I work in various offices as a bookkeeper, and nothing creates more chaos than paper piles and mess.

I know some people swear they can work like that, but when you are on the phone and you need to access the latest project you are working on and that means standing on one foot and reaching the top of filing cabinets or drawers or rummaging through the every growing pile on your desk, then it is time to organize your office.

It doesn’t have to be perfectly colour coded, but having a place for everything certainly will make life easier.  You just need to create a system that will work for your type of business and your desk personality.

For example:  I am more visual when it comes to office supplies and the work.  I can’t have it tucked away in drawers or I will not remember where it is.  This is why a lot of my work tends to remain on the desk.

Well there are still lots of office organization products that will work with this type of office.

I need to be able to clearly see everything from my highlighters to my file folders at a glance.  All the projects I am working on need to be on the desk for me to work efficiently.

Once I am done with certain customers or projects then they can be filed away in a filing cabinet and come off the desk.

How to Get Started on Your Office Cleaning Mission

Step 1 – Clean off the surface.  Take 30 minutes and carefully transplant your piles of work and supplies right down to those paper clips floating around to another surface.  Now really wipe it down and make it clean again.

office organization productsCredit: Amazon.com

Step 2 – Decide on which products would work best for you.  You can shop at the dollar store for storage ideas as well as online.  If you are like me and need to be able to visually see your files, then you need a file organizer that sits right on the desk.

Rolodex Mesh Stacking Sorter, Black
Amazon Price: $28.49 $10.42 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 5, 2014)

Step 3 – Label your Files well so that you know at a glance which file is what.  Then file them horizontally in a file system such as the one pictured.  Put your most important files at the front and by filing horizontally instead of vertically (ie: piled up to the ceiling) you can find what you need fast and the folders will last longer too and not get ripped and beaten.

So, invest in some bright labels either handwritten or invest in a label maker, just label them with something you recognize.

office organization productsCredit: Amazon.com
Brother PT1290 Home and Office Labeler
Amazon Price: $39.99 $24.25 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 5, 2014)

Step 4 – Office supplies need a home too.  You could stuff them in a drawer, but I tend to drag them out and leave them floating on the desk.  If you organize them into something very visual such as the one pictured, you can see everything you need and it is easy to access too. 

They are like little drawer bins that you open, grab and then simply close.  It is not too complicated, there are no special drawers or buttons or things I have to do to grab my highlighter for example.  This setup works for me.

office organization productsCredit: Amazon.com

Step 5 – Storage Issues – If you have a lot of things on your desk, then utilizing the corners works well too.  This system fits on the corner of your desk with visual shelves and a spot for binders.

Binders can be a pain when it comes to stacking them, so if you have a couple of binders for projects on the go, or you need the information in them all the time, then this system keeps them vertical and also gives you room for other things.

office organization productsCredit: Amazon.com
Safco Products Onyx Mesh Desk Corner Organizer, Black1 (3261BL)
Amazon Price: $44.49 $25.05 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 5, 2014)

Keeping Everything Visual

This is the best way things work for me.  You may be different, but chances are if your desk is full of files, paper clips and binders, then you like to keep things visual too and not filed away.

That is why many of the office organization products on the market now are for the desk top and are a mesh style so you can see quickly what you need, rather than a solid drawer that you have to label so that you know what is in it.  I like to see the objects at a glance.

Have a Home for Everything

If there is a place for everything, then it is easy to keep your desk clean and tidy and somewhat organized.  Heck, you might even get your work done faster if you don’t have to spend half the day rummaging through piles of file folders or rummaging through drawers for the blue highlighter.

Only use the drawers and filing cabinets for the things you don’t need very often.  Files that are complete but you want to retain the records, or supplies that are only needed every few months.  Back up supplies for your bins, if you managed to get a great deal on a case of highlighters for example!

There is nothing wrong with having all your works in progress on your desk, as long as you have an organized place for it.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve this.  So, think what your “desk personality” is like, and then do a bit of shopping online and order a few things you could see working on your desk.

Once you have them in your hand, then get started.

Step 6 – Put everything back onto your desk in all your new supplies.  Decide as you are putting things in their place whether it is time to get rid of it.

If the paper correction fluid feels hard, then it is time to go, if the glue bottle is hard then it is time for it to go too.  No sense putting back supplies that don’t work and will only frustrate you when you need them.

As you get rid of things, make a list of any replacements you need such as new file folders, or new paper correction fluid or new glue sticks, or whatever you had floating around on your desk.

Treat yourself to some new supplies or office organization products and you will feel much better working at your desk.