Admit it: In your time as an office drone, you’ve “unknowingly” made off with enough supply-cabinet finds to film a heist movie set at a Staples. But if you’re only using those materials as intended, you’re missing out on a whole world of possibilities.
A favorite among the life-hacking set, these clever contraptions have a myriad of uses beyond fastening paper.
Knock-off Chip Clip: Why buy fancy “official” Chip Clips when these guys hold even better? Do you really need to seal your Fritos with an official designated Chip Clip?
Grocery List Holder: Bring one of these things to the store and use it to clip your shopping list to your cart’s railing.
Wrapping Paper Holder: Clip a small one to each end of a roll of wrapping paper to prevent that raggedy flyaway piece at the end. Look at you—you’re more Martha already!
Money Clip: Very impressive when you’re toting big bills. It says, “I’m unpretentious (and my craftiness with office supplies got me where I am today).”
4 more ideas on eHow. Share your alternative uses for them in the comments.
Poetry could be penned about these multifaceted 3-by-5 marvels. (Or on them, they’re the perfect size for a haiku or limerick.) Once you fall in love with index cards, you’ll never be the same again.
Flash Cards: Use these to help kids practice vocabulary words, math skills and other quizzable material. If kids are old enough, have them make their own flash cards, since writing things down aids a person in remembering them.
Hipster PDA: Yes, annoying name, but a way cheaper organizational system to try for the time-and-life management impaired among us. Find out how to make one via 43Folders or eHow’s minimalist version.
Lunch Box Notes: Kids don’t want long, mushy missives on the napkins they’re supposed to wipe their peanut butter-covered maws with; the index card is the perfect size for your have-a-great-day-at-school sentiments.
Novel Guides: Vladimir Nabokov used to write the events and pieces of his novels on index cards and then sorted them into workable fiction. If you have writerly aspirations, this might just work for you, too.
8 More index-card ideas on eHow. How do you use ‘em?
The MacGyver of office supplies, these little guys will bend to your will, quite literally.
Tiny Cleaning Tools: Unfold them to de-crud a keyboard (or your fingernails).
Button Pusher: Use the ends to press the teeny-tiny button to reset a digital watch or car clock.
Zipper Pull: What to do when the pull-tab falls off your zipper? Loop a paperclip through the slider and let it take care of business.
Paper Clip Facts:5 facts that’ll impress friends at cocktail parties, via eHow.
You’re probably not lifting a lot of these, but you likely have a few laying around from projects that have wrapped. Unless you really want souvenirs from work, reuse them.
Menu Mastery: Corral those take-out menus into one neat booklet. This one only works if you’re at least a little organized.
Sum of Their Parts: Unearth the cardboard beneath the vinyl covers for art projects. Use the rings of the binder as key rings, or punch holes at the tops of your kid’s artwork to gather their masterpieces for neater storing.
With paper clips and binder clips around, staplers get less and less love. Fix your relationship with your fave affixer by using it for something new.
Bag Closer: If your plastic sandwich baggie’s lost its zip, you can seal it shut with a staple.
Emergency Seamstress: Torn hem or strap? Use a staple as a temporary fix until you can see a tailor.
Besides making you look instantly efficient and in-charge (really, tote one along at your kids’ birthday party and watch the other parents fall in line), clipboards can come in very handy for other things.
Lap Desk: Don’t buy a fancy travel desk for your kids. A clipboard filled with fresh paper (also found at work!) is an ideal writing or drawing surface. Flip it over as a space for playing with cars and small toys.
Work Station Reminder Board: Hang a clipboard by your desk as a holder for bills to pay, correspondence to tend to, or other things you need close-at-hand but not on your desk.
Recipe Holder: Prop up a clipboard while you cook to hold the recipes you print out online or tear from magazines.
Already genius (a fact even the paperless among us can’t really deny), these sticky squares are handy to have around (and not only for leaving short break-up notes a la Berger in Sex and the City).
Book Flags: Use these to mark and easily find your favorite pages (and even make notes you want to refer to later).
Keyboard Cleaner: Slide the sticky edge between the keys. Bagel crumbs, be gone!
Flip Book: Rainy day? Peel off sheets from a Post-It pad and let kids come up with their own flip books.
They lack the glamorous sheen of paper and binder clips but these guys still get things done.
Sous Chef: Slide one of these babies on each end of your slippery cutting board and—voila!—a cutting surface that slides no more.
Cap Grip: Wrap a wide one around the tops of hard-to-untwist caps (think nail polish) as a grip.
Kid-friendly Chopsticks Maker: This one takes some skill but kids (and the chopstick-inept) will appreciate the effort. Instructions here.
Photo credits: Michael Alarcon