Clear the Clutter: 6 Tips to Organize Your Office

August 15, 2022

It’s common knowledge that we can’t easily find the things we need when our office is a mess. The time we spend looking for things can really add up. Just a few minutes spent searching for items each day can result in several hours of lost time per month. That lost time could have been spent getting more things done!

No matter your setup — a private office, coworking space, home office, cubicle, or pod — these tips can help you clean out disorganization like a pro.

1. Create a Place for Incoming and Outgoing Documents

No matter how vigilant you are about handling paperwork, several files will almost always have to wait to be taken care of. You can create a system for incoming and outgoing documents, so important papers don’t merge into one amorphous pile.

More often than not, a traditional desk organizer can be one of the most effective tools to keep your files in order. It’s hard to improve on a classic!

2. Go Through the Piles and Purge

When organizing your workspace, try having a “paper-purge party” with a recycling container and two adjacent work areas. Consider creating a system where documents with personal information are put in a paper shredder, and other less-sensitive documents are recycled or thrown away in a trash can.

Keep future paper overload in check by only touching all papers once. Implement this routine into your business system: Recycle, file, or address documents immediately as they arrive.

Once the papers on your desk are more organized, go a step further and wipe down your work area with some cleaning products. Especially for those who work from home, it’s easy to forget to keep our offices clean. A good way to stay on top of this is to set a time each week to wipe down your work area and clean up.

3. Update Your Filing System

Are you spending too much time figuring out how to file important documents? Your filing system could be too complex or not specific enough. The time you invest in updating it to reflect how your current business works can pay dividends over the year in faster filing and retrieval.

Put some time into developing an organizational process to save time in the long run.

4. Get Your To-Do Processes Under Control

Hot tip: Now is the perfect time to break in a new to-do system, whether it’s a calendar, wall planner, app, or notebook, such as the TUL custom note-taking system. There are many choices — the key is to find a process that works best for you and your business.

5. Don't Neglect E-Clutter

It’s not only your paper piles that could use a good purge; your computer has likely amassed its share of clutter. If you’re constantly scrolling through old files you no longer need, create a “dead zone” where you can send files related to projects you’re no longer working on. They can still be available for retrieval, just not on your screen.

A good way to cut down on your email clutter is to unsubscribe from newsletters you rarely read. If you miss reading something, you can always subscribe again. Also, handle emails as you deal with real mail: Take care of short tasks immediately, file messages you may need later, and delete those you’ve read and don’t need.

6. Put Organizing on Your Monthly Agenda

While we’d like to think that all these habits will become second nature, nearly every office can use a periodic cleanup. So, add decluttering to your regular to-do list, just like sending month-end invoices or reports.

Staying organized can make a big impact on your workflow. Starting each month with a clean slate can help you feel you’re already accomplishing something important.

About the Author 

Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer who specializes in small business, finance, and real estate.

All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is,” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrants the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.