Whether you’re in the midst of spring cleaning, or just acquired a desk space (like me), chances are you’re going to want to get it looking more organized and working more efficiently.
The Struggle is Real
Keeping an organized desk has always been a struggle for me. Filing papers away has always been a pain, and probably always will be. If I’m working on something, I don’t really like to put it away because I feel like it will disrupt my chain of thought when I come back to it. And my list of excuses goes on…
Oh… what’s a girl to do?
The Reality of Habit
What I’ve found, is that it helps to know my strengths as well as my weaknesses. What are your current office habits? Are you willing to live with them, or do you need to focus on developing some new habits? If you decide to live with them, then how can you make that office habit more “organized”?
For instance: I know that I’ll probably end up with a stack of papers that need to be filed even though I’ll be working on filing them more regularly. With that in mind, I’ll make sure to designate a drawer or a space to place those papers until I do file them. This space may need to be a little larger than the typical “to file” bin.
Another big example is mail. Many times I’ve designated a space for mail to go, but my habit is to place that mail elsewhere. I have one of two options. First, I could change my habit, and make it a point to work on placing the mail in the new location. Or, I could create a space in the area where I’m already placing my mail.
What Do You Need?
Once you’ve thought your habits through, it is then time look at what you keep or want to keep in your office space, along with the tasks that you will be doing. Looking at your tasks will help you understand what supplies you want to have available. Then you just need to figure out if you need any supporting supplies to help keep your desk area more organized. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy anything right away. What do you have around the house? Is there a jar you could place your pens in? Are there baskets you could utilize? Do you already have some kind of desk drawer organizer that you could use? Or maybe a small bin that would work just as well?
Here is a look at my thought process if you need some inspiration:
Files nicely organized in filing cabinet
– Pay Stubs
– Vehicle Info
– Insurance Info
– Tax Info
Printer Paper Accessible
Loose Paper Accessible
Extra Files Accessible
Bill Pay Drawer
– Check Book
– Rubber Bands
– Paper Clips
– Misc Clips
Spot for Daily Planner, Notepad, Etc
Mounted or “Placed” Dry Erase Board
Accessible Dry Erase Markers and Eraser
Small Cup or Jar for Extra Pens and Pencils
Kids’ computer storage
Do I want kids’ school readers at my desk?
Continue to go through your needs and what you already have available, then, if necessary, make a list of things that you still need to buy.
My need list:
– Filing Cabinet – Currently our files are in the white banker boxes you can buy from a store. We got ours at Walmart, but they look like this (affiliate link). They do a pretty good job of holding up initially, but after 2 moves and my 2 year old climbing on them they’re getting a little worn. However, they may have to do for a little while yet.
– Drawer Organizer?
– Wall Mounts for Dry Erase Board?
Spend All the Money! ….Well, Hopefully Not.
Before going to Wayfair, Overstock.com, Amazon, or even Walmart, check out your local thrift stores, Craigslist, and Goodwill. Especially now with the Konmari show airing on Netflix, there’s a good chance you may find what you’re looking for.
I’m working on making this a habit as well. It’s so easy to just go and get something from the popular retailers, but your patience may be well-rewarded if you wait to find something at a discount.
You know, the hardest part about going the discount route is getting out of the house with my kids. And it’s not just getting out of the house, but it’s taking them to a store where I need to focus. This is where it’s okay to ask for help (again, another thing I’m working on). This can be your spouse, parent or sibling, or even a friend who may be able to take your kids for an hour or two while you look around.
Putting It All Together
There’s no one way to get this job done. Some may like to block out a morning or afternoon and get most of it finished in one fell swoop. Others may like to chunk it out over a week or several weeks – maybe even just spending 15 minutes a day on getting the desk a little more organized. Or maybe you’re like me, and get totally distracted away from organizing the desk. It has taken me a few weeks of “oh! I need to do that!” to get the job done.
It can be intimidating to look at all that needs to happen. Just start with one basket, bin, container, or drawer and go through it. My mom likes to start at one end of a project and work herself around or over to the other side of it until everything is finished. Maybe that would work for you too!
Remember that crate full of random paper from the messy pic? I was able to go through it and give everything a home. The crate was then put to good use by holding shoes that were all cluttered at the front door.
This bin used to serve as my traveling office during our move. It was time to find everything in it a home.
The top two drawers of my desk held most what was inside my bin. On one side I put all the little odds and ends: paper clips, rubber bands, extra sticky notes and notepads, staples, etc. I thought I was going to need a drawer organizer for all the little bits, but I had enough small, empty containers to keep it all clean and neat. In the other drawer I have my checkbook, stamps, a sticky pad, and a notepad with my current projects.
Then came time to organize the top shelf. It contains the kids’ computer, random coloring books, and their readers. The cord and mouse for their computer are in the round basket.
The second shelf contains my notebooks and binders, printer paper, tape and lotions on the left. On the right is a place for incoming and out going mail and stationary. Did you notice my “TO FILE” basket?
I love how it all came together! The top of the desk holds my computer, planner, a basket for writing tools, and my dry erase board. Originally I was thinking the dry erase board would have to be hung on the other side of the printer on the wall or cabinet, but I found that it fits really nicely on the desk itself! I haven’t been able to get a filing cabinet yet, so we’ll keep with the boxes for now.
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