Best Back to "School" Supplies

Back to school isn't just for, well, students and parents. As an office-supply enthusiast freelancer I like to get in on the reorganizing action. After returning from my summer hols I recently overhauled my files — purging useless papers, organizing my client work into binders and stocking up on some favourite supplies. Here are my favourites:

1. The Desk Set

My white desk accessories were the object of much envy while I worked in an office. I still love them. From left:

  • Mini business card binders. These are from Muji. They don't seem to have them on their site now, but similar are available. Digital age notwithstanding, I still need to organize the many printed business cards I get and I do use them.
  • Standing scissors, tape dispenser and stapler. I like to keep tools I use frequently right out on the desk so they have to look great (simple), be white (natch) and not take up too much real estate. The standing design of these by Anything Design is perfect in every way. The only bummer is they don't seem to be available anymore. Check Poppin for similar. 
  • Calculator, Muji. Had to get this because I loathe using the calculator on my phone and computer. Also, there is a lot of math in life. 
  • Pens: Smooth Writing Gel Ink .5mm Pen in Black and Double ended black felt tip marker (like a fine Sharpie, but better), both Muji (no web site link for the marker but you should find it in store.)
  • White three-hole punch, Real Canadian Superstore. The folks at Loblaws have re-branded their home lines so many times I don't know what they are calling the office supplies now, but hit up a Superstore and you will find great stuff for desk.

2. Black Binders

Binders aren't just a holdover from high school days, they are also an organization tool that lots of interior designers use. Most designers I know assign a giant three-inch three-ring binder to each project and their offices are lined with them. I have a set of the black binders that were part of the Martha Stewart for Avery office line that used to be sold at Staples. I don't see them online anymore. They are my favourites, but I also recommend this regular office supply style. When I use this style, I tuck a beautiful image in the front pocket that is evocative of the project, then tuck a label into the spine. I just sorted all my current client files into binders so I'm good to go for the fall season. Each binder gets graph paper, dividers, zip pockets for swatches and samples, and clear sheet protectors for pamphlets and magazine tear sheets.

3. Graph Ruled Full Size Notebooks

I used to like fancy small notebooks but something about the freelance life has me writing bigger, sketching more often, working out marketing plans using my own info-graphics and various tasks that require a full letter-size notebook. I like to find them as cheap as possible and preferably with graph paper so that sketching and floor plans can all happen right where my notes are. Three ring holes are a bonus so that I can pop pages into the right client binder.

4. A Great Pen

I need to head to Muji (the Square One Mississauga store is my go-to) to stock up on more of these pens because now that my husband and I share a home office, mine are disappearing at an alarming rate. When I'm not using my Rosewood fountain pen, this is my pen of choice. Just to review from the opening photo, this is the Smooth Writing Gel Ink .5mm Pen in Black from Muji.

5. Index Stickies

I'll use these to separate my graph notebook into sections devoted to each client.  I'll use them to note the inspiration images found in my design library. Index stickies, Muji.

6. To Do List Notepads

Time management experts are divided over the efficacy of To Do lists. I use them every day and they work for me. My secret is to do a series of smaller lists rather than one large one. The large ones can be overwhelming and prohibit progress. Instead, populate each small list with a mix of tasks so that you can achieve a few right away and thereby get a kick start to get the rest done. I like to keep the notepads long and skinny and totally plain in design. On the left is one from Muji, on the right, another one I love from IKEA

This post not sponsored.