I’m a product junkie. If there’s a 12-step program to rid me of my interest in home office products, technology and furniture, no thanks. I love discovering the hottest new products to improve home office productivity. Visit Working Naked often as I share some of my favorite office products and others I discover at various design and office shows. Please note that I’m not paid to write about or endorse these products.
I’m more of a football fan than a basketball fan and after spending most Friday nights watching my son play football, I’ve become somewhat of a football expert. And by expert I mean that I don’t turn to the other parents as much as I used to, to ask what just happened. But I’m willing to learn about a new sport and this desktop basketball game is the perfect teacher. It’s also an excuse for me to take a break from working. It comes with 10 mini basketballs, 2 basketball shooters and a multi- hoop stand. Tiny jerseys not included.
Whether you’re literally working naked or working from home on your own, some days you need a little extra motivation to start the day. Who’s going to get mad if you’re wearing socks that express your inner badass? Your boss? Oh, wait…you’re the boss so you can wear whatever you want. And if anyone gets in your productive way, pull up your pant leg and send a not-so-subtle message that everyone needs to back off. Who knew socks could be so empowering?
How much time do you waste looking for a pen and a piece of paper or, if you’re like me, forget what you’re looking for and instead check out what’s in the fridge? Of course during your frantic search you find other things you were looking for during your last frantic search. Never fails. There’s a better way. This perfectly sized cork holder—obnoxiously large organizers do nothing but take up valuable space on a desk—mixes style and function and gives you a better chance of finding paper and a pen when you need it, along with sticky notes and paperclips. Thumbtacks (included) make it easy to keep track of the notes you’ve written by tacking them to the front of the organizer. After all, what’s the use of writing notes if you can’t find them when you need them?
Organizing to the core
Untangling headphone cords or cell phone charger cords is a waste of time as well as incredibly annoying. The Core offers the perfect solution: wrap the cord around the middle, and then tuck the end into the channel on either end. It’s small enough to throw into your purse or laptop case. Maybe the person who designed this product was sewing a button on a shirt and thought, “Spool of thread…tangled headphones…organizing solution!” Maybe that’s not how this product was invented, but you never know.
Not all products are well-designed and functional, but the Cable Turtle is both. This donut-looking cord organizer is easy to use. You simply turn it inside out, wrap the cord around the center, and then snap it closed. It comes in different colors and is even part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Design collection. Impressive.
How many frogs have you seen that are actually helpful? Aside from Kermit who can teach your kids the alphabet, no frog is as helpful as the Cababo Frog. This wide-eyed critter holds your excess cables inside his body. After you wind your cable around the cable winder, tuck the extra cable inside, your frog is ready to go.
Eco-friendly mouse and keyboard set
You’ve exchanged your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, you recycle whenever you can and you even bring your own bags to the grocery. What’s next? Your keyboard and mouse. The Impecca wireless keyboard and mouse is hand-carved from 100% bamboo keyboard. This isn’t your standard, boring keyboard. Not only are the keyboard and mouse eco-friendly, they’re sleek and stylish, too.
Bookends and more
Is this simply a pair of bookends, or a planter, or a pencil holder, or a corkboard? Whichever you decide it is, the bottom line is this Cork Planter Bookend Set is functional. Change it up a bit. One day use it as a planter and the next day use it to hold supplies.
Whenever you find something that serves several purposes, you’re more likely to use it. Simple, yet functional…the perfect combination.
A house divided
You may have the perfect filing system tucked behind drawers, but where do you put bills, random pieces of paper, and business cards until you deal with them? You house them in a house, of course.
This 5″ x 5.75″ wire house, complete with a chimney and a front door, has six slots to keep your home office or the rest of your house a little less cluttered.
Have you experimented with organizing your home office or have you successfully transformed your office from Frankenstein-like to fabulous? Either way, this 3-vial paperclip, pushpin, and clip holder can make a final transformation a success. Each vial is filled with supplies that are stored safely under black rubber plugs and stacked neatly in a powder-coated stand.
