Entries labeled as paper

Wacky Office Tools: The ‘little black dress’ of the home office

November 14, 2011

 Introducing the amazing, versatile stair step folder holder thingy! Isn’t she a thing of beauty?

Each of us has something like a stacker on our desks which holds work-in-progress folders, as well as the “to be read when I have a minutes and/or want to impress somebody who happens by” folder, and, of course, the “I have no idea what to do with this, but if I wait long enough I might have an epiphany” files. Sadly, these little organizers do little to actually organize us. Generally, they effectively hide the folder labels because they are all on the same level and cannot be easily seen.

 Ahhh, but here we have the perfect office accessory. This is the little black dress in the world of home office-ers. Not only is it inclined upward from front to back, making it possible to actually SEE what you have stored there, but it’s also made of 30% recycled materials! The best ones have high dividers that prevent papers from flopping over.

The only down-side I can find to owning your own amazing, versatile stair-step folder holder thingy is that you might find some nasty surprises when you clean out your old stacker.

“Huh. I thought I’d sent that form to the Internal Revenue Service MONTHS ago.”

Don’t like black? Try these on for size!

 I use this exact one in my own office.


Do you use a graduated file holder? If so, what do you put in it?


Permission to downgrade

April 22, 2011

Just in this one this week, I heard the following three similar statements:

“I like to write everything out by hand before I put it on the computer.”

“He tried to use a Palm for calendar stuff, but a little datebook just works better for making appointments.”

“I should probably be using QuickBooks, but the little paper system I use does the job.”

If it picking up a piece of paper to write on it  feels like a radical act, that’s because it is. The technology industry is so in love with its shiny-newness, there’s nothing it can’t save you from: paperwork, accounting, scheduling, staying in touch, and generating ideas, to name just a few.

If there isn’t an app for that, just wait a few months and there will be. If the phone you have doesn’t do what you want it to, just wait for the next version.

I get annoyed at the advertising for many of these shiny-new solutions because they tell you an untruth. They imply that what you create isn’t good enough. As if there’s something wrong or backward about writing on paper. Lots of people think that they are the problem when a gadget or program doesn’t work intuitively for them. “I’m too old,” they say. Or “I’m just not good at computer stuff.”

It’s not you. You’re perfect. You have the most powerful tool already inside you: your brain.

This is why it’s okay to buck the upgrade trend.

Here are some great downgrading tools that brains like:

  • Paper – lined and blank, loose and bound, large and small, sticky and colorful.
  • Writing implements – pens and pencils, crayons and markers, chalk and brushes

Paper and writing implements are both portable and need no docking station for recharging. There’s no learning curve with downgraded solutions. “Ummm… Can you show me how to work this notepad?” : ) They’re comparatively inexpensive.

These items are also sensuous. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being captivated by a fine stationery store, its fresh smell and luscious jewel-toned reams. Or lingered over beautifully crafted pens in a fine art gallery. There’s a whole-body sensory experience in selecting and using pen and paper.

A wonderful aspect of using these tools is that they slow you down. In our sped-up culture, slowing down just a little creates relaxation and flow. Typing is fast, but the act of writing something with your hand allows your brain to work differently. I’ve experienced huge epiphanies drawing diagrams on paper that I couldn’t have achieved using a drawing program. Slowing down focuses your energies.

Other downgrade solutions include:

  • paper calendars
  • calculators
  • telephones with a cord
  • face to face conversations

At the end of our lives, no points will be awarded for getting more done or faster than everyone else. Some day you, me, we all will die. So what do you want from this life? What brings you the greatest satisfaction? If you enjoy using a paper calendar or meeting with people in person, what harm is there?

When it comes down to it, I believe that connection matters more than anything — deep connection that cultivates trust and love.

So I invite you to ask yourself:

Which tools allow me to deeply connect with myself, with others, and with the Divine? Which are most satisfying to my spirit?

Trust and listen what you know about yourself. Be curious. You may yet discover a way to put technology in its rightful place if you use the tools you love more often.


Organizing Cupcake: Storing large sheets of paper

January 27, 2011

Organizing Cupcakes won’t solve every organizing dilemma, but they’ll give you a little squirt of inspiration and insight, just like those cakey bombs of sugary goodness. Enjoy!

Large sheets of paper

I’ve worked with several clients over the years who adore paper and who use it in their craft – photography, architecture, design, etc. The problem is that the paper sizes don’t fit a standard 8″x11″ or legal size file cabinet. Even scrapbookers have developed special storage containers for their 12″x12″ sheets of paper.

What’s a paper-lover to do?

Flat files are a great solution. Here are some options to consider based on your budget, the paper-size you’re storing, and how much space you have.

Steel and wood flat file cabinets

At one point in my search, I even discovered someone who’d make a twin bed frame with two large sliding drawers underneath for paper storage.

Cardboard containers

I love these cardboard drawers that double as carrying cases.

And the simplest option (below) can be stored flat as well as upright.

If you wanted to do it yourself, you could recycle large cardboard boxes and design your own to custom-fit your paper.

