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14 Things a Professional Organizer Says You Must Have in Your Home Office

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Whether you work from home full-time or use your home office to catch up on nights and weekends, having a clean, orderly place to get down to business is key to actually getting stuff done. We spoke with Erika Salloux, a professional organizer and the founder of Living Harmony, about the items you need in your home office to maximize your productivity and minimize clutter.

1. DESK

Desk

Stop trying to get work done from the couch: Typing away with your laptop on your lap not only makes it difficult to focus, it puts strain on your back and neck. “A really good desk is really important and it should be the right size for the space that you’re in,” Salloux says. And she recommends skipping the huge desks with tons of built-in drawers, dividers, and file cabinets—all of those can be purchased separately to best suit your needs. “Just a simple, table-top desk, and you can add whatever you want to it,” she says.

Buy It: Amazon

2. DESK CHAIR

Desk chair

When it comes to chairs, go armless, Salloux recommends. “When you have arms on a chair, people don’t sit up straight; they lean on the arm. Then they’re leaning forward and they’re doing their body a major disservice,” she says. Also, for the most ergonomically friendly choice, pick a chair with an adjustable height—not one that belongs at a dining room table.

Buy It: Amazon

3. PAPER TRAYS

Paper tray

In order to keep clutter at bay, Salloux says you need to stay on top of your paper. She recommends using what she calls the FAT system—each time you find yourself holding a piece of paper (a piece of mail, an invoice, a report, etc.) decide whether you should file it, act on it, or toss it. Use desk trays to store papers you need to act on. “I recommend ones that stack on top of each other and that open the longer way, like the landscape way. The way where the paper goes deeper in,” Salloux says.

She recommends four trays: one for business-related papers, one for anything personal (your kid’s permission slip, a wedding invite you need to respond to), one for bills, and one for “pending” items—things you’ve acted on and are awaiting a response.

Buy It: Amazon

4. FILE CABINET

File cabinet

“People think we’ve gone paperless in this society but we really haven’t. That’s just a myth,” Salloux says. So you’re going to need a file cabinet to hold everything. Salloux cautions you to buy a full-extension cabinet. “Just the other day I was working with a client who had a really nice file cabinet. But when I pulled [out the drawer], you couldn’t see all the files in the back,” Salloux says. “Every time we opened it she would forget that she had more files back there.”

Buy It: Amazon

5. HANGING FILE FOLDERS

Files

Salloux swears by Smead FasTab hanging file folders, which have the tab built right in for easy labeling.

Buy It: Amazon

6. PAPER SHREDDER

Shredder

For the T portion of Salloux’s FAT system—toss—you need a quality paper shredder. “Use a cross shredder not a strip shredder,” she says, and “shred right away” so papers don’t pile up.

Buy It: Amazon

7. RECYCLE BIN

Recycle bin

No need to put less sensitive paper trash through the shredder, but you do need a good-size recycle bin. Don’t get a small little trash can, Salloux says, “but a really big, nice basket that you could put the rest of the recycling in that you don’t have to empty out every day.”

Buy It: Amazon

8. SUPPLY ORGANIZER

Supply

“The other thing that I also see that people don’t have in their office that they really need is some sort of supply organizer that’s within arm’s reach,” Salloux says. “Something where they put all their things like their stickies, their tape, their paperclips, stapler, scissors.” You can waste valuable time rooting through your desk for a paperclip or sprinting to the kitchen for a pair of scissors, so keep everything you need close at hand in one neat spot.

Buy It: Amazon

9. COMPUTER

A laptop computer

Having a computer to do your work is a given, but Salloux notes that you should work from one computer. “It sounds like a no-brainer, but I oftentimes am hired by people who have three computers, or they [hold onto] an old computer that has the old data on it that they’re not using,” she says. “I recommend that people get down to one computer where all their documents are backed up and stored. That way, you know where your documents are and you’re not like, “Oh, wait, that old document is on the other computer or on the other backup drive.”

Buy It: Amazon

10. BACKUP HARD DRIVE

Hardrive

Anyone who has ever lost a report the night before a big presentation or their whole album of vacation photos knows how important it is to back up your files. But here’s a friendly reminder that a backup hard drive is a necessity. “In addition to a hard backup drive that lives in your office you should have a cloud backup as well,” Salloux says.

Buy It: Amazon

11. EXTRA SET OF CABLES

Storage case

We’d never heard this piece of organizing advice before and now can’t believe we’ve lived without it: Keep a second power cord and any other cables you need for your computer in a bag or case next to your desk. “You don’t want to have to unplug all your cords, go under your desk and pull them all out, every time you go on a business trip or go somewhere to work,” Salloux says.

If you work primarily in an office but bring a laptop home to work frequently, keep one set of cords at work and one at home.

Buy It: Cords will vary by computer, but we found a cute felt case on Amazon

12. WIRELESS PRINTER

Printer

Salloux tells us printing should be easy—so why add the extra step of having to plug your computer into the printer every time you need to?

Buy It: Amazon

13. NOTEBOOK OR NOTEPAD

Notebook

Salloux is a fan of making lists in order to help stay focused. “I think that it helps people stick to the most important tasks as opposed to the easy stuff,” she says. There’s no one right way to create a to-do list (here are seven ways experts recommend), but Salloux says it’s best to find a system that keeps you accountable for tasks that are important but not particularly urgent. “That quadrant is one that we a lot of times have trouble with,” she says.

