Balance, Design, Products, Technology
February 7, 2012
One strategy for preventing the loss of portable devices like the iPad or smartphones around the house is designating a “landing station“. Most people just drop their phones and tablets on their desk or kitchen counter, but setting up a specific spot with a holder is a better idea if you’ve got a habit of always misplacing your device even though you swear, “I put it right here”…
Constructed of oiled oak harvested from German forests, both the Objekten DOCK Box and Dock Tray are available in light and dark oak versions, and each providing a handsome way to not only display/view your favorite screened device, but also offering the “landing station” to keep clutter at bay and decrease the chances of “now where did I put that _____?!”
By Gregory Han
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
January 26, 2012
Last year we checked in with professional organizer Angela Kantarellis about getting ready for tax season and this year we look at the sorts of organizing mistakes you can easily avoid in your home office.
Angela: “It’s 2012, a brand-new year wide open with promise and possibilities. If ‘get organized’ is one of your resolutions again this year, let’s look at what might have gotten in the way in the past and work to change it in the future. I’ve compiled a list 7 Organizing Mistakes to Avoid in 2012 to help you sidestep the most common roadblocks to a well-organized workspace.”
Balance, Products, Technology
January 24, 2012
New year, new you. If you’re still hoping to clean up your act in the new year, maybe some cheap/free apps will help you along your way. Theres nothing better than finding a well designed piece of software that can greatly improve your daily life on the computer by helping you organize information or achieve tasks easier than before. We’ve collected some of the most popular productivity apps that will hopefully do just that for you.
What better time to start a journal than a turn of the new year? Dayone is a deceivingly sophisticated journal app for your computer and mobile applications. One of the biggest issues with keeping journals is making it easy enough to write in. Dayone has covered all the bases by integrating smart features like menu bar quick entry, reminder systems, calendar view, and more. It also has Dropbox integration for syncing.
Forget iPhoto. Sparkbox proves to be the next best thing in image management. Some of the handy features includes the Safari Websnap extension integration. If there is a blog page full of images you want to save for later, in a single click you can have them all downloaded and ready to categorize in Sparkbox. There are also color-coded image searches, and a brilliant tagging/highlighting feature which allows you to annotate images with your thoughts. All of this comes packed in clean UI which will fit right in with other Mac software.
November 17, 2011
These aren’t the virtual kind of desktop accessories we often write about. Here are three ways to organize your real desktop.
Desk Accessories in Ash by Farrah Sit. “Own less and own well,” writes Sit on the Etsy site she shares with Dana D’Amico. She and D’Amico met in 2005 when they both designed for Calvin Klein Home. We couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.
Pratt Wall Accessories Set is a collaboration between students at Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design and retailer West Elm. It’s a nice clean simple design that’s also hard-working.
Zen Garden desk organizer by Dublin-based Karolin Felix. An elegant little garden on your desktop that also keeps your pens organized.
November 15, 2011
Depending on what kind of a user you are, you might use or ignore the widgets on your Dashboard. Lion has made them easier to access, thanks to a swipe gesture, but what widgets will serve you best? Anyone working from home will appreciate this round up.
1. PEMDAS Scientific Calculator: This calculator widget has won an Apple Design award, and it’s quite easy to use. There’s an equation history view, and you can switch between degrees and radians. It’s a step up from the calculator included with OS X and will serve when you need to crunch numbers.
2. iStat Nano: This little widget (above) allows you to check up the stats of your Mac, including CPU and memory usage, hard drive space, bandwith usage, fan speeds and temperatures, thanks to animated menus and transitions. If it’s not enough, you can upgrade for free to the iStat Pro.
June 7, 2011
Dropbox has quickly proven itself to be one of those “must have” applications. Its seamless interface make syncing files between your multiple computers are breeze. While your primary reasons for using Dropbox may be the ones advertised on the site, with some third party hacks and settings tweaks there are some truly awesome uses for your Dropbox account.
DropTunes: Playing audio files from your Dropbox account is already something that can be done. However, DropTunes takes the pain out of clicking each individual file and creates playlists from the music folders that you store in your Dropbox. Additionally, DropTunes give you a nice user interface to adjust volume, pause, and even click forward and back tracks.
Balance, Design, Products
March 7, 2011
It’s always good to hear from Lifework readers. You are definitely a smart, opinionated and design savvy group that continue to keep me on my toes. I got an email last week from Martin Reid, a creative director from Scotland. Martin thought I might be interested in his office. And, boy was he right. Take a look at what you can do in a 100-year-old granite tenement with a couple of Mirra chairs and a lot of design nous.
