Since this was such a popular post from last year – we’re reposting my office organization tips to jump start your 2013! – Enjoy!
When I was young, I didn’t want to be an astronaut, a doctor, or a princess – I wanted to be a professional organizer. I know, I know something is wrong with me but I’m a firm believer in decluttering and organizing your space. Whether it’s your house, apartment, car or office you should get rid of items you don’t need or use on a regular basis. I understand it can be hard letting go of certain items – whether it’s sentiment or fear that maybe, just maybe, you’ll need that item again one day – but it’s time! With the New Year approaching now is the perfect time to purge yourself of clutter and make a fresh start.
When I started here at Elements I was given the grand tour of this beautiful studio – and then they showed me the basement. There are two parts to the basement, the finished side that Ben and Amy use for comping and sketching and then there’s the “scary” side. I named it the scary side because, well, it was terrifying – bankers boxes full of files and unorganized papers, old art supplies, holiday decorations, boxes full of keyboards and software. I should note that Elements offices moved last year and with moving, full schedules, and new clients, who has the time to organize the space? Needless to say the moment I saw the basement it became my pet project. We have all this great useable space that’s not being used!
So, as I begin organizing the basement, I wanted to pass along my Top 10 Tips for organizing your workspace and office. Even if you don’t have a scary basement – you can benefit from this list. In my opinion organization is directly correlated to productivity and we could also use more time during the work week!
1. Get the organization essentials:
- An inbox and outbox
- Multiple file racks
- Multicolor folders, hanging files and a filing cabinet
- A trash basket and shredder
- A place to store your pens/pencils/general office supplies
Often times, people don’t organize because they don’t have the tools to do so. Take a quick trip to Staples to get the essentials and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner desk. I know that keeping it clean is a whole other story – especially your inbox. An inbox isn’t a permanent storage container, if something has been sitting there for more then a few days it needs to be looked at. An outbox is also a great place to hold paperwork that’s finished and still needs to be filed – if you have a place for everything, it’s less likely to end up lost or piled up on your desk.
2. Get rid of useless “stuff”: Seems like an obvious tip – but so many people hang on to pens that don’t work, empty tape dispensers, old post-its, and piles of papers. If you haven’t used it in a month or it doesn’t work – get rid of it. It’s just taking up space.
3. Have a place for everything: If you have a designated place for “to-do’s” your finished work, books, files and office supplies – you’ll be more apt to put each item in its place. It will also help clutter from piling up – is your filing cabinet starting to fill up? Time to purge some files or put them into long-term storage.
4. Arrange your desk by your everyday needs: It’s common sense really – put the items you use on an everyday basis closer to you and put the items you use weekly/monthly further away. Keeping the lesser-used items further away will free up your valuable working space. Clear your workspace, clear your mind!
5. Don’t mix business with personal: Everyone has enough on their plates at work without mixing in their personal files. Keep separate files for your office and your personal tasks– and keep your personal files far away from your workspace.
6. Don’t forget about your computer: Organizing your desktop files, email or server is a daunting task. However, you can use the same steps to organize your computer, as you would organizing your desk. Delete useless files, put the items you use everyday on your desktop and file away items you don’t use as often. It will take some time getting a system in place but it will save you countless hours in searching for your important documents.
7. A Labelmaker/color-coding are your friends: I label everything – files, folders, my to-do list, every box or bag in storage etc. The easier it is to identify something, the quicker it will be to find it. I also date everything, so I know when it was filed – if you haven’t looked at it in a few months, take a second to go through it, and file it or trash it. Color-coding also makes everything easier – I file green as financials, blue as projects and red as my “to-dos.” Keep your filing system simple though – 2 or 3 colors max.
8. Be smart about long-term file storage: I know I’ve been gung-ho about purging but every office has important documents that they need to keep. Long-term files usually consist of financial documents or previous work/references. If you’re thinking of getting a Bankers Box, think again. If the files are so important you need to keep them for the long haul – find a storage container that will keep them organized and safe. I use these plastic storage bins for our design and financial files. The have a lip on the inside so that you can store hanging files easily. I’ve sorted each box by year and then alphabetized them for easy access.
9. For bigger projects, work in phases: The basement isn’t going to be easy and I’m well aware it won’t get done in a day. When you’re tackling a bigger project like organizing an entire room you need to be realistic and work in phases. Phase 1 can be an initial assessment where you sort your items into piles, “keep,” “sort” and “trash.” Use the sort pile as a “maybe” pile where you put items that you’re on the fence about. Once you’re through sorting, throw your trash pile away immediately (to avoid picking out more items you think you need). Then, assess your keep pile and figure out what types of storage and organization products you’ll need to keep them. A second phase can be organizing your “sort” pile and then putting your keep file into an organizational storage. Your third phase can be more purging (I recommend this) and so on and so forth. Your last phase should always be cleaning and then, admire your work. The most important thing is to not get discouraged, it may seem like an impossible task, but take your time, work in phases and breathe!
10. Organize as you go: Beginning your organization is always the hardest part – but once you have a system, staying organized gets much easier. Work on keeping your desk clear and neat and take small steps everyday to do so. If you can’t commit to a little everyday, take 15 minutes at the end of your work week to clean your space. Your Monday mornings will be much easier to transition into with a clean and clear space.
Ok- now it’s your turn. Go forth and organize! Putting in the initial time is the hardest step, but it’s worth it in the long run!