Are you