Folders are a must for keeping your email inbox organized. Gmail uses labels instead of folders, but they’re effectively the same thing. But unlike folders, you can apply more than one label to an email in Gmail.
To use a label as a “folder,” use the “Move to” option to move an email or thread out of your inbox and into a label, which you can access in the left panel of your inbox.
All work-related emails for a specific client, for example, can be put into one folder, and wedding planning related emails can be stored in another. You can even nest labels under other labels, which act like subfolders.
Here’s how to do it all.
How to create a folder in Gmail on desktop
1. Go to the Gmail website. Log in to your account if you aren’t already logged in.
2. Click the gear-shaped Settings icon at the top-right of the screen, then select See all settings.
3. In the Labels tab, scroll down to the Labels section and click Create new label.
4. Enter the name of the label you want, then click Create. If you want the new label to nest under an existing label (like a subfolder), click the box next to Nest label under and select the folder you want the new label to go into.
How to create a folder in Gmail on the mobile app
1. Open the Gmail app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android. Log in to your account if you aren’t already logged in.
2. Tap the three horizontal lines on the top-left of the screen.
3. Scroll down to the Labels section, then tap Create new.
4. In the pop-up menu, enter the name of the label you want (225 characters max), then tap Done.
How to apply labels in Gmail
1. In your Gmail inbox on desktop, click the boxes next to the emails you want to label and click the Label icon on the right side of the top toolbar. In your Gmail inbox on the mobile app, tap the circular profile icon of the sender on each email you want to label, then tap the three dots icon, and select Label in the pop-up.
2. On both desktop and mobile, check the boxes corresponding to the labels you want to apply (you can choose more than one). On desktop, click Apply and on mobile tap the checkmark to apply the labels.
How to automatically apply labels via filtering
1. In your Gmail inbox on desktop, click the Show search optionsicon, which looks like three hatched lines, on the right side of the search bar.
2. Set the parameters for the filter. You can filter by From, To, Subject, Has the words, Doesn’thave, Size, and Date.
3. After setting the criteria, click Create Filter.
4. On the next page, click the box next to Apply the label and choose a label from the drop-down menu.
5. Click Create Filter.
How to edit or delete a label
1. In your Gmail inbox on desktop,click the gear-shaped Settings icon at the top-right of the screen, then select See all settings.
2. In the Labels tab, scroll down to the Labels section.
3. To edit a label, click on the label name, enter in the new name, then hit the Enter or Return key. Alternatively, click the corresponding edit button in the Actions tab. You can also change a label’s nesting properties in this window.
4. To delete a label, click the corresponding remove button in the Actions tab, then click Delete.
On the mobile app:
1. In the Gmail app, tap the icon of three horizontal lines in the top-left corner, next to the search bar.
2. Scroll down and tap Settings.
3. On the next screen, select the email address you want to apply the change to.
4. Scroll down on the next page and select Label settings in the Labels section.
5. On the Label Settings page, tap the label you want to edit or delete.
6. Tap the Name field to enter a new name, or tap the Delete [label name] button at the bottom to delete the label.
The catch-22 of having your office where you live is that you’re surrounded by, well, your home. Instead of the usual work setup with an ergonomic rolling chair, large desk, and organizers of every kind, you might be working with a kitchen table and chair setup that could contribute to a longer and less enjoyable workday.
Related Article Module: 19 simple accessories to help you declutter your workspace – all under $25
These items aren’t going to keep all the distractions at bay, but after working in our new home offices for the past year plus, they’ve definitely kept us more focused, productive, and comfortable – even at our kitchen tables.
I had a makeshift standing desk setup at home, and if you’ve ever had something similar, you know the position can be tiring on your feet. Fluidstance’s balance boards help you stabilize your body and relieve some of the tension of standing, plus they’re just plain fun to use. I found it to be a great way to train my balance and keep my body moving, and I love that the wooden design actually looks attractive, too. — Connie Chen, senior reporter
A keyboard cover to protect against loud typing and messes
This silicone keyboard cover muffles any sounds of clacking keys, which may helps avoid nonsensical arguments with my husband after we’ve both been working at home for more than a year. It also protects against food crumbs and spills. — Jada Wong, senior editor
This little potted succulent is a cute way to add some greenery to your desk without taking up a lot of room. The cardboard “pot” is only a little wider than your average coffee mug but 10 times cuter. — Jada Wong, senior editor
PowerWave 7.5 Fast Wireless Charging Stand (button)
It holds my phone up vertically, so I can see when notifications pop up even when it’s charging. It’s a great, subtle-looking charger and it doesn’t cost much, so it’s a great addition to any desk, provided your phone charges wirelessly (most of the new ones do). — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
This insulated mug keeps my coffee hot for hours, so even if a meeting runs long or I get so focused on something that I forget to drink it. My drink always seems to stay nice and steamy. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor
Courant is a new startup that takes care of your functional needs (like charging your phone) while maintaining style and sophistication. Its sleek, Qi-certified wireless charger is made from high-grade aluminum and features a braided nylon cord and pebble-grain Italian leather top, making it the most luxe charging option your money can get. If you want to make your desk look as stylish as you do, this tech accessory will impress both you and your coworkers. — Connie Chen, senior reporter
I swear by the BetterBack for helping me to maintain good posture at my desk and relieving both upper and lower back pain throughout the day. I have a few slipped discs in my spine, so I deal with pretty chronic discomfort. This is the only tool (not counting stretching and acupuncture) that has ever helped mitigate my pain, which helps me focus on my work instead of on my back. You can read my full review of the BetterBack here, and I’d suggest speaking with your doctor before using this. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor
A heating pad is another excellent way to stay warm in a cold space. This is the one I use; I prop it up so that it’s sandwiched between my lower back and my desk chair. It has six heat settings and automatically turns off after two hours of use. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor
This is a good compromise for me as someone who learns better by writing things down but doesn’t want to waste the paper or give up digitized notes. When you write on the Everlast notebook pages with an accompanying pen, you can later erase your writing with a damp cloth and reuse the same page over and over again. You can also digitize your handwritten notes using an app. I personally love it because it feels just like writing on paper, but reduces waste and the storage of tons of old notebooks. We also included it in our Buying Guide to the best smart notebooks you can buy. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
I asked for a Purple Seat Cushion for Christmas after reading Jessica Klein’s review, and it’s amazing what an instant and marked improvement it’s made. Besides improving my posture while seated, it has made sitting down all day significantly more comfortable. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor
My ideal workspace is neat and clutter-free, so I like to keep the number of things on my desk to a minimum. In doing so, I’ve gotten rid of wires wherever possible. The iOttie iON Wireless Plus is my solution to doing away with my normal iPhone cable. It looks great, doesn’t take up much space, and charges my iPhone a lot faster than the standard power adapter and cable. — Amir Ismael, reporter
I actually use this as a desk pad instead of a mouse pad. It adds style and personality to my desk while also keeping my keyboard and planner from slipping around. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