Bag in a bag
Contrary to what some people think, bigger isn’t always better. Take your briefcase or purse for example. A bigger bag means you can carry more stuff, which means you’ll spend more time digging around for what you need. Before you dump your big bag for good, try one more option: the Slim Bag-in-Bag. This padded fabric holder with 13 pockets and a zippered top makes it easy to separate your supplies and extra stuff into different compartments. It’s lightweight and hand washable.
Staying warm while working naked
Working Naked Day is over and a few people questioned why I picked February 1st to celebrate this holiday. Most entrepreneurs are up for a challenge, so working naked in the dead of winter seems to be a good challenge. But this year I realized there was one thing missing…USB heated gloves. You can keep them closed while you’re on the phone or doing anything non-typing related, and then flip back the top for typing. Not only are they cute, they’re simple to use. Just plug the glove cord into the USB cord and let the warming pad inside keep your fingers nice and toasty.
Get a grip
My exterminator would cringe if he knew I was promoting spiders, but he’ll have to get a grip…actually a grip similar to the one the SpiderpodiumTablet® has on iPads and other Tablet PC’s. Sure, it’s creepy with its 8 legs that bend at all angles, but I always say that function (it can hold your tablet in place or let you view it at any angle) trumps beauty. The Spiderpodium Tablet, made from Advanced Tech “SoftTouch Rubber,” is available in black and graphite.
Put on the hog
Working from home can be lonely. Take a break from the silence with the iHog. This hog-shaped iPod/iPhone docking station has 4 speakers that deliver 360 degrees of sound…they’re loud!
Whether you choose the iHog in pink, white or black, consider sharing the iHog with your family. You don’t want them to think you’re a pig.
If walls could talk
I’m a huge fan of chalkboard paint and how it can transform a simple home office wall into a ready-to-use chalkboard. IdeaPaint™ does the same thing, but instead of converting a wall into a chalkboard, it turns it into a multi-purpose dry-erase board.
The best part of this product is that instead of hanging a heavy or even ugly dry-erase board on the wall, you can transform any wall in your home office into a functional message center, idea catcher or project organizer. The IdeaPaint™HOME kit covers up to 20 sq. ft. If you want to cover more space and choose from colors other than white, there’s the CRE-8 kit (get it…create?). This kit covers up to 50 sq. ft. and comes in 9 colors.
A room divided
That’s where Loft Wall comes in. These decorative, freestanding room dividers let you physically separate your home office from the rest of your home. One of the best features of the Loft Wall is that aside from adding a bit of color and design to your home office, you can design your own wall.
Fixing the filing blues
There’s nothing exciting about filing, but that doesn’t mean that your file cabinet has to be blah. This powder coated cabinet in a beautiful blue and cool green can brighten any home office. It has one letter-legal file drawer and two storage drawers (dog not included).
Finding a bag that can double as a home office isn’t easy. Believe me, I’ve been looking for that type of bag for over a year. The allrounder does the job perfectly. It’s large enough to hold a desktop file holder inside, along with supplies and a laptop. It will even fit under the seat in front of you when you fly. The best part is that this bag comes in different, stylish designs that have anything but a stuffy, corporate look.
Your cell phone case may protect your phone but can it open a bottle or can? The “Be A HeadCase™“ case has a built-in, stainless steel bottle/can-tab opener on the back of a hard-shell plastic case. This “why didn’t I think of that” case for your iPhone 4/Verizon iPhone 4 or iPhone 3G/3Gs includes a bottom cover slot that makes it easy to charge your phone without taking it out of the case. It also comes with a free app that plays your favorite song or sound and displays a photo when you open a bottle or can.
I don’t know what it is, but there’s something irresistible about oversized replicas of small things or miniature versions of large things. This giant pencil sharpener made from rubber wood, has plenty of room for pens and pencils and will look much better on your desk than a boring, regular size coffee cup.
Last year I bought a red shoe tape dispenser — it works better when you add weights to the inside — so when I saw this black stiletto one, I had to upgrade. Those of you who are shoe lovers can appreciate the style and function of this not-so-ordinary dispenser. The purse Post-it note holder is optional.
Taking a stand
An iPad is handy when you travel and you don’t want to take a bulky laptop. But trying to watch a movie, read an e-book or even type on an iPad isn’t as easy as on a laptop. The A-Fold iPad® Stand holds your iPad either vertically or horizontally and stores flat. You’ll see your iPad at a whole new angle.