Buy It: Amazon

14. SUPPLIES

Supplies

Your home office doesn’t have a supply closet you can raid, so don’t forget to stock up on all the fun little supplies! Salloux says they’re just as important as the others. “It sounds crazy, but it’s really super important to have the right tools at hand,” she says. “Those things like stickies and having tape—those items can be super helpful in an office so you’re not looking for them every time you need them somewhere else. That’s super essential.”

Buy It: Sticky Notes; Tape; Ruler; Stapler; Staple Remover; Pens; Scissors; Memo Pad; Paper Clips

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This AI Tool Will Help You Write a Winning Resume
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For job seekers, crafting that perfect resume can be an exercise in frustration. Should you try to be a little conversational? Is your list of past jobs too long? Are there keywords that employers embrace—or resist? Like most human-based tasks, it could probably benefit from a little AI consultation.

Fast Company reports that a new start-up called Leap is prepared to offer exactly that. The project—started by two former Google engineers—promises to provide both potential minions and their bosses better ways to communicate and match job needs to skills. Upload a resume and Leap will begin to make suggestions (via highlighted boxes) on where to snip text, where to emphasize specific skills, and roughly 100 other ways to create a resume that stands out from the pile.

If Leap stopped there, it would be a valuable addition to a professional's toolbox. But the company is taking it a step further, offering to distribute the resume to employers who are looking for the skills and traits specific to that individual. They'll even elaborate on why that person is a good fit for the position being solicited. If the company hires their endorsee, they'll take a recruiter's cut of their first year's wages. (It's free to job seekers.)

Although the service is new, Leap says it's had a 70 percent success rate landing its users an interview. The rest is up to you.

[h/t Fast Company]

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8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along
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When people aren’t debating whether cats or dogs are more intelligent, they’re equating them as mortal foes. That’s a stereotype that both cat expert Jackson Galaxy, host of the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, and certified dog trainer Zoe Sandor want to break.

Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't share the same space—they're just going to need your help. “If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends,” Galaxy tells Mental Floss. “Or at the very least, they’ll tolerate each other.”

The duo has teamed up to host a new Animal Planet series, Cat vs. Dog, which airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. The show chronicles their efforts to help pet owners establish long-lasting peace—if not perfect harmony—among cats and dogs. (Yes, it’s possible.) Gleaned from both TV and off-camera experiences, here are eight tips Galaxy and Sandor say will help improve household relations between Fido and Fluffy.

1. TAKE PERSONALITY—NOT BREED—INTO ACCOUNT.

Contrary to popular belief, certain breeds of cats and dogs don't typically get along better than others. According to Galaxy and Sandor, it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.

If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them.

2. TRAIN YOUR DOG.

To set your dog up for success with cats, teach it to control its impulses, Sandor says. Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline.

Hold off Fido's face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings.

3. GIVE A CAT ITS OWN TERRITORY BEFORE IT MEETS A DOG.

Cats need a protected space—a “base camp” of sorts—that’s just theirs, Galaxy says. Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling.

Since cats are natural climbers, Galaxy recommends taking advantage of your home’s vertical space. Buy tall cat trees, install shelves, or place a cat bed atop a bookcase. This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor.

And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

Baby gates work in a pinch, but since some dogs are escape artists, prepare for worst-case scenarios by keeping the litter box uncovered and in an open space. That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat.

4. EXERCISE YOUR DOG'S BODY AND MIND.

“People exercise their dogs probably 20 percent of what they should really be doing,” Sandor says. “It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties.”

Dogs also need lots of stimulation. Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. For this, Sandor recommends toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training.

“Instead of just taking a walk, stop and do a sit five times on every block,” she says. “And do direction changes three times on every block, or speed changes two times. It’s about unleashing their herding instincts and prey drive in an appropriate way.”

If you don’t have time for any of these activities, Zoe recommends hiring a dog walker, or enrolling in doggy daycare.

5. LET CATS AND DOGS FOLLOW THEIR NOSES.

In Galaxy's new book, Total Cat Mojo, he says it’s a smart idea to let cats and dogs sniff each other’s bedding and toys before a face-to-face introduction. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles.

6. PLAN THE FIRST CAT/DOG MEETING CAREFULLY.

Just like humans, cats and dogs have just one good chance to make a great first impression. Luckily, they both love food, which might ultimately help them love each other.

Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods. They’ll begin to associate this smell with food, thus “making it a good thing,” Galaxy says.

Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together. By this point, “they’re eating side-by-side, pretty much ignoring each other,” Galaxy says. For safety’s sake, continue keeping the dog on a leash until you’re confident it’s safe to take it off (and even then, exercise caution).

7. KEEP THEIR FOOD AND TOYS SEPARATE.

After you've successfully ingratiated the cat and dog using feeding exercises, keep their food bowls separate. “A cat will walk up to the dog bowl—either while the dog’s eating, or in the vicinity—and try to eat out of it,” Galaxy says. “The dog just goes to town on them. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.”

To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot.

Also, keep a close eye on the cat’s toys—competition over toys can also prompt fighting. “Dogs tend to get really into catnip,” Galaxy says. “My dog loves catnip a whole lot more than my cats do.”

8. CONSIDER RAISING A DOG AND CAT TOGETHER (IF YOU CAN).

Socializing these animals at a young age can be easier than introducing them as adults—pups are easily trainable “sponges” that soak up new information and situations, Sandor says. Plus, dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to “assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy,” she adds.

Remain watchful, though, to ensure everything goes smoothly—especially when the dog hits its rambunctious “teenage” stage before becoming a full-grown dog.

Cat vs. Dog Airs on Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet

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