Tell us about the kind of work you do. How long have you worked from home? And where is home? I’ve been working as a graphic designer for over ten years and have recently just set-up my own business. I run my own advertising and design agency working across a variety of disciplines including branding, advertising, graphic design and web. I work with a variety of clients covering a wide range of businesses including technology, retail, fashion, oil and gas. I like to work with different clients as each project can offer new creative opportunities to try something which exceeds what my clients maybe expect or what is seen as the norm for their business. I’ve been working from my home studio part-time for about 5 years. At the start of this year I decided the time was right to quit my full-time work for a leading design agency and concentrate on my own business full-time after being presented with the opportunity to work with some new clients.
Home is in Aberdeen, Scotland, the ‘Granite City’ as its better know. My home studio on the second floor of an old victorian granite tenement. The building itself is over 110 years old and still has many of its original features and is situated in the west-end of Aberdeen. With great views over the city every time I look out the window there is always something new to look at which can bring a welcome distraction from looking at a screen all day.
Aberdeen is starting to get a creative buzz again with new art exhibitions, galleries, boutique shops and other creative ventures popping up all the time and its nice to think that people appreciate good art, design, architecture, everyone seems to be a lot more switched on to the creative scene.
Describe your style and how it relates to the space you work in and also the work you produce. I wouldn’t really say I have a specific style when it comes to what I do. I would say that my way of thinking is to produce creative, intelligent and effective designs that fulfill and sometimes exceed the original brief. Ideally I produce design work that I am proud of, that makes my clients happy and maybe educates clients about the benefits of good design.
More from Martin after the jump…
February 22, 2011
Part 2 – Decluttering the Surface
The background: My desk has historically been an impending avalanche. The problem is not only that there is stuff piled on stuff, but I don’t know what to do with the stuff once I want to put it away. Here’s last week’s post.
Since I embarked on Project: Desk a week ago I started noticing some things about myself. Which are not all that attractive. One thing is that I don’t have good follow-through on tasks. Or maybe more accurately, I follow-through, but not in chronological – or even logical — order. So I’ll start an email, then go make a cup of chai, then pick up the living room, and then go back to the email. My desk is in between the living room and the kitchen, so all kinds of things end up on it while I’m distracted by the next item on the to-do list.
This happens in the kitchen too. The other night, surrounded by salad greens on the floor and all over the counter, I pointed out my realization to my husband, Steve. “Why do you think I call you Edward Scissorhands?”
A change in my behavior that will lead to my redemption. The union of thought and action will help me overcome this chronic disorganization, which puts me in a bad mood and makes me too stressed out to go to yoga.
I learned two major things this week. The first – great advice came in from comments on the first blog entry — is about shredding and tossing things you don’t need. I had dinner with my friend Joanna, who is basically perfect. She’s a brown-eyed blonde beauty, a supersmart former corporate VP-turned-shrink. She has a rich spiritual life and laughs at my jokes and is probably one of the best advice-givers I know. But the annoying thing is that she is also very well organized. She told me, as she gripped a cilantro-ginger shrimp with her chopsticks, that she normally just puts each thing in its place when it comes through. She doesn’t even think about it. When she’s too busy, she has everything in a grocery bag that she can stash and then tackles it on Sunday.
The other thing I learned is that I don’t mind cleaning up as long as I have a little reward for myself. I only watch two TV shows, 30 Rock and The Office, which happily, are available online. So I’ve made a new rule: While I’m cleaning my desk off, I absolutely must also be watching something I enjoy. Or the other way around.
So today I’m sitting at my newly clean desk, with some tulips and a Valentine’s Day card in the feng shui relationship area. I have a lot more to do. Empty out drawers. Get rid of adaptors for long-gone electronics. Sort through a giant redwood tree’s worth of clean paper and envelopes. Figure out where to store the books I need to read and review for 40licious so they don’t get all mixed in with my Latin primer from college. Why am I keeping a Latin primer from college anyway? That is another story that involves books as a cultural shorthand to a person.
What I’m realizing is that I don’t have to do it all in one day. If I break Project: Desk up into phases and really think about what’s next and why, chances are I’ll make some changes that really work.
PS – In case you were wondering, frēti fidē tuā nōn timēbimus means “Relying on your trustworthiness, we shall not fear.”
January 13, 2011
Sure, you’ve got the motivation to finally tackle that mess of cords behind your TV or under your desk. But when you head to the checkout with all of those amazing (read: expensive) uni-tasking cord control solutions, you might not have the cash. Instead, look around your pantry, laundry room,’ toy bin and—yep—even the trash can to find ways to wrangle and label that mess of wires.
