Fact Friday: Multitasking is Impossible

On February 21, 2014, in Fact Friday, by Deb Lee
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Organizing and productivity facts every Friday at Organize to Revitalize Blog“Multitasking is something we’ve long been encouraged to practice, but it tuns out multitasking is actually impossible.

When we think we’re multitasking, we’re actually context switching. That is, we’re quickly switching back and forth between different tasks rather than doing them at the same time.”

Read More:

10 Surprising Things That Benefit Our Brain That You Can Do Everyday | HuffingtonPost.com | 11.19.2013

 

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*All product or book links on this page are affiliate links.

 

Storage Solutions: Visualize Going Vertical

On February 19, 2014, in Small Spaces, by Naomi Cook
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Stop for a second and look around you. Are all of your nearby surfaces covered with books, magazines, candles or knick-knacks?  Now take a look above those surfaces at the upper parts of the walls. What is the difference? Well, it could just be the solution to stopping clutter in its tracks!

The difference that I am speaking of is clear space. Yes, walls aren’t just meant for artwork and TV. They are valuable real estate in your home because they offer up great storage solutions. Think of how nice it would be to clear your surfaces, but still have your favorite items in the room. So, use your walls to your advantage and liven up those bare walls!

storage solutions

Here are five storage solutions that won’t even touch the ground:

1. Floating Shelves/Cubes. Pop a few cubes on the wall in a staggered position for a nice visual effect in any room. Use them for DVD’s in the living room, perfumes in the bathroom, and fresh herbs in your kitchen.

2. Floating Book Shelves. I have a floating book shelf made by Umbra (affiliate link) and LOVE IT!  It turned my favorite design books into a special wall sculpture in my office.  Do the same with your favorite cookbooks in your kitchen, nighttime reading by your bed, or storybooks in kids’ rooms.

3. Shadow Box. A couple of years ago, I put a shadow box (affiliate link) together for one of my oldest friends, with objects detailing memories of how we had met at day camp. These boxes are deep enough for knick-knacks that have meaning to you, but stay dust free (hooray!), and can and should be treated like art.

4. Hooks. Keep your necklaces and bracelets right in front of you on hooks and you will remember what you have, and you just might be more likely to wear and appreciate them. That’s what you bought them for in the first place, right? With multitudes of decorative hooks out in stores, you are bound to find one that matches the décor in your bedroom.

5. Over-The-Door Organizers.  Perhaps my favorite ways of going vertical is to use over-the-door organizers, especially since they are oh so easy to install – just slip them over your door!

Use shoe organizers with pockets (affiliate link) for belts and (of course) shoes in the bedroom. Or, like I do, to hold extra products in my bathroom. I recently advised a client to use these for extra storage in her pantry and she loved the idea! Think about all the little things that can go missing on your shelves like seasoning packets, spices, and extra chip clips.

So, what do you think? Are you up for seeing what you can eliminate from your surfaces? See if you will appreciate your items more once they are up at eye level, as if they are pieces of art in an art gallery or museum.

You have nothing to lose except those bare walls and clutter free surfaces!

 

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It is time for this month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in 5 minutes to get your life more organized? Did you know that February is National Time Management Month? That means the theme of this month’s challenge is managing your time effectively.

 

Time Management

 

Here are a few tasks that will each take as little as five minutes to complete.

1. Add meetings to your calendar. Check your digital or paper-based calendar system and make sure all the appointments and meetings for the next month have been recorded from e-mails, post-it notes, and voicemails.

2.  Set up alerts. Set reminders on your computer or smartphone for appointments, birthdays, financial deadlines, etc. You can set the reminder for the day before, the beginning of day a task is due, or customize it to your preference.

3. Organize your to do list. Once you have your task lists compiled, separate them thematically and create new ones. Why? If you have just one basic “To Do” or “To Buy” list, things can often get overlooked.

