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Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Organization Wednesday: The File Box

Becky

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Since our Co-Founder Drew has been all over the interwebs this week, I thought it was a good time to show his office organization tip. Take it away Drew!

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Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Organization Wednesday: Creating Home Office Zones

Becky

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Today it’s my pleasure to welcome back Lisa Adams, C.E.O. of L.A. Closet Design to help us all with some expert home office organization tips. Take it away Lisa!

It is hard these days to draw a line between where work ends and where your home life begins. Even if you don’t intentionally work from home, your Blackberry, papers and stress inevitably come home with you at the end of the day. To make sure your home office doesn’t get out of hand, you must make a daily conscious effort to stay organized. Here are some rules to live by and stick to:

Work Zones: Start by thoroughly and honestly evaluating your work and your workspace. The efficient office should be zoned into activity areas such as “the work area,” “the supply area,” “the reference area,” “reading area,” etc., which should be named and prioritized by how you conduct your work.  For example, “the work area” might include a clear workspace, a computer, and frequently used office supplies; whereas, “the reference area” might include binders, manuals, dictionaries, and professional books and materials.  Everything should have a place and everything should be in its place. Once the zones have been defined, position the zones by frequency of use.  If supplies are used daily, they should be within easy reach of your work area.  This zoning process all depends on the function and your daily work habits in your office, so evaluate and design a proper plan.

Separation of Space: When working from home, it is important to maintain a separate workplace within your home—to set boundaries and protect it from the rest of the home.  Make it a rule to only use your home office for the purposes of business, not for storing household items or entertaining guests.  If you do work from home and do not have a separate room for an office available, use devices such as screens, bookcases and directed lighting to create the necessary separation between home and office.

Minimize Equipment & Paper: Efficient offices have one thing in common—uncluttered work tops.  To maintain a clear work station, try to minimize your office equipment such as printers, fax, phone, filing and paper.  If possible, purchase an “all-in-one” printer that encompasses a fax and scanner to consolidate equipment space.  Additionally, papers and other documents can be stored electronically either by using a service, or by copying files to DVDs or CD-ROMs. This will help to reduce the amount of filing space needed for paperwork that should be saved, but is not needed on a regular basis.

Stay on Top of Business Tasks: Handling responsibilities and tasks as they occur throughout the day is key to home office organization. Paperwork should be scanned or filed immediately instead of being left in a pile on your desk. Email and mail should be read and acted upon the first time received.  It is unnecessary to read an email and decide how to respond to it later. Read emails once and take an action:  save, delete, or respond. This will not only minimize clutter, but it will also greatly increase productivity.

If all of the recommended tips are followed and maintained, your home office will become more organized and clutter-free.  Weekly checks should be enforced to make sure there are no extra papers on the desk or other unnecessary items left abandoned. Every item should be put in its proper place as soon as its purpose has been served.


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Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Organization Wednesday: Inspiration Board

Becky

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As you well know by now, I am always trolling the web for inspiring work spaces. I am very jealous of this one, by Designs by Shoshana. It’s so clean and organized that you don’t even notice that monolith of a printer! Did you even notice that the wall files are, well, on the wall, or that they are files? They seem to fit right into the composition of artwork. The white holder and simple manila folders help it blend right in as well? I have to say my favorite part of this room is that gorgeous inspiration board. It appears to be a frame full of glass cloth, with foam core or cork behind it.

image via houzz.com

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Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Organization Wednesday: Office Progress

Becky

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Oh man, I have been meaning to share the last bit of progress in my office for awhile, but little things kept stopping me, like wanting to style the space to perfection, hating that very nineties green wall color, or waiting to choose wallpaper. If I wait for that those things (even though I’ve improved my organizational skills) I’d have to wait until about 2015. So here’s a bit of progress, ugly exposed cords (major pet peeve) and printers and all – it’s reality.

SHELVES & DRAWERS: This formerly dead space now offers all sorts of storage and space to be organized. Now my picky aesthetic preferences dictated that the shelf brackets go where the outmost studs were, but I’m noticing that they are starting to bow a bit, so I may have to suck it up and add some extras.

The real gift these shelves have given me is proximity. Everything I need is within arm’s reach, and having the shelves and file drawers next to my desk allows me to keep my desktop clean! Hallelujah!

One other thing I learned is that as you tackle your piles, you’ll learn what kinds of things need their own drawers. I had kept my design catalogs in baskets for so long that I’d never thought to designate a drawer for them. However, as I cleaned things out, I realized they’d be a lot handier and more organized in a drawer adjacent to my desk.

