On the notion of workspace organization, there are two major camps of people — either you’re someone who labels your office supplies, or you’re someone who believes tidiness is a myth perpetuated by HR. For those in the latter group, we’re here to help. Brooklyn–based professional organizer Laura Cattano is sharing her five go-to tips for overhauling your office and creating a space that not only feels clean + neat, but that reflects your aesthetic and supports the way you work.
Think about what you actually need and want on the surface of your desk. In my opinion, unless you use your stapler four times a day, there’s no reason for it to be kept out on your desk. Take inventory of your belongings and then make a list of the items you’d like to have handy at all times – clutter is chaos.
Remove everything from your desk and give it all — including dusty knickknacks and your computer — a thorough clean. Magic erasers are great at keeping keyboards looking new and microfiber cloths make monitor sparkle. Best of all, these products don’t require additional chemicals. Lastly, empty and vacuum all of your drawers and cabinets.
Storage in your workspace is prime real estate. I suggest reserving it for the current year’s paperwork and filings that you reference on a semi-regular basis. Paperwork over two years old can be boxed and stored on a high shelf or other out-of-the-way space. Shred anything that contains sensitive information. Toss junk like old rubber bands, keys to missing locks, receipts, etc. Old hard drives you don’t reference should be labeled and stored in another location or on a high or low shelf (in a nice box of course).
Keep around only the office supplies you’ll use in the next month or so. There’s no reason to have a 12 pack of sticky notes in one drawer. Tuck leftover papers into fresh new file folders or boxes. Use whatever filing system works best for you, just be consistent!
Think about what’s needed to make the experience of working at your desk more productive and inspiring. Instead of using a basic pencil cup or paper clip holder, look for more interesting pieces you may already have in your home, like a jewelry box or small vase. Your desk should reflect your personal taste and temperament. Often times, this means that mis-matched ‘souvenirs’ taken from an old office just won’t cut it. Use industrial Velcro to mount a power strip just under your desk so as to keep wires off the floor. Simple bread ties can tame the long cords, while cord clips can be used to keep your charging wires on the desk but out of the way when not in use.
Invest in a small scanner (or scanning app) for keeping track of important documents or receipts that you’re physically ready to part with. Go paperless whenever you can! Some people don’t know this, but you can actually request to opt out of mailed ‘offer’ materials, too. Remove your name from mailing lists and unsubscribe in your emails. Recycling is great, but having no mail to recycle is even better. Designate a spot on your desk for housing things that need immediate attention. This pile size will be a great visual reminder of how much needs to get done.