Here are some ways you can “break up” your to do list:

  • Top three things to do today
  • People to contact
  • Groceries to purchase
  • Supplies to purchase
  • Clients to call

4. Focus on important tasks. Make sure you prioritize just two or three of  the most important tasks you need to accomplish each day. Identify them and schedule specific times to work on them. This will help you to avoid getting caught up in low priority tasks all day. Start this process today!

5. Make time for fun. Schedule something each day that you love to do. If you do something you love for just a few minutes, you will boost your energy level. So take a walk around the block, read a chapter of a book, or sing along with your favorite song. What do you have to loose…except built up stress?

These are just a few small challenges you can use to manage your time effectively. What other things do you do that help you manage your time better? Share your tips in the comments below.

 

Check out the January 2014 Organizing Challenge ~ Home Office Edition

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5 Creative Office Organizing Tips and Ideas

On February 13, 2014, in Office Organizing, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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One of my favorite resources for inspiration as well as out of the box ideas for organizing various aspects of my life is Pinterest.

I have found many ingenious organizing ideas on the site and highly recommend spending a little time there if you are having difficulty finding the right solution for your organizing task.

 

creative office organizing tips and ideas

Original Image Credit: Houzz

To help you get started, I’ve pulled together five creative home office organizing tips and ideas that you can easily implement and benefit from immediately.

Five Creative Office Organizing Tips and Ideas

 

1. Control Paper with Desktop File Trays. Are you tired of the same old black, plastic file tray and in-box options? No worries – Pinterest has this covered with fun ideas for aesthetically pleasing file tray options.

… like the DIY idea below. Simply tape empty cereal boxes (tops cut cleanly off) together and wrap with pretty paper. Use horizontally or vertically!

I love this three-tiered design because it allows you keep your desk organized by optimizing your trays with “In,” “Out,” and “To File” sections.

Custom DIY file organization

Original Image Credit: The Organized Wife

2. File Papers More Easily. In addition to showcasing various office organizing ideas that will inspire you to tackle that pile of papers, Pinterest also features checklists that could save you time.

This chart of file categories doesn’t technically fit in the “creative” category, but it’s so colorful that I couldn’t leave it off the list! It can help you make a home for every piece of paper you need to keep. And, you can post it near your file cabinet for easy reference.

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Space for Living Organizing

Click to enlarge

3. Organize Your Cords. Some of the best office organization tips and ideas are so simple, yet so clever, like this cord keeper. Take an empty toilet paper roll, wrap it in that pretty paper (maybe use the same one from the trays above?) and voilà! You now have organized cords!

You could also organize that tangled pile of extension cords you are saving for future use.

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Craft Gawker

4. Corral Your Pens, Pencils, Markers. This solution is just as simple and clever as the one above and will keep all your pens neatly organized on one corner of your desk.

No need to sift through drawers and boxes trying to locate your favorite purple pen. Take an empty box, wrap it in pretty paper, stuff it with toilet paper rolls aligned vertically, and there you go!

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: DIYator

5. Create a Charging Station. This solution takes the prize for creativity.  Repurpose those large binder clips that are taking up valuable space in your desk drawer and attach them to the edge of your desk, bookcase, etc.

Run your charging and sync cords through the eyes of the clips and ready, set, charge!

creative office organizing tips

Original Image Credit: Wired

Identifying the optimal office organizing tips and ideas to implement in your space is an essential component of the organizing process.

Be creative. Repurpose.

Enjoy creating the best solutions that will enable you to keep your home office organized and don’t forget to make a Pinterest board to store and organize all of the solutions that you find!

If you have taken a creative approach to a home office organizing challenge, please share it in the comments.

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Create Easy Infographics With the Pic Collage App

On February 10, 2014, in Apps, by Nealey Stapleton
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Pic Collage AppHave you seen friends post photo collages on their Facebook profiles? Or awesome infographics containing useful information? Or photos of cute animals with funny captions?

If you’re wondering how those things are created, then search no further. It can be very fun, free and simple (even for the technologically-challenged).

I use an app on my phone called Pic Collage. I create personal photo collages, useful infographics for my business (like the one on the right!), and inspirational quote images for my website…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as what you can make!

