Even in our virtual world, many of us use paper for certain kinds of activities, at home or at the office. Clients usually will tell me “I’m a paper person” or “I’m really more interested in getting more onto my computer.”
So like the right brain/left brain discussions, most of us have a dominant preference for paper vs. PC, but we still use the other for certain tasks.
So for our papers: Smead sent me this Project Organizer and asked me to write about it here. I’m happy to do that because I can see myriad uses for the product which I’ll share with you here. Smead is a Corporate Partner with the National Association of Professional Organizers. I see them at our product expo; for a long time I’ve been impressed with their product innovations and their interest in understanding our clients’ needs.
A short description first: My photo is of the organizer standing upright on my office floor.
- Inside front cover: a summary sheet. What needs to get done, by whom and when.
- 10 slash pocket folders. I love slash pockets because you have a preview of the folder’s contents.
- Expandable bottom binder, so as you fill this with papers, the whole thing expands. I love that it’s vertical because access is easier.
- Each slash pocket has space for papers, and the pocket itself has space right on top for “Notes.” A little bit of guidance is useful.
Uses at Home
Homework: One binder per child keeps track of ten subjects, ten days or ten weeks of homework you want to review together. Add a laminated pocket to the front of the binder and slide in a photo of your child, to identify which child’s binder is which.
Home schooling: The teacher’s binder: ten subjects or ten weeks of your lesson plans.
Taxes: Each section for different sorts of receipts and documents, with the folder staying near where you open the mail, and throughout the year.
Committees/volunteer activities: One spot, for all committees; one notebook to grab as you leave the house. Or use the divided slots one per week, or per project.
Downsizing for a move: Use two binders, one for the buying side and one for the selling side. Or use one binder for the entire process with sections: Realtor-related, moving-related, expenses, new home research, etc. Use the product as a “countdown” binder to your move date, with each section as a week’s worth of things to do. An inspirational quote on the front about next chapters helps with motivation for decluttering when needed.
Holiday countdown: As a holiday binder, I could see this as a weekly countdown, covering Thanksgiving and December holidays. Or, each section as a different aspect of planning: meals, traditions, budget, cards, decor, gifts.
Uses at Work or In Your Own Business
Clients for the week: One binder for the week, with materials you need on the go, for your appointments. Swap out the contents each week. Keeps your focus just on this week, and it means you need to do that weekly review.
Key projects or committee meetings: Same idea, but for the project side of your work. Use this for focusing on this week’s work. So for me, I might have the next few workshops I’m designing or for the organizers’ chapter I head up here in New Hampshire.
On the road – conferences: Use the binder to take work with you. We all have some work that is easier to work on, when it’s printed out. The binder is one place for your regular work, while you’re out at conferences or traveling.
Same as the home uses for taxes or committees. But use another binder for your business to keep home and business papers separated.
Answer these questions for yourself before buying any organizational product:
- How exactly will you use the product (e.g., so here, how would you use ten folders?). You wouldn’t buy a piece of clothing without knowing what size, so are organizing products any different?
- How do you typically organize your papers; what’s worked before will work again. The product supports how you work, think and organize your thoughts.
- Where will you keep the organizer, so you remember to use it. How will you start this new habit?
- Do you like the style enough to enjoy using this product? (Visual folks will relate to this subconscious aspect of choosing just the right product.)
- Do you need something more specific to the purpose, e.g., a taxes binder like this the one pictured below, also from Smead. Take a look around their site; click on the taxes binder to get there.
What works for you?