I love the sleek look of this mouse pad, but more importantly, I love that it’s huge. When I’m trying to screenshot something, drag an image around, or move between my two monitors, it accommodates my sweeping motions. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor
Plant delivery company Leon & George told me this tropical plant is “near-indestructible” and it was completely right. When I had this in the office for a half-year before we went remote, I’ve quite honestly neglected this plant. I water it whenever I feel like it or happen to remember, but it’s still looking great and it brings me a lot of joy. The incorporation of greenery has made my desk set-up feel less sterile, and it couldn’t be easier to take care of. The process of ordering from Leon & George was also painless. You can browse plants by size, benefits, and light needed, and your order arrives at your door fresh and carefully packaged. Read our full review here. — Connie Chen, senior reporter
I don’t need prescription eyeglasses, but I wear a pair of blue light glasses when I work long days and later at night to avoid messing with my circadian rhythm since that’s the kind of thing that can ruin a week (and my energy) by Wednesday morning. They’re also just a welcome break from direct exposure to my devices sometimes. Read our full review here. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
I’m the kind of person who makes tea and forgets about it until it has become iced tea. Having a smart mug that keeps itself warm with a heating pad is life-changing. My Ember mug — which I named “Hot Stuff” as a joke and a reference to an album by The Killers — keeps my tea warm hours after I’ve made it. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
I’m obsessed with Post-It notes and cats, so this cat-shaped Post-It note dispenser is one of my favorite desk decorations. It holds my Post-Its perfectly and it looks cute on my desk. It’s also weighted so it’s hard to knock over, and if a real cat happened to walk on my desk, they’d struggle to knock it off. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor
It’s not just that this mouse is wireless and thus de-clutters my space, it’s also that it’s ergonomic. It’s never glitched out on me and it always does what I need it to do — it’s that simple. — Sally Kaplan, senior editor
Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle (18 ounces) (button)
I use this water bottle everywhere I go. It keeps my tea hot for hours, my cold brew cold for over 24 hours (with ice cubes intact), and has a conveniently durable build and no-drip or drop design for the gym. It’s pretty cheap for a stainless steel water bottle, and the clip at the top means I can attach it to backpacks or duffel bags with clip-on straps for easy carrying. — Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Students need to organize class materials and keep all of their school supplies in one location.
A good three-ring binder is essential, especially one with extras like pockets and a zip closure.
We asked a teacher to round up the best binders for school, from elementary grades through college.
There are a lot of back-to-school necessities to buy, and it can be hard to know which options are best. Selecting a school binder might seem like a simple task, but you need to think through your options instead of buying the first binder you see. As both a student and a teacher, I’ve used a lot of binders over the years, from zipper binders with all the stops to plain white three-ring binders.
While I’ve used my fair share of cheap three-ring binders, I’ve found that they often don’t hold up to the wear and tear that a full school year puts on a binder. As a student myself, I’ve been frustrated by rings that don’t close properly, and as a teacher, I’ve seen plenty of torn covers and ruined binders. If you’re willing to spend a little more than a few dollars, you’ll be happy to find a binder that meets your needs and lasts more than a month into the school year.
To bring you the best picks, I combined over 20 years of experience as a student and teacher with thorough research. These binders are built to last the whole school year, and each pick has features that make it a great fit for the recommended age group.
This binder features 2-inch rings, enough to hold materials for quite a few classes. It’s also designed with an angled zipper that makes it easy to write on paper inside the binder. It can be frustrating to write in binders where the zipper is always getting in the way.
If students don’t carry a laptop or tablet around at school, the laptop-holder sleeve can also hold a book or notebook. In addition to two main pockets, there is also a smaller front pocket that is perfect for pencils, phones, erasers, and other small items.
I love that this binder has a carrying handle and a shoulder strap as well. Many schools don’t allow students to carry backpacks around during the day, so the shoulder strap makes it much easier for students to carry their belongings.
Pros: Lightweight, built-in expanding file, interior and exterior pockets
Cons: May wear with heavy use
Before you buy a binder for elementary school, check with your child’s teacher and/or consult their school supplies list. Some elementary school teachers have a strict list of materials for their students. If you have choice in the binder your child uses, we recommend the Mead Zipper Binder with Expanding File.
First and foremost, this binder comes in different color options, which is pretty important to young kids. It’s also very functional for elementary school with durable fabric, interior pockets, exterior pockets, and an interior expanding file. While there are two pencil/pen pockets on the outside, I recommend purchasing an additional pencil box or pouch. Students in elementary school have a lot of pencils, crayons, markers, and other school supplies that should have their own designated space.
This binder is 1.5 inches thick, which is the perfect size for all of the papers an elementary school student will need to carry. I like zipper binders for elementary school so students don’t lose their assignments — even if they don’t put them all away neatly, they at least won’t fall out as long as the binder is zipped.
It’s a rather lightweight binder, which could translate to quick wear with heavy use. However, the light weight and simplicity of the binder are why it’s our pick for elementary-schoolers. It won’t weigh little backpacks down and doesn’t include unnecessary bells and whistles.
The best binder for middle school
The Five Star Multi-Access Zipper Binderis durable enough to carry a middle-schooler through the entire school year, and it has enough pockets and folders to organize all of their class materials.
Pros: Durable, built-in expanding file, mesh pockets, guaranteed to last all year
Most middle school students still need a lot of help organizing all of their school gear, and a three-ring zipper binder is the perfect school supply to keep them on track. The Five Star Multi-Access Zipper Binder comes in four different colors, and the water-resistant fabric, zipper, and rings are designed to withstand the wear and tear a middle-schooler will place on it during the school year. It also comes with Five Star’s “Lasts All Year” guarantee.
This binder is big enough to organize papers for all of your middle school student’s classes in one place, especially with the included six-pocket expanding file that can be accessed from the inside or outside of the binder. Mesh pockets provide the perfect place to keep track of pens, pencils, erasers, and other small items that often get lost at the bottom of backpacks. It also features a sturdy carrying handle.
The best binder for high school
The Staples Better Binder is small, simple, and comes in 13 different colors so high school students can color-coordinate a binder for each subject.
Pros: Multiple color options, easy to label, extremely durable
Cons: Cost can add up if buying multiple binders
In my experience as a teacher, most high school students don’t use a zipper binder; the majority of my students used a smaller binder for each subject. It’s often easier for students to organize their courses this way, and many high school teachers request that students have a separate binder dedicated to each course. I recommend the Staples Better Binder, which is easy to label on both the spine and front cover.
My favorite thing about the Staples Better Binder is that it has a hard poly cover and a reinforced rubber binding that hold up well to being shoved into and yanked out of lockers and backpacks. Cheaper binders get destroyed in my classroom very quickly, but these can take a beating from a high-schooler and still live to see another day.
It also has a heavy-duty storage pocket in the front, which is perfect for keeping important papers like the course syllabus or current project assignment sheets on hand.