The writing is on the wall
Why use a boring white board for notes and reminders when you can use a peel and stick chalkboard? Each pack comes with four vinyl (9” x 12”) sheets that are removable (they won’t harm most surfaces) and you can reposition them if you need to. Another option is to buy chalkboard paint and paint it directly on your wall, but chalkboard sheets are easier and less messy to install.
Fish you could have this?
I like products that are functional and stylish, but now I’m into fun and functional products. This fully functional fish tank will add a little life and interest to your home office. Plus there’s a place to hold supplies, you’ll always know what time it is and you’ll have extra light in your home office. The low voltage pump and filtration system runs off of USB power. The fish run off of fish food.
The key to backing up
Flash drives are small and easy to lose. Keys are easy to lose too, but you know that eventually they’ll turn up. The LaCie iamaKey is a USB flash drive in disguise. It fits on your keyring, has 4GB of online storage and is water and scratch resistant.
Sit and store
Finding extra storage in a home office can be challenging. That’s why making one product do double-duty is so important. The Stowe smoke leather storage ottoman can hold magazines, extra supplies, reams of paper and anything else you need to store in your home office. It also serves as extra seating and you can use the underside of the lid as a tray. This ottoman is also good for storing blankets and if you’re truly working naked, it’s always good to have a blanket within reach.
OK, I’m not going for function here, but there’s nothing wrong with making your home office a bit more interesting. This glass zipper bag will make your boring stapler and tape dispenser jealous. After all, they may be functional but can they hold M&M’s, Reece’s Pieces, gumballs or any other yummy candy?
Remember when you wove mats out of newspaper in school or Scouts? The GRID-IT! Organizer is a cooler, more useful version of that with rubberized elastic bands woven throughout the front. This thin, sleek organizer holds office supplies, headphones, your cell phone and anything else you want to tuck away in your briefcase, laptop bag or travel case. There’s even a zippered compartment on the back to hold more supplies. Sometimes the simplest product can be the most functional.
Messy cords? Box them up
I love technology but could do without the cords…unfortunately for now, not literally.
The surge protector under my desk that I used to kick out of the way whenever I moved my chair, has a new home: the CableBox. This simple plastic box holds my power strip (you have to provide your own) and has room inside for a block charger or power adapter.
Always use protection
It takes only one power surge, power failure and fried computer to figure out that you need a good battery backup.
Enter the Tripp•Lite to the rescue. This UPS (uninterruptible power supply) system has six outlets that provide battery backup when you need it most. It also has an energy saving feature for peripherals you don’t use all the time (scanner, speakers and external drives). All you have to do is plug those devices into one of the 4 ECO outlets and the system will save energy by automatically turning off the ECO outlets when your computer is off or in standby mode.
Something that’s green and powerful. Maybe they should rename it the Hulk.
Forget simple storage cabinets. There’s another option that’s loaded with storage space.
This 10-drawer tower has locking swivel casters, removable drawers, a chrome-finish frame and a top shelf. Multiple drawers can make it easier to store and organize supplies.
This 13″W x 15-1/2″D x 38-1/2″H cabinet is ideal for a home office closet or near a desk.
It’s time to dump that crappy plastic file holder and give your office a little class with this Brocade Desktop File. It’s made of stamped steel with a glossy white epoxy finish. I know, you’re probably wondering why this would make a hot list but if you look at what’s out there, you’ll find boring, plastic and mesh file holders. (Hello, my old, corporate office.) This holder can add some design interest and function to your home office. You can buy other accessories to match this file, but too much of a good thing is tacky and expected. Buy sparingly.
A good case for space
I love using any product with pockets, compartments, and anything else that makes it easy to organize my stuff. It’s not hard to find backpacks with different compartments but finding a functional laptop case that doesn’t resemble a diaper bag is a bit challenging.
The Cocoon bag is the exception. Each bag features a (patent pending) “GRID-IT!” elastic organization system that uses rubberized elastic bands to keep everything organized. In other words, it’s cool and functional. Best of all, these bags are TSA approved to be travel friendly as well. Maybe if my bag is friendly, the airport security crew will be too.
