File storage solutions

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file storageAs tax time looms, it’s wise to think about file storage  Tax records and other rarely accessed documents don’t need to be stored in file cabinets (unless you have an abundance of file drawer space).  For example, file storage boxes are stackable and can provide more flexibility.

Here are three types of effective file storage solutions:

  • Split-lid file boxes.  This type of file box features a lid that’s hinged in the middle, allowing you to access files from either end without removing the lid. The Split Lid Stacking File Box (23 inches wide by 13.75 inches high by 11 inches deep) is also clear so you can easily identify the contents of each box, even when they’re stacked. Runners along the interior hold letter-size hanging files in place. The Stackable Split-Lid File Box is similar but smaller (14.25 inches wide by 11.25 inches high by 10.5 inches deep).
  • Collapsible file boxesCardboard file boxes are the best known and most economical type of collapsible file storage.  Their main advantage (aside from cost) is that they take up little space when not in use.
  • File box storage racks. If you need to store at least 6 file boxes, a file box storage rack is advisable. The File Box Storage System is a good example–it features 18 slots to securely hold file boxes or file storage totes (sold separately). Constructed from durable PVC, the rack is strong enough to support up to 1000 pounds. Clamps to secure the rack to a wall are included.  Another option is the Heavy-Duty Storage Rack, designed to hold up to 80 letter/legal archival boxes.
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Desk organizers

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desk organizersDesk organizers can help you achieve and maintain an orderly desk.  Their function is to store a variety of supplies and paperwork while keeping everything easily accessible.

Different types of desk organizers are designed for each area of a desk–desktop, drawers and under-desk.  Here are three efficient examples:

  • Desktop organizers.  For the most visible part of your desk, there are many organizing options to choose from.  One of my favorites is the space-saving Bamboo Desktop Organizer–it has a slim profile (just 5 inches deep) yet features six tiered compartments in several sizes plus two drawers, all sized to hold the most frequently accessed office supplies.  The back compartment even accommodates letter-size file folders. It’s also wall-mountable.
  • Desk drawer organizers. Cluttered desk drawers are easy to organize (and keep organized) when you have the right system.  Drawer organizers can be modular (individual bins) or have multiple compartments. The multi-section style may have adjustable or fixed dividers, or both, such as the Bamboo Adjustable Drawer Organizer–it includes three removable dividers that can create anywhere from six to 13 storage compartments. (For more drawer organizer advice, read my post on junk drawer organizers.)
  • Under-desk organizers.  If you need more space for keeping supplies handy yet out of the way, an under-desk organizer can provide a simple storage solution.  I like the Under Desk Pencil Drawer–it mounts underneath a desk surface and has six compartments, including a front tray area.  Ball-bearing slides make it glide out and retract smoothly.

More desk organizing ideas can be found here.

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Wall Calendar Systems

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Wall Calendars

Wall calendar systems provide a simple way to keep track of scheduled commitments and date-sensitive reminders.

Old-fashioned?  Sure.  But unlike electronic devices, wall-mounted calendars let you see a month’s worth of appointments and deadlines at a glance instead of having to scroll through individual days.

Here are three wall calendar systems that can help you stay organized throughout the year:

  • The square Magnetic Dry Erase Board Wall Calendar (14.75 by 14.75 inches) can be customized and personalized and allows you to post or write notes and reminders for the entire family.  It has an abbreviation for each month so you can simply circle or highlight the current month, and the days of the week are clearly identified in tabs above each column.  With 35 squares there’s ample room for managing a detailed calendar without having to cram two days into one square at the end of the month. The entire surface of the calendar is magnetic so you can easily affix notes, coupons, etc.  The dry erase surface allows you to simply number the days of the month in the squares and write or edit notes on the corresponding days.
  • The Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar Board is quite similar to the above wall calendar system, but it’s larger (22.5 by 18.25 inches, including the decorative wood frame) and includes a dry erase marker with magnetic holster clip and two small magnets for posting reminder notes and more.
  • The Wrought Iron Calendar Frame consists of a metal mesh basket attached to a decorative calendar holderWrought Iron Calendar Frame - Black Image (the calendar isn’t included) which gives you a highly visible and attractive way to note appointments and other commitments.  The basket has room for mail and by-the-door essentials such as cell phones, sunglasses, pens and sticky notes.

More types of wall calendar systems can be found here.

