Green Living

Back to School for Grown-ups

We’ve taken everything you most enjoyed as a school-bound kid and updated it with healthy, adult twists.

Back to School for Grown-ups
Pin it Dominick Guillemot


Remember how great it felt to get a new Trapper Keeper and start the school year with a tidy cubby? Sorting through a messy desk is a great fall ritual. Ask yourself three questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it? “An organized and efficient space helps you have a clear head,” says Deanna Radaj, owner and integrative lifestyle design consultant with Bante Design LLC in Franklin, Wis. “It’s essential to being efficient and feeling inspired.”

Sarah Welch, a Tarrytown, N.Y.-based organization expert and co-author of Pretty Neat (Seal Press), says to start organizing with an inbox tray and/or letter or file holder with three compartments for urgent, toss and file-away mandates: “If you’re prone to pileup, the fewer choices you have to make about where paper should go, the more likely you are to file it away.” Next, she suggests a mediumsized station for desk accessories with multiple compartments to hold scissors, paper clips, pens, USB flash drives and the like. If you use folders, Radaj suggests matching colors to feng shui principles. For instance, purple folders can hold bills, because the color means wealth and abundance; yellow, which represents well-being, can store health insurance info. Strive to be eco-friendly—print as little as possible, and choose recycled and natural materials like felt, reclaimed wood and steel for accessories.

Best rule of thumb? Every item on your desk should have a job. “The more noise, the harder it is to concentrate on your work,” says Welch. So if you collect mugs, don’t display them; choose one to hold pens. Also opt for functional esthetics: a pretty paperweight, or a plant to improve air quality, especially near a server, fax machine, inkjet printer or copier. An English Ivy or spider plant near your computer will reduce the air’s positively charged ions, Radaj says.