As an administrative assistant for a team of 20, I balance a lot of tasks and pieces of paperwork. I have had to devise some strong office organization skills to keep up! As we start to navigate returning to work, trying to get our offices and home offices organized and if you are like us, working some days at home and some days at the office, things get out of order easily.
- Clear your desk top. Having a clear, minimal workspace is proven to help productivity and focus. Hide what you can in drawers, and invest in a file cabinet or two to keep papers out of the way. Or digitize your paperwork! Just keep one cup of writing utensils, and put the rest in a pouch or box in your desk drawers. Keep a folder or drawer labeled “to file” so rather than stopping multiple times a day to file, you set aside an hour each week just dedicated to filing and you keep your workflow productive!
- Organize your drawers by function. I keep all my writing instruments together, note taking tools like sticky notes, note pads, and scratch paper, standard office supplies like white out, staples, and paperclips in an organizer, and personal items like sanitizer, a granola bar, and spare headphones together. Using desk organizers like these helps divide drawers by function so when you need to do a task, everything for that task is together. This allows your brain to focus on the important parts of your work, and not on trying to remember where you left the staple remover!
- Use a label maker. I may be a bit obsessed with my label maker, but it is for good reason! This is a massive help in clearing brain space for important things and not having to remember what goes in what file or drawer. Just label it and you won’t forget!
- Use binders. Binders are especially helpful for organizing similar paper items that still need organization. You can use them to organize the paperwork and schedules for your different chapter memberships, use them to organize recipes you want to try, or even minutes from meetings. They work best for paper you want to organize by date or type, and using dividers with labels like these will keep you organized.
- Use an accordion folder for travel between work and home. This seems to be where a lot goes missing for us since we rotate between working at home or at the office. By using an accordion folder with labels, you an organize mail you need to take home, notes, important files, or anything else and keep it all in one spot instead of flying around your car!
- Digitize old files. This is truly the easiest way to organize your office and desk! Most desk messes are caused by old paperwork and files stacked everywhere, but by scanning files to your computer and saving them in clearly labeled folders, you don’t need to store physical old files “just in case” you need them! You will have them on your computer for that just in case situation! It clears up space in your physical office, and since you labeled the files clearly, just start searching the name of what you want and it appears. No rifling through old stacks of paper anymore.
- Implement a schedule. Every week at the same time schedule 30 minutes dedicated to organization. File any outstanding paperwork, digitize old files, name documents on your computer properly, and clear off your desk. I like to do this on Friday afternoon when the day is pretty quiet and slow, and it gives me a fresh start for Monday morning.
The true key to keeping your space organized is to not get too complicated. Keep things labeled, in easy reach, and maintain it over time. If you try and make it too complicated you will give up and not do the routine maintenance any office organization system needs. It’s unrealistic to think your office is going to look perfect and spotless all the time, or have matching organizers and all the supplies are uniform colors. Lower your expectations, clear out the junk, and make it work for you. Test it for a few weeks, and if something is consistently ended up unorganized, figure out what change you need to make there to make it easier to maintain. The system isn’t permanent! You can always change and reorganize.
Are you mostly working at home? See our post about organizing your virtual desktop!
What is your favorite way to organize your workspace? Or do you need some help with office organization?