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Microsoft has a Windows "honestly" ad about their tablets, where they feature a guy, supposedly an accountant, who brags that he "hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in over three years" (YouTube: The New Windows: Accountant).

Having seen the ad one too many times, I cannot stop myself from having doubts that not approving new stapler purchases is a good way of promoting personal productivity and increasing performance.

Isn't the character from the video highly detrimental to the personal productivity of other members in the workplace, or am I missing something?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by THelper, Kramii, Raystafarian, Grant Palin, Dennis S. Dec 19 '13 at 21:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Welcome to Personal Productivity! Your question is a bit hypothetical and as such not a very good fit for this site. – THelper Dec 19 '13 at 8:03
up vote 3 down vote accepted

From personal experience, the acquisition of a second stapler has proven to be a boon to my business. I am a freelancer, and one of the ways I keep track of expenses is to staple project receipts to the final invoice I send to my client. This allows me to track and verify payment for reimburseable expenses, and calculate profitability based on how many UNREIMBURSED expenses I incurred. As a result, I am constantly learning how to estimate better and improve profitability.

From a productivity standpoint, I frequently visit coffeeshops with a folder full of invoices and receipts to sort through everything and sort what goes where. This is a welcome respite from the confines of the office, and being in a third place helps me focus and concentrate.

However, many a time I've left the house without a stapler. I am relegated to stacking all my papers and placing them back in order, only to return to my office and spend fifteen minutes straightening the stacks, stapling each group, and filing thim in the appropriate "receiveables" slot in my binder. Sometimes, the frustration of NOT hasving a stapler could mess with my day enough to reduce my focus and concentration a noticeable amount.

A few months ago, I finally broke down and approved the erquisition of a modest stapler for myself. I keep it in a pocket of my messenger bag that travels with me. Now, in the coffee shop, I can staple as I sort, put the paperwork in my receivables binder and come a lot closer to my goal of handling each piece of paper only once.

My cost-benefit analysis was based on the extra fifteen minutes to unpack my bag, straighten, staple and re-file 3-4 times a week. Let's call that 40 hours a year, at the low end of my consulting rate ($75.00) for a $3000.00 cost savings per year with the purchase of a new stapler. Given the ROI for that purchase, I even included a second box of staples that travels with me, for a total of $5.36. All told, that's nearly a 60,000% return on investment, even though the productivity gain of 40 hours a year is quite modest.

Perhaps the character in the video was only looking at the 40 hours, and not the dollar value of the ROI. It's hard to say what his motivations were. Perhaps he's not received the committee report yet that could justify the cost of a new stapler, so he's just sticking with his long-standing "no new staples" policy.

All I can say is that the purchase of a new stapler helped me immensely. I sometimes like to imagine what could happen if I bought a second pencil.

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+1, great answer! – cnst Dec 19 '13 at 20:32

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