Life and living: Outstanding office organization

There’s no denying the benefits of an organized office. From the feeling of creativity and control to the calming effect of having things in their proper place to the fact that you can actually find things when you need them, spending a couple of hours to get your office in order is time well spent.

Use this punch list from to get on task so you can reap the rewards of outstanding office organization, too.

Purge for productivity

The goal of the purge is to have an office that is completely free of clutter.

Create a “catch-it” space

Use this area for the three types of incoming office items: 1) important documents (e.g., tax and financial papers); 2) necessary everyday items like outerwear, a mug, etc.; and 3) garbage. For this space, invest in a credenza or tray for documents; a shelf, hooks or a box to place items you need to keep; and a garbage can. Then, as soon as you bring an item into your office, place it in one of these three designated areas. 

Commit to a clutter-free workspace

According to, the most important physical space in an office is your desktop. A clean desktop provides a feeling of control and prevents you from getting distracted.

Create specific work zones to improve workflow

Zone 1: Computer work. This is your traditional desktop where your computer resides and you likely spend a lot of time, so make sure it’s ergonomically efficient and comfortable. Another tip: Use a basket or cord control clip to keep devices free from tangled chargers.

Zone 2: Non-computer work. This can be a designated area of the same space, cleared of monitors, cords and chargers, where you can review documents, use your iPad, sign papers, scan documents or stamp envelopes—anything that doesn't require a hands-on-the-keyboard approach to complete.

Control document flow on your desk

Place two document trays on your desk. Designate one tray as your “New” tray for new documents. The other will be the “Old” tray for documents you've opened or looked at but still need to act on.

Establish designated places for a streamlined selection of supplies

Create drawers or organizing trays for storing your supplies. To keep clutter to a minimum, avoid keeping supplies on your desk. Instead, store them in the drawers you’ve designated for each type of item. 

Invest in a large recycling bin and garbage can

Having these items visible will help you remember to recycle, sort and purge from time to time. Use each round of “purging” to make sure you’re following your outstanding office organization system. 

The ultimate goal in any office organization system is to create a space that facilitates maximum productivity combined with comfort and clutter-free zones. This list provides the basics to get started, but it’s up to you to tailor it to your own style and productivity preferences. 

Back to issue