Are you a Piler or a Filer?
Quick — what does a well-organized office look like? If you pictured a row of file cabinets and a desk practically devoid of surface clutter, you’re not alone. But this is only one side of the equation. People tend to fit one of two organizing types: filers, who like everything sorted out of sight, and pilers, who prefer papers and paraphernalia right at their fingertips.
The good news? Neither type is inherently less organized than the other. The key is to work with your natural tendencies rather than fight them — when pilers try to fit the filer mold or vice versa, it backfires. Try these tips for going with the style that suits you.
If you’re a piler…
- Open bins and trays are your allies. Even if you can’t function with a filing system, that doesn’t mean you have to dig through six-inch-high sheaves of paper. Stock up on shallow baskets, stackable trays and wall or desktop racks to keep items corralled yet plainly visible. A bulletin board or magnet board prevents crucial notes and documents from getting lost in the shuffle.
- Choose office furnishings that work for your style. A bank of drawers and cabinets won’t do you much good. Instead, go for open cubbies, credenzas or console tables topped with bins. A small portable cart in your workspace can also be effective.
- Use visual cues to help you find what you need quickly. Maybe it’s color-coding, tagging piles with sticky notes in different hues according to type or using color-specific desktop receptacles. Or maybe it makes sense to invest in a label maker and label each tray or basket with the designated contents. Experiment and determine what feels most natural.
A makeshift mudroom is kept clutter free with a few wall-mounted paint cans. They not only give the space a cool industrial look, but they also provide quick storage for accessories, keys and mail. A basket beneath the bench is a great place for kids' coats or winter gear. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Grove
In a kitchen with open shelving, proper organization is key. Here, color-coordinated stacked plates, bowls and even teacups are nicely arranged. And the best part is, stacking allows all the dishes to be stored in the same place.
A Place for Everything
Disorganization in a home office is a recipe for disaster. Keep your desk looking sharp by taking advantage of vertical space. Here, books and magazines are kept to the right of the desk in what would ordinarily be unused space, and a cute wire basket for notes keeps "his" and "hers" separate.
For small spaces, multipurpose furniture is the key to a clutter-free home. As seen in HGTV Magazine, Sabrina Soto's coffee table is also a shelf, so she can keep books and magazines out of the way but still within arm's reach.
A Clever Kitchen
In this gorgeous kitchen, designer Brian Patrick Flynn installed a wall-mounted, bar-height table. The vibrant metal stools can be neatly stacked under the table when not in use, and a hanging pot rack frees up cabinet space.
If you’re a filer…
- Take the file cabinet to the next level. The standard office setup was designed with you in mind. Even so, you can take organization a step further with color-coded or clearly labeled folders and/or by arranging each folder in alphabetical or chronological order. Break your papers down into whatever subsets suit their nature.
- Consider going digital. Save space and resources by using e-documents, or scanning and recycling documents rather than hanging on to hard copies. This would never workfor a piler — it’s not visual enough — but it dovetails nicely with a filer’s need to keep everything tucked away.
- Don’t forget to purge. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s easy for file folders to swell with unnecessary papers collected over the months. Set a regular time, such as once a quarter, to go through them and shred or recycle any that you no longer have use for.
By the Bay
Enlighten your morning correspondence with a seat at your home's sunniest spot. Transforming an interior bay window into a study nook takes advantage of natural light and extra space. Eliminate the glare factor with adjustable Roman shades.
Behind Open Doors
You'll want to throw your closet doors open once you plaster the walls with sunny wallpaper, add shelving and plug in your favorite lamp. Invest in a Lucite chair to make the cozy space feel bigger.
Need a study break? Close your eyes and rev your creativity in a loft above your home office. With alternating corkboards and pegboards, this design maximizes the desk's function while showing off your best art supplies.
Keep your workspace uncluttered and your tasks organized with open shelving and stylish boxes for out-of-sight storage. Just look down for inspiration – an Aztec rug infuses color and texture in an otherwise unadorned office.