14 Brilliant Workplace Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed

Posted in: Innovation

Do you ever have one of those days where, no matter how much coffee you drink or how many mindless, menial tasks you complete, you just can’t seem to inspire your brain to go into work mode?

You’ve refreshed your email 15 times, you’ve made multiple trips to the water cooler, and still… nothing. Combine this lethargy with a Friday or Monday mindset and there’s no way you’re getting anything productive done today!

Luckily, we know of a few awesome workplace hacks that can revolutionize your workspace, your mindset, and your overall work habits. Many can even help you avoid “zoning out” when you should be working. (Or for all we know, maybe these hacks will just be one more thing that you use to procrastinate… if so, don’t blame us! At least you’ll be more on your game for tomorrow!) Check out our favorite office hacks:


Image source: Homedit

1. Follow the “EDIT” rule when organizing desk drawers.

Most people’s desk drawers are usually a scene of chaos, confusion and clutter. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this slobbery.) Sure, the mess doesn’t seem too bad when it’s tucked away and hidden from view, but when it comes time to search for a pen or pad of sticky notes, it’s like diving into the middle of battle field. But did you know that working alongside this kind of mess and clutter can actually frustrate you and hinder your productivity? It’s true! Therefore, try organizing your desk drawers by using the “EDIT” method:

E – Empty out your drawers and start with a clean slate. Throw out the empty wrappers, receipts, dead pens, and other junk content that is sure to have accumulated over time.

D – Dump the remaining contents of each of your drawers into one large box. When it comes time to use an item, take it out of the box and return it back to your drawer (according to the following steps). Any items that remain, sort through, toss out, recycle, or pawn off to co-workers.

I – Identify what items are most important. (These are typically the items that you pulled most quickly from the box in the step above.) For instance, pens, index cards, binder clips, wallet, etc. These are the items that deserve the prime spot in your first drawer. Leave the rest to another drawer.

T – Test out different storage methods. The most efficient means of organizing your desk is going to change from person to person. Some people may consider everyday office supplies the most important, while others may be constantly filing papers. If this is the case, decide if drawers are right for you, or if you may do better with a desktop filing system.

2. Edit a locked PDF file.

Do your coworkers or bosses ever send over a locked PDF that you wish you could edit, comment on or highlight? Have no fear! One Imgur user has found a workaround. Simply drop the document into Google Chrome, hit the print button, change the destination of the file and re-save the document as a new PDF! Read the full visual instructions here.


Image source: Freemake

3. Be a more efficient Googler.

Need to find out more information about a new client quickly? Want to find some solid statistics to back up your research report? Looking to impress everyone in the office by ordering the best pizza in town? The key is knowing what and how to Google. This awesome infographic will help you get more out of Google, including how to find quick calculations, unit conversions, definitions, and more. While the advice was meant for students doing online research, the information will definitely help you impress in the workplace as well.

4. Take back embarrassing or unwanted voicemails.

Have you ever been in the middle of  leaving a voicemail for a client or co-worker when someone suddenly interrupts you or you lose your train of thought? Gosh, how embarassing, right? Now that person is going to judge you and probably call you “the awkward voicemail guy” for the rest of your career. Not anymore! Simply hit the pound (#) button (or “hashtag” button if you’re under the age of 20), and you will be given access to a menu that lets you erase or re-record a voicemail!

5. Turn one of your office walls into a whiteboard.

Sometimes you just need to visualize your ideas or be able to see the projects that you are working on in order to do your best work. Luckily, you can now buy whiteboard wallpaper and paint that lets you turn your entire office or cubicle into a place where you can jot down notes, leave yourself reminders, or sketch our project ideas! We have these whiteboards all around the office at Hello Innovation (see the image above from our Alice in Wonderland room) and use them constantly.


6. Use Legos as happy helpers.

Want to liven up your office space and organize your desk in a really fun way? Legos make the perfect desktop companions! Simply attach them around your desk using Velcro and they can hold your keys, your computer cables, your office supplies, etc. You can even use them to create an awesome Lego table if you really want to get creative. (Our own Lego conference table features over 30,000 Legos!)