So you want to control your cords, but you don’t have a ton of cash? No problem.
First, check out our list of 10 Cord Control Solutions for Under $10. Then, if you can’t find anything, grab around for one of the following 10 household cord wrappers:
Toilet Paper or Paper Towel Tubes
Twist Ties or Garbage Ties
Chip Clips or Hair Clips
File Folder Labels
Spare Phone Cords
Tube Socks or Trouser Socks
String (With a Cable Lacing Technique)
Wolverine (Yes, an X-men Toy)
Photograph for Real Simple by James Wojick for Real Simple.
By Taryn Fiol.
This story appears in partnership with Unplggd, a site for people who embrace technology and design in their home.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 4, 2010
After careful deliberation, my girlfriend recently decided to say farewell to hour long bus commutes to pursue some promising freelance opportunities and work from home. The bad news? We only have one home office space between us in our modest sized one bedroom apartment (and in reality it’s only the smallest of converted closet spaces).
When space is at a premium, dining tables can easily become serviceable desks. The challenge is keeping it organized for dual duty.
Like a vagabond, she’s been wandering between the living room, working from bed, and now increasingly camping out at the dining table…my very own cute laptop carrying hobo. But after testing working from nearly every corner of our apartment, she’s realized the dining table offers the best bet as a transitional work area until we find a long term solution.
Small space dwellers often maximize utility by squeezing dual duty from dining tables because they offer the most convenient option to transform from a place to eat to a place to tweet. In fact, some of the best desks are dining tables.
With this new change in mind, I’ve been considering how to balance Emily’s work flow while also trying to make sure the dining room doesn’t devolve into an amorphous area where neither work nor dinner is enjoyed due to mounting clutter (“Honey, pass the salt…and please move your mouse”). There are certain strategies to prevent work from overtaking the dining room and create a “now you see it, now you don’t” hideaway home office. Here’s what we’re going to do:
Hire an electrician to install an easily accessible electrical outlet. The closest outlet in the dining room is awkwardly positioned at shoulder height near a door. Snaking an extension cord from high up across to the dining table for the laptop isn’t safe. Installing an outlet nearby or positioning your dining table accordingly will ease access and reduce cable clutter.
Add Wi-Fi printing capabilities. The Apple Airport Express is a dandy little device that allows any USB printer to become a wireless-accessible printer. Sharing a printer wirelessly means I can keep the printer hidden away in the closet, but accessible to both of us throughout the day.
Find a good looking caddy for storage. Working from a dining table means living without the drawers and shelves usually accessible from a desk. A cart or caddy on wheels can be a handy way to keep supplies, accessories and peripherals in arms reach. And at the end of the day, the caddy can be placed in a corner, hidden under the table or put away in a closet. The Componibili from Kartell or the Boby by Joe Colombo are our top two choices, since they both look great out in the open. Add some caster wheels, even better.
Cable organizers for USB cables. A few of these keep the clutter at bay and extend the life of your USB cables and other peripheral cords. We especially love the Bluelounge Cable Clips, since they’re available in a variety of colors and sizes.
Adding a tech gear tray. It’s much easier to carry and hide away the laptop, cables, digital cameras and office supplies from one room to another using a tray. There are even options for wireless keyboards, but a regular carrying tray does wonders at organizing. Our favourites are these clear lucite trays (above).
Consider adding a runner or tablecloth. Working from your desk means more surface wear and tear. Adding a table cloth or runner will help reduce scratches. It can also hide any peripherals or tech accessories installed on the underside of the table (see below).
Now for more serious permanent solutions when your dining table has to be your desk, day in and day out.
Go down under. Mounting cables, cords, power strips, and even a small sized PC on the underside of a table is the most serious solution for hiding clutter, but the results are quite impressive when done right.
Install a desk grommet in the middle of the dining table. This is a much more committed installation, requiring drilling a hole into your table, but these type of desk grommets are fairly easy to install, offer a variety of useful connections, and could easily be hidden by placing some sort of centerpiece ontop when your desk has to transform into a dining table for entertaining.
For now the greatest challenge is to find additional storage for office supplies and maintain the apartment as clutter-free as possible with both of us working from home. Especially important since both of us require areas to photograph; her for recipe/food photos and I with the myriad of tech and design products I snap throughout the week. And of course, the dining table is often our “photo studio,” making it even more important to keep things in neat order. The other issue is finding a comfortable seating solution that works both as task chair and dining chair (the classic Eames executive chair tops our list). All this organizing and planning is like a second job. Sigh…perhaps we do need that second bedroom now!