity, for others it was simply the politically correct thing to do.

Those that have made changes to be politically correct may not buy any less, but they are certainly more discreet. I know of a few people who wait until dark to secretly unload their shopping bags. If you can’t afford to shop at least you can be entertained watching those around you feel guilty enough to hide their purchases.

Whichever category you fall into, we have some great organizational tips that will save you both time and money. Having more time and money is always in style no matter what the newspapers are saying.

Organize your online shopping
An organized shopping effort is important whether it’s online or in a store. Shopping online for an organizational solution can be a great way to save money, because you’re less likely to end up with an impulse purchase. It can be hard to feel organized when you can’t find the website you were just on last week or you can’t remember the user id or password you created just yesterday. Make online buying simple with the Open Sesame Password Log or the Password Log from Buttoned Up.

Organize your errands
Use a shopping list to foster discipline and more careful buying habits. You’re less likely to make those buying mistakes that will waste both time and money. I have one friend that spends hours in the return lines, and another who hates returning items so much that the bags stack up in a closet at her house.

FUN TIP: Write a budget at the top of the list. If you come in under budget allow yourself a trip to the sale rack.

Organize your tasks

Use a task list to make sure that important tasks get accomplished on time. The benefits of utilizing a task list are endless, but here are a few to convince you. Reduce stress simply by writing your tasks down on paper.

Secure your bonus at work by getting your projects done on time. Avoid late fees from forgotten bills. We’ve created a form you can use to organize your tasks. [DOWNLOAD]

Organize your meals
Bring your lunch to work. You’ll save money and calories. The Built NY Lunch Tote is a stylish way to bring your lunch. You can even use it when you are running weekend errands and avoid the last minute drive through meals.

Organize your receipts
Organize your receipts to make sure that you don’t miss a tax deduction or reimbursements from work. Create a strategy for organizing your receipts and stick to it for at least 6 months. One year I tried so many different methods I’m still finding receipts in envelopes. The money lost in tax deductions would have more than covered the expense of the Receipt Catcher from Buttoned Up. Depending on your life style, keep one in your laptop bag and another in your car.

We hope these tips work for you! We welcome your feedback especially if you have tips of your own you would like to share.
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

Friday, January 23, 2009

Graduate In Style

She’s figured out Geometry, analyzed Statistics and her History final is a thing of the past. Celebrate her accomplishments with a graduation gift as smart and stylish as she is.

Whether your graduate is moving up to high school, moving out to college or moving on to the “real world” of the work force, See Jane Work has the organizational tools and supplies that will help get her prepared for the next step.

Junior High or Middle School Graduate Going to High School

OMG! Pink backpacks, and notebooks with pictures of puppies on them are so 8th grade! Your Teen Queen needs school supplies that reflect her emerging sense of style, and organizational tools that will help her make the transition from the playground to the senior quad.
  • From Intro to Lit to Biology Lab, composition books are essential high school supplies. Let her express her individuality even when she’s working on group projects with colorful Composition Books from See Jane Work.

  • The My Agenda planner has a week-at-a-view calendar format to help her keep track of daily appointments and due dates, as well as four extra rows at the bottom of each week for filling in class schedules, practices, meetings and study groups.

  • While odds are her cell-phone is never far from her ear, she might need help keeping track of little things like her house keys, student ID, and library card. The Do Not Forget door hanger has pockets to hold her wallet, sunglasses, and iPod, and a strip on the back helps keep homework assignments from being “eaten by the dog.”

  • While high school may seem like it lasts forever, the next step is really only a few years away. Get started on the college application process early with the AppliCase from Captio. With comprehensive lists, forms, and instructions, as well as pre-screened resources for everything from college selection to finding financial aid, the AppliCase will give your college-bound student a leg up on the arduous task of selecting a suitable school.

High School Graduate Going to College

It seems like only yesterday you were wiping a tear off her cheek as you dropped her off on her first day of kindergarten. Now you’re wiping the tears off your own cheeks as you realize your little girl is going away to college.

Don’t worry, you’ll get over your weepiness when you start making plans for the home office/den/guest room you’ll have once you get all her junk boxed-up and moved to the attic. But before you start ripping out the carpet, get her a gift that encourages her independence while at the same time letting her know you’re always there for her.