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Adjustable height desks

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adjustable height desks
Adjustable height desks are ergonomically superior to standard desks since they allow you to work either sitting (at various heights) or standing.  And because they utilize vertical space, they’re also space-efficient.

There are also desk risers that mimic adjustable height desks–they’re designed to be used on desk tops, so you don’t have to invest in a new desk to take advantage of the benefits of a stand-up desk.

Here are three adjustable options that can help you become more well-adjusted–or at least make your workspace more ergonomically efficient:

  • The Height Adjustable Desk Riser lets you turn any desk into a standing workstation. It adjusts to 10 different height positions so you can customize your work surface to your individual comfort level. Dual side handles and a spring-lift mechanism makes it easy to raise or lower the riser; the spacious top surface provides plenty of space for your computer monitor; and a separate keyboard tray holds your keyboard and mouse. It supports up to 33 pounds and measures 35-1/2 inches wide by 36 inches deep by 16-3/4 inches high. There’s also a slightly smaller and more economical version called the Multi-Position Desk Riser.
  • The Adjustable Desktop is a similar but less customizable riser.  A pneumatic air cylinder smoothly lifts the work surface while the spring-loaded bumper enables easy lowering of the desktop. The edges gently slope downward to keep your forearms comfortable while typing or maneuvering a mouse. The 31-1/2-inch wide by 22-1/4-inch-deep work surface can easily accommodate a laptop or even dual monitors.
  • The rolling Stand Up Computer Desk can be adjusted to work as a sit-down desk. A large top surface offers space for your computer monitor; the lower two shelves provide room for your accessories. A retractable keyboard tray slides under the work surface when not needed. Four swiveling caster wheels make the unit easy to move; two of the casters lock in place to keep the desk stationary.

More types of computer desks can be found here.

You might also like to read this Organize-It Blog post on ergonomic workstations.

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Lap desks with storage

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A lap desk may be the smallest type of desk, but it’s also the most versatile.  Lap desks can function like compact portable work surfaces, allowing you to work away from your regular desk or table.  Some are designed with a cushioned underside to keep the unit comfortably settled in your lap (like a pet!), while others have foldaway “legs” that also permit use on other surfaces.

The best lap desks include storage options so you can keep small yet essential supplies close at hand, such as electronic devices (cell phone, tablet or notebook), notepads and writing implements. Here are three examples of well-designed lap desks with storage:

  • The Wooden Lap Desk with Storage has a beanbag-style underside (stuffed with styrofoam beads) covered with soft fabric. Wooden Lap Desk with Storage ImageThe desk itself is designed to look like an old-fashioned school desk, with a hinged lid that lifts up to reveal a plush-lined storage compartment divided into two sections.  The main section is sized for storing up to a 17-inch notebook computer or binder; the slim section works well for smaller items like pens, calculators, bookmarks, Post-its and cell phones.
  • Also made of wood, the Foldable Walnut Lap Desk features a side drawer and a book ledge on the adjustable flip top (the surface can be adjusted to four different angles).  The legs fold away for storage and a magnetic latch keeps the top safely closed for transport.
  • If you prefer something less desk-like (or at least not made of wood), the Kid’s Storage Lap Desk also works well for adults and is constructed of heavy-duty high-impact plastic. It has Kids Storage Lap Desk - Blue Imagefolding legs and a smooth top surface that flips open to access a spacious storage compartment divided into three sections (one large and two small).

Other types of lap desks (without storage) can be found here.

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Home office organizing tips

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home-office-organizing
Running a household is like running a small business. There are all those endless office tasks: dealing with incoming and outgoing mail, budgeting, banking and other financial procedures; and, of course, filing.

Having an efficient yet comfortable home office in which to handle these chores can help keep your home organized. If you think you don’t have enough room to devote exclusively to an office, consider these home office options:

  • All you really need in terms of space for a bare-bones, low-tech office setup is a work surface (it doesn’t have to be a desk) and something in which Mobile Workstation Imageto store files (it needn’t be a file cabinet).  For example, you can combine a mobile workstation (pictured) with a rolling file cart.
  • If you have a spare room that’s known as the “guest room,” decide whether you have guests often enough to justify that designation. You may be better off setting up the space for your office headquarters. (For the occasional guest, consider a hideaway bed such as iBed In a Box.)
  • You can create a portable home office setup with inexpensivePortable File Box Image products such as file boxes with hinged lids and handles for easy carrying.  They can be used in conjunction with the kitchen or dining room table, which in many homes are the most popular places to do paperwork.

