Is your office chaotic?
Is your desk so cluttered that you cannot actually see any of it?
Have you got a system, but it just does not work?

It is amazing how much time you can waste looking for that one document or piece of paper. It can also have an effect on your stress and anxiety levels!

We are all equipped with our own skill sets. When it comes to making the most effective use of space. I like to think my spatial awareness is highly developed.

Areas covered within this blog post:

  1. Fact find

  2. What areas are working

  3. What areas need to be improved

  4. Action steps to take

  5. Eleven top tips for an organised office

  6. Frequently Asked Questions

When organising an office, sorting one area at a time may work but you may also end up with it just as chaotic! I have always found starting over from scratch to be the best solution. This may be daunting, but this is how I would tackle an home office as pictured below for a client:

The same strategy could also be applied to an office at a business premises.

1. Fact find

  • Do you want to actually work in the office or is it mainly for storing work related items, books and papers?
  • What type of papers and documents do you need to access quickly and most frequently?
  • Are you making effective use of the existing cupboards and draws with how they are organised?
  • Is there anything you are hanging onto which you no longer require?
  • How do you archive paperwork you no longer need?
  • What needs to be accessed and filed so that you can immediately find it next time you need it?What areas are working?

2. What areas are working?

Stand in the middle of the room with cupboards and draws open to evaluate the areas which are working, and you would want to maintain:
  • The top two shelves with books on in the second picture do work. They are zoned together, not needed frequently and are accessible. For a ‘quick win’ they can be quickly re-organised by theme, author or title.
  • Two chairs in the office is a good idea. The main office one for yourself and a second one if you have a client or colleague work alongside you.
  • The three tier tray stackers, box files, calendar and notes board are good ideas and can be organised further to full potential. Think what you need to access most frequently. This needs to be closest to you.
  • A desk drawer next to where you sit is great for accessing and storing the stationary you frequently use and will help you to maintain a tidy desktop.
  • Pictures which inspire and motivate you around the office help create the ambiance and make your office a relaxing environment in which to work.
  • Natural light into the office will also make a difference to your well-being and help reduce strain on your eyes.

3. What areas need to be improved?

Stand in the middle of the room again and decide what isn’t working and needs an improved system:
  • Floor, desk space and shelving above the desk as depicted is not currently working effectively in the pictures and needs tackling.
  • Files and papers left in bags on the floor restrict access both to their contents and making good use of cupboard space.
  • Access to key areas of storage is currently restricted.

4. Action steps to take

  • You ideally need two clear spaces.
  • In the first space stack all the paperwork and folders into one enormous pile. Use the second space to sort the papers and folders into common areas.
  • Clear and empty shelf and cupboard contents you are unhappy with onto this first space. Moving forward this will allow you to create zones for the different areas of your work.
  • Create lever arch folders / box files or storage of your choice with these areas and label clearly with the area they fall into. Pinterest on social media gives lots of great ideas for office storage of all sizes and shapes.
  • Sub-divide the level arch folder/chosen storage using file dividers or labels breaking down further into key areas. (for instance: A marketing folder would then be broken down into strategy plan, blogs, email marketing, flyers, press releases, testimonials, social media…)
  • Clearly label each area.

Eleven Top Tips

  1. Papers you need to access frequently need to be close by but not taking up desk space. The shelving immediately above or next to the computer desk is ideal for this.
  2. Have a clear plastic envelope folder. Put any new papers you don’t have time to file immediately into this, then file them when you have time.
  3. Papers you wish to keep and archived can be boxed and put in closed cupboards out of sight and secure.
  4. Invest in a good quality shredder and printer with a scanner. This can reduce the amount of paper you need to keep. This is also an effective means of security if electronically saved onto a secure cloud.
  5. Don’t hang onto hundreds of business cards. Create either a database or add onto your email contacts page within the same week you have received them if possible.
  6. If you do have an excess of paper, consider purchasing a small office filing cabinet that will fit under your desk. furniture-work.co.uk sell these that you can match to your desk colour.
  7. Have a bin in your office and recycle the paper ever week. This will avoid you creating another pile of paper you need to sort through again.
  8. Tower multi-socket plugs and cable tidy’s can really make a quick difference to the overall look of your office. They also make cleaning the room much easier.
  9. Purchase a good quality hole punch with a slide bar for lining up A4 paper to ensure the holes are consistently in the same place. You will be surprised how much smarter this instantly makes the contents!
  10. Hang your calendars, notice boards and pictures on the wall rather than having them on your desk top.
  11. If you are a person with numerous bags, put coat hooks spaced out on the back of your office door and hang the bags on these.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to organise a home office?

This depends on the client and the office! It usually ranges from half a day to three days depending on the amount that needs both sorting and organising.

Do you label and organise all your clients home offices the same?

No. It is important to create an office environment that will work for them. Some people prefer filing cabinets others concertina files or folders.

Is there another way of sorting everything without starting from one big pile?

You have two options here. You can tackle the room in zones but be careful you don’t end up the same as you were before. Your second option is to let me come and do it for you. Once a clear system is in place it is much easier to maintain as everything has its place.

I’m worried about you throwing away papers that may be important and need to be kept. How do I know this will not happen?

After fact finding about you and your business, any papers which I do not feel you need to hang onto I put into a ‘check’ box as I go along. This gives you the final say and opportunity to check before it is recycled.

Do I need to be there if I employed you to organise my office for me?

I need to have an initial meeting with you as part of my fact find about your business, yourself and how ideally you would like your office to look. After that, I am fine on my own. You can either give me a key to your property or I am happy to arrive before you go out.

How do I know I can trust you with my paperwork and data protection?

This is all set out in my Freelance contract and Terms & Conditions document which you receive in advance of any work taking place. I am also registered with the ICO and fully insured.

How do I book your services?

Either give me a call on 07565722031 or complete the contact me details and I will be in touch. Once we have discussed your needs, I will book you in the first available slot I have.

I would rather be there when you sort my office. Do you work at the weekend?

Yes, I am happy to do that if you prefer or at a time of your choosing.

If this is still a daunting task for you why not let me give you precious time back and do it for you! Think how brilliant you will feel being in an organised office with everything at your fingertips.