  • She’s getting an advanced education and you’re getting an advanced migraine trying to get her to keep track of the receipts for tuition and other educational expenses that you’ll need to provide to your accountant in order to get any kind of tax break for this little investment. Help her help you with the CollegeCase from Captio. The handy ‘In Box’ keeps receipts and documents from getting lost and the included tips and resources will help her plan ahead for financial self-reliance.

  • College dorm rooms are notorious for many things, but tons of storage space isn’t one of them. Give your college student someplace to keep her paperwork, catalogs and mail with coordinating pieces from the See Jane Work Basics Collection. Magazine Files hold periodicals, catalogs, and class lists, upright on bookshelves or desk tops, and stackable Letter Trays will give her a neat and tidy place to keep mail, schedules and reports.

  • It’s not that you don’t love to hear from her, but her cell phone bill is eating into your retirement savings. Cut down on the number of “411” calls she makes to you by giving her a planner with the ‘contacts’ pages filled-in with the physical and e-mail addresses of friends and family, as well as emergency numbers. The next time she needs to send Aunt Rose a “thank you” card, it won’t cost you forty-five daytime minutes.

  • While you’re at it…give her some note cards and a nice pen or pencil. Tuck some postage stamps in the box so she can’t use that as another excuse to “just call.”

  • Now that you’re not waiting up for her every Saturday night, how will you know that she’s safe? Give yourself a little peace of mind by sending her off with the Collision Kit from Buttoned Up. With a flash camera and pockets for her insurance info, road service card and registration she’ll be as prepared as possible in the event of an accident or roadside emergency.

  • Give her a head start towards that A+ in English 101 with a Leather Bound Dictionary and Thesaurus. One of the most frequently used reference sources of all time, the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is a staple in classrooms and libraries.

College Graduate Going into the Work Force

It’s that moment that every parent dreams of…the moment when their little girl becomes a financially independent adult. Never mind the fact you’re still paying for her car loan, her auto insurance, and her gas. She’s got a college degree and that’s a step in the right direction.

Congratulate her for all her hard work and give her an edge during job interviews with a gift that says she’s young, she’s fresh, and she’s got style.

  • A laptop case protects her computer (which you probably paid for) and gives her a polished, professional look whether she’s going to interviews or starting her new career.

  • Help her get through those first few weeks at her new job when she doesn’t know anyone and can’t seem to make it out of the elevator without snagging her stocking. The Working Girl’s Survival Kit includes a bottle of clear nail polish, deodorant and twenty more essential health and beauty items that she’ll stash in her desk drawer as soon as she knows which desk will be hers.

  • She may have a long way to go to reach the top of the ladder, but she’s meeting people and making contacts along the way. A card case filled with her own business cards shows she’s got…well at least a name and a phone number. If her company doesn’t provide new-hires with cards right away, order some for her from the local print shop with her name and contact info printed on them. Tuck them in a Leather Business Card Holder, so she’ll have them ready whenever she meets a new associate or potential client.

  • A nice pencil cup and desk pad will make even the desk next to the janitor’s closet look dressed up and professional. Include a set of Fashion Color Pencils to give her first workspace flair.

  • Being an adult means having adult responsibilities. Help her keep track of insurance policies, bank accounts and even emergency plans with the Life.doc Organizing Binder from Buttoned Up.

If your graduation gift is a financial contribution, or maybe even a trip abroad, think about giving her something to open besides an envelope. Luggage Tags from Pamela Barsky will help her find her suitcase if she’s planning a trip, or going to school far from home. A blank journal gives her a place to record her thoughts, dreams and aspirations as she moves on to the next chapter in her life.

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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Managing Kids' Activities

It starts out simple enough. Hoping to encourage your child to make new friends (maybe even some whose mother’s won’t mistake an invitation for an afternoon play date for foster care), you sign him up for Scouts. The next thing you know he wants to play Little League baseball, then soccer, and then your other child wants to take piano lessons, and cheerleading, and before you know it, you’re spending 2-3 hours every afternoon driving in what seems like a endless loop from one activity to the next.

