This customized drawer unit from the Container Store is one of the most practical purchases I’ve made for my small apartment

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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.

My search led me to the epicenter of all things storage: The Container Store. There, I designed my own Elfa Mesh Closet Drawer System and it’s probably one of the smartest purchases I’ve made for my apartment.

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.

White Mesh Closet Drawers (button)

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A guide to Asana, the workplace management tool that helps streamline communication across teams

coworkers working on project at desktop computer in office
Asana can help your workplace streamline communication and organize projects.

  • Asana is a workplace management dashboard that helps streamline communication across companies and teams.
  • Asana is customizable, and allows users to break down projects into tasks and set clear goals for teams.
  • Asana also has integration with hundreds of other apps that businesses use, like Google Drive and Outlook.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

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

Communication tools

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.

From your Inbox, you can view messages and manage tasks.

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
On the “My Tasks” tab, you can group your tasks by List, Board, Calendar, or Files.

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.

Your Team page includes a list of members and ongoing projects on the Overview tab, as well as a Messages tab and Calendar tab.

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.

Asana Basic

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

Asana Premium

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
  • Admin controls
  • The ability to create private teams and projects

Asana Business

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

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:

  • Extra security features
  • Data export and deletion
  • Advanced user controls
  • Custom branding
  • Priority support from Asana staff

How to get Asana notifications in Slack for your tasks and projectsWhat is Microsoft Teams? Here’s what you need to know about the workplace communication toolWhat is OneDrive? Everything you need to know about Microsoft’s cloud storage serviceWhat is Blackboard Collaborate? How to use Blackboard’s video-conferencing rooms

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How to create and organize notes with Microsoft OneNote and seamlessly manage all your projects from one app

creative professional using laptop computer at work
OneNote, the digital note-taking platform from Microsoft, can streamline your workflow and keep all your projects organized.

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.”

6_ _How_to_organize_notes_with_Microsoft_OneNote
Closing the notebook will remove it from view, but won’t delete the file itself, which must be done in OneDrive.

For a more permanent removal, you’ll need to find and delete the notebook in OneDrive or on your computer.

How to print from Microsoft OneNote and create hard copies of a section, page, or entire notebookHow to share a Microsoft OneNote notebook on a Mac or PC to collaborate with othersHow to update Microsoft OneNote on your PC in 5 steps, and keep the program running smoothlyHow to sync Microsoft OneNote notebooks on a Windows PC and keep your work up-to-date across devices

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