Offices are the last place you need clutter. Although it can be difficult to keep a space you’re constantly working in organized, it’s incredibly important. Working in a disorganized office is stressful, distracting and hindering not only to your career, but also to your health. We spoke with top organizing experts to find out the best decluttering tips to help set your office up for success.
“You’ll breathe easier with less clutter – literally! The more stuff you have, the more dust accumulates and the harder it is to get rid of it all,” explains Lisa Zaslow, a NYC based productivity expert and founder of Gotham Organizers. “You also waste time finding the information and office tools you need, you get stressed out, and your co-workers, boss and clients may be (perhaps unfairly) judging your job performance based on the visual of your cluttered office.”
1. Keep only current responsibilities on your desk
Your desk is the first place you want to tackle. “If you start by clearing and organizing your desk, you’ll quickly sharpen your focus, improve your productivity and – bonus – impress your colleagues,” Zaslow states. This takes no time at all. Start by “paring down the items on your desk to the things you use daily plus a few personal items that fill you with pleasure when you look at them,” says organizing expert Jill Annis. After all, your office shouldn’t be all work and no play. Personal items help bring joy and calm to a stressful space.
2. Use colorful folders
Naturally, file folders are key to a clutter-free office space. While you can keep the office just as neat with regular, labeled folders, colorful folders will save you time in the long run. “Using colored folders can also help you find things if you remember, red folders are used for taxes, green for clients, etc,” remarks Annis. This kind of extreme efficiency is key when it comes to the office. Remember, time is money.
3. Keep writing utensils on top of your desk
Instead of keeping things like pens, pencils and scissors in your drawer, keep them out on your desk in a mug or mason jar. “Containers will keep those items corralled and easier to find,” Annis explains. They’ll also keep your go-tos at an arms reach from your chair, which Zaslow says is important.
4. Use drawer organizers
This one may seem basic, but drawer organizers are one of the best ways to keep all of those small but necessary office supplies together. “They prevent desk drawers from becoming a jumbled mess,” Annis says. Having a home for things like paper clips, Post-its and rubber bands will keep them from sliding around in drawers or stacking in between important papers and files.
5. Put any ‘clutter’ in a box
In a rush? An instant decluttering method Zaslow recommends is putting everything you think of as clutter into an inexpensive cardboard box. “Snap a few photos so you know what’s inside, print them out and tape them to the side of the box.” It’s inexpensive and efficient. If you’re a collector, stack as many boxes on one another as you need. Just a little tip though—try to keep like-minded items together. It’ll make it that much easier to remember what’s where when you’re in a hurry.
6. Take baby steps
You don’t always have to dive into Type A organizing skills and commit an entire day to tidying up. If you go in with that mindset, you may feel too overwhelmed and never get started. Take it one step at time. “When you’re in the grips of negative emotions it’s hard for the rational thinking part of your brain to create a plan of action,” Zaslow explains. “Taking even one baby step can make a huge difference.” She recommends doing something as simple as throwing away broken binders or recycling old catalogs.
Confess! What does your desk top look like right now?