When your neighbor down the street discovers your kids are on the same soccer team, she suggests carpooling. That sounds like good idea, but for some reason she never seems to be able to do her share of the driving due to some kind of ‘personal emergency’. You’re a good sport, but the last time you agreed to do both the drop-off AND the pick-up you couldn’t help but notice her car parked out in front of the nail salon.

While nothing short of full-time limousine service can completely eliminate the hassle of kid’s activities, you can reduce your risk of having a nervous breakdown on a crowded soccer field by keeping an organized schedule, having everything you need in the car, and by being prepared for minor emergencies (or even sometimes major ones) with a few helpful items from
See Jane Work.

If you decide to carpool, or even if you’re just transporting your own kids, make sure that you have everybody’s schedules and contact info written down to avoid conflicts and overbooking.

  • The Mom Agenda has spaces for your own schedule as well as for up to four others, and includes a transferable Mom Essentials booklet that makes it easy to move contact info from one year’s agenda to the next.
  • Zip Pouches from Jane Marvel can keep game schedules, flyers and hand-outs neat in the car or in your tote bag, and a Big Clipboard keeps the snack list and team roster where you can find it.
  • Post the family’s weekly schedule on the fridge or file cabinet with a magnet-backed Family Planner.

If you’ve got kids under 7-years-old you might as well just resign yourself to the fact that you will spend most of your time finding, packing, re-finding and re-packing their little gear. That whole, “You’re a big boy, you need to remember your own stuff” line doesn’t get you very far when your tiny T-ball player is in tears because he forgot his mitt.With older kids, consider making a “point of no return” rule. If you’re more than halfway to ballet lessons and she just remembered she left her leotard at home, she will be dancing in her jeans this week.

  • A Storage Box from Hable Construction keeps equipment corralled, and the cut-out handles make it easy to carry it from the house, to the car, to the field. The open top allows you to do a quick spot check before you close the trunk or leave the park and it folds flat when you’re not using it.
  • The Jane Marvel Carry All is a stylish way to tote dance shoes, swimsuits, or extra clothes for after practice.
  • The Instant Carryall stores in a neat nylon pouch that fits in your glove compartment, then opens up to a full-sized tote perfect for carrying crafts made at scout meetings or snacks for the team.

Skinned knees, stubbed toes, bruised shins and that’s just walking from the car to the playing field. Keep first aid supplies in the trunk and a small kit in your handbag so that you don’t have to walk back to the car every time someone slides into home.

  • Minor Emergency Kits are small enough to fit in your bag, tote or jacket pocket. Keep the First Aid Kit for minor injuries and the Sewing Kit for split seams and lost buttons.
  • Loaded with all of those ‘just in case’ items we keep stashed in our desk drawer at the office, the Working Girl’s Survival Kit is also a must-have for the car. From headache pain to mustard stains you’ll have everything you need to handle a minor crisis.
  • There’s nothing like a busy parking lot full of stressed-out Mommy’s driving ginormous SUVs to bring about a fender bender. Whether you bump someone or you were bumped, you’ll want to make sure to get contact info, as well as some photos for the claims adjuster. The Collision Kit from Buttoned Up has forms for writing in insurance information and accident details as well as a disposable camera with flash.
It may not seem like it now but, someday you’ll miss the practices and games, lessons and recitals, meetings and campouts. While it lasts, make driving to away games or weekend tournaments more fun by popping some Beach Boys tunes in the CD player, or sing along with songs they learned at camp. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and be sure to order extra prints to send to Grandma in Texas.
  • The Vintage Record CD Sleeves/Labels are a fun way to add something special to your custom made CDs.
  • The Built NY Camera Case protects your digital camera from sideline slams and backseat bumps, and the detachable wrist strap makes it easy to hang onto even when you’ve got a folding chair in one hand and a cooler full of juice boxes in the other.

Although it’s a huge hassle (actually it’s a huge hassle piled on top of a huge hassle), if you can possibly swing it, consider becoming a team parent, den leader, coach or assistant. Even full-time working parents can usually find a little time to contribute to the team or troop, and while your child will probably never remember to tell you, he or she is sure to appreciate your commitment and support.

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