Holiday Junk Mail, Goodbye!

Yes, the holiday season is here, and with this wonderful time of year comes mailboxes filled with junk catalogues and mailers – almost every day until January.  At first, it’s kind of thrilling to see your mailbox overflowing with shiny catalogs from every shop you ever ducked into to make an impulse buy. However, that feeling quickly diminishes when your pile of present pushers starts to take over your home. It’s almost impossible to stay on top of all these mailers—even for an organizational fanatic. And even worse, including all the horrible things it means for the environment, it inevitably leads to loads of CLUTTER.  Mail is one of the major clutter culprits for many people, and having loads of catalogs and other unwanted junk mail come into your home so relentlessly only creates more anxiety. It becomes another chore to deal with.  Here’s how I’ve been able to manage the holiday onslaught from the USPS: CatalogChoice.org. It’s an easy to use website that allows you to unsubscribe yourself from a company’s mailings.  They take care of all the dirty work.  All you need to do is type in the company name and the information they request.  CatalogChoice will take care of the rest and even confirm once the request is complete!

Below you can see the stats of how CatalogChoice has been helping the environment.  It even shows what my contribution is – so far I’ve saved 2 trees and 228 pounds of solid waste! As a bonus benefit, I love that my info isn’t floating around on nearly so many pieces of mail, creating an opportunity for identity theft.

 Jeffrey Phillip - CatalogChoice StatsCatalogChoiceLogow

As If From Nowhere

Orla Reynolds, a recent graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology, has designed this invaluable solution for those of us who live in small spaces.  The ‘As if from nowhere’ bookcase functions as any typical bookcase, but it also ingeniously stores four chairs and a table allowing you to easily transform your space to host a small dinner party, or create a functional work area.  I personally love the pop of color that this original design has.

 

Desk Clutter, Controlled

It’s one of those days where my desk is overwhelmed by papers, tools and electronics, so I thought it would be the perfect time to share a great solution that I recently discovered (and am considering purchasing for myself – after all, no one loves a tidy desk as much as I do).

Like all great inventions, the Desk Rail was designed out of a need that many of us encounter almost every day – a desk covered with items ranging from eyeglasses to notebooks, and the constant desire and need to wrangle that cluttery chaos in order to stay focused.  Whether you work as a design professional (as the creators of the Desk Rail do at the firm Push Start Creative) or an accountant, the Desk Rail can help tidy-up your desk and lend a helping hand by holding important items (e.g. flash drives, keys, access cards, etc), acting as a charging station for your many electronic devices and gadgets, being a secretary (e.g. holding up documents, notebooks and tablets)… the list goes on and on for the various ways you can use this amazing and simple solution at work, or even at home.  Check out this little video to the Desk Rail in action.

Desk Clutter Solved   Desk Clutter Solved

Desk Clutter Solved

Katie Couric Comes Clean: A Declutter Makeover!

Photo courtesy of Disney-ABC

Several weeks ago I received a call that actually made me jump out of my seat – an opportunity to be a part of Katie Couric’s daytime talk show!  When the discussions began, I had no idea that I was going to have the honor to work with Katie herself and makeover her very own home office.  Needless to say, as more details came in about the project I got more and more excited.  The planning for the project was fast and the turnaround time for the installation and the shoot were even faster yet.  Six hours to do a total declutter makeover?!  That’s unheard of!  However, by combining my team with hers it was a task we were all ready to roll up our sleeves and take on.

The entire project was an incredible experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.  Katie’s team truly helped to make  the experience a memorable one.  I am not only grateful for having had this opportunity, but I am deeply indebted to Katie and everyone who was involved.

It has been 20 days since we began this journey and today I am super excited for America to finally see the product of many hours of hard work.  I hope that everyone finds our tips to be easy and helpful.  Since not everything could make it into the show, below are some additional thoughts and tips that I thought I’d share from the transformation.  Enjoy!

  • Wires – Messy cords are probably the number one kind of visual clutter that stirs up my anxiety like none other.  I see it and feel almost instantly compelled to unplug everything and start fresh with wrapping and bundling.  Cords and wires are a notorious culprit of visual clutter for many people and are actually a very easy thing to neaten up.  With Katie’s cords, all it took were some zip ties (also known as cable ties), a couple 3M Command Cord Clips, a BlueLounge Cable Box (one of my favorite items, which I wrote about back in 2010) and a little patience.  In about 20 minutes we had all the wires rerouted, wrapped up and looking neat.
                                                 
  • Multi-functional furniture – As I mentioned during the makeover segment, multi-functional furniture should almost always be considered for a room.  Finding the right 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 piece of furniture that matches your taste in design can feel like you’ve struck gold.  Pieces like the Safavieh ottomans we found on Overstock.com are great for adding additional storage, an extra seat or a place to put your feet up.  Using two smaller ottomans like we did also allows for more flexibility within the room.  If you have children and want to open up the floor for play time or are entertaining a lot of mingling guests, these are easy to move out of the way to create a bit more space.
                                                                                            
  • Mailboxes – If you are like most of us in America, then you will agree that mail is a huge source of clutter in our homes and offices.  Personally, I have made it my mission to remove myself from as many mailing lists as I can by making phone calls to the various credit card and catalog companies and using services like catalogchoice.org.  While that process does take time, there are more immediate methods to help manage mail such as the sorting system we created for Katie using the Kvarnvik linen boxes from Ikea to help her separate her personal mail from her work mail.  This quick, macro-level sorting allows her to manage her mail more efficiently and avoid feeling too overwhelmed by having it as one large bundle.  

                                             

  • Frames – A large part of Katie’s home office makeover was her photo collection.  There were framed photos on the wall and on the shelves, as well as several unframed photos in various drawers and piles around the room.  Katie was definitely on the right path with her photo gallery wall by using uniform frames to create a visual story; however, it was upstaged by too many differently framed photos on the dresser in front of it and the two large lamps.   Photo gallery walls are tricky because too many frames on a wall and in one place will start feeling cluttered and can make it harder to enjoy the special memories each picture holds.  In Katie’s case, our solution was to simply move the photo gallery wall from the space above the dresser where it was harder to see to a space above the sofa where it became more of a focal point in the room.  The wall above the sofa provides more breathing room for the photos and are now the first thing her eyes see as she walks in.  We kept continuity throughout the visual story by using frames that had a similar color tone, like she had initially done, however we used frames with a darker wood to create a softer contrast with the red wall.  By mixing the espresso multi-mat frames from Pottery Barn with some non-matted espresso toned frames from Hobby Lobby we were able to add some variation while maintaining a unified look.
                                                       
  • Desktop – One of the initial things I noticed when walking into Katie’s office was the size of her desk.  The antique desk is beautiful, but it is very small and had a limited amount of work-space due to the papers, notes, random items and more photos that were covering the surface.  Since we didn’t want to replace the desk, I wanted to open up the surface space and allow her to view her photos and other special items at the same time.  To do this, we had a piece of quarter inch glass cut to fit the top of her desk exactly.  Then, since I also wanted to lighten up the space and bring some texture and dimension to the desktop, we cut a piece of linen to place between the desk and the glass.  We cleared off the top of the desk, laid the down the linen, neatly placed our special photos and notes on top of the linen and gently set the glass on top.  This simple update opened up the desk’s work surface, updated the look of the desk, lightened up the area, and was completed for less than $150.  Katie loved it!
                                                                                  
  • A Little Pop – There is something about a little pop of color or special design detail that can sometimes bring a smile to a person’s face.  It’s a treat that brightens the day and in some cases, even helps to incentivize organization.  If fighting clutter is not something that comes naturally for you, try adding some flair and style to the area to keep it neat and tidy.  You’ll visually appreciate the styled space more and have more of that incentive to keep it put together.  We used this technique in Katie’s desk drawers by lining them with a fun, bold-printed wrapping paper which we found at Paper Source.  Once we cut and laid the paper in the drawer, we then outfitted them with clear drawer dividers that we found at the Container Store.  We chose clear dividers so that the bold colors from the paper could shine through.  Now, not only are Katie’s supplies organized, the extra pop of color helps to make it worthwhile to stay organized.

                                               

Work Happy – Poppin $25 Gift Card Giveaway

Poppin is one of my favorite companies at the moment.  I’ve been watching them grow over the past year as they transitioned from their beta phase to their full scale launch, which took place several weeks ago.  So, you can imagine my excitement when they sent me several items to test out and offered 2 – $25 gift cards for me to give away to my readers!

From the moment I opened the Poppin box there was an infectious smile that spread across my face.  I could immediately tell that there has been an incredible amount of detail put into making sure that the Poppin customer is happy – from the shipping package all the way down to their request for feedback listed on their cute product packaging, every detail has been thought out to make these basic office products the most fun and productive options on the market (not to mention cost effective).

After sorting through my new Poppin items, I quickly gave my desk an organizational makeover that left me with an even bigger smile and a more stylish desk.  The Pen Cup with built-in divider keeps my pens and pencils separated and organized so I don’t have to always fight to find what I want and the Bits + Bobs Tray, which can stack with the Pen Cup if you are short on space, gives me a place to neatly store my paperclips, thumbtacks and Post-Its so that they are easily accessible.  In addition, Poppin’s Gel Ink Pens provides a smooth and consistent stream of ink that didn’t leave any of my documents with smudges, and the sturdy Folio has been keeping my documents safe and presentable for transport to client meetings.

Available in almost every color of the rainbow, Poppin’s office products and desktop organizing solutions help bring a bit of joy to your desk so you can, as they say at Poppin, “work happy.” 🙂

HOW DO I ENTER THE GIVEAWAY?
To enter the giveaway, all you need to do to is…

1) Like Poppin + Jeffrey Phillip on Facebook

If you already “like” us, then show us some love on our walls.  The entrance period will end on Saturday, September 22 and I’ll be announcing the winner via Facebook on Monday, September 24 so be sure to tune in then!  In the meantime, as you are waiting on pins and needles, be sure to check out Poppin.com to explore the entire product line from desks to paperclips.

A Flexible Organizing Solution: SHUFFLE Tidy

When it comes to organizing, I like flexibility, which is one of the reasons I’m in love with SHUFFLE Tidy from the London based company RALLI Design.

This stacking cylinder system (made-up of six ceramic cylinders, six wooden bases and a wooden plinth) allows you to customize your very own configurations by removing a cylinder’s wood base and stacking the cylinders to create your perfect tabletop organizing solution.  The configurations seem endless as you can use each cylinder individually to store and stack small items like pushpins, paperclips, jewelry and hair ties, or you can remove the wood bottoms and combine several cylinders to hold larger items like pencils and pens, nail files and hair brushes.

Unfortunately, this good looking organizing solution is not yet available in the US, but fingers crossed it will be here soon to help us neatly contain all our tabletop thingamabobs and doodads.

Hug-A-Plug: The Right-Angle Outlet Extension

When living in a small space, it is important to make every inch count; even those couple inches behind the sofa, bed or media console that are often taken up by cords sticking out of the electrical outlets in the wall.  While many of us still try to make use of this space by shoving the furniture as close as possible and bending the power cords, there is a safer and more practical way to get your furniture closer to the wall.

Hug-A-Plug, the 90-degree angle outlet extension, allows you to plug your cords in parallel to the wall so you can safely place your furniture or appliances a couple inches closer.  You can even create more connections in each outlet due to Hug-A-Plug’s stackable design.

This tiny, made in the USA problem solver is guaranteed to answer years of frustration for all!

Paper Meets Paperless

Here’s a handy little item for the office – a USB flash drive that doubles as a paperclip!   Conceived by Japanese design firm Nendo for the electronics brand Elecom, the Data Clip merges the world of paper and paperless so that digital documents and presentations can easily travel with their hardcopy constituents.  Available in 5 fun colors, the Data Clip is unfortunately only sold overseas at this time.  However, you can bet I’m awaiting its arrival here in the US.

 

Headphones Untangled

Whether you are on your way to work, or hitting the gym, it is without a doubt that you will grab your headphones and shake them out in hopes that they are not tangled.  Even if you are an organized and careful person like myself ;-), chances are you will ultimately still have to deal with the issue of entanglement.

The solution: Zipbuds, the tangle resistant headphones.  These light and flexible headphones will save you time and a lot of frustration by staying neatly zipped up to prevent tangling when not in use.  Designed to fit snuggly in your ears, Zipbuds provide great sound while making sure you continue look good as you strut (or, maybe dance) around listening to Brit’s latest track.

DrinKlip: Helping Prevent Spills

After a near paralyzing experience last week when my coffee spilled onto my laptop, I couldn’t be happier to discover the DrinKlip.  Designed by Kim Hyun-been, a designer at LG Electronics, this amazing little invention not only gives you a place to set your beverage on a cramped work surface, but it also serves as a safety precaution by preventing beverages from toppling over and creating messy spills (which could damage your computer or at the very least ruin some important papers).

While the DrinKlip is not yet widely available, you can order it in the United States through some online retailers that can be located through a simple Google Shopping search.

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