Here are some of the great features of Pic Collage:

  • Free from the App Store and Google Play
  • Connect to social media
  • Choose from tons of photo templates
  • Add text and stickers to photo collages
  • Explore and discover what others have posted
  • Use predesigned templates

Here are really fun ways to use this cool app:

  • Share collection of personal photos
  • Display photos showing a progression
  • Make a vision board
  • Create inspirational quote graphics
  • Show off your portfolio
  • Document travel or any other memories
  • Make something funny or cute or entertaining
  • Create infographics for your business
  • And so much more!
Pic-Collage-Personal Pic-Collage-Progression Pic-Collage-Portfolio
Pic-Collage-Travel Pic-Collage-Inspiration Pic-Collage-Funny

The process is pretty simple. Choose a photo or photos, pick the layout and background, add text and/or stickers and save it! Once you’ve created your awesome graphic, you have a few options as far as sharing it digitally. You can post it on your social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, save it to your phone’s library, or send it via email.

Give yourself some time to play around with it. There are a lot of options as far as layout templates, background colors, patterns, and so on.  It’s a time suck for sure, so have a plan before you get started!

Pic Collage App

Have you used the Pic Collage app before? What was your experience with it? Or, do you utilize another graphic-creation app? I’d love to hear from you. Share your opinions below!

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Remember the Brady Bunch? … man and 3 boys, mom and 3 girls, and their gal Alice who helped keep their lives running smoothly? Well, now there’s Modern Family with the Pritchett-Dunphy-Tucker clan working and playing together.  

Blended family” is the current term that refers to a family composed of a couple and their children from previous marriages. Blended families are part of almost every family now, whether they include grandma and her new spouse, your sibling and partner, or your children from prior marriages.

When family members come together under one roof, organization is an important part of a smooth running family life.

Blended Family

Being organized promotes a sense of calm

Clutter can bring on chaos, fuel strong emotions (which can run high), and can increase stress for each family member. So, bringing a sense of calm to an environment is important.

Setting up a home with a place for each family member, a spot for their belongings, and inviting family spaces can build community in a blended family. Doing this will help everyone feel like they belong and are respected in a home where everyone has a place to sleep and a place for their clothes, toys, and gadgets.

More family members means more stuff, so be on guard about keeping clutter away from family areas. Consider setting up a night time ritual to redistribute stuff to appropriate spots before everyone goes off to bed.

Being organized includes good time management

blended family calendarHaving a good handle on time management will help family members know who is coming and going, what activities are coming up, and when everyone will be home for dinner. This type of organization can bring another level of cohesiveness to a family.

When everyone feels informed and connected with a family calendar (affiliate link), family members will be encouraged to work together as a team. Sharing family responsibilities, like dinner preparation and laundry duties, furthers the blending process. When families eat and talk together, they keep the lines of communication open, and a nice side effect is that this helps to build lasting connections and strong family bonds.

Being organized adds consistency and promotes flexibility

Research has shown how important consistency is for all children. Consistency comes with the solid routines of family life. These regular habits can include doing laundry or grocery shopping on certain days and regular bedtime routines. Kids thrive when they know they can rely on specific activities each day.

And, when life is organized and things don’t go as planned, as we well know can happen often, being organized gives you the opportunity to make changes as needed. Having a balance of consistency and flexibility can also build resiliency, a key life skill.

Being organized can have a positive impact on you as a parent, on your kids, on your stepchildren — all your family members.  How will you organize your blended family?

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Get Organized and Be Lazy

On January 27, 2014, in Home Organizing, by Janice Simon
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As a professional organizer, one of the questions I’m asked on a regular basis is if I’m organized because I like it or have OCD.

Well, I have a dash of OCD, and I do like being organized. More importantly,  I am organized because I am lazy.

I am not fond of looking for stuff when I need it especially when getting ready for work in the morning. When I get ready, I need my clothes, shoes, socks, make-up, brush, and everything else at my fingertips and ready to use. If I’m looking for a document or photo, I want to find it quickly.

