It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the office supplies website See Jane Work was a big reason I decided to start Penelope Loves Lists.
For years, I’d spend waaaaaay too much time on the See Jane Work website, trolling page after page of gorgeous, useful supplies for my home and work offices. I loved it. And I soon realized that other like-minded souls felt the same way. That was my first inkling of the Penelope Personality.
So, it is with absolute pleasure that I introduce you to Holly Bohn, founder of See Jane Work. She’s a Penelope herself, living a busy life filled with career, kids and family life. She’s found a way to hold it all together beautifully. And today she’s telling us how:
When did you start See Jane Work? What made you take the leap?
I started planning it in 2003, but didn’t open the site until July of 2004. The idea was born out of frustration looking for one place where I could find stylish, yet affordable, office supplies. I would have to say that although I did a ton of research before starting, there is always a dose of ignorance that helps you take the leap.
What physical items keep your work organized? (notebooks, binders, etc.)
I love binders, magazine files, and letter boxes. I like my book shelves to look neat so books or other materials that don’t stack well go into magazine files or letter boxes. I also love to collect information so binders with sheet protectors are a key tool for me. Just to name a few, I have a binder for recipes, a binder for organizational tips, a binder for cute outfits (yes, I’m serious), and a binder for decorating.
Are you a “list” person? If so, what kinds of lists do you find yourself making most?
My lists are all over the place. I like to have standardized lists like check lists for the kids and housekeeping check lists, that sort of thing. I also have what I call loose lists, you know the ones you probably won’t follow exactly, but need to quickly write them down so you can get them out of your head and go to sleep. An example might be ideas for better managing my time or goals at work.
What do you look for in a perfect notebook?
I like the idea of having just one notebook so that you can always find your notes, but honestly I end up changing depending on the situation. If I need to look serious at a meeting, I’ll use a Semikolon Clamp Binder with See Jane Work Basic Notebook Paper. If I want to look fun, I’ll use a See Jane Work Composition Book.
A notebook must be stylish and have perforated, lined and hole punched pages.
What software or online tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
I use Microsoft Outlook to organize email, contacts, and appointments. I have a file system on my computer-no random saving to My Documents, and I use a task program on my iPhone. I’m still getting used to the task program, I do prefer written lists so I might stop using it.
Mac or PC?
PC I used to be an accountant so I have always used PC’s. Company-wide we use PC’s so it would be a challenge to change.
How many hours a week do you spend on your work, on average?
I’m embarrassed to say as it sounds a little annoying, but I LOVE my work. I would rather do my work than anything else. I eat, breathe, and dream work. I probably average about 60 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I do have three kids so that takes a lot of time. I need to exercise more, so I will probably try to cut back this year. I didn’t have to work quite as much when the economy was stronger, but that is probably true of a lot of people.
There are a lot of tasks involved with having a successful career. How do you organize your time? Do you have a method that’s worked for you?
I endorse the Regroup Method. I just came up with that right now so let me explain. With the birth of a new child, or when kids change from toddlers to school age, or when you move or get a new job, your life can unravel. You have to give yourself a break. Take some time to think about how your life has changed and what you need to do to get organized. Don’t be afraid to try new things. What worked when you were single will not necessarily work now that you are married with kids.
Describe your work space currently.
My work space at this very moment is a mess. In fact, a co-worker threatened to “out” me so I’ve decided to “out” myself. I moved into a new office and I haven’t regrouped yet. I need a few more weeks. It was more important to get my family settled. We moved from California to Florida so it’s been a big adjustment.
Describe your “dream” work space.
Bright, sunny, with a big window, a pleasant view, a large work area and cheerful colors. I decorate sort of beachy so lots of aqua and white. I like real materials so I would rather have a vintage metal desk in my budget than a fake mahogany desk. If I lived in a mansion and could have rich mahogany bookshelves filled with leather-bound books I would, but I don’t like to pretend. At this very moment I have a table made of reclaimed pine. It’s got lots of character.
What about your job work makes you most anxious and how do you deal with it?
The unknown is always nerve racking. I’m afraid of making a mistake. I design or buy things for the site that I think people will want, but what if I’m wrong. What if no one buys it?
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a young woman entering the work world?
Don’t apologize for being a woman, even to other women. I’m not suggesting you cry during every meeting, but it might happen once in your career. Rather than being mortified and apologizing simply hold your head up, dab your eyes, and go on as if nothing happened. Men are more willing to force their opinions, take risk, say what they think. We should be too and we shouldn’t be afraid to show our feminine side.
What’s on your desk right this instant?
Letter trays, a tray to hold my stapler, tape, pencil cup and clips-so they’re not spread all over the desktop. A lot of catalogs and 2 project organizers overflowing with work. I really need to do some filing. Oh yes, and way too many cords.
What’s your favorite book (or books) of all time?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck or Streams in the Desert.
Do you own any pets? If so, what kind?
A Portuguese Water Dog, all black. That’s as much as I can manage right now.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Champagne. When I lived in California my guilty pleasure was strawberries (slightly healthier). They grew them right by my house so they were the really sweet ones that you can’t find anywhere else. You have to eat them the day they are picked. I can eat a ½ flat of strawberries (that’s 4 of those little green baskets) in one sitting. For non-food splurges probably expensive laundry detergent. I like The Laundress and Good Home Company Beach Days Fabric Softener.
What’s your favorite way to wind down after a hard day?
A nice family dinner when the kids don’t argue at the table and everyone likes their food. A bubble bath with a magazine and glass of champagne is also fun.