Getting Organized with the Experts from Staples

One of the hardest things about being on bed rest is not being able to just do what I want to do, like organize!  Definitely the time has let me make endless lists upon lists of things TO DO.  Most people get the urge to organize before the New Year, for us, Chinese New Year is right around the corner.  One of the traditions is to sweep out the old for the New Year and that includes organizing and tidying up loose ends before welcoming in the New Year.  For many others, the New Year might have started off rough but come tax time, we’re reminded again to get organized.  Whatever your reasons for getting organized, you can count on Staples to help.

My husband recently had the chance to attend a Staples workshop on Organizing your Office: 10 Tips to Shed, Shred and Get Ahead hosted by Julie Morgenstern, an internationally known organizing and time management expert.

BETTER Binder with Removable FileRingsMy most favorite tip is, SHED.  There is something just so lethargic about throwing things away.

  1. First, define your treasures.  Before getting rid of anything, consider your work goals and roles to assess what items will help you and those that won’t. When facing intimidating piles and drawers, ask yourself—if all this were gone tomorrow, what would I miss?  Write down the list that comes to mind (e.g. original signed contracts, key contact info, handwritten notes) on a big sticky note, and post that on the wall of the area you are about to de-clutter. This will guide you in separating treasure from trash.  90% of the time I find, most of the piles I leave, never get looked at again.
  2. Create a no-brainer toss list. Minimize the number of decisions you have to make by creating guidelines for stuff you don’t have to think twice before shedding.  Immediately toss old manuals & reports that have since been updated, documents that someone else has the original of and you can replace if necessary, printouts from the web, out of date information, duplicates, etc.
  3. Check retention guidelines. Going through your legal files? Call your lawyer. Old payroll?  Ring the accountant. Remember that 80% of what we file we never look at again.  So be sure that it’s necessary for you to keep anything and everything that will take up valuable space in your file drawer.  Don’t save things you “might” need someday if they are easily replaced. ie. Bank Statements available online or can be saved electronically.

IMAG0014SHRED – This is my kids favorite thing to do.  They love when I whip out my shredder.

  1. Zen with a paper cleanse.  We all love the satisfying hum of unnecessary paper disappearing through the blades of shredder-permanently purged from our lives.  Take your low energy time of day or the week to routine shredding, so the paper doesn’t build up.  I have a cute little tray I got from Staples, labeled with SHRED, to place all the documents I need shredded.  Everything from bills with account information and identifiers.  You can never be too safe.  I usually toss and divide the shredded pages too amongst several garbage cans around the house if you’re super paranoid about identity theft. 
  2. Delegate the big jobs. If you have large volumes of papers to shred, don’t let them sit around for months cluttering up your space (and messing with your mental clarity).  Take your boxes to your local Staples Copy & Print.  For 79¢ a pound they will securely shred your documents the way many corporations and hospitals do.  You’ll simultaneously save time and money while making space for what’s more important – growth.


  1. Color code for efficiency. Identify 3-5 broad categories that reflect the core responsibilities of your job, and assign a different color to each. Apply that color coding to your files, binders and calendar to help you keep track of the balance of your time.  Color is processed 60,000 times faster than text, and stimulates your thinking – for example, whenever you see a green folder, you immediately think of money.  I’m currently addicted to Pinterest and their endless organization tips.  This week I am hoping to tackle this project: How to organize the home office.  From the “A Bowl Full of Lemons” blog which uses Staples New BETTER® Binder with removable FileRings™ – the first of its kind binder features file rings that detach from the shell for easy filing in any standard filing cabinet. Now available in black, white, red, green and blue covers exclusively on (Staples 1-inch BETTER Binder: $12.99 and removable FileRings: $4.99).   
  2. Keep core info within arm’s reach. Place your most frequently used files, binders and items within an arm’s reach from where you sit. This will save time when you are retrieving and it makes putting items back in their home a snap.
  3. Memory-proof your system with labels.  We’re all way too busy focusing on how to do our jobs to have to also remember what’s inside a folder, drawer or binder.  Label your system clearly—with professional looking labels to make your system visually appealing, crystal clear, and easy for  others to find information in your absence.  The best, albeit strange Christmas gift I got this year was from my husband, a Brothers P-Touch machine.  It appealed my crazy neurotic side to be organized in the best way.  My entire house is almost labeled and I keep a running list of labels that need to printed.  Tag me GEEK.  
  4.  Back it up. Use flash drives to keep important documents in a second, safe, and mobile home. Extra points if the flash drives are color coded to match their content.  I learned many years ago, back up isn’t just important, its essential.  My most prized possession are my photographs and the thought of losing all those memories haunts me daily.  I back up my iMAC using Time Machine as well as invested in an offsite back up service called Carbonite.  You can never be too safe and it’s well worth the investment for the peace of mind.
  5.  “Contain” your creative genius. If you work on projects that involve gathering and sifting through large quantities of information and samples(e.g. Design projects, business deals, event planning), keep your desktop pile-free and usable by assigning each project its own well labeled box—and store them on a nearby shelf.  As needed, just pull down the appropriate box and spread out the contents on your desk.  When done, cleanup is super quick as you corral everything back into its container and put the lid back on and tuck it away. I purchased Magazine Sorters for each of my children, and file things accordingly to sort at a later date if necessary.  If ever I need a specific document or paper, I can quickly located based on which child’s box. 

photoPretty things always make me more organized and one of my favorite products from Staples is their M by Staples™ Arc Customizable Notebook System –Available in durable poly or leather covers with premium, heavyweight paper, this customizable notebook has repositionable sheets that can moved from one section to another making organization a breeze. (Starting at $7.99).  I carry mine everywhere with me and it has been my constant bedside companion to organize all my TO DO lists.

No one organizes better than Martha Stewart and her line of Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ will get you started on the right foot– With this beautiful line of innovative products, customers can keep their office organized and looking great. Available exclusively at Staples, the collection features an accordion file, which is perfect for tax organization. (Starting at $11.99)

Whatever tools you’ll need to get organized, you can count on Staples.

{ disclosure:  My husband attended a workshop at Staples on my behalf and received a small gift bag.  I bought most of the products named above on my own prior to the event because Staples is the place for neurotic organizers like myself.  Staples is my happy place. }