Get Organized and Be Lazy

Never fear, dear readers. You, too, can get organized and be lazy!

Here’s how:

  • Everything in your closet should fit you and be ready to wear. If it’s not your size or needs to be repaired or ironed, it should come out or be stored in another part of the closet or home. The same goes for shoes, underwear, pajamas, and other clothing items. This helps me get ready much quicker in the mornings since I know everything is ready to go.
  • Have a landing strip. Drop your keys, purse, and wallet in the same spot each time you come home. This eliminates the need to find your keys and such when you’re leaving the house.
  • Have assigned homes for your stuff. When you return your things to assigned homes, you can find your stuff easier and faster. Since I am super duper nearsighted, I can grab my lip balm in the dark of night without my glasses because I know where everything is located.
  • Know what you need. When mail comes into my home, most of it goes into the recycling can or the shredder (affiliate link). I know I don’t need new furniture, credit cards, phone service, real estate agent, or a dentist, and I also like to shop at particular stores. When I get mail for anything I don’t need or not interested in, I trash it immediately. No fuss, no muss.
  • Know what you have. Because I can easily see items that I do have, I’m not buying duplicates of things I already have. I know what I have, and when it gets low, I capture that on my shopping list.
  • Know what you use. On Evernote, I have a list of the beauty products that I currently use. The list includes the hair color I use to cover my special blondes, cosmetic brands and names, moisturizers, etc. When I’m out shopping, I can easily look up what I use if I can’t remember the specific color or number on a product.
  • Make paper digital. Paper leads to clutter. To cut down on paper, I pay my bills online and signed up for paperless statements with the companies who offer them. When I receive special bills, such as annual vehicle registration, I pay them online when possible.

With these tips, you too can be organized. Then, take a nap.

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3 Simple Reasons Why You Should Maintain Your To Do List

On January 24, 2014, in Productivity, by Stephanie Shalofsky
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As 2014 has just started, this is the perfect time to re-think the process that is being used for managing your to do list as there are probably an ever increasing number of tasks that need to be addressed in both your professional and personal lives.

There may be a new project to be started at work, plans to be made for the upcoming family trip to visit your parents, and re-storing and restocking your home now that the holidays are officially over.  Everywhere we turn there will probably be another item to add to the growing task list which will make organizing your to do list potentially a project all by itself!

The real challenge is capturing all these tasks in one place and then managing  your list.  You may believe that you can easily remember what needs to be done and might not see the need to start making lists.  But, I am a firm believer in organizing your to do list and then maintaining the list.

Maintain Your To Do List

Here are three reasons why your should maintain your to do list:

1. Have Less Stress. We all lead extremely busy lives and likely don’t want to add to our stress levels. By relying on your memory to address all that needs to be done is tempting fate. There is always that one really important, time sensitive task that needs to be done that will keep popping in/out of your mind…most likely at 3 AM when there is nothing that you can do about it!

By noting what needs to be done — either on paper or by using an app — you will be able to clear your mind so that you can focus on the actual mechanics of getting the tasks done.

2. No More Scraps of Paper. Keeping an organized to do list of all those tasks you need to complete, whether they be mundane like stopping at the dry cleaner or more significant like setting your first quarter goals, will put you on the path to getting the essential tasks addressed.

The key to success is actually creating a list so it doesn’t really matter whether you use a paper pad or an app.  Jotting down what needs to be done on old receipts, takeout menus, or today’s newspaper may provide a temporary feeling of relief. However, when there is another scrap of paper containing a notation of something that you should be doing every place you look , it will soon become abundantly clear that this approach for maintaining your to do list is not effective.

3. Have More Control.  If you collect all of your to do’s in one place, you will be able to see the big picture and, after a very quick review of the list, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about each day’s priorities. By doing this, you can ensure that all of the key deadlines will be met. Reviewing the list provides an opportunity to include additional tasks that may have been overlooked so that your task list is as complete as possible.