Pros: Plenty of storage pockets, professional look, tablet pocket
Cons: Not suitable for a course with an extensive amount of notes and handouts
Even though most class materials have gone digital, it’s still a good idea to have at least one binder for college. While my professors posted their class presentations online, I liked to print them out so I could write extra notes right on the slide, and a binder is a great way to organize these printouts. It’s also good to have at least one professional-looking binder to take on internship and job interviews.
That’s why the Forevermore Portfolio Padfolio is our top pick for a binder for college. Students can use this faux leather binder to keep their papers organized for class and also have a professional binder ready to go for even the most last-minute interview. Plus, with this binder, it’s easy to remove the three-ring binder portion to create more of a portfolio.
When used for class, it has everything students need. A large front pocket is the perfect place to store a tablet. Inside, there’s a document pocket, zipper pouch, card slots, and an ID pocket.
It has roomy shelves for neatly stacking sweaters or pants and is made of high-quality canvas.
The tiny closet in my bedroom is the bane of my existence. It’s poorly organized, with upper shelves that I can’t easily reach and sliding doors that make getting the clothes at the center of the rack a challenge.
Even if you don’t share my closet woes, you can still benefit from some organization. Hanging shelves are a great way to make use of your closet’s dead space, adding extra storage for anything from sweaters and pants to purses, shoes, and accessories.
They’re also a nice solution for people who can’t fit a dresser in the bedroom, and they help keep the closet floors clear for shoe racks. Hanging shelves come in all different shapes and sizes, so you’re bound to find one that suits your closet and your wardrobe.
Make sure your closet rod can support the weight. Once they are filled, hanging shelves can get very heavy, which can cause the rod to bend. Be sure to avoid overpacking your hanging shelves.
It is also attractive for a clothes organizer, made of thick, natural-colored canvas. The whole thing attaches to the rod with two sturdy metal hooks and has reinforced shelves that retain their shape even when loaded down with garments.
Deep, wide cubbies mean it can also accommodate bulkier items and even shoe boxes. The drawers tend to stick when full, so leave a little space in them for easy use.
Pros: No assembly required, affordable, side pockets
Cons: Shelves sag a bit when very full
Everyone has a few random items that clutter up the closet because they don’t seem to belong anywhere. The Whitmor Hanging Accessory Shelves give you a place to stash those odd belts, scarves, and other doodads so they stop falling to your closet (or bedroom) floor.
This five-shelf unit is under four feet from top to bottom, so there will still be space underneath the unit. It holds plenty of sweaters, tops, pants, shoes, and more. What makes this shelf stand out are the three mesh accessory pockets on the side that can hold jewelry, scarves, stockings, or anything else that needs a home.
This option is a bit saggier and less sturdy than our top pick from The Container Store, but the organizer has a metal frame inside to help hold the shape and hangs from the closet rod by two chrome hooks for easy installation.
Pros: No assembly required, side pockets for accessories
Cons: May not fit shoes sizes 12 and above
Save your closet floor space by storing up to 10 pairs of shoes in the Whitmor Hanging Shoe Organizer. This hanging shelf unit pulls double duty with side mesh pockets for accessories like dress socks, extra shoelaces, or other small items.
The compartments aren’t big enough for boots or chunkier shoes, but you’ll be able to fit sneakers, flats, flip flops, and more. The neutral-toned fabric compartments hang out of a steel frame, so the cubbies will keep their shape. Attach the two wire hooks to the closet rod, and you’ll be good to go.
Pros: Eight roomy compartments for purses, clear on the front, open sides for easy access
Cons: Bulky, not much use beyond purses
Figuring out how to store my excess bags and purses without creasing them or leaving them in a pile is a bit of an issue. Right now, I chuck all my bags onto the top shelf of my closet and hope for the best. But the Zober Hanging Purse Organizer is definitely a better option.
You could store purses in many of the shelves on this list, but if you’d like to keep them organized and relatively dust-free, this is a great pick. It features eight slots that are open on the side for easy in-and-out access. Clear plastic panels in front let you see exactly what’s stored inside. It attaches to the rod using a standard hook.
There’s minor assembly required because the shelf hangs from metal rods that slide through the fabric loops at the top. When assembled, the shelf dimensions are 11 x 24 x 27.5 inches, giving you plenty of space in your closet to hang dresses, pants, and shirts.
While some sagging does occur when it’s completely loaded up, it’s generally pretty sturdy and the metal rod is strong enough to easily hang plenty of pants, skirts, dresses, and more.
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A planner is an all-in-one productivity tool for writing down events, to-do lists, and goals.
Planners come in all varieties, from dated and undated to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
The best planner is a personal choice, whether it’s small and undetailed or big and densely packed.
Paper planners are calendars that help you keep track of tasks, appointments, ideas, and so on. They let you see the week or month all at once, in a clear and legible way. But no planner is one-size-fits-all: The best planner for you might be unsuitable for someone else’s needs.
Picking a planner comes down to personal preference, whether you like to schedule things down to the minute or just jot a few weekly notes. Many have space for notes, to-do lists, and other tasks. Some people want a balance of enough space for their jottings but in a book that can easily fit in their backpack.
Planner styles get even more detailed, and we break down the ways to choose what’s right for you at the end of this guide. We talked to two stationery store owners and a productivity expert to get their advice on how to pick a planner.
“There’s lots of different, great planners, and it just kind of depends on thinking about how you want to plan your week and how you want to visualize your week,” said Jeremy Crown, who co-owns Little Otsu, a paper store in Portland, Oregon.
Whatever style of planner you prefer, you’ll be able to find something in the list below. Keep in mind that manufacturers often make their planners in several styles and sizes, and we try to reflect that in the list.
Basic but very functional, Apica’s monthly planner has 32 pages, a cardstock cover, and thread binding. It’s undated, so you can pick it up and start scheduling any part of the year. There are 16 sheets of monthly calendars (one month stretches over two pages), plus another 15 pages of grid paper. There are also a couple of pages for a yearly overview. If you don’t need a super-detailed calendar but still want something with nice paper and an affordable price, the Apica is a great option.
If you’re looking for a lot of structure and prompts, the Self Journal might be right for you. It has pages of tasks and templates to guide your goal-setting. While undated, it’s only meant to last 13 weeks, so you won’t have a full year at your fingertips. The idea, though, is to break the year down into chunks and do the same for daunting projects. There are spaces to fill out what you’re grateful for, goals, and targets.
With 240 pages, the size is fairly portable, and it has a hardcover. The paper is also fountain-pen friendly.
Bloom Daily Planner
The Bloom Daily Planner comes in many versions to suit many styles, all with plenty of supplemental sheets for tracking progress.
Bloom’s planners are full of lists and charts for you to fill out and help you figure out how to schedule the year ahead. There are vision boards and habit-tracking options included. You can also sign up for additional, downloadable sheets for bill tracking, meal planning, and so on.
The nice thing about Bloom is that it has almost countless options for getting exactly what you want. The planners come in both softcover and hardcover options, and there are several planner layouts to choose from. For teachers, there are undated versions, as well as ones that start in July. If you have a wedding or new baby on the horizon, there are planners for that, too.
