I am a self-diagnosed neat freak. I love to clean and I love to organize. (If I could have a container, holder and/or label for EVERYTHING, my life would be complete!) And this is my brand new blog for everything NEAT!
I have a toddler in perpetual motion, a packrat daughter, a dog and a disorganized husband... and I hope to share the challenges, trials, errors, rewards and insights of being a bit "too clean obsessive" in a family that's not so in love with neatness. And I am making a promise to clean, rearrange, organize and simplify my life... and help you along the way! SO stay tuned for my journey toward everything orderly and efficient!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 81: Real Simple Desk Drawer

"The Neat Get Neater" blog is HONORED to be included in the February 2011 issue of Real Simple magazine! Did you see the cover story about expert advice for pairing down?!?! Well, "Get Neater" had the opportunity to contribute to the section about office desk drawers!

To expand on that information, following is the Q&A, in its entirety! Hopefully this provides some useful tips for tackling YOUR desk drawers!

  1. WHAT ARE THE OFFICE RELATED BASICS THAT YOU THINK EVERY PERSON SHOULD KEEP IN THEIR DESK DRAWER? Ultimately, what you keep in your desk drawer depends on the size of the drawer in question. If possible, I like to keep stamps, envelopes and note cards handy. But, if I’m a bit limited on space, I think an office desk drawer should include the things that I might need on a daily basis, like: paperclips, post-it notes, correction tape, scotch tape, scissors, pens, highlighters and a black Sharpie pen. (You can store your stapler, staples, CDs, hole punch, writing pads, labels and other handy things that you don’t use everyday, elsewhere!
  2. WHAT PERSONAL ITEMS SHOULD BE ON-HAND IN THE DRAWER? I like to keep an all-in-one make-up kit (I have Clinique’s all-in-one eye shadow, blush and lipstick – with mirror!), a hairbrush or comb and some gum. I never know when I’ll have an unplanned meeting or a surprise visitor. And when work drags on to the wee hours, it’s nice to be able to freshen up my look… and my breath!
  3. IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO KEEP A SPARE SNACK IN THE DRAWER? IF SO, ANY EXAMPLES? Snacks can quickly take up much-needed space in a drawer, so go light. Besides gum, I have a pack of peanut butter crackers (for a quick pick-me-up) and Godiva’s chocolate pearls (for stimulation… and for inspiration!).
  4. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO KEEP A DESK DRAWER NEAT? With any drawer, I start with a non-slip liner or a drawer organizing tray… or both! The liner helps keep things from sliding all over the place. (That’s the easiest way to get a messy drawer, even if you take the time to arrange everything!) And I love compartmentalized trays since they are made with plenty of different-sized “pockets” to hold all your desk necessities. Of course, you have to keep in mind that pens can be a bit unpredictable. They either walk out of the room… or they multiply in dark office drawers. So, I keep a small zippered pouch in there, just for writing utensils.
  5. HOW MANY SPARE POST-IT PADS DOES ONE DRAWER REALLY NEED? I say stack ‘em up as high as they will go… as long as they don’t get in the way! You can never have too many post-it notes!
  6. HOW CAN SOMEONE TELL WHEN THEY HAVE TOO MUCH OF SOMETHING IN THEIR DRAWER? If things get crumpled, stick out or get stuck so you can’t open the drawer without a major struggle, that’s usually a good sign that there’s too much in there!
  7. ANYTHING SURPRISING THAT EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE IN THEIR DRAWER? Floss. It doesn’t take up much room. And since I may not have time to brush my teeth while working, floss is a must to remove that stray bit of romaine lettuce from that business lunch!
  8. ANYTHING THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE IN THEIR DRAWER BUT SHOULDN’T? MEANING, IT’S NOT NECESSARY? I’ve witnessed many people with notes, checks, receipts and other paper items crammed in their desk drawers. This is not just an unnecessary thing, it’s a “no-no.” Loose papers in a drawer can easily get stuck, rip or disappear altogether as the drawer moves in and out and shoves the papers out over the back edge. (My husband “lost” a $500 check this way!) So, store your paper items in a safe place… like a file, envelope or folder.
