Back in March I posted about our massive Going Through Our Stuff effort while we were cleaning out our office to make way for the work to be done to turn it into our nursery. One of our largest challenges since that time has been adjusting from being a two-desk family to being a one-desk family (read more about that here). However, this change has challenged me to re-think some of my organizational systems and forced me to become more efficient. And I’m actually rather pleased with the results.
Before moving the office to the living room, DH and I each had our own desks. Mine was the more functional of the two as it contained most of the office-y type stuff like our files, stapler, stamps, etc. I was the person mainly responsible for these things as well.
There were a few things about our previous office set-up that I didn’t realize bothered me until we moved the office–mainly, I think, because there was plenty of space in the whole-room office! Some of the things that bothered me included my coupon collection, keeping track of things like gift cards, paint chips, and important receipts, accessing stamps and address labels, and shopping lists.
My previous method for dealing with coupons wasn’t horrible; I only kept ones that I had a reasonable expectation of using–mainly ones for stores we shop at frequently (Gap, Loft, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, etc.) or for services in our area (e.g. our favorite dry-cleaner). However I kept them in a box. Although boxes can be great organizational tools, they can also be clutter-collectors. I’d say I was only going through this box once or twice a year, so it was sometimes very hard to figure out if I had a non-expired coupon for, say, the Gap, when we were heading out shopping. All the coupons were thrown haphazardly into one box and with all my pawing through them every week or two, there was no guarantee that the most recent ones were at the top! So from the outside this didn’t look cluttered (the box was sitting nicely on a bookshelf) but it wasn’t serving our needs optimally.
Ditto for address labels and stamps. My way of “dealing” with all this was to put everything in a file folder, and place the file folder in a drawer. So a pile of fancy address labels mingled with the ones we’d get in the mail, with the stamps (hopefully) staying on top of the stack. But as you can imagine, many times things would slip out of the file folder when I’d be retrieving it from the drawer. Or, the stamps would get lost in the pile so I’d think we were all out, delaying sending in bills until we’d get more, only to discover we has plenty hidden away in the folder somewhere.
Additionally, the best way to keep track of gift cards has always a mystery to me. We’re lucky that we often get great gift cards from friends and family for holidays. And we’re pretty good about using them, but not always consistently. If it was one I knew I’d use soon (say, perhaps, a Starbucks gift card) I’d usually throw that in my wallet. However, I never want to be toting around things unnecessarily in my wallet. And what if it was one that either DH or I might use? Or one I knew I wouldn’t use for awhile? Perviously, these went in the coupon box; but they kept getting lost. Then they went in a plastic ziplock back inside the box. But they were still getting lost in the shuffle, and sometimes we’d find a valuable gift card that we’d had for 2+ years wasting away (and potentially expiring??) and feel pretty darn guilty.
Keeping track of things like paint colors from the house and receipts that we might still need? Ditto to above. How the heck should these be stored so they don’t get lost in the shuffle? My previous method involved shoving these between the drawer organizer and side of the drawer. It was pretty effective, but hard to ever find anything. And again, these were very much “out of sight, out of mind” and rarely were gone through with any regularity, making it a chore to find what I needed and thus, in my opinion, a sub-par organizational system.
Enter: the new Super-Organizer Binder 2011!
Okay, it really isn’t that fancy. But I DO feel like it has really solved the above problems with amazing aplomb! The best part? All it really is is a regular old 3-ring binder with some smart storage. While cleaning out the office I found several 3-ring binder-sized organizers that I wasn’t using and collected them all in one spot. I also then purchased some great plastic multi-pocket 3-ring binder organizers at a office store. So, now, I have ONE thing that corrals all the above “problem children” in a very efficient manner. And efficient is all I have room for now that we are desk sharing.
Here’s the front section, which holds current receipts (of major purchases or things we haven’t yet decided if we’re keeping or not) on the left inner pocket and on the top right; on the bottom right are gift cards:
The second “page” is really more of a plastic pocket, and it holds our current wall paint colors (you can see the nursery colors on top!)
And the address label/stamps are easy to see and use from here as well (these are the plastic multi-pocket numbers I bought at an office-supply store):
And here are the coupon sections (also in the plastic multi-pocket thing-ys):
Finally, extra business envelopes hang out in the back:
All that in a single 1-inch binder! I’ve been using this system for about 6 weeks and I already love it. I can access it easily to file away new coupons, and easily see if there is one for the same store that has expired, and recycle the expired one right then and there. Or, if I’m paying bills, I just get this bad boy out and address and stamp all the envelopes before easily putting it back in the drawer. No on-the-desk clutter to get in the way of DH’s need for a clear desk (really, a clear desk is a necessity for desk-sharing anyway!).
So that’s the The New Super Binder 2011. What do you think? Do you have a similar multi-purpose binders or other compact system that you use in a small space? Are there other types of office-y things that you need to find a way to corral?