Clever Fox‘s daily planner has scads of room for those with busy days — or anyone who likes to doodle and brainstorm in their calendars. Each day of the week has its own page, with space to schedule from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are also prompts for weekly goals (both work and personal priorities) and productivity tracking. The planner also comes with stickers to help you personalize your pages. With a sturdy cover in colors from black to rose gold to royal blue, it should be easy enough to find one that matches your style.
In addition to the daily version — which is only for six months — there are weekly options that have space for a full year. If you want a larger planner, the pro version measures 8.5 by 11 inches.
Getting started with PowerSheets is a bit of a commitment; it can take a couple of hours to fully fill out your goal sheets. There are also video explainers to help you check all the boxes. The planner is hefty and sturdy and should have no problem lasting the year. There are 160 pages, with the months spread over two pages. There are also two pages per month for monthly, weekly, and daily ideas and action items. PowerSheets aren’t made for day-to-day notes but are more for bigger-picture projects and goals.
There are lots of stickers and a pastel palette, which won’t appeal to everyone.
Usually, Day Designer planners are $59, but the Blue Sky collaboration version is $28. The Blue Sky planner does have lower-quality paper and a flexible cover that may not stand up to wear and tear as well as a hardcover. The day has a 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule, along with room for to-do lists. At the top and bottom are boxes for gratitude, your “top three” important items, and notes for the night.
If you have a larger budget and prefer a daily calendar, Day Designer’s flagship planner has a page dedicated to each weekday, with a single page for weekends.
2021-2022 Academic Year Daily & Monthly Planner (small)
Field Notes 56-Week Planner
Compact yet rugged enough to toss in a backpack, Field Notes‘ 56-week planner is no-frills but fully functional. Each week gets two pages, with Saturday and Sunday sharing space. They’re undated, so you can start anytime, miss a couple weeks, and pick back up without wasting pages. As the name suggests, you get space for over a year, with 112 pages total.
At less than $20, it’s one of the more affordable planners on the list, though we wish there were a few options for the cover.
Happy Planner has lots of customization options, including layout and length.
Happy Planner is all about making its products work for you, so there are quite a few ways to customize your planner. It offers horizontal, vertical, and dashboard layouts, as well as a few different sizes and undated options. You can also buy plenty of stickers to add more flair. The covers tend to be pastel, boldly colored, or Disney-themed, so it might be hard to find something more understated. We also like the planner’s discbound binding, which is like a three-ring binder you don’t have to open and close.
Happy Planners are popular with teachers, and they offer 18-month versions that start in July.
Classic Planner (12-Month) (small)
The Panda Planner is meant to be hyper-focused on a three-month period, with daily tracking.
The classic version of the Panda Planner is undated, with room for three months of daily tracking. There are also weekly and monthly sections. The planner is designed for those who need lots of on-page support, with boxes for morning and end-of-day reviews, habit tracking, and priorities. Each day gets a two-page spread, and they’re undated, so you can skip weekends if you want something more work-focused. The cover and interior designs are less flowery than many other planners on the list, which may be a positive or negative, depending on what you like.
Designed with motivation in mind, the Passion Planner has a few layouts to help you follow through with your goals.
The Passion Planner is focused on motivation and helping you achieve your yearly goals. The weekly version has places for you to note what you’re focusing on and good things that happened. The layout is vertical, so keep that in mind if you prefer a horizontal setup. There are a few styles to choose from, including undated daily and weekly layouts. On the website, you can choose whether you want your planner’s week to begin on Sunday or Monday. Small, medium, and large sizes are available, with the biggest being a bit larger than a standard sheet of paper.
If buying a Passion Planner doesn’t fit into your budget, the site has downloadable content that you can print and fit into a regular, three-ring binder. There are also digital versions available.
With nice paper and a stylish design, the Rhodia Webplanner may appeal to those looking for a mix of structure and freeform planning.
Rhodia is a French notebook company with a trademark orange and black scheme, so there aren’t a ton of color options. Unfussy, with a faux leather cover and nice paper, the Webplanner gives room for a weekly schedule on one page and a grid for notes on the right. It’s a nice compromise for those who like bullet journaling but want a little more structure.
A well-designed, pocket-sized planner from Quo Vadis, it has a textured, faux leather cover. It’s helpful to go on the Quo Vadis website because it lays out all the options available for its planners: academic or calendar year; daily, weekly, or monthly format; and small, medium, or large size. The planner’s weekly layout is vertical, with scheduling space from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are large squares on the right page for extra notes. The cover comes in several colors, and you can also find the planner in faux suede or smooth faux leather options.
Though there isn’t a lot of extra space for habit tracking, the back of the planner does have some space for personal notes and a map of the world’s time zones.
If you want a planner that you can’t ignore, this desk version from Wit & Delight is a good option. It’s undated, with 180 sheets. Each page has vertical space for Monday through Friday. There aren’t Saturday and Sunday spots, but there’s a “home life” box that could work for weekend activities. There are also places for notes, projects, and big picture items.
How to choose a planner
There are an overwhelming number of planner types. “I used to try to just stock as many as possible because it’s such a personal thing,” said Chandra Greer, who owns Greer, a stationery store in Chicago, Illinois.
She eventually realized it was impossible to cover every base and now just selects functional, quality options, knowing they might not be the right fit for everyone. “I’m more interested in the function of it,” she said. “Is the layout useful? Is the layout well-designed? Is the paper great? Is it something that is going to withstand being your daily friend for 365 days?”
To find out what will work for you, you can start by considering what qualities are most important to you. “I think if you sort of start with, ‘What is it that I want to use this for?’ that gives you a good starting point,” said Alexandra Cavoulacos, founder of The Muse and author of “The New Rules of Work“. You can start with format — daily, weekly, or monthly — and overall length. Do you want to keep it to a few months for a specific project, or would you prefer something that gets you through a month or even longer?
Daily, weekly, monthly
For some people, a planner is merely a portable calendar, Cavoulacos said. “They want to know where they need to be, when they have a doctor’s appointment, those sort of things,” she said. Other people want to track projects and create to-do lists. The amount of detail per day will start to dictate how much space you need. “There’s a hundred ways somebody might schedule their day,” said Greer. Some people need an hour-by-hour breakdown. If you’re mostly making to-do lists, a weekly calendar might work. If it’s more about keeping tabs on a few appointments, monthly might work.
“It’s all about what works for you,” said Cavoulacos.
Dated or undated
There are many reasons you might decide to buy an undated calendar. “People might decide on March 28th, they want a planner,” said Greer. “But if a planner is dated, they’re already three months through the year.” With an undated planner, they can get more bang for the buck by having it carry them through the next March.
Another reason might be you know yourself to be a fickle planner user. If you keep it undated, you can always pick up where you left off without wasting days’ worth of paper. People working on a big project, planning a wedding, or focusing on a specific goal might also prefer an undated planner, for more flexibility or to keep everything contained in one book.