LABELS: From the workshop I took over at Simplify 101, I learned that labeling is a big key to organizing. Now I not only have a place for everything and everything in its place, I actually know where those places are! You can go bananas with how you label things – I happened to have a pack of these tags and a roll of black raffia on hand, so I made do. Not the cutesy-est, but it works for me. Another thing to remember is that when something’s placement is NOT working for you, to move stuff around and figure it out.

CONTAINERS: Because I have a lot of drafting and art supplies, I’ve been experimenting with what works since grad school. I will never get tired of metal paint buckets for keeping things organized. They go with all kinds of decor, they have handy dandy handles, they hide a multitude of sins and most importantly, they are dirt cheap and readily available at any hardware store in a variety of sizes. Check around your own house for containers that might come in handy. Maybe it’s a closet organizer you aren’t really using in the closet (my printer sits under my desk on a former shoe rack shelf, and there’s room for reams of paper and toner underneath). I used some Liberty of London gift boxes from Target to corral all of my cosmetics and medicine, I found the wire shelves in my attic (leftover from grad school), etc.

All systems are go! Oh, if you want to help me out of my wallpaper decision paralysis, check out what I’ve narrowed it down to below the break and please give me your two cents.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Organization Wednesday: Travel Plans

Becky

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Rewind to a week ago. It’s a million degrees in Atlanta, it’s about 8:30 p.m., I was starting to pack for my trip to get the heck out of here and cool off in Maine, and the power goes out. The house heated up faster than an MD-88 with the shades up on the Hartsfeld tarmac, and my closet was pitch black. I already suck at packing, and this made it pretty much impossible, especially since I like to edit like crazy and pack light.

I hate packing and traveling. The only thing I really envy about rich people is that whole flying private thing. Airports are such a pain in the arse, and as for packing, inevitably I forget something crucial, like prescription medication or my glasses. I realized I needed to turn to some experts for efficient packing advice. Since half of my friends work for an airline or travel for business on a regular basis, I’ve started to collect their best tips to share with you. At first I thought it would just be a post about packing, but they’ve been sharing all kinds of advice about navigating the not-so-friendly-skies, I’m going to start back at the very beginning – when you decide to go on the trip. This week, scheduling tips, next week, packing tips.

Never schedule yourself for the last flight to your destination of the day. If something goes wrong, you’re stuck for the night. The earlier you go, the less chance of a backup there is – it’s a lot like the doctor’s office in that regard.

Schedule a MINIMUM of 45 minutes for a layover, longer for big airports like Atlanta and JFK. Better yet, avoid JFK whenever possible – that place is a truly disgusting hellhole. It’s dirty, gross, claustrophobic and it stinks. But I digress. Most airports are nicer than JFK, and now they have spas, shops, and even mini-office suites; you’ll find something to fill your time. Sit and have a meal, since you won’t be getting much food on the plane.

Try to get a seat a close to the front as possible. This is harder than it should be lately. This is because you have no status. If you can’t book anything besides the middle seat of the back row online, try and call the airline. As their passengers with status get upgraded closer and closer to take off time, the good seats they had in coach will open up, so it never hurts to check for some coveted exit row availability once you get to the airport. Sometimes you can even buy an upgrade for a relatively nominal fee that can make the difference between making that connection or getting stuck exiting behind 35 rows of jerks who carry way too much crap onto the plane and take way too long to get it out of the overhead bins they have hogged.

Get Status. It’s not as hard as you think. Join frequent flier programs and try to fly one airline as much as possible. Get their credit card and charge everything possible on it, know an MQM from a bonus mile, join dining miles and partner sites, sign up for email alerts, become obsessed with earning miles any way that you can. Convince your loved ones to go with you to far-off destinations on your favorite airline. You must be shameless and always keep your eyes on the prize. Eventually you will gain some status that will give you upgrades, access to faster security lines, free checked bags and a choice of better seats. I don’t travel that often, but ever since I focused all of my extra energy on getting miles, traveling has become a whole lot more pleasant.

Print your boarding pass out online. In fact, some airlines now have an option where you can just flash your boarding pass on your phone screen. If you aren’t checking a bag, you can breeze right up to security – no lines, no security.

If you are checking a bag, check it curbside and duke the baggage guy a few bucks a bag. Smaller airports tend to have one person manning the kiosk, larger airports often have long lines. The guy at the curb is your best bet.

Find the magic security line. When you get to security, a quick scan will tell you which line has the most experienced business travelers – they’ve got laptop bags, they are alone, they’ll have a small rollaboard or overnight bag, they’re wearing a suit or khakis and a button down, and they’ve probably already got their belts and shoes off. There are no children or people wearing complicated lace-up boots in sight. Get in that line.

Alright, those are just a few tips for organizing the often confusing airport logistics. Next week we’ll tackle what’s in the bag. In the meantime, please forward me any of your airport survival tips in the comments section!

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