Monday, April 30, 2012

Staplers Don't Have to Be Boring

green stapler

Staplers are such a basic paper organizing supply — and they can be more interesting than your basic black or beige. For now, let's skip the staple-free staplers and the automatic staplers, and just look at what's available in standard manual staplers.

The stapler above, the Buro from Lexon, caught my eye because of the colors. It comes in basic gray, but also in bright green and bright purple. You can purchase it from Lexon, or from other sites such as Peter of Kensington's in Australia, and Togs + Clogs in the U.K. Update on Feb. 13, 2014: This stapler is no longer sold by Togs + Clogs. However, it's available at Blue Sun Tree, also in the U.K.

combination stapler and stamper, saying Have a Nice Day

I must admit to being enchanted by the Stampler, which "staples and stamps at the same time." [via the Los Angeles Times]

eyes and mouth stickers for stapler, mug, etc.

And if you just want to liven up a stapler you already have, you could use the inanimate character stickers from Fred & Friends, sold by Perpetual Kid and other online stores.

Related Posts:
7 Stand-Out Staplers, Plus a Staple Remover
4 Staplers to Brighten Up Any Office

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aprons with Pockets: Practical and (Sometimes) Pretty

aprons with pockets

If you're moving around a kitchen, an art studio, a garden — or any number of other places — an apron can be a helpful organizing aid, making sure you have essential tools close at hand. And there are a wide range of aprons available to provide that aid!

At the latest conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers, these 4-pocket aprons were being displayed by Abundance Organizing, and they are now available for purchase on the web.

denin apron with pockets

This Ben Davis denim machinist's apron (also available in black) can be bought through Ben Davis, or through other sites such as Hand-Eye Supply, which has better photos. [via Book of Joe]

utility half apron with 9 pockets - lobster pattern

Heart and Sow made this 9-pocket utility half apron from recycled curtains!

kitchen apron with pockets

The kitchen aprons from Studiopatró are simple and stunning.

oilcloth apron

This oilcloth apron comes from Palomas Oilcloth Designs; aprons are available in both adult and child sizes.

apron/toolbelt combination for gardeners

And finally, here's a combination toolbelt/apron for gardeners, from Garden Tribe. The company's website says it has “ceased trading” but you can still find this item for sale at Leisure Gardening (one color choice only) and Garden Divas (four color choices), both in the U.K. Update on Aug. 22, 2013: I'm not longer finding this apron for sale at Leasire Gardening or Garden Divas, but still has a few in stock.

Related Post:
Aprons as Organizing Tools

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two People Get Creative with Organizing Products

Indian massala dabba spice box used to store jewelry

Where do you find the perfect organizing product? Sometimes the answer is to repurpose something you already have around the house — or to use a product never intended for organizing.

The photo above is a masala dabba — a spice box — used by Deirdré Straughan for her non-hangable jewelry. (Photo used by permission. As a side note, I recommend Deirdré’s blog, especially her recent post on dealing with loss; she writes some amazing stuff.)

floppy disk storage box used to hold greeting cards

And here's something clever that William Zola did; he took an old floppy disk storage box and turned it into storage for greeting cards. (That's my photo, shared with you with William's permission.)

Related Posts:
Repurposed Items: Cake Stands
Storage on the Cheap with Cigar Boxes and More
One Person's Favorite Storage: Tins

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What I'm Reading: Design Is a Job

stack of books - Design is a Job

Mike Monteiro's book isn't about organizing. Rather, it's “a guide to making a living as a designer.” But given the topics covered — including getting clients, creating good contracts, and getting paid — the book can easily have appeal beyond the design community.

And organizing wisdom can be found many places — including this book. Let's start with a three choice comments that Mike makes regarding projects:
The success of every project is the hundreds of little commitments made along the way.

The minute a deadline is in jeopardy notify the other party. There are many reasons for missing a deadline, but there is only one for not notifying the other party.

Nothing derails a project faster than waffling over decisions, whether it's taking too long to make a decision, or revisiting decisions that have already been acted upon.
And I also liked this note about (lack of) organization:
Most late payments are a matter of disorganization. ... Until you have evidence to the contrary, assume your missed payment is a matter of disorganization. That's the most likely possibility, and easiest to fix.
On a personal note, though, what I most appreciated wasn't the organizing-related advice, but this:
Carefully choose the projects you take on. Choose to leave the world better than you found it. Improve things for people. ...