  9. ANYTHING THAT A HOME-OFFICE DRAWER SHOULD HAVE (OR NOT HAVE) AS OPPOSED TO AN OUT-OF-THE-HOUSE OFFICE DRAWER? I don’t keep things to freshen up with or to snack on in my home-office drawers. In my home, there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place…. and to have food or makeup spread around the drawers in my home might make me a bit neurotic!
  10. DO YOU SUGGEST POST-IT NOTES IN A VARIETY OF SIZES? IF SO, WHY? I love Post-in notes of all sizes, including the wall pads and easel pads, but I usually keep only the traditional size and the post-it flags in my desk drawer. Both of these sizes are very useful for making notes and for marking pages, which I do just about every day!
  11. ARE THERE ANY PENCILS YOU LIKE? I’ve never much liked pencils because I have to sharpen them every five seconds or so. And I tend to write way too hard for the mechanical pencils (that thin, lead bit breaks off every other letter!). However, I do have that dreaded, exam-taking no. 2 pencil, just in case!
  12. DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A COOL/ATTRACTIVE TAPE DISPENSER? Funny thing is, I picked up a little, round, purple tape dispenser (think purple donut) as a “distraction” for my baby boy while I was shopping, and it turned out to be one of my favorite tape dispensers. It’s small, and it does not take up much room, so it’s a perfect desk drawer mate. Then again, I think pop-up tape dispensers are probably one of the most clever office inventions to come around in a while! And the Scotch Pop-Up Tape Deskgrip Dispenser is pretty spiffy. It ‘s small. It suctions to your desk. It dispenses pre-cut pieces of tape. And it’s refillable. So it’s about as good as it gets, in my book!
  13. AS FOR SCISSORS, ANY TIPS FOR WHAT TO LOOK FOR? I am no scissors snob, but I think that Stampin’Up’s craft and paper scissors are pretty sharp! (Pun intended!) These ergonomically designed, heavy-duty scissors (with a stainless steel blade) are very comfortable, and they cut easily and beautifully. You’ll get a smooth, clean cut every time. And isn’t that what you want scissors to do?
  14. AS FOR HIGHLIGHTERS. DO YOU THINK IT"S GOOD TO HAVE A FEW DIFFERENT COLORS? Highlighters are useful for many reasons. Not only can you draw attention – literally – to things by simply making a little line or a scribble, you can utilize the different colors to create your own color-code system! I use color coding whenever possible, and I currently use my highlighters to make figuring out what’s happening on my event-full desk calendar a bit easier. For example, the orange highlighter alerts me to approaching deadlines and due dates; blue signifies any upcoming meetings; green highlights work-related events; pink shows all my family and personal events; and yellow…. Well, the yellow highlighter is my go-to highlighter for just about everything else!
  15. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PENS? I love gel pens – lovely, liquidy gel pens! They write so neatly, and you don’t have to press down too hard. (You can just let your wrist go with the flow!) But if you want specifics, I really, really love the “Frixion” pen by Pilot. It's an ERASABLE gel pen, which, in my book, is absolutely superb! :) It writes well... AND it erases well. So I am very pleased that I can write neatly and cater to my perfectionist tendencies…without crumpling up so much paper (or Post-it notes)!
Now, THAT's neat!


  1. Thanks! :) Wishing much neatness your way!

  2. AWESOME contribution Beth!!!! I'm going to have to run out and get that issue!!!

  3. Real Simple is how I found your blog. I have read the whole thing and have been inspired. :)

  4. That looks an awesome place. I'm gonna try to visit it. I'm pretty sure me and my friends are going to love it. Check out the Mactan Island Hotels, you'll love it too. Anyway, Thanks for sharing!


Thanks for your neat comment!