More home office organizing tips can be found here.

 

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Long-term Organizing Tips

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Long-term Organizing TipsGetting organized is only half the battle.  The other half involves learning how to stay organized.  Here are four organizing tips designed to both help you get organized and maintain order:

  • Fuel motivation with visible results.  Motivate yourself to get rid of clutter by creating noticeable results quickly. Begin by decluttering the easiest and most visible cluttered area or segment. Seeing a positive change is energizing and can make you want to keep going.
  • Set up a convenient work space.  Choose an area that’s comfortable for working on ongoing projects and paperwork maintenance. If your File Box - Airtight Imagespace is very limited, you can create a portable home office setup with a lap desk and a lidded file box. They can be used in conjunction with the kitchen or dining room table, which in many homes are the most popular places to do paperwork.
  • Practice making decisions. Exercise your decision-making muscles as often as possible instead of putting off making a decision “til later.” For example, whenever you pick up a piece of paper, decide how you’re going to deal with it while it’s in your hand instead of putting it in a pile.
  • Take time to make time.  Daily, make it a part of your routine to schedule brief blocks of time for processing household paperwork (such as bill-paying, correspondence and filing) and putting things in order.  At least weekly, sit down with your calendar or time management system and your “to do” lists and allocate time for the home projects you want to accomplish over the next week.

*Photo courtesy of Organized Living.

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Tips for minimizing paper clutter

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Here’s a trick to minimizing paper clutter.  Certain office products can make life less cluttered when used in unlikely places such as the kitchen.

For example, setting up a “mini-file” (a small file holder that holds about a dozen hanging files) on a kitchen counterHanging File Storage Box Image makes it easier to deal with papers that tend to pile up there, such as coupons, recipes, shopping lists, takeout menus, receipts and appliance instructions.

To save counter space, a mini-file can also be set up in a magnetic file holder on the side of your fridge.  

Likewise, stocking a small basket  or magnetic bin with frequently used office supplies (scissors, pen, pencil, highlighter, note pad, Post-its) and putting it near a mini-file makes it easier to clip coupons, mark catalogs and make quick reminder notes.

This can help in minimizing paper clutter by limiting those piles of newspapers, magazines and catalogs that get saved because they contain items to be harvested “later.”

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Answer: Under-shelf basket

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Q. I have a small office space, and I would like to have a paper tray that hangs under the bottom shelf of a suspended book shelf.  I will keep a special kind of printer paper in it, and the printer will be sitting on a shelf about a foot below it. Do you know of any paper holders like this?

A.  What you are looking for is called an under-shelf basket.  Made of wire, these handy storage solutions are designed to slide onto a shelf and provide open storage below. Under-shelf baskets are available in several sizes and colors.   York Pantry Storage Basket Image

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Room dividers with storage

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Room dividers usually serve three main purposes: to divide a space, create privacy and/or hide an unsightly area (such as a cluttered desk or a water heater).

But some room dividers do even more–they also offer storage, via shelves or pockets, making them useful for creating a home office, a study space or even a mini crafts room.  And of course they’re also ideal for organizing dorm rooms and other shared spaces.

Here are three different kinds of room dividers with storage:

  • The Walnut Room Divider with Book Shelves features four wooden shelves in a four-panel folding wood frame.  4-Panel Book Shelves Walnut Finish Room Divider by O.R.E. ImageThe shelves simply slide into the panels to create space for books or whatever else you want to store and keep handy. Depending on how you configure the panels, the shelves can be threaded through so that there is shelving on both sides or on just one side. You can also use this room divider without the shelves.
  • The 4-Panel Folding Screen with 2 Display Shelves is a more classic style of room divider but with shelving on both sides.
  • The 3-Panel Fabric Room Divider with Pocket Holders includes 24 fabric pockets (all on one side) attached to cotton canvas suspended on three wood rods at the top, middle and bottom of each panel.  The rods are removable and the canvas is washable.  The pockets are sized well for everything from office supplies to accessories (each is approximately 7 3/4″ tall x 5 3/4″ wide), and they can be labeled, decorated or left unadorned.
    More varieties of room dividers can be found here.
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