Months or years
Some hyper-focused, daily planners will only last a few months. It helps keep them from being too bulky and cumbersome. Others are much bigger picture, with five-year plans. In between, there are standard yearly planners and academic versions, which tend to start in the summer or early fall.
The only thing that might stop you from buying an academic planner in January is that most manufacturers don’t have the current year’s available, so you’re better off waiting a few months for that.
Horizontal or vertical
You’ll often see weekly planners arranged with each week covering two pages and the days spread out horizontally or vertically. When someone comes into Little Otsu looking for a planner, co-owner Jeremy Crown first asks, “Are you more of a task-oriented planner?” He thinks people with detailed schedules or long to-do lists will prefer the column format of vertical layouts. Those who like making notes or doodling might like the horizontal layout better.
Some planners use a “dashboard” view, with a week or day on one page and the other dedicated to habit trackers, gratitude prompts, and other fill-in-the-blanks.
Doctors, nurses, and chefs always want pocket-sized notebooks and planners, said Crown. You might want something big enough to hold your sprawling handwriting but small enough to carry around in your purse or messenger bag. Many planner makers will offer at least a couple of choices when it comes to size.
Minimalist or full of prompts
Planner aesthetic ranges from very barebones to packed with extras. What you like is completely personal. You’ll find plenty of basic books with a plain cover and just the calendars. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can get a planner with quotes, charts, and check-ins. You may want something in between, with a pretty cover but few internal embellishments.
“You want your planner to inspire you, whatever that means for you,” Cavoulacos said. That could mean a simple planner with zero distractions, she said, or something with quotes and your horoscope that makes you look forward to opening the book every day. “I do think the sort of aesthetic piece, the inspiration piece, is also something that shouldn’t be forgotten,” she said.
If you do want something more stripped down, Greer suggests looking to Japanese planner makers. “You’re not going to see little flower illustrations and little quotes and 85 pages of guided journal meditation,” she said. “They keep it very simple. They’re very serious about it.”
Both Greer and Cavoulacos point out that you can add your own quotes and personalizations to even the most minimalist planner, as long as there’s space. “It could become more of a person’s little command center,” said Greer.
For some, the quality of a planner’s paper isn’t really a factor. There are a few things to know, though. Two Halloween-ish-sounding words that are useful to know, stationery-wise, are bleeding and ghosting. Bleeding is when the ink leaks through. Ghosting is when you flip the paper over and can see what’s written, even though it hasn’t actually bled through. “Good paper, whether it’s thin or thick, doesn’t ghost,” Crown said.
In many countries, fountain pen use is much more widespread than in the United States. The paper made there reflects that. “As a general rule, Japanese paper tends to be softer and smoother, and American paper is kind of the roughest — or we’d say the toothiest — and Europe’s kind of in the middle,” Crown said.
“Fountain pen usage is a really big factor,” Greer said. “It’s probably the number one question we get about any of our notebooks and planners, ‘Is the paper fountain pen friendly?’ and not all papers are.” If paper quality is high on your list of importance, Greer suggests taking a close look at who makes a planner.
“I definitely gravitate towards manufacturers who have a background in paper,” she said. “So they’re not so much about being a planner company. They’re about a notebook/paper company that has planners.” Some of the manufacturers that make planners with excellent paper include Midori, Paperways, High Tide, and Kokuyo Jibun Techo, she said.
Even if you’re not into paper, you’ll want to pay attention to the cover’s material. Hardcovers will stand up to more wear and tear than softcovers. “Sometimes people will trade off that durability for something that doesn’t cost very much so, but definitely people are expecting, when they purchase a planner, that it’s going to get through the whole year and not look like it was run over by a truck,” Greer said.
It’s important that planners lie flat since you’re writing in them. Many are spiral bound, but others are stitch bound. Either will let you write on them, but you can flip one side of the book behind the other with a spiral binding. “A lot of people are kind of indifferent between spiral and stitch bound now, as long as it lies flat because that’s really what they’re looking for,” Greer said.
Discbound is similar to spiral-bound, but it’s a bit different. The pages in a discbound book can be easily removed and put back in, but you don’t have to open the discs, as you would with a three-ring binder. Instead, there are little notches in the paper that fit around the disc. It makes planners more customizable because you can quickly and easily move pages from one section to another.
Another concern with the binding is whether it will keep the planner together for the whole year. Some glued-in pages might not hold out as well. “If you have something that’s stitch bound or spiral, it’s very sturdy for the long haul,” Greer said.
Bullet journaling is a system of tracking and tackling tasks, goals, and projects. It can be used with basically any notebook, but it’s not for everyone. “I think for some people you want the prompt and you want the structure to guide you because you’re not exactly sure how to organize everything,” Cavoulacos said.
“There’s a lot of stationery enthusiasts in the United States, and so there’s all these different subcultures with people who are really into making their own space on paper,” Crown said. “And that’s what bullet journaling is perfect for.”
If you’ve never tried it, you can either start with an ordinary notebook you have lying around. There are also plenty of hybrid options, with calendars and space for notes or bullet journaling.
There might be some little perks with certain planners that might be deal-makers for you. Maybe you want a front pocket to keep extra papers. Perhaps you prefer a planner with an elastic band to help keep it closed.
If the extra that’s most attractive to you is stickers, keep in mind that you can probably buy them separately.
Why not just use your phone as a digital planner?
“I don’t necessarily think a planner is for everybody, just like any particular productivity hack or tool,” Cavoulacos said. There are plenty of people who prefer to keep their calendars and notes strictly digital, and getting a paper planner might not make sense for them.
If you’re on the fence, she suggests asking yourself what’s attractive about a paper planner. “I think for a lot of people it’s slowing down, right?” Cavoulacos said. “It’s like the lack of distraction. It’s the moments to think, to cross things off — the satisfaction of crossing things off.”
Greer said she went through a few years where not many people were buying planners. Now she’s seeing more customers who want something physical to carry around and write in. She even gets tech workers buying them. “They’re saying that their schedule’s more accessible to them in some ways, in terms of getting the big picture, if they’re using a physical book,” Greer said.
For Crown, it’s more personal than a phone calendar. “It’s your life in a book,” he said. “That’s kind of what’s special about them. The end of the year, you have this book that was like, this is what I did. That’s something that the phone doesn’t do that well.”
There are a couple of reasons why a shelf divider is an absolute must-have for every closet. First and foremost, it’s way less expensive than a closet renovation or hiring a professional organizer. It also takes up less space than bins or boxes, while still keeping everything visible and within reach. Plus, a divider can be easily installed and removed.
Most people have limited closet space and shelf dividers indisputably help you make the most of every precious inch. There are lots of options out there, but we focused on the most important categories to consider; your shelving style (wooden or wire), the divider size (especially height and depth), the design or style (solid or open), and the cost.
