August 01, 2018

When life and work get busy, it can sometimes feel like everything is out of control, and believe it or not, a messy desk only adds to that feeling. Having a tidy desk and office makes you feel in control, even when the work keeps pouring in and the tasks keep piling up. 

Secretary At Untidy Office Desk

There are plenty of suggestions out there for how to clean your space. Farm Journals offers some fantastic suggestions in their article, "5 Ways To Unclutter Your Office and Regain Order." Or if you're digging down into the most annoying types of clutter, LifeHacks offers "10 Steps To Clean Up Your Office In 10 Minutes."

But sometimes the clutter can seem overwhelming, and all the life hacks in the world don't seem like enough. Or maybe the strategies don't match the type of clutter you're facing. Or maybe you're office isn't that bad, there are just a few things you don't know what to do with.

No matter what situation you're in, the hardest part of de-cluttering is getting started. So we've prepared a few steps for you to walk through, to make the process of cleaning up your office that much easier.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Space

Take a look around your workspace. What do you see? Maybe your desk is piled high with books or papers. Maybe there are binders everywhere, post-it notes, or even boxes piled up against the walls. It could be that your office is a dumping ground for everyone else's stuff--you might have extra chairs, unfinished projects, and endless office supplies piled up in your space. Or maybe, your office doesn't have that much stuff, it just looks messy because of the type of things that are being stored in it. 

Make a note of the things you absolutely need to keep in your office, and which of the items could find a new home. This will give you a good idea for how much storage space you will need.

While you're examining your office, take a look at your office furniture, too. What have you got? A desk--with drawers or without? Chairs? Bookcases? Storage credenza? Filing cabinets? Or maybe nothing at all--just a simple desk and chair. 

The whole evaluation should come down to a list of two things:

  1. What do you need to store?
  2. What have you got to store it in?

Step 2: Reorganize and Consolidate

There are a lot of ways to reorganize clutter, but the key thing is to do it in a way that makes sense to you. If you have a lot of books, you can alphabetize them. If you have a lot of project binders, sort them by completed and incomplete, and keep related ones together. Put files with files and pens with pens, books with books and paper with paper. By sorting everything into logical categories, you can get a better idea of how much of each item you have, and exactly how much space you'll need to store it.

The other way to sort them is by need. What items do you use the most often? What do you want to be able to grab the easiest? These are the things you will want closest to your desk and chair, if possible. Everything else can be stored across the room or down the hall if necessary.

This process might actually make your office look messier than it did before, but that's okay! Feel free to spread out, make piles, and create a your own easy-to-use system. 

Step 3: Re-Envision Your Current Storage Options

If you don't have resources to replace furniture, buy shelving, or otherwise restructure your space, then try to look at the furniture you have from a fresh perspective. In fact, even if you do have resources to restructure, this is still a good place to start--there's no need to spend extra capital if you have everything you need already.

Take this opportunity to get creative! How can you use what you've already got? For example, maybe you have a shelf, but it looks messy because it's covered with office supplies. Consider putting the office supplies in bins to make it look tidier--either simple plastic bins, or stylish fabric bins to add a little flair to the space. 

Maybe you have a filing cabinet, but don't use files. That's fine! Filing cabinets are just large drawers--anything that you might put in a regular drawer,  you can put in a filing cabinet drawer. 

Tables are another common piece of furniture. They usually only have one flat surface, and look messy if you put things underneath them. Here's a simple solution: bins and a tablecloth. Put extra office supplies, books, or files in bins, slide them under the table, and then add a tablecloth that hangs to the floor. Not only have you made your office look cleaner, but you've made it look nicer, too! Then, you can use the table top as either more workspace, or as a space to display photographs, artwork, and more. 

Get as creative as you want with this step. Sometimes it can be just as fun to reimagine your space with the furniture you have as it is to buy entirely new furniture. 

Step 4: Find Alternative Storage Options For Your Space


If you do have resources to redesign your office--or maybe you're just ready for a new look!--it's important to consider what types of tools you use every day, and how close you need them while you work.

You can always buy a new desk or storage credenza, but if you plan it fully out, you can buy items that go together, and give your office a nice, new, sparkling feel.

Desks are a great tool for storage in your office, because they usually come with storage drawers, filing drawers, shelves, or cabinets, in addition to the working space you need. You may also find a desk with a hutch convenient, as you can easily reach out and grab whatever you need. Hutches offer a a variety of options for storage, with drawers, shelves, or cabinets all in one piece of furniture. This allows you to have a variety of items within arms reach throughout the course of your workday. 

Bookcases and shelves are another option that allow for a lot of flexibility. Some come with doors, drawers, or just simple shelves. They often are designed to accommodate a wide range of objects, not only books, but also bins, artwork, photos, and more. 

 Storage credenzas are possibly the least utilized method storage option in offices, though they are exceedingly useful. They often are designed to hide office supplies, and are short enough to be placed in front of a window, or anywhere against a wall. They can also be put in a hallway, storage room, or anywhere in an office without looking conspicuous. 

It is important to do your research on this step. Figure out how much space you have, and buy furniture that will fit, but not make the space feel cramped or overwhelming. There are many styles of desks, credenzas, bookcases, and filing cabinets, and no matter what your needs are, there is something out there for you.

Step 5: Put Everything Away

It's all well and good to think about reorganizing your office, but until you actually do the work, it will stay messy. This part of the process is the most arduous, but also the most satisfying. As each item gets placed in its new home, the office gets tidier and tidier, until it is entirely clutter-free. 


A clean office can help motivate you to get work done, dive into a new project, or host that meeting you've been putting off for weeks. Cleaning your office can also give you a little break from the work itself, give you time to get some thinking done, and just take a deep breath. 

Don't forget to put away any cleaning supplies, or to remove extra bins or storage options that you don't need from your office.

Then you can sit down and enjoy the fresh, clean space. 


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