When you hear about getting organized, the typical advice is to run out to your closest organization store and buy a bunch of organization aids. But if you're like me, you've been there, done that and found out it didn't work. In fact, it just made your office more cluttered when the piles started to appear.
Cynthia's approach to office organization is a complete 180 degrees from that method. Instead of pushing complicated organization systems, her motto is to simplify. In fact, she's so good at simplifying spaces, she's been given the name master simplifier. After one look at her offices, you'd agree she's earned her title. There's not a paper out of place on her drawerless desks.
So, how does she do it? Here are Cynthia's seven tips for achieving office organization.
The first place to start when organizing your office is to get rid of everything you don't need. Sort through all of the paper, books and supplies. Throw out or donate the things you don't use. Keep important documents in color-coded file folders.
Put Things You Need Close at Hand
After purging, it's time to put everything back. But before putting it where it used to go, reconsider your office organization system.
"When you're organizing an office, think of yourself as the bulls eye on the target, and everything moves out in concentric circles from there," Cynthia said. "Those things that are most important that you access most frequently need to be closest at hand and easiest to access."
Items you frequently use such as pens, pencils, staplers and highlighters should be in a drawer close at hand. If you're right handed, those items should go in a drawer on your right side. If you're left handed, those items should go in a drawer on your left side. That way they are easier to access.
Items that you rarely use such as a dictionary or map should go farther away and do not need to be an arm's distance away from your chair.
Keep Your Desk Clear
Putting things close at hand is not an excuse to put them on your desk. In fact, your desk is the one place where things are not supposed to go.
"The biggest challenge when organizing an office for people is that they believe they have to have everything out and have to have every thing that they are working on visible at the moment they're working on it," Cynthia said. "But then the question becomes if this is your work surface and it's covered with things that you're working on, where do you work?"
Instead, keep everything off of your desk except for a desktop organizer and a pad of paper. Other than that, everything else should be put away until the moment you need it.
Utilize a Desktop Organizer
Cynthia suggests using a desktop organizer with two trays. The first tray is for long term projects you need close at all times. The second is for task you need to accomplish that day.
"At night when I leave [the daily task] tray is empty, and my desk is clear," Cynthia said. "So when I come in in the morning I start with a fresh palette and a clean slate."
Use Only One Note Pad
One of the easiest ways to accumulate clutter is using multiple note pads. Rather than sticking with your scattered thoughts, Cynthia suggests simplifying.
"You want to have one place where you keep all notes," Cynthia said. "Whether you keep a task list on your computer or you keep a running tally on a notepad or in your calendar, there has to be one place."
No more sticky notes. Commit to one place where you write down all reminders and tasks. It will help you to see everything you need to accomplish and keep your desk clear of extra papers.
Use Two Monitors
Because you have to stop using your sticky notes and thousands of paper pads, it only seems fair that you get to add an extra item to your office, and that item is a monitor. The extra monitor will give you a place for all of your notes you would have written on those sticky pads that is, if you choose to use a computer document as your one note pad.
"We actually use two monitors at White Space," Cynthia said. "One with our calendar up on it and one where we're working. Two monitors have been shown to increase peoples efficiency 30 percent."
Keep Your Drawers Tidy
Throwing all of your supplies in your drawers with no method of organization will end in disaster. It will quickly become a junk drawer, and you'll never be able to find what you need. Instead, you should place organizers inside each of your office drawers.
"There are a lot of different drawer organizers you could use," Cynthia said. "Our favorite happens to be the bathroom vanity organizer."
Each space in the organizer is a space for an office supply you use. For example, one compartment of the organizer may be for pencils, another might be for paper clips and another for your calculator. Having separate compartments for each item will make it easy to keep things organized in your drawers.