Pros: Easy to install, simple design, affordable, taller than most dividers
Cons: Not compatible with wire shelving
These durable and minimalist metal dividers are the way to go if you’re trying to create a better storage solution in your closet. With a sturdy, sleek and unobtrusive design, they are simply the best option for most people.
Each divider clips easily onto wooden shelves up to 7/8 inches thick with no tools required. Once in place, the Lynk tall shelf divider stays put. A stabilizing crossbar on the bottom of the divider helps hold it securely on the shelf, ready to keep anything from pants, sweaters, and accessories in place. They’re also strong enough to handle leaning items like bags, thanks to the grips which attach them to the shelf.
They are taller than most dividers, which means you can fold higher stacks and save even more space. You might want to measure your closet height to ensure they’ll fit, but the average closet should be able to accommodate them. At 8.4 inches deep, they’ll fit on both deep and narrow shelves.
This product is particularly great because it’s easy to install on thicker shelves, durable, and slides into place easily. There’s also a handy extra with this divider, a space-saving valet hook that you can use to hang items like bags, belts, or a robe in front of your shelves.
Although some users mention that it’s not quite as sturdy as they would have hoped, the Container Store Clear Shelf Divider is still a great bet and is an upscale, aesthetically pleasing choice that’s perfect for interior design buffs or anyone looking to upgrade the look of their closet.
Pros: Great value, simple design, easy installation, multipurpose, comes in many finishes
Cons: Not as tall or deep as other dividers
The cheapest, most popular shelf divider is the mDesign Metal Wire Closet Shelf Divider. Promising an easy, tool-free installation, polished, rust-resistant steel finish, and a stable, sleek design, this is the perfect choice for a rental or dorm closet. With eight per set, you’ll have extras to keep as replacements or to set up in multiple closets.
At just over 9 inches tall, it’s pretty decent for maximizing vertical space, but it does measure a bit short in depth at only 8 inches. You need to stretch it a bit to attach it to a standard 1-inch thick shelf, but the wide stabilizer on the bottom will keep the divider securely in place.
The clean, metal design, available in five different finishes, matches perfectly with any décor, which is helpful if you’re thinking about using this divider in a pantry, linen, or bathroom closet.
The company also suggests flipping the divider upside down and hanging it under the shelf, which gives you seven bars of hanging storage for things like scarves, belts, or bags.
Durable, affordable, and specially designed to clip on to wire shelving closet systems, their plastic coated steel design won’t rust or get dingy over time. With a substantial 12-inch x 12-inch frame, consider these as a practical solution for a rental property, where most closets have wire shelving. The dividers are super quick to install and no tools are required.
One criticism, however, is that the open sides don’t keep certain items securely inside.
The best cloth closet shelf divider
If you’re looking for the full divide of a solid material but don’t want to splurge on acrylic, try the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider.
Pros: Visually appealing for those who want a solid divider, items won’t snag or get scratched by the cloth material
Cons: Material may scuff or tear over time
There are lots of reasons why people like the Lynk Vela Shelf Divider. The simple, durable fabric is available in two colors: platinum and bronze. The soft material also means that there’s no risk of snagging your clothes on a metal design.
Not only do these look nice, but they also are also tall at 13 inches, and are easy to install by sliding onto standard size wooden shelves. You’re getting a great deal, too, as the price is fairly low.
This solid style of shelf divider is recommended because it creates a visual definition of your space and keeps everything neat.
Cloth dividers also work particularly well in linen closets, where they can keep folded towels, blankets, and other linens neatly organized.
Many of us are guilty of buying the cheapest hangers we come across and hanging our expensive clothing with them. However, poor-quality hangers can cause serious damage to your favorite clothes, including tears, snags, and stretching that may require you to replace pieces entirely.
We tested eight models and put them through multiple fit, hanging, and durability tests to determine our top picks. After an extensive testing period, we selected five products that are high quality and durable and can hold multiple types of clothing, from heavy, bulky items to silky, lightweight pieces. You can learn more about our testing process here.
Pros: Affordable, thin to maximize storage space, have a bar that can hold scarves and belts
Cons: Velvet may attract lint and dust over time
Velvet hangers were highly recommended by our three experts, especially for hanging delicate clothing, due to their ability to keep clothing in shape and prevent slipping. Like other velvet options, the ORG Slimline Velvet Suit Hangers protect your clothing from damage and keep items from slipping into the depths of your closet. However, what differentiates these hangers is that they are very thin, allowing you to fit more clothing in your closet.
Throughout testing, the hangers performed well, with no clothing falling or slipping. They’re our top choice for those looking to hang a wide variety of clothing in small or large closets.
Although the slim hangers were able to hold up heavy sweaters and blazers, we don’t recommend using them with heavy outerwear, as they may snap under too much weight. (In general, experts recommend storing these items folded in a dresser.)
They can also hold scarves and belts that can be difficult to store neatly in drawers.
The best budget hangers
At around 60 cents each, the Ikea Bumerang hangers are the perfect combination of high quality and low price.
Pros: Affordable, can hold heavy clothing, made of sustainable wood
Cons: Doesn’t hold up shirts and sweaters with wider necklines well, takes up more closet space
The Bumerang wooden hangers from Ikea are highly recommended by several members of the Reviews team, as well as Awoke Vintage owner Liz Power, who called them a “great, affordable wood option.”
They’re constructed with solid wood and coated with a protective lacquer that prevents them from splintering and damaging your clothing. They also feature small indents that helped hold lightweight clothing in place during our hanging tests.
While they performed well overall, the hangers did struggle to hold up a cardigan with a wide neckline, which kept slipping off. However, it was able to hold up a heavy blazer just fine, making it a solid option for hanging heavy-weight clothing.
Due to their wood construction, the hangers are a bit thicker than standard velvet and plastic options and take up more closet space. However, if you have a larger closet or are looking to hang just a few pieces of heavier clothing, these can handle the job. They also make great coat hangers.
Pros: Non-slip, efficient open-end design, can be used to hang various bottoms and accessories
Cons: Only available in a three-pack, can become expensive if you need a large quantity, hook does not swivel
If you want to hang pants, it’s best to do so with dedicated pants or skirt hangers, which are designed to hold more weight on the trouser bar. The Chrome Metal Pant Hangers were created with efficiency in mind, from their open-end design to the non-slip coating found on each bar that kept bottoms firmly in place during testing.
“Putting pants on/off this type hanger is a breeze,” said Kienzle, who recommends them over those with clips, which often leave behind imprints. Compared to the Zober High-Grade Wooden Pants Hangers with Metal Clips that we tested, The Container Store products left all bottoms I hung with no damage or indentations. They’re also very thin, making it easy to fit many in your closet.
Pros: Ribbed bar, can handle heavier clothing, available in four finishes
Cons: Doesn’t have small notches to hold up thin straps, may not be the best option for holding up lightweight items
The Container Store’s Grey Wooden Shirt Hangers are another strong, heavy-duty contender that can handle a variety of clothing weights. They have a ribbed bar that helps hold up pants and skirts.
