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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Cabinet door organizers

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Cabinet door organizers make it extremely easy to access frequently used items. These “doorganizers” turn kitchen, bathroom and office cabinet doors into space-saving storage solutions.

Over-the-door cabinet organizers are probably the most popular type, but there are also magnetic and door-mounted styles worth considering.  Here are three different kinds of cabinet door organizers that have multiple uses:

  • Over-door towel racks with baskets perform double duty by utilizing both sides of a cabinet door.  The outside section is a towel bar–handy for keeping a dish towel or hand towel at your fingertips; the other Towel Rack with Basket Imageside is a basket where you can store everyday supplies. Items up to 10.25 inches high, such as bottles of mouthwash or cans of shaving cream, will fit in the Towel Rack With Basket (pictured); smaller supplies, such as sponges and scrubbers (up to 5 inches tall), can be stored in the Over Door Towel Rack with Basket.  (If you just want a cabinet door towel holder without storage, there are many different types to choose from here.  Or if you want only an over-door storage basket without a towel bar, those are readily available too.)
  • Magnapods are 1-inch-deep clear plastic containers that magnetically adhere to the inside of steel-framed cabinet doors. Ideal for medicine cabinets, they’re also useful for small office supplies when attached inside or outside metal office cabinet doors, drawers or file cabinets.
  • Wall-mounted spice racks can be mounted inside a cabinet or a cupboard door, and their storage Three-Tier Mounted Spice Rack - Chrome Imageuses aren’t limited to spice jars–they can also hold items such as nail polish bottles, vitamin and pill bottles, and small arts and crafts supplies.The steel wire Three Tier Spice Rack features three shelves, spaced 6 inches apart; as with most wall-mounted spice racks, the top shelf is open allowing for containers of different heights.
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Magnetic Organizers

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Magnetic organizers are terrific for utilizing vertical space–whether on a fridge, a file cabinet, a locker or any steel-framed door.  I’ve found they work well for keeping all different kinds of materials organized and easy to reach.

These well-designed wonders are some of my favorite magnetic organizers:

  • You can turn almost any wall into a magnetic surface with a Magnetic Wall Board which can be easily mounted with the Magnetic Wall Board Imageincluded 3M Command Mounting Strips or mounting hardware (also included).  Then simply add magnetic containers (available in a variety of sizes and shapes) to hold mail, eyeglasses, cell phones, office supplies or anything else you want to keep handy and visible. (But nothing too heavy: the Magnetic Wall Board will hold up to a total of 20 pounds).
  • Magnetic Storage Tins are small round metal containers that feature a see-through top
    with a sprinkle-or-pour opening for spices or sparkles. The bottoms are magnetized so you can stick them on the side of a fridge or metal cabinet (or a Magnetic Wall Board) for easy access.
  • MagnaPods Cosmetics Organizers are a set of three one-inch-deep clear plastic containers designed to magnetically adhere to the inside of steel-framed medicine cabinet doors (and other magnet-friendly surfaces).  Ideal for storing small items–not just makeup, but things like tweezers, nail scissors and other easy-to-misplace supplies–the organizers come in three sizes; two of them feature removable dividers so they can be customized to fit your needs.

Other sizes of MagnaPods are also available as nail polish bottle organizers and toothbrush holders.

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Rolling storage drawers

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Rolling storage drawers are one of the easiest ways to create instant accessible storage. These mobile carts–available in a variety of drawer sizes and configurations–are especially useful for organizing everything from clothing, linens, accessories and toys to all types of supplies: office supplies, paper goods, non-perishable food….whatever you want to keep handy yet out of the way.

Here are some of my favorite types of rolling storage drawers:

  • The Wide Three-Drawer Storage Chest rolls anywhere you need it and offers three spacious drawers (19 1/4 inches wide Iris Wide Three-Drawer Storage Chest - White Imagex 6 1/4 inches high x 14 inches deep) constructed of clear, acid-free plastic to allow for quick identification of contents such as art and scrapbook supplies in the craft room; paper and office supplies at work; clothing and linens in a closet; or tools and parts in the garage.  Each drawer can be removed from the frame for easy loading and unloading.  The four casters are also removable.
  • For storing smaller or fewer items, the slim (12.8 inches wide), clear Plastic Storage Chest with 4 Drawers includes two shallow drawers (each 3 inches high) atop two deeper drawers (each 7 inches high).  The entire unit is topped with a divided organizer that provides conveniently accessible storage for frequently used supplies. Four casters offer mobility or can be removed for a stationary storage solution.
  • If you prefer opaque drawers, the sleek Three Drawer Mobile Storage cart features three black polyester drawersMobile Storage - Three Drawer Image with metal grommets and reinforced bottoms; a top shelf cradled by chrome handles; and heavy-duty locking casters.

More rolling storage drawer options can be found here.

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Conquer paper piles with file holders

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What’s a simple solution for conquering your paper piles?  Super-handy file holders.

When the files you should be using are extremely accessible, you’re more likely to file instead of pile.  So set up small groups of files in file holders located right where papers pile up. For example, have a file holder in the kitchen with files labeled for coupons, takeout menus, instructions or any other paper categories that tend to accumulate on your kitchen counters.

Here are three types of file holders that work well in almost any room:

More file holder choices can be found here.

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