If you’re like me, you want the tools you use every day close at hand. If you work in a small home office you know that real estate is at a premium. If you had to choose ten office tools you use the most, what would they be? This is my list:
1. Pens and pencils
Resist the urge to put every writing tool you own on your desktop. You only need one or two working pens and one or two sharpened pencils with erasers. I recommend including an fine point and ultra fine point Sharpie markers. Store extras in your supply closet.
I’m surprised at how often I reach for a highlighter. I highlight important information on paper documents, action items from meeting notes, and items on my to-do list. Choose a color that you can easily read through like yellow or pink. Blue and green are sometimes too dark.
Staple multiple sheets of the same document together before filing. I staple the pages of my phone bill and credit card statements so I can easily flip through them if I need a previous month. Paper clips fall off or grab unrelated pieces of paper beneath them.
4. Letter opener
It is much easier it is to go through mail quickly if you neatly slit the top of the envelope first .
5. Sticky pad
I don’t believe in plastering the edges of your computer monitor with sticky notes. You think you are keeping important information in front of you, but what you create is visual clutter. Sticky notes are good in moderation. Jot down an appointment and slap it in your calendar. Mark a page in a catalog or document. Write the next action on a document in your inbox.
6. Ruler or straight edge
You never know when you need to draw or cut a straight line. If you want to save a design idea from a magazine, use the ruler to guide the cutting tool rather than tearing the page out.
Snip the end of a label, open a package, cut the plastic strap around a case of paper, or cut a piece of duct tape. Scissors are a must.
You will not remember what you put in that box if it’s not labelled. I like to label shelves and drawers in my office. There is something very soothing and comforting about neatly printed labels.
9. Manilla file folders
Vanilla manilla is are all you really need in your filing system. I shy away from color coding files – what happens when you need to file something and you’re out of red folders or the color was discontinued? A color coded system is too easily corrupted. Plain manilla folders will always be around.
10. Six-quart plastic shoebox
This is the go-to size of plastic container. It is ideal for storing small office supplies like extra sticky pads, boxes of staples or paperclips, a box of pens, glue sticks, markers, correction tape, and the rest of those little items that scatter themselves across the supply shelf. Corral them in a box, close the lid and label it.
Not quite ready for prime time:
- Staple remover
- Scratch pad
- Micro binder clips
- Coated paper clips