Keeping a master to do list to track your current and future tasks will prove to be great tool in improving productivity in 2014 There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing a completed task off the list!

 

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Many thanks to Marilyn Rogers for today’s post on productivity.

Take a minute to close your eyes and visualize the places and spaces that boost your productivity.

Are you most productive when in a tidy corner at your favorite bookstore or library? Are you productive at your favorite coffee shop – even when conversations and customers surround you? Perhaps you enjoy working by the warmth of a cozy fire at your favorite beachside restaurant.

Wherever your “happy productive place” might be, there’s something that these spaces have in common. They’re well organized, functional, and comfortable. Imagine making your home office into a special “happy productive place.”

Keep reading for tips to transform your home office into a space for extreme productivity.

extreme productivity

Original Image Credit: New Workspace by nkeppol 

 

1. Clutter is Kryptonite to Productivity – Eliminate it!

Do you remember Superman’s reaction to Kryptonite? Superman becomes paralyzed with the inability to do even the simplest things, his strength and motivation diminishes, and he falls to the ground –- powerless. Clutter destroys your motivation just like Kryptonite zaps Superman’s energy. Clutter can inhibit your creativity, problem solving skills, and negatively impact your efficiency.

Picture a group of people poking you on the arm and saying, “Hey, can I get a minute?” This is clutter.

Clutter is the insidious attention grabber that’s always demanding your focus. There’s an easy fix — clear your space to clear your mind.

There are several organizing products and solutions designed to help you tackle clutter. Most of these products and solutions have one thing in common – they’re designed to hold related items in groups. Clustering your things into groups helps you find items when you need them simply because it’s easier to remember where they’re located.

Clearing your workspace by stowing items away that you don’t need to use every day will help you get productive in no time. Tools for grouping and organizing these items include:

  • Filing cabinets and filing systems for paper items
  • Holders and organizers for pens, pencils, paper clips, and other office supplies
  • Bookshelves where you can divide books by novels, DIY, writing, business, etc.
  • Baskets (affiliate link) and bins for larger items and keepsakes

Once your office is clutter-free, don’t forget to maintain it by taking 5-10 minutes each day to file or digitize new paper items, and by putting away items that you’ve used during the day.

2. Work in Happy Spaces Defined by YOU

According to a study by the University of Exeter, participants who have control over design and layout decisions in their workspace enjoyed increased productivity of 32%. Consequently, decorating a space to your own liking might greatly increase your productivity, as well.

Everybody has his or her own unique style. What motivates me may or may not motivate you to be productive. Take note of the colors and designs that inspire you. Think about your “happy productive place.” What do you like about it — the color, the natural elements, the layout?

The next time you’re making amazing progress on your daily tasks and feeling focused when away from home, take photos of and notes about the inspiring space where you’re working. This way, you can later apply the design concepts to your home office.

3. Choose the Right Colors – They Make a World of Difference

color wheel

Image Credit: Colour Lovers

Feng shui is a practice that applies spatial arrangement and energy balance for optimum design and layout. Color has special meaning according to Feng shui principles, and it can have a profound effect on your feelings and actions. Use concepts from Feng shui when picking color schemes for your office.

Consider the type of work that you perform in your office and your personal energy level before choosing your wall and accent colors.

For example, if you’re a high-energy person, limit the color red, which is a strong color that represents fire. It’s associated with power, luck, happiness, and romance. Red can make you feel more anxious.

According to Feng shui, white combined with metal helps you focus and also motivates you. Gray can be considered a metallic, which boosts your concentration. Gray walls with white accents are an excellent combination for attentiveness.

Yellow and gold are associated with cheerfulness, creativity, money, and wealth. To enhance these elements, yellow is a great addition to your home office as an accent wall or through interesting artwork.

Green is linked to growth and decisiveness. If you’re a leader who makes day-to-day decisions, green might be the color for you. Green brings forth feelings of calm. Plants are an outstanding method for introducing green into your home office.