The hangers performed well at hanging most items, including a heavy cardigan and a cashmere sweater, but couldn’t keep a strappy slip dress in place (which fell every day throughout testing). They lack small indentations or hooks that would help them hold up clothing with thin straps.
Overall their durable wood construction makes them a great option for holding up heavy, more formal clothing or coats and are also a good option if you’re looking for wooden suit hangers.
Pros: Fit well in smaller closets, great price, available in multiple colors
Cons: No swivel hooks, no hooks or strap notches
Upon receiving the Tubular Hangers, I was immediately surprised at their thickness, which is custom designed by The Container Store to hold heavy-weight clothing.
Throughout testing, they performed well at holding up jeans, blazers, and sweaters but struggled to hold more lightweight clothing, which constantly slipped off. The hangers don’t have small hooks or indentations that can help hold these items in place.
We recommend using them with heavier items such as blazers, sweaters, cardigans, most pants, and even lighter coats and avoiding hanging lightweight clothing with thin straps with them.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
HuaQi Clothing Hangers: This stackable option performed extremely well with the five pieces of bulky, heavy clothing I hung on it. However, the design is a bit cumbersome, with some of the hooks falling off of the main hanging mechanism while I was putting the unit together. When clothing was on the hooks this did not happen. They held up well during testing, making them a great option for those with small closets.
What we don’t recommend and why
Zober High-Grade Wooden Pants Hangers with Metal Clips: These hangers performed well at holding up various bottoms such as skirts, silky pants, and jeans. Unfortunately, they left clear indents on most of the bottoms. Over time I could see them doing serious damage to clothing left hanging for long periods of time.
Billkaq Magic Pants Hangers: Although this product performed well during testing, it had a frustrating assembly and instructions that featured unclear, dark images. There are other space-saving hangers that are less of a hassle.
Our testing methodology
We put all eight products through the same four tests:
Closet fit: We hung each product in a closet and noted if any fit awkwardly or were cramped.
Hanging: We used each product to hang five different types of clothing, all made of different materials, including a heavy cardigan or blazer, a silky dress or shirt, a skirt, a turtleneck sweater, and a pair of heavy jeans or pants. When testing products for holding up pants, we hung five different types of bottoms on each, including a pair of jeans, a pair of trousers, a skirt, and a pair of silky pants. After a week we checked the clothing for any imprints or damage.
Everyday use: We shuffled through the hangers every day to make sure they were securely holding up clothing and noted if any items fell off.
Durability: At the end of the testing period, we checked each product for signs of wear and tear from regular use.
Salt Attachable Hangers: These plastic hangers can be attached to each other for increased closet storage and have notches to hold up clothing with thin straps, which our current plastic pick does not have.
What type of hanger should I buy?
You’ll want to choose hangers based on your closet size and the weight of the clothing you’re looking to hang. Plastic and velvet options are versatile and work best in smaller closets, as they don’t take up much room. If you do have room, wooden models are a great option that can hold up heavy items such as blazers and coats. All our experts strongly recommend avoiding wire hangers that are commonly acquired at the dry cleaners.
“Using wire hangers is a big no-no, but a lot of people still have them in their closet. It’s easy to get into that habit because they are cheap and often come straight from the dry cleaner and are convenient to hold onto,” said stylist Shea Daspin, who dislikes them because they are not able to hold much weight and can sometimes cause damage to clothing. The Clutter Whisperer founder Cynthia Kienzle echoes this and recommends returning wire hangers to the dry cleaners instead of using them in your closet.
That said, you may want multiple types of hangers in your closet to accommodate your needs. Based on our experts’ advice, we created a chart to make it easier to properly hang clothing in your closet.
Should you hang this item?
Type of hanger to use
Satin or silk blouses or dresses
Heavy knit sweaters
Blazers or cardigans
If tight on space, no
Plastic or wood
Wood pants hanger
Velvet pants hanger
What’s the best way to hang lightweight, silky clothing?
Keeping lightweight clothing in place can be a challenge, especially when using hangers that don’t have the small notches that help keep thin straps and silky clothing in place.
Another option are these Garment Grips from The Container Store that can be used with plastic, wood, and metal and come in shades that will match most hanger colors.
What are some mistakes to avoid when hanging clothing? Which types of clothing should never be hung?
Kienzle emphasized picking one or two types of hangers and sticking with them throughout your closet to cover your hanging needs. She finds that the average closet is filled with too many options, leading to a mismatched mess of hangers.
Kienzle also recommends organizing your closet by clothing type and keeping enough space to flip through and clearly keep track of your clothing. Many of us keep our closets so stuffed that we no longer know what items are actually in them. If you have a smaller closet, you’ll want to make efficient choices about which types of clothing you hang. You should avoid hanging items that are heavy, like jeans, or those that will stretch out and lose shape over time, like sweaters. According to Daspin, you should also avoid hanging cashmere, heavy sweaters, or heavy vintage items.
Daspin said you can extend the life of your clothing by hanging items properly. “A lot of people also make the mistake of hanging clothing by entering a shirt through the neck hole and stretching it out in the process. It’s always best to go up through the bottom to avoid stretching,” said Daspin.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you take the time to preserve your clothing through buttoning and zipping up sweaters and pants. “Something we are all guilty of is not doing the buttons up on items — natural fibers like linen, cotton, and silk fare best when they are stored with all buttons done up. This is so they don’t lose shape, especially around the collar area,” said Power.
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When looking for a nightstand for my small city bedroom, I found the Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System at The Container Store.
While it’s not technically a nightstand, I customized the unit so it wound up being the perfect size.
It’s a multipurpose unit I know I can make good use of for years to come.
White Mesh Closet Drawers (small)Related Article Module: The best hanging shelves for closets
Being in my twenties in New York City, I know that the apartment I’m in now won’t be mine forever. That’s why, when I first moved in, I decided to prioritize buying pieces that are functional rather than ones that just look good. That fact – plus a small room and closet situation – prompted me to search for a nightstand that could serve double duty and provide some extra storage.
The Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System comes pre-made or you can customize it based on your needs
Elfa is exclusive to The Container Store, known for its best-selling closet solutions that maximize space and make organizing easy. The Mesh Closet Drawer System is a free-standing storage unit with a durable, epoxy-bonded steel frame and finely-woven mesh drawers that can hold all sorts of products.
You can choose to purchase a pre-made unit or customize your own with specific dimensions for what you’re looking for; both options come in with all-white or silver mesh.
I chose to make my own unit to be sure it would fit in my room. Elfa has a custom drawer planner online, which guides you through the customization process and helps you see what the unit will look like in real time.
Here’s how you can customize the Elfa unit
1. Pick a color: The options are easy – white or platinum. The platinum definitely has a more industrial look, so I went for white.
2. Pick a height: Options range from 17.5 to 81 inches tall. The taller you go, the more storage you can get. I chose a 29-inch unit, which works perfectly as a bedside table next to my 1- inch bed frame and 10-inch mattress.