This problem is so common, “large paper storage” is one of the most frequently Googled searches that lead people to my site. Sometimes, making a list of ideas you could try (a technique I describe in one of my ebooks) helps you come up with new solutions.

Other ideas?

What ways do YOU store large paper?

Photo credits: all images link to their sites of origin.

What do YOU do to reduce paper-use?

February 15, 2010

The “What do YOU do?” series gives you a glimpse into my life as a messy, creative person and invites you to share your organizing insights and ideas.


Despite the development of technological solutions galore (scanning, email, digital books, receipt scanners, ad nauseum), most people use paper as much as ever.

I happen to live in a part of the country where the raw materials for paper-making come from. Seeing clear-cuts makes me sad, but these forests are planted and harvested and replanted. It’s more like an extremely slow agricultural process than pillaging. I’m not sure the salmon would agree, but I’ll stay on topic. ; )

Saving a little paper here and there does help reduce the volume of trees needed, not to mention the energy needed to process it as waste or into recycled products. It also helps your wallet. So I do my part. I’ll bet you do too.

Here’s what I do reduce paper use

  • Print infrequently – I print very very little, mostly because I don’t want to find a home for the document created. I can organize if needed, but it’s not high up on the list. : )
  • Decline receipts – At the store the cashier will ask, “Would you like a receipt?” If it’s not business-related, I almost always decline. That’s a lot of paper over a lifetime.

  • Pay bills online – Instead of ordering books of checks, I pay all my bills on my bank’s website.
  • Virtual products – Inspired Home Office has several products and classes that are completely paper-free and use PDFs, audio, and web tools instead.

Here’s what I’m working on

  • Hi, I’m Jen and I’m a paper junkie. (“Hiiii, Jennnnn!”) I use paper for taking notes during client sessions. I use paper sticky notes for everything and anything. I have huge sheets of 2’x3′ paper on pads for my weekly planning. I draw on paper when I’m trying to think of ideas. I journal on paper. I sell an info-product that is made from real paper. I get paper bills. I send cards. When it comes to paper, my learning style (tactile) trumps conservation. If I don’t move my body/hands, I can’t retain information as well.
  • I try not to feel guilty. Most of the time (as heartless as this may sound), I don’t. But I’d love to hear what you do that saves paper. Maybe I’ll get inspired to do more!

What do YOU do that reduces paper-use?

Your turn! If you’d like, please share what you’re doing that helps you in your business and/or life – and also something that you’re working on/experimenting with.

Your comments on your own process are welcome. Just remember to give advice to me or others only when it’s specifically requested. This makes exploring safe and learning possible for every reader.

Know thyself (the key to getting ahead of your stuff)

May 21, 2008

Have you ever had to dig to find an important piece of paper? Okay, who hasn’t?

Generally speaking, the stuff on your desk is made up of three things:

  • projects in progress
  • things “to do” that aren’t urgent
  • miscellaneous stuff you don’t have a home for

Beyond that, there are also file cabinets and bookshelves and closets that contain storage. There’s a lot of stuff around!

One day it dawned on me that all of this paper – every last piece of it – was eventually going to end up in the trash can.

It could be tomorrow or it could be after your death, but all the stuff you’ve got is temporary.

When do you want to deal with it?

In my Inspired Organizing class, we’ve been talking about the concept of office maintenance. The root of this word means “to hold in your hand” – to physically pick the thing up and do something with it. Maintaining your accumulated papers is an important key to having a resilient business and organized office.

Sounds bone dry, doesn’t it? Keep reading, though, there’s more to it.

Space care is self-care

See, creating a habit of picking up things in your workspace and deciding what to do with them can be a really profound way to care for yourself and your business.

Maintaining your space provides an opportunity to make decisions about things you’ve been considering. It diminishes visual distraction. Most of all, this maintenance helps your business and your brain stay in a state of flow, rather than stagnancy.

How do you like to maintain?

When it comes to maintaining one’s office, there three kinds of people: Schedulers, Tenders, and Buddy-uppers.

  • Schedulers like to treat their office as if it were a real client. You like to make appointments in your calendar that set aside time to work on maintaining your office. This system works as a reminder and it helps you prevent procrastination.
  • Tenders treat their office like a houseplant. When the office starts wilting or gets chaotic, Tenders people will take time out and deal with the clutter. You’re not crazy about being pinned down to a specific schedule, but when things get out of control, you go into a flurry of activity to get it back again.
  • Buddy-uppers like to have real live humans involved in the maintenance of their office. Having someone’s support that you’re accountable to is key. Having a sounding board is extremely helpful because the companionship is reassuring and it helps you stay focused.

The love behind the maintaining

It’s important to know that no maintenance style is superior, just unique to you. If you haven’t done maintenance in your office for a while, give some thought to what approach might be most helpful for you. And take the next step.

The end goal of maintenance is to help bring each paper, each item, to the next place it needs to go – when the time is right for you. Sometimes it’s to a file or back into the mail, sometimes it’s the trash can or the recycle bin.

If you take one item at a time and choose its next destination before moving on to the next, it can be a few short minutes before your office is a spacious, invigorating place to work.