2009 NAPO Organizers' Choice Awards

Last week at the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers, we (the 800 or so organizers present) voted for the recipients of the 2009 Organizers’ Choice Awards. And the winners are…

Taking “Best Product – Business” was OfficeMax, for the [IN]PLACE System by Peter Walsh. A series of plastic binders, files, totes, envelopes, and color-coded labels, the [IN]PLACE System provides is a good-looking collection of tools to assist with efficient paper management.

inplace_system_officemaxThe components include a number of thoughtful details, such as color-coded labels that change easily among right, left, and center locations. Now if you love the sight of your files marching across the drawer (right, center, left, repeat) or if you want all left-justified (we all read from left to right, after all) — whatever you like, you can set it up.

The desktop sorter has adjustable-width sections. Discreet notches in the file folders keep files from slipping out the side of the sorter. It all works. The plastic ensures durability; the translucent finish provides visual calm.

The award for “Best Product – Technology” went to The Neat Company, for their NeatDesk product. Just as the term “paperless office” has become a universal joke, the technology is developing to make it a reality. Desktop sheet-fed scanners coupled with cheap computer memory and superior character-recognition software have begun to bring the paperless environment into view.

ndesk_mediumNeatDesk will scan a batch of mixed paper — just feed it your business cards, receipts and papers in one go. Data can be exported to the most popular software programs you already use, such as Outlook, TurboTax, Excel, and QuickBooks. Unlike the company’s popular NeatReceipts, which is available in a Mac version, NeatDesk is still PC-only for now.

Though the economy kept many exhibitors away from the NAPO conference this year, the exhibit hall featured a heartening number and variety of companies intent on making our lives more organized with their products. With new and improved systems available every year, especially on the technology side, I see a future that does offer real improvement in the modern office.

Just remember: the organized mind comes first, not the containers or the technology. Containers applied to clutter generally create additonal clutter. And technology applied to inefficient systems? In the words of Mitch Ratliffe, “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history — with the possible exceptions of hand guns and tequila.”

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