Supplies that speak
Yesterday I was checking out Z Gallerie, my new haunt for everything loft-related, and found file folders from Knock Knock. I’d file these under smart-ass and sassy. One set read, “More Crap, Other Crap and Total Crap.” Really? After seeing these, how could you ever go back to boring, manila file folders again?
The folders in another set, “To Do, To File and To Ponder,” list when you should do those three tasks. Guess what’s on my holiday gift list this year.
Knock Knock’s file folders aren’t the only products with attitude. Their sticky notes that read, “When pigs fly,” “Note to self,” and “Please: like me, finish, shut up or go away” are sure to get attention or at least a laugh.
Their sticky cubes are almost art. One is called “take a pill” and the other looks like a brick of cheese. No more excuses for having a boring office.
On a roll
A few days ago I flew to LA to speak at the Power of Pink conference (an incredible event). Before I left, I had to figure out an easy way to pack my clothes, laptop and some hot new products to show during my sessions, into two bags.
The Rolling Case File, part of the Peter Walsh [In] Place System, saved my back. It’s compact but has more storage space than you’d think. One of the outside pockets held my laptop—the case comes with foam pads—and the other pocket held my supplies. Inside is a built-in, letter-size file frame where I stored all my files and products with room to spare.
Preparing for fall(s)
Imagine you’re making the 10-second commute to your home office holding your laptop, then suddenly you trip, fall, and land on your laptop. I don’t have to imagine it because I lived it.
Last week I figured out that a MacBook can break your fall, but you’ll crack your LCD screen as you land. The good news is that I had two backups of my data—one on a flash drive and the other on an external hard drive. The bad news is that until my laptop is fixed, I have to use the family PC and work in our family room. It’s not my favorite place to work.
Knowing that my data was backed up made me feel at bit better. A few of the features of the ioSafe Solo 1/5 TB are:
*Fire and extreme heat protection includes being subject to 1,550° for up to 30 minutes
*Underwater submersion up to 10 feet for 3 days
*Holds up to water, humidity and fire.
*It’s under $400
The ioSafe won’t make you less clumsy—I’m open to anything that will—but it will make a damaged computer easier to handle while it’s being fixed.
Being an office supply aficionado—it sounds better than office supply addict—I’m rarely impressed by what I see in stores, catalogs and online. What’s been most disappointing is when a celebrity creates an office product or furniture line that’s no different from anything else out there. The new [In Place] System product line by best-selling author and organizational expert, Peter Walsh (he’s a regular on TLC’s Clean Sweep), is the exception. He’s created a practical and useful line of products and his Web site demonstrates how the products work.(It’s cool and worth checking out.)
I like several things about his new line. First are the design and function elements. Secondly, everything in Peter’s line of filing products (except for the Rolling File) is made of clear plastic…I mean sturdy plastic. The third thing I like is that his products are practical and useful. They do more than just sit there looking pretty.
Filing just became a bit more interesting.
Up against the wall
I’ve had my eye on the Madison Corkboard by Ballard Designs for a while. The distressed acanthus and scallop frame is hand carved from walnut. Sizes start at 28” x 24”. A friend of mine has one in her home office. Maybe I can talk her out of it.
There’s hardly anything The Container Store doesn’t carry when it comes to home offices. Their 15” x 15” linen bulletin boards are beautiful which means no more boring boards! Linen wouldn’t have been my first choice to cover a bulletin board—I’m thinking function not design—but after seeing the self-healing feature, I’ve changed my mind.
A few years ago, one of my neighbors used to work by his pool but one of his complaints was that his laptop was hard to balance and it was too hot to keep in his lap. His solution was to place a book under his laptop while he worked. When I started using my laptop away from my office, I knew the book option wouldn’t work (mostly because it didn’t sound appealing or comfortable). I was checking out Brookstone and saw the ePad travel laptop desk. Of the other laptop desks I had seen, this one was the least bookish. The ePad is compact and easy to pack when I travel. It comes in red and blue (I have the blue one) and when my sons aren’t borrowing it so they can write when they’re in the car, it gets plenty of use.