7. Keep cover pages from tearing.

Are your important papers in your binder constantly falling out, ripping on the edges or being torn out? One trick to stabilize your edges and cut down on wear and tear is to put tape along the edges before you hole punch them. Just add a strip of sturdy tape all along the edge of paper you are planning to hole punch (on both sides), and then hole punch right through the tape. This will make your paper a little sturdier.

A fully tagged notebook

Image source: HighfiveHQ

8. Organize your notebook with a “tag” system.

As someone who is always carrying around a notebook and jotting down inspiration and ideas at a whim, I think this hack is a brilliant way to organize ideas within a notebook that seems to have no method of organization at all.

Simply save the last couple of pages in your notebook to use as “index pages” and write down a list of the most common contents of your notebook. For instance, projects, meeting notes, inspiration, to-do lists, etc. Next, go through your notebook and put a little mark on the edges of the pages that feature each subject BUT make sure the mark is on the same line as the one from your index page. (You could also use different colored markers for each subject to make it more glanceable.) The end result should be a notebook that is easy to sort though, as each page is tagged by subject. (For a full visual explanation and instructions, visit HighFive HQ’s blog post.)

9. Turn AAA batteries into AA.

It always seems that whenever you need batteries the most, you can never find them. Especially in the office place, where everything from your wireless mouse to your calculator needs batteries, and your co-workers seem to hoard them for themselves in their desk drawers. However, if you ever find yourself in need of AA batteries but can only seem to find AAA, simply roll up a little ball of tin foil and use it to fill the empty spaces. This will allow your device to work, even with the wrong size battery!


10. Keep your coffee warm on cold winter days.

Sometimes on those blistering, cold fall and winter days, you can barely walk back to your desk from the kitchen before your coffee turns cold. Luckily, if you use a laptop that has a pretty bulky charger, you can use this as a makeshift coaster (just don’t spill!!) that keeps your coffee warm. Brilliant!

11. When deciding which tasks to tackle, use the 2 minute rule.

When you first walk into the office in the morning and are deciding where to kick off with your assignments, use the 2 minute rule when deciding where to get started — If you can do something now in two minutes or less, just do it. The more you put off these kinds of tasks, the more likely you will be to get bogged down at the end of the day catching up on misc. tasks. A simple email? A quick phone call? Just do it now. It’s only 2 minutes.

12. Create a “war room” to tackle your big ideas.

It can sometimes feel a little confining or limiting to try and tackle your big projects at your little desk. Plus, often times you will be able to get a better view of the problem or come up with a better solution if you just blew up the project and saw it from a new point of view anyway. This is what prompted us to create the Hello Innovation War Room (above). We just took over one of our empty rooms and created an open space to throw ideas up on the wall, create moveable sticky note plans, rearrange our thinking, and brainstorm without being restricted. We even painted the walls with whiteboard paint so we could write all over them. We think every office could benefit from one of these spaces—you don’t even need a whole room to do it! Just a blank wall in the office with plenty of open space for thoughts and ideas.


Image source: Fast Co Design

13. Add some moisture to your dry office with a water bottle humidifier.

Winter is on the horizon, which means that it’s about to get really dehydrated both inside our offices and outside in the arid air. Luckily, that doesn’t mean it has to be dry around your desk! The Satechi USB Portable Humidifier is a device that screws right on top of any plastic water bottle, plugs into your computer via USB port, and sends humid water into the air, allowing you to breathe just a little easier. Plus, it’s super quiet so your co-workers won’t even know you have one! (Perfect, since they would be sure to flock to your office space to soak it up for themselves.)

14. Get prepped for Monday on Friday.

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Who the heck wants to start thinking about the upcoming work week when Friday finally hits and the freedom of the weekend is so close? But trust us. You will thank yourself for it when Monday finally rolls around you’re totally prepared. Now, preparing for the next work week doesn’t mean that you have to get all of your Monday assignments done on Friday afternoon. Just spend the last 15 minutes of your day cleaning out your emails, returning phone calls and filing away all of the papers on your desk. You’ll be able to walk into the office on Monday with a fresh head, a fresh desk and a fresh start to put you ahead of the game.

What are your favorite office hacks that we didn’t mention? Be sure to share them with us in the comments below! We may even feature them in an upcoming blog post!


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