3. Pick a width: Sizes start at 10 inches (extra narrow) and go up to 22 inches (extra wide). I went for medium at 18 inches.
4. Top it off: You can cover the unit with a surface of either white melamine, driftwood melamine, a butcher block, or leave the top open. I went with the white for a monochromatic look.
5. Pick feet, labels, and stops: Choose frame feet for a unit you want to stay in place, or casters (which are like wheels) if you want more mobility. Add stops if you want to ensure your drawers never fall out. I didn’t buy stops, but my unit is pushed against a wall, and I haven’t had any issues with drawers coming out of the frame. I didn’t add label holders, but if you’re trying to get really organized, these could be a good addition.
6. Choose your drawers: Instead of S, M, L, drawers are sized as 1, 2, or 3 – indicating how many runners each drawer needs to fit in the unit. One is the shallowest drawer and 3 is the deepest. How tall you make your unit will determine how many drawers you can fit.
My 29-inch unit has seven runners, so I filled it with one 3-runner, one 2-runner, and two 1-runners. The 3-runner is on the bottom, holding bulky items like backup toiletries and cleaning supplies. The 2-runner is in the middle, holding similar products, though it fits a tad less. The top two drawers are 1-runners, which hold paper goods and other small supplies. Ultimately, my unit cost just over $150.
The bottom line
These drawers are not cheap, but their value lies in their functionality. With ability to customize height, width, and drawer sizes, you can easily build a system that’s perfect for your storage needs. If you have the space and aren’t too particular, you can make it even easier and just buy one of the pre-made systems.
The drawers make everything I put inside easily accessible, and the finely-woven mesh construction provides the perfect balance of visibility and privacy, so I can find my objects easily without putting everything on display. The neutral colors and minimal style make this unit a timeless piece that can fit in just about any room or apartment I’ll move into in the future and be used for storing just about anything, making it well worth the up-front expense.
Asana is a customizable workplace content management system (CMS) which is designed to help a wide range of companies achieve their organizational needs. More plainly, it’s an advanced organizational tool to help streamline projects.
Asana is made so that workplaces of any size can analyze their progress and address issues all in one place, eliminating the need for constant meetings, email updates, and memos.
What to know about Asana
Asana has a wide range of features available to help companies and the teams within them find a system to get things done as efficiently as possible. These features include:
Project and task management
Asana’s main feature is its project and task management tools. You can create lists or boards to host certain projects as a whole – these will detail all the initiatives, meetings, and programs involved in said projects.
From there, you can break these projects into tasks and subtasks to make them more manageable, and list the steps to complete them. You can also:
Give tasks to specific people so everyone knows who is working on what
Group tasks into sections or columns to keep them organized
Assign start dates and due dates, which can also include timed deadlines
Create reusable templates to make certain tasks easier to start
Add task dependencies to specify when some tasks need to be completed before others start
View your tasks in a timeline so everyone can see the project chronologically
Create rules to automate processes like assigning tasks and triaging
Add attachments from a number of integrated software
Of course, one of the most important – and difficult – parts of teamwork is communication. Asana has tools to streamline this as well.
Your Inbox tracks all your messages and their associated tasks. Here you can attach tasks to messages and use project conversations to have ongoing discussions. You can also proof images and PDFs, and any comments can even be turned into tasks so the team knows what corrections need to be made.
Multiple ways to view work
Because Asana is made to adapt to your workforce. As such, it offers several ways to view your projects and tasks:
My tasks: A view that gives you a personal to-do list
List: View and group your tasks in a grid structure
Board: Displays your upcoming tasks in a bulletin board style format
Calendar: Shows a list of tasks based on deadlines
Files: Groups together all the files uploaded to project
Inbox: Groups together all your conversations
There’s also a Search view for those who don’t want to painstakingly organize all their tasks.
Management and reporting tools
If you’re in charge of an organization, Asana’s reporting tools make it easy to keep project updates organized and send update reminders when necessary.
You can use Asana to set “Goals” to keep everyone on the same page, and “Milestones” to reward and encourage hard work.
You can also craft status updates for projects and portfolios to send messages to your team quickly, and check your Dashboard to see the status of all ongoing projects and tasks at once, and identify problem areas if necessary.
Creating Teams lets you group people together to collaborate on projects. The Team page includes an Overview tab to track projects, a Messages tab for group conversations and announcements, and a shared Calendar tab. You can add teammates as followers on tasks not assigned to them, to keep them updated and alert them if there are problems they can help with.
Administrators also have privacy controls – you can add permissions and other privacy controls to limit access to certain work, or even keep some teams that do sensitive work hidden.
Easy app integration
One of the things that makes Asana so easy to use is its app integration. There are a number of apps that work well with Asana, but the most notable are:
Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Office365, OneDrive, and Adobe Creative Cloud for file creation and sharing
Slack, Gmail, Outlook, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Power BI for communication
Harvest, a built-in time tracker tool
How to get Asana
Asana is available in three pre-set, tiered plans: Free, Premium, and Business. You can sign up for any of these packages on Asana’s website.
This free version includes the following features:
Unlimited tasks, projects, messages, file storage, and entries in your activity log
List, Board, and Calendar Views
Project briefs and overviews
Mobile apps for both iOS and Android
100-plus app integrations, including time tracking
Premium plans are $13.49 per month, billed each month, plus $10.99 per month per user, billed annually.
Asana Premium includes all the features the free version does, plus:
Timeline view and Dashboard reporting
Advanced search features
The ability to create custom fields
Unlimited free guests – guests are users who don’t share the company’s email domain.
Forms, Rules, and Milestones
The ability to create private teams and projects
Asana Business is $30.49 per month, plus $24.99 per user per month annually.
Like Premium, it comes with all the features of the plans beneath it, plus the following:
Portfolio and Goal reporting
Workload view – allows you to see how much of your team’s resources are being used, and on which projects
The ability to build and customize rules
More customizable forms
The ability to request and give approvals on any project or task
Proofing for photos – allows you to leave commentary directly on pictures.
More advanced integrations with Salesforce, Adobe Creative Cloud, Tableau, and Power BI
Asana Enterprise is designed for businesses with high-security needs and support on call. There is no set price for this plan – Asana recommends that you contact its sales team directly to discuss pricing that will work for your company.
You get all the features listed in the packages above, plus:
OneNote is a Microsoft program that’s like a virtual planner, legal pad, and three-ring binder all rolled into one. It helps keep your thoughts and ideas orderly, categorized, and easily accessible.
To get the most out of OneNote, you’ll want a good grasp on how to create and edit its pages, sections, and notes features.
Here’s how you can get started organizing your notes with OneNote to take full advantage of the program’s organization-oriented interface.
How to organize notes with Microsoft OneNote
You can create multiple hyper-organized notebooks to track different aspects of one project, or create a single broadly themed notebook to track all of your school, work, and personal projects in one place.
If you reach a point where you want to remove a notebook you no longer need, and reduce clutter in OneNote, you can right-click on the notebook and select “Close This Notebook.”