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During a Parks and Recreation binge last week, I found myself admiring Ron Swanson's office – to put it simply, it's a shrine to all that is manly. Two footballs, a pair of bronze deer statues, a framed poster of breakfast food, and a desk and two side tables populate the room. An avid woodworker, Ron did not merely purchase the desk from Ikea and assemble it with the help of a flimsy manual. He scouted the appropriate tree, chopped it down, sawed it into pieces, sanded the pieces, and then assembled it with hammers and drills and other tools befitting a competent carpenter.

This got me thinking, and upon further investigation, I became fairly certain that each item in Ron's office had a specific reason for being there, which was more than could be said for my haphazard collection of junk. A renovation was in order, and with Spring just around the corner, I wanted to bring some leafiness to my workspace (luckily, we are not dealing with a whole "office" here. Just a desk).

I began with this:

Before
Workspace: "Before" Photo

And after a bit of rearranging and acquiring and throwing away, I ended up with this (click to expand):

Workspace: "After" Photo
1. Leaf Tie Cable Organizer 2. Kokuyo Tidbit Free Cut Memo Pad 3. Max Vaimo 11 Style Stapler 4. Maruman Mnemosyne Notepad Holder + Notepad 5. Saki P-666 Roll Pen Case 6. Leaf-it Memo Note Set 7. IL Felt Bag-in-Bag 8. Choco Magnet

It was tempting to simply recreate Ron Swanson's office in its entirety, since Ron Swanson is my hero. But in the end, I decided to go with little changes that reflected my personality. If Ron's approach to his office was something like, "let the testosterone flow through you and into the office arrangements," mine can be distilled into the following:

IL Felt Bag-in-Bag - Green
If you don't use it, get rid of it. Desk space is precious, and everything in your vicinity should serve a purpose. For me, the main removal was of the bookshelf -- precarious and half-hidden behind a monitor, I didn't find myself using it or its contents very much. I replaced it with a soft and approachable Bag Organizer, which has plenty of pockets for miscellaneous items, and a blue shoebox.


Leaf Tie Cable Organizer - Emerald Green
Organize your cables in a logical way. Between the chargers, monitors, mouse, keyboard, ethernet, and landline, most people have an impenetrable thatch of cables on, around, and under their desks. I used Leaf Tie Cable Organizers, in keeping with my "Spring" efforts, but masking tape would work as well. Both the leaf ties and the masking tape can be color coded, so you know which bundle of wires is for what. If you want the wires out of the way, you can tape them to trace the sides of the desk.

Painting
Create your own window to the outside world. Because of the layout of most offices, there’s only so much window-accessible real estate. Nothing is quite as depressing as staring at a blank wall. A neat amalgamation of postcards, photos, magazine clippings, and whatever else you enjoy in life can go a long way towards reminding you of why you're working in the first place.


Fliqlo Screensaver
Save your screen! The stylish and free Fliqlo clock screensaver is depicted in the above computer monitors. Not only is it more appealing than a blank screen, it also lets me glance at the time without waking the computer up. It’s also nice to have something diverting attention from the unavoidable dust and smudges on the monitor.




The lesson learned from this project? A little bit of effort can go a long way towards making your environment more livable. Simplify, personalize, and always remember to consult Ron Swanson, for he is an impeccable model on how to live life.
April 25, 2011 - Posted by Elizabeth to Organization and Productivity

Most of us have used the traditional chisel tip, neon highlighters at one point. Nowadays though, there are a lot of different writing tools you can use for highlighting your notes, or just emphasizing things that need to be remembered.

Items used in these examples:
- Uni-ball 207 Retractable Gel Ink Pen - 0.7 mm - Pink
- Zebra Sarasa Study Gel Ink Pen - 0.5 mm - Red
- Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Pencil - 0.7 mm - Blue Body - Blue Lead
- Uni-ball Propus Window Soft Color Highlighter - 4.0 mm / 0.6 mm Twin Tip - Lavender Purple

Other than your traditional neon-colored highlighters, the same tool now comes in softer colors! The Uni-ball Propus Window Soft Color Highlighter in particular has the cool feature of a window inside the felt tip, which allows you to view exactly where your highlighted line is going.

It also has a fine tip on the end, which is great for underlining or even writing some notes.

Another great tool for underlying things that you want to emphasize or stand out, is simply a fine tipped gel pen. Gel pens are nice tools to use for color-coding your notes, and allow you to highlight items without covering them completely in color, and even take side notes in margins if you need to.

Our last tip involves the use of mechanical colored pencils. This has the same use as gel pens, but you can also color in things with pencils easily.

The best thing about this method is that you can erase any marks made if you need to!