There are few things in life I love more than new office supplies. Pretty paper, new pencils, and crisp file folders spell HEAVEN! I could spend a fortune at Office Depot in a heartbeat, and my obsession with researching and buying a new planner every year verges on the obscene. (In case you’re curious, I used this one for 2014 and this one for 2015.)
Sometimes I love the idea of getting organized more than actually putting in the work to stay organized. (Ahem.) Sound familiar?
When I started working from home a few years ago, I realized that keeping my work space organized was crucial to my sanity and my bank account. What worked for me in my former profession as a teacher did not work for running creative business out of my home.
Trial and clutter ensued.
If you struggle to keep a neat desk and are constantly moving that stack of papers from one place to another, today’s post is for you.
9 STEPS TO A MORE ORGANIZED OFFICE
1. Use vertical wall space.
This is key to maximizing usable space and cutting down on desk top clutter. I have shelves that serve to hold both file storage and decor. Also office organizers that hang on the wall are great. My very favorite office organizer is my wall magazine rack from IKEA. It allows me to move most of my paperwork off of my desk. (More on that in a minute.)
I love how this office that uses peg board to hold all sorts of things. This would be perfect if you have limited or no drawer space.
2. Tame Small Items With Trays
This is one of my go-to tips for any room, but especially in the office. I filled a large hexagon tray that I scored from a flea market with small containers for things like paper clips that I use often. They are available but contained and can easily be cleared off quickly if I need more work space.
3. Stack Boxes for Decor and Storage.
The next time you see some cute boxes at Target, grab ’em. Stacked boxes look great and are so practical. I keep office supplies that I don’t use frequently in boxes on my shelves. This way more of my drawer space is freed up, but things are close by if I need them.
4. Categorize Your Whiteboard.
Yes, you need a whiteboard. The more you can differentiate between your tasks, the easier it will be to get a mental picture of what areas are most needing your attention. I use my white board to help me remember the “big things” going on that month. (My to-do list is totally separate.)
5. Multiple Inboxes
If I could suggest ONLY ONE tip from this whole list, this would be it. One of the systems that I’ve been using for years is a multi-section inbox with the following categories: “Read, File, Send, Sort, This Week”.
Think of it like your office’s Mail Room. Nothing stays here long, but the temporary files serves as holding spots until you can address each item.
When I started teaching years ago, I used only one file basket as my “inbox”. Very quickly my mutating paper stack became a monster I couldn’t control.
A labeling system with multiple inboxes gives you a visual of outgoing mail, forms that need submitting, or items needing filing (in your permanent file cabinet).
6. Leave Some Blank Space.
This will look different for everyone. For me it means keeping one magazine file holder empty and ready for a new project. I leave one desk drawer empty as well. Sometimes temporary projects fill the spot, but most times it’s left as a placeholder in case I need it. This ensures that new things don’t pile up during the busiest times, when you most need to stay organized. You always have place for temporary overflow if needed.
7. Allow Yourself Only One “Stash Spot”.
I have a wire basket on my desk top that is my catch-all “stash spot”. If I’m in the middle of something but don’t have time to officially file and sort, I use the basket. This greatly helps me with the next step…
8. Clear Off Your Desk Surface Everyday.
I know. Sounds obvious, right? Taking just 5 minutes to straighten up at the end of the day seems like a little thing, but making a habit of this is huge. By clearing your desk top at the end of the day, you’re setting yourself up for a more productive morning the next day. Plus if you have a “Read, File, Send, Sort” system in place, this should help to speed things up.
9. Go Minimalist.
This is something I’ve recently discovered. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have heard me talk about my quest to simplify everything in my life this year. I am guilty of wanting lots of options when it comes to office supplies ( and desserts…and lip gloss).
The fact is, I just don’t need 257 different pens to choose from. And neither do you.
Think for a moment about your favorite pen or pencil. My guess is that you opt for that one 90% of the time. Now think about all those office supplies which rarely if ever get used that are taking up precious real estate in your desk right now.
Throwing or giving away all those “extras” might feel like a waste, but I promise simplifying your options will eventually lead to less mess in the long run.
OFFICE INSPIRATION & GOAL
I’m always looking for unique office spaces to see how I can tweak my own. Check out my “Office Space” board on Pinterest to get a peak of some of favs.
Q: Do you have a favorite office organization trick?
*Most pictures taken by Janae Hardy.