We have limited resources, whether natural, financial, or cognitive. Don't contribute to people wasting them on crap.
And this:
The clients you choose to take on define you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Five Fabric Buckets to Store Your Stuff

owl fabric storage bags

Looking for storage bins that can also add some sparkle your decor? I was enchanted by these fabric storage bags from FruteJuce the minute I stumbled upon them. If you don't want the entire owl family, you can get a single bag, too.

fabric basket with elephants

Tagodesign has a number of delightful fabric baskets.

fabric bucket in gray and rose

And Smidgebox has some lovely fabric buckets, too.
[via Babygadget]

fabric buckets

Chewing the Cud has fabric buckets in a number of patterns. You can get them from Chewing the Cud directly, or through See Jane Work; there's a small and a large size. [via Suzanne Willett]

fabric storage bins - three sizes

Finally, let's admire these fabric storage boxes from Eva & Oli. They come in three sizes, two patterns and a number of colors. Smallable is one place to buy them.

Related Post:
Fabric Buckets, Boxes and Bins

Friday, April 13, 2012

Organizing with Birds and Ducks: Sewing Caddies

red wooden bird holding scissors, with spools of thread on the base

I am not a sewer — but when Susan Orlean tweeted about her latest find, I had to learn more. She seems to have been visiting the latest exhibit at the SFO museum, and admiring the sewing accessory stands from the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley.

And what she found were some wonderful old sewing accessories: birds or ducks that hold scissors, thread, etc. Hillary Kwiatek directed Susan to one place to buy such a thing: an eBay store called Stuffisus which sells the sewing bird shown above.

wooden bird holding scissors, with spools of thread on the base

The Vintage Peddler also has a sewing bird thread and scissors holder.

wooden duck that holds scissors, with spools of thread stored near its feet

A number of Etsy sellers who specialize in vintage products also sell similar items. Here's the duck sewing helper sold by RichInDaughters.

wooden bird holding scissors and thimble, with spools of thread at the base

This sewing bird caddy, sold by Topsy's Attic, has a storage drawer in the base, and has thimble holder, too.

wooden duck that stores scissors - base has a drawer as well as place for spools of thread

And here's another sewing duck, this time from Old Sew Stuff; it's another one that has a little storage drawer.

wooden duck sewing caddy for scissors and thread

Wil Shepherd Studio sells this lovely duck sewing caddy.

All of these are one of a kind, so they may not be available for long. But I'm delighted just to know that such a thing exists; as these get sold, others will probably appear over time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Organizing Basics: Hooks Make Maintenance Easier

steel hook on walnut wood block

Keeping your home organized is easier when you've got products that help simplify the maintenance — and hooks are one such product. What's easier than throwing a coat, scarf or whatever over a hook? (OK, throwing stuff on the floor might be easier, but not by much.) So as long as I keep finding cool hooks, I'll keep writing hook-related posts.

Sometimes a simple look is perfect — and if that's your style, you might like the Beefy Hook from Tinkering Monkey. That's a steel hook on a walnut block.

iron coat hook

Another simple, lovely coat hook comes from the Iron Design Company.

orange hook with four arms

The Kangaroo Hook from Doug Mockett & Company isn't cheap, but it sure is eye-catching. It comes in five finishes.

whale tail hooks

The whale tail hooks from Frontgate are promoted as a way to eliminate "poolside clutter," but of course they could be used for other purposes, too. They come in two sizes.

tile with sunflower painting, and three iron hooks

And let's end with an Etsy find: the tile hook organizers from Nature's Heavenly Art. There are many choices, with trees and birds and much more.

Related Posts:
Hooks with Moose, Birds, Bats, Cats and Other Critters
Hooks to Hold Your Hat - Or Coat, or Towel, or Whatever

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How to Have Plenty of Time

Photo by Thomas Hawk, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons

I'm generally pretty good at focusing on the positive, on what I want in my life. And at my networking group meetings, I get to hear Patricia Westerfield, a transformational energy worker, remind me each week just how important this is — how our thoughts affect what comes into our lives.

But this past Thursday Patricia said something that really hit home to me; she identified a pattern of negative thinking I didn't even recognize as a pattern of negative thinking! I asked her if I could share her words with all of you, and she graciously agreed.

So here's Patricia:
Ever noticed the more you worry about having enough time, the more things seem to pop up that give you even less? And time feels like the enemy.

You get what you think about.

And when you think about the feeling of plenty of time, what you get with time changes.

And time becomes your friend.

Patricia's a pretty amazing woman; she helps people get from the life they have to the life they want, and many people I know sing her praises. You can reach her at 650-355-7409 or

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Purse Storage: Treating Your Luxury Handbags with Respect

hanging purse organizer

I've written about organizing purses before — see related posts below — and a number of the storage options I saw involved hanging the purses by their handles.

But now I'm reading more advice that suggests this is not good for your purses. For example, there's this advice from Real Simple:
“Hanging a bag by the handles lessens the life span of the bag,” says Chris Moore, owner of Artbag, a New York City handbag boutique and repair shop. Hanging puts stress on the strap seams, and “it can leave unsightly marks on the handles,” says Moore.
So what are your options? You can use organizers that hang in your closet and keep the purses upright — like the one from Real Simple, which is sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

0ver-the-door purse organizer

CoverMates has an over-the-door purse organizer. [via Karen Coutu at A Blog of Goodies] Update on Jan. 23, 2017: This purse organizer doesn't seem to be available any more.

storage box for boots or purse

ShoeTrap has stackable storage boxes, mostly for shoes (as you would expect) — but there's also a size the company suggests would work for purses as well as boots.

