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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