It’s easy for an office to get out of control, organization-wise. Things come into your space with very little effort, but it requires time and effort — even if just a little bit of both — to get things out of that space.
An organized office (whatever that looks like to you) is more productive and goes a long way to helping you better manage our time.
Below are categories of items that might be cluttering your office environment. Do your own assessment and see which areas stand out as ones that could stand some thinning. As far as getting down to work, some people prefer to set aside a full day to tackle the whole room but most don’t have that luxury and need to fit de-cluttering into an already busy workday. If the latter describes you, then break your clean-out projects down into small tasks you can accomplish in 15 to 30 minutes at a time.
- Books – Look at each title. Have you read it? Will you read it ever, or again? Do you need to keep it for reference or have you assimilated the knowledge into your brain and no longer need the source? You can sell used books on-line or donate them to a local library or book fair.
- Binders – These can be from old projects, conferences, etc. Have you looked at them? Will you use them? Can they be thinned out and put in a paper file?
- Knick knacks/photographs – If it suits your style it’s fine to have personal items around to make your office homier but it can also get out of hand. Look at each item and ask yourself if it really makes you happy to look at it or it’s just been there so long you’ve been looking right past it. While you may not notice everything that’s accumulated, you’ll probably get a lift from seeing uncluttered space when some of that stuff is gone.
- Logo’d items – Who doesn’t love a freebie! But first of all, only take stuff you’ll use. Next do a sweep of your office occasionally and cast off items that are ratty, out-of-date, cumbersome to use, or just in the way. Again, it’s like the knick knacks. These things multiply without some amount of effort to keep volume in check.
- Writing instruments – How many pens do you need? Ditch unreliable pens, half-dry markers and highlighters, pencil stubs, etc. Only keep as many writing instruments as can fit in the space where you keep them (pen cup or drawer compartment).
- Office supplies — Only have on hand what you’ll reasonably use in a short amount of time. Most people don’t need 12 legal pads, 25 stacks of sticky notes, or 3 boxes of paper clips. If you’re in a large office, that’s what the supply closet is for. If you’re in a home office, the big box office supply stores will ship free to your home if you spend $50, so you don’t have to stock up for a year to save shipping costs.
It’s good to get into the habit of doing an office clean-out every six months. That way it never gets too out of hand and therefore isn’t a huge project to get it back to the way that works for you.