Blue can help you concentrate, be creative, and feel confident. However, be careful with blue – a dark shade can have an undesirable effect. Choose shades for your home office that remind you of water elements, such as the sea. Turquoise is a good combination of blue and green that enhances healing and growth.

4. Create a Paperless Office for Increased Productivity

I mentioned how clutter can zap your productivity. Another method for removing clutter from your home is to go paperless (or nearly paperless).

Purchase a reliable scanner (affiliate link) and use cloud services (like Evernote or Box) for documents you want to save for future reference.

If you’re concerned about the privacy of cloud services, use flash drives, CD-RWs, or hard drives. Make sure to create backups in case of hardware failure.

Tablets and smartphones are great replacements for paper calendars and notebooks. Use a personal organization or planner app for note taking, event planning, to-do lists, projects, and calendars (like Trello).

Another significant advantage of digital over paper is the ability to quickly find notes, to dos, and appointments through tagging and searching features. You’ll be much more productive by saving time when searching for the documents and items that you need to reference.

5. Keep Items Within Reach to Lift Efficiency

Remove anything on your desk that you don’t use every day or week – file it, toss it, donate it, or store it. Additionally, eliminate anything in your workspace that annoys you.

What are the things that you use every day? Examples could be your phone, tablet, mouse, mouse pad, notebook, pen, pencil, laptop, or sketchpad. Make sure these items are easily accessible and that everything else is stored away.

6. Add Personal Touches to Heighten Productivity

Keepsakes that remind you of family, friends, pets, and good times make you feel comfortable in your space. Create a family photo wall with decorative wall shelves and interesting picture frames to display keepsakes.

Do you save small souvenirs from events and trips, such as concert tickets or programs? Store these mementos in an attractive keepsake box or display them with your photo display. Digitize, frame, or file away kids’ artwork, homework, and report cards.

When you take breaks during your busy day, sit back and enjoy the memories that you’ve chronicled. These reminders make you feel happy, which fuels productivity and efficiency. I love what Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”

Your Turn

Please share your tips for organizing your home office for extreme productivity. What works for you?

About the Author

Marilyn RogersMarilyn Rogers is the Marketing Director and Blog Editor at LightArrow.com, makers of apps for personal organization and business productivity — including the popular LifeTopix app.

She’s been writing everything from technical manuals to website copy in the tech industry for over 20 years, and considers herself a jack of all trades in Marketing. Her expertise is focused on personal productivity, search engine optimization, marketing operations, and project management.

On the weekend, you’ll find her riding horses, walking dogs, and making lists and checking them twice.

Connect with Marilyn: Web | Marilyn on Twitter | Light Arrow on Twitter | E-mail

 

 

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It is time for this month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge! What can you do in five minutes to get more order in your life? Since January is National GO (Get Organized) Month, let’s focus on getting your home office organized.

5-Minute Organizing Challenge Home Office

Original Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

Here are a few steps that will each take as little as five minutes to complete.

1. Clear your desk. Start out by filing papers on top of your desk (and on other surfaces) into folders. If you need to create new folders, have manila folders, hanging folders, and tabs ready to go.

2. Recycle unwanted papers. Next, bring your recycling container over the desk area and toss all the recyclable paper into it. If this step (or any of the steps) will take longer than 5 minutes, then schedule 5 minutes each day until it is completed.

3. Shred sensitive information. For all your paperwork that has personal information such as your phone number, medical information, social security number, etc., turn on your shredder (affiliate link) and run the pages through it.

4. Discard business cards. Now you’re ready to approach business cards you have collected. Purge any business cards you don’t need, and then categorize the rest according to your preferences. After that, either scan (affiliate link) the business cards or file them into some type of holder, like this one (affiliate link) found on Amazon.com.

5. Cull your e-mails. Finally, go through your business e-mails and delete the ones that are not of interest or outdated. If you want to continue working on your e-mail this week, schedule 5-minute sessions to file all the emails in your inbox into folders.

Congratulations! You now have a more organized home office! What other 5-minute steps can you implement in your home office to get it completely organized?

 

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