And of course purses can be stored on any kind of shelves, with or without the use of things like shelf dividers or handbag bins. Billy bookcases from IKEA are what one person used.

And here's another bit of advice I'm seeing:
Keep your handbag stuffed when not in use. This will help to maintain its shape.

cushion that goes into purse when storing
Of course, you could use tissue paper or some such, but another option is to use the Bag-a-Vie, which comes in four sizes.

large fabric ring that goes into purse to maintain its shape when stores
inserting fabric ring into purse
purse with ring insert in place, keeping its shape
purse, with ring inserted, looking good

And another option is the Pursendipity, which comes in three sizes.

Related Posts:
6 Options for Storing Your Purses
Handy Hold All - for Purses and More
Storage: If Purses Are Your Weakness

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Organizing for TV Viewing: Rounding Up the Remotes

remotes in bowl

You don't need to use a specific remote-control organizer for your remote controls; any appropriately-sized container will do. Here's what one of my friends uses: a beautiful bowl. (Photo shared with permission)

burlap basket for remote controls

Don't have something the right size? You could get this burlap remote control holder basket from 47th Heaven.

remote control organizer basket for 6 remotes

And if you prefer your remotes standing up, look at the TV remote organizers from Gus Panart at Rathdrum Creek Crafts. These organizers come in a range of sizes, holding 3 to 10 remotes; some also have space for a TV Guide.

TV toolbox - labeled TV tools - for remotes, videos, etc.

There's also the TV toolbox from Monkey Business. It's available in white and charcoal.

pillow remote control

Of course, if you find a universal remote you like, then you won't have a bunch of remotes needing storage. I've written about universal remotes before, but since then I've learned about the pillow remote control, which can control six different components.

Related Posts:
Organizing the Remotes: Four Options
3 Unusual Ways to Control the Remotes

Monday, April 2, 2012

How to Say No: Advice from 8 Experts

Magnet that says Stop her before she volunteers again
Magnet by Allison Strine

It's so easy to overcommit — to say "yes" to things that don't help us move to the life we really want. If you could use some encouragement on how to say "no" when it's appropriate, listen to some of these experts. (Go read the full posts; I'm just including short excerpts here.)

1. Lisa Barone summarized the problem in a tweet:
No. No. No. No. See, that's not so hard? Why can't I learn to say that more often?
And here's another tweet from Lisa:
If the answer isn't "OMG, yes!" it has to be "no." Time constraints make it so.
2. Chris Brogan tells us to be clear and polite.
Thank you for thinking of me. I’m going to have to pass. My workload and priorities are such that I can’t add this project to my schedule.
And here's more Chris:
From now on, I resolve to say no faster. I will say no with grace and poise and kindness, but I will say no.
3. Chris pointed me to Dharmesh Shah, who has a great title on his post:
Dear Friend: Sorry. My heart says yes, but my schedule says no.
4. Fellow organizer Monica Ricci provides five ways to say no, including this short and simple one:
Thank you for asking, but I'm going to pass.
5. Here's Patrick Rhone, in his book entitled Enough:
I think saying no is far too often misunderstood and misrepresented. I think it automatically puts one on the defensive, as if we must explain our reasons why. While its very definition may be negative, in practice it is often quite positive. I think we need to remove the wholly negative stigma from the idea of saying no. ...

In fact, when it comes to parting with your time, attention, or money, no should be your default answer. ...

If you follow this rule, the things you do say yes to will be the things you are most excited about. You will be free to give these things much more time and energy because the yes things will be the things that really matter.
6. Patrick pointed me to Derek Sivers, who tells us:
Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I'm trying: If I'm not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then say no.
7. Adam Dachis of Lifehacker wrote a long post on how to say no, including these bits:
If you're reading this post you probably have a problem saying no — the same problem I used to have until I learned how wonderful not helping people can be. But in all seriousness, saying no is about respecting your own time and making sure you're not spreading yourself too thin. ...

There's one more thing you should always remember: don't remove "yes" from your vocabulary.
8. And when it comes to saying no, I always like to give the last word to Miss Manners:
Rather than give reasons for declining, which, as you know, will be countered, just keep restating your inability to accept: “You are so kind to ask me, but I’m so sorry, I can’t.”

Why not?

“I’m afraid I’m busy then.”

What are you doing?

“I have other commitments.”

What are they?

“Other commitments. You are so kind to ask me, but ...”

Related Posts
Miss Manners: How to Say No
The Importance of Saying No: Two Perspectives
Yet Again: Learning to Say No