Workspace of the Week: An organized cubicle

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Jay’s cubicle:

I decided to write about Jay’s cubicle because it is the first cubicle entry we’ve had in the Unclutterer flickr pool. It is an organized cubicle, too! The dry erase board on the right wall looks to be functional, the trash can is in an easily accessible location, and nothing appears to be unnecessarily cluttering up the work surface. I also like the creative use of what looks to be a popcorn tin being used as a laptop stand. Thank you, Jay, for your photo submission!

I worked for many years in cubicles and routinely fought with their poor layouts and cramped quarters. If you are in a cubicle and have found organized solutions for your space, I know that our readership would love to see what you’ve done. Let’s get more organized cubicle pictures in the flickr pool!

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

Reader question: Help curb my cable clutter!

Reader Sara contacted us with an office organization dilemma:

I need some ideas for organizing my “office.” My office is built into my kitchen, a counter top matching the rest of my counters was dropped lower, with a open place for a chair to be rolled under etc. Initially the idea felt awesome because that’s where all the trafic is and I can be available to the kids. There is no other place to move my computer that would be convienant in my house, so it needs to stay here. The biggest problem is all the wires. My internet connection is ontop of the desk as the people who installed it drilled a whole threw the wall, because otherwise it would have required running wires over the end of the counter, or drilling a hole threw the counter. The plug in is also on top of the desk. Which means, everything all the wires have ended up tangling on top of the desk. No matter what I do, I’ve taped them up, I’ve used ties on them, it still looks disorganized and messy. I’ve thought seriously about drilling a hole in the counter top, but it still doesn’t correct the issue with the plug in being on top of the counter.

I thought that since she included pictures, I might put her question out to all of you to see what creative suggestions you can devise for her:

What would you do to curb the cable clutter? Let’s help Sara solve her office organization problem!

G&S Design Compactables

Collapsible, or in this case “compactable,” is always a nice feature to have when looking for kitchen tools. G&S Design has a nice selection of common kitchen tools that compact down into a more convenient size that makes storing them a little easier.

First up, are the Compactable Steel Tongs (pictured). Traditional tongs want to spread their arms in an attempt to keep drawers open and be as cumbersome as possible. These tongs, however, collapse neatly into a compact position and don’t make things messy.

The Compactable Pizza Cutter is a smaller alternative to the usual ridiculously large restaurant-style pizza cutter.

The Compactable Can Opener collapses down to a very small 5″ x 2.75″. Other devices in the G&S Compactable line include:

I hope you like blue, because that’s the only color offered right now.

Unitasker Wednesday: The Krups BeerTender

Williams-Sonoma has a nice little contraption for you beer lovers out there. More specifically, you Heineken drinkers out there. If you like Heineken and you love their newish five liter draught kegs, then you might want to check out the Krups BeerTender.

If you do invest the $300 for this little kegerator, you better hope Heineken doesn’t abandon the five liter kegs. If they do, you will be left with a useless BeerTender that does nothing more than keep a six pack cold. Or what if your tastebuds change and you start craving Pabst Blue Ribbon? You may be scouring the internet for BeerTender hacks on how to make it serve other similarly sized kegs.

The product development team at Heineken better have the BeerTender owner in mind if they ever consider pulling the plug on those cute and tiny kegs. But then again, isn’t the whole idea behind those Heineken kegs the ease of use and no need for anything other than the keg to pour a beer?

**Each week, the Unitasker Wednesday column humorously pokes fun at the unnecessary, single-use items that manage to find their way into our homes.

Part two of the Unclutterer Precision Change podcasts

Live now is the second half of the interview with Precision Change I recorded titled What is Your Clutter Costing You? You can download the 21 minute podcast or listen to it by clicking on the “Play Now” link at the beginning of the article.

In this episode, I talk about:

  • Which books to definitely get rid of first, and which to hold on to.
  • Two sexy ebook readers worth considering.
  • Why you might find it important to not have a job that makes you want to poke your eye out with a hot metal pipe.
  • How being aware of the cost of clutter and procrastination can help you to live the life you desire.
  • How uncluttering and mindfulness of the Earth’s limited resources are interconnected.
  • What uncluttering is all about—living the life you want, doing more of what is most important to you.

After you listen to it, come back and let us know what you think of it in the comments. I hope that you enjoy the conversation!

If you missed the first installment of the series, you can listen to it here.

Altering advice to find the best solution for you

When I was studying for my master’s degree in education, the buzz phrase was differentiated instruction. I could plop those two words into any paper and a professor would inevitably scribble “great!” next to them in the margin. Professors threw the phrase around in lectures the way that politicians are using the words on the table this election cycle.

Simply stated, differentiated instruction means one size does not fit all. It’s a great concept, even if it was overused. A teaching method that works for one student won’t necessarily work for all students. And, the same idea certainly applies to organizing.

When a teacher uses differentiated instruction in his classroom, he creates lessons that provide options for students on content, process, and/or product. This means that students may have choices in what they learn (content), how they learn (process), or in how they demonstrate they have mastered the information (product).

When looking for organizing advice, you can use the same technique. If you find an article that makes a suggestion that you know won’t work for you, see if you can alter the content, process, or product to make it personally helpful.

For example, each week on Unclutterer we showcase pictures of readers’ organized workspaces. Without fail, someone writes a comment to the post saying that they don’t like the design style of the office. That’s cool — you don’t have to like the look of every office we feature. However, you still can garner organizing ideas from offices you don’t like. How does the person organize computer cables (differentiate process and product)? Where is furniture located in the room and would a similar setup help your productivity (differentiate content and product)? Does something not appear in the photograph that would be beneficial if you also removed that object from your office (differentiate content and process)?

Consider differentiating the content, process, or product when reading advice that doesn’t specifically address your organization needs and maybe you’ll unveil your perfect solution.

Unclutter unwanted content in your RSS reader with Yahoo! Pipes

We understand that not everyone loves our A Year Ago posts, but a good chunk (an 80 percent chunk) click on the links in these posts and explore the older content. Instead of continuing to annoy our readers who dislike the posts, though, I decided to create a custom Unclutterer feed using Yahoo! Pipes that doesn’t include the A Year Ago posts.

So, if you hate the A Year Ago posts in your RSS reader, subscribe to this new feed instead.

Here’s how we did it, and how you can use Yahoo! Pipes to filter unwanted content from other sites:

Start by going to Yahoo! Pipes and click on the “Create a pipe” link at the top of the page.

You’ll be taken to a login page where you can enter your Yahoo! username and password or create an account if you don’t already have one. Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a grid with links on the left side of the screen and a pop-up window that says “Welcome to the pipes editor” in the middle of the page.

At this point, you can either select “Build your first pipe” to watch an instructional video, or select the X in the red box to close the window.

Your next step is to click on the plus sign adjacent to “Fetch Feed” under the Sources headline:

In the pop-up window that appears, type http://feeds.feedburner.com/unclutterer (or whatever RSS feed you wish to filter). Be sure not to hit enter after you type the link:

Return to the left side bar and click the arrow next to the word “Operators” so that a drop down menu appears. Then, click on the plus sign next to the word “Filter”:

In the pop-up box that appears, choose the action that you want to take place. In the case of A Year Ago posts, I selected “Block” “any” “item.category” and “is” and then entered A Year Ago in the content box (or whatever information you wish to sort on for the feed you’re working with):

Next, connect the boxes. To do this, select the bottom dot on the Feed box and link it to the top dot on the Filter box. Then, select the bottom dot on the Filter box and link it to the top dot on the Pipe Output box.

Press “Save” at the top of the screen to see your filtered link.

As a reminder, we already created a feed for you so that you don’t have to go through this process if you want an A Year Ago-free Unclutterer RSS feed. Just subscribe to this.

Controversy over ‘clutter’ in the halls of Congress

According to The Hill, Congressional staffers have been mandated to remove clutter from the hallways outside their offices. Items that are considered “clutter” include signs honoring soldiers who fought overseas. The instruction to remove the objects isn’t going over well with some members of Congress. The new policy was put in place by Cheif Adminstrative Officer (CAO), Dan Beard, who is worried that the displays outside of the offices will impede people’s exit in the event of an emergency evacuation. The policy is also an attempt to bring House members into compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act that was passed in 1990.

The controversial issue is the removal of items that honor fallen soldiers:

[Rep] Pomeroy said the CAO should make an exception for the easels honoring dead military servicemen and women.

“I feel particularly bad for those who have to take down the posters of the guys who lost their lives in Iraq,” Pomeroy said. “In my opinion, we want to honor our fallen heroes in every way. That’s the sort of thing that should continue, so if they were to have one exception, that would be it.”

The CAO so far is not budging. While sympathizing with the desire to honor military men and women, a spokesman for the office said it is still necessary to remove the posters from the hallways.

“While we recognize the meaning and significance of the easels honoring our fallen servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would hope that members also recognize the very real need to keep our hallways safe for disabled persons,” said Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the CAO. He suggested that members move the displays into their offices.

One bag travel

Traveling light is what I prefer. Traveling with one carry-on can make such a difference in your airport experience. The beginning and the end of your trip will be much more relaxed. To help you figure out how to travel lightly take a look at the site One Bag. It is a great resource that simplifies what and how you pack. From the site:

If there is a bottom line, it’s that travelling light is simply a better way to go. You have more time, because packing takes little. You waste less energy hauling stuff. You know what you have, and where everything is (as you pack your bag the same way every time). We’ve all seen those hapless folks at the airport, with too much baggage and panicked expressions, worried that they have lost track of something, or left something behind.

The paragraph above rings true with Unclutterer’s philosophy: living a more simple life without all your stuff getting in the way. This idea definitely applies to travel. One Bag gives you tips on what to pack, how to pack it, and what to pack it in. It is a one-stop shop for all your packing needs.

A year ago on Unclutterer

  • The landing strip
    We come from work exhausted, often carrying our work bags, groceries, and the mail. A landing strip will help you avoid disorganization from the time you get home.
  • Guest room clothing storage
    If anyone has a guest bedroom in which they host friends and family, storage for your guest’s clothing may be an issue if they are staying for an extended period of time.

Price tag fastening gun: Clutter or clutter buster?

Right around this time last year, we ran the post Sock Purge: Getting rid of mismatched socks. In the comments section of this post, reader Winston wrote:

Tried sock sorters but they were unreliable and took too long to thread socks through them, plus they bunched up and sometimes looked weird. Clips and pins took too long.

So, I bought a tagging gun (uses plastic barbs to attach price tags to clothes, etc) off ebay for $7 and I attach my socks together before I throw them in the hamper. Only takes a sec. Saves me hours of matching. Everyone thinks I’m crazy but it was totally worth it.

When I first read this, I must admit that I thought it was crazy. Then, I met someone else who does the same thing, and she also uses hers for matching all paired items. My mind started mulling over the benefits of the price tag fastening gun.

Now I’m obsessed with thinking about all of the benefits of owning one of these bad boys. Do any other readers have and use a price tag fastening gun in your homes? What do you use it for other than matching socks? Could it help me to curb clutter in my home, or would it become clutter? Help me talk through this decision.