Friday, September 28, 2007

The Ultimate Office Tools

#300 The Ultimate Office Tools

The search has been on for years. We so-called white-collar types have to carry so much stuff these days that we really need new ways of organizing and transporting it all.

We’ve long advanced the belief that the guy with the bigger briefcase is lower on the corporate ladder than the guy with the small one or none at all.

Jack Welch, when he was chairman of GE didn’t carry papers he couldn’t fit in his coat pocket. Seems like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates do the same. And the President of These United States never ever carries anything heavier than the burden of being himself.

Joe Schlep has a briefcase so big it needs its own ZIP code. Some Joe Schleps have taken to using those rolling-cart style airport-certified mini-trunks. What they need is a case with a helium filled bladder which would allow them to schlep without throwing their backs out.

Of course, if we’re to believe the latest study from scientists, there may soon be a helium shortage, and that would mean a big expense for Joe. He might try hydrogen, which can be made at home, but comes with it’s own problems. It explodes easily. So if Joe Schlep is a smoker, he’d best not smoke too close to his hydrogen briefcase, lest it turn into a hydrogen bomb.

Then, there’s the problem of organizing notes and appointments. The Palm Pilot was supposed to solve that, and to an extent, it did. But almost no one backs up their stuff every day, so when you leave the thing in the Larry Craig Memorial Bathroom at the Minneapolis Airport, or it falls out of your pocket and into a sink full of water, you’re screwed.

And they have been known to get lost. That’s almost always a crisis.

So maybe little scraps of paper. Yes. Three by five cards are a good thing, except you have to differentiate among social engagements, business appointments, to-do lists, honey-do lists, contacts, memos and whatever else you keep track of.

You can color code the cards. Say, green for money appointments, pink for dating, and so on.

But all this presents another problem: you have to keep them in some kind of organized way and you have to read them once you’ve written them.

You could put it all in a notebook, but a decent size notebook won’t fit in your pocket.

You can use the backs of business cards – especially your own, since you never give them out, anyway.

Or you can write on the back of your hand, although that’s unsightly if you’re going to one of those appointments that should be written on a green 3x5 card (not to be confused with a Green Card, which these days are brown, anyway.)

Or you can rely on your memory.

Nah. Not a good idea. It may be perfect today, but tomorrow—who knows.

And there’s the matter of pens and pencils. You should have one or two with you all the time. But again, there are space and weight considerations.

If you have one of those Joe Schlep briefcases, minus the pricy helium bladder, you don’t think about stuff like this and eventually you accumulate a dozen pens, half of which have run out of ink, plus a few highlighters and maybe a pencil or two, a marker and one of those gizmos that writes on whiteboards (you never know when you’re going to come across an empty white board just longing for your latest statistics on the price and production figures about latex-based paint pigments. And don’t forget the Scotch Tape and the paper clips and the stapler and the staple remover. And the Wite-Out. (you never know when you’ll run into an antique typewriter!)


Maybe it’s not a bad idea to accumulate all that backbreaking stuff. After all, when the next depression comes, you can scout up a cast-off aluminum can in a dumpster and put the pen and pencil collection up for sale.

And you can use the green card to make a sign. And the pens to write it and the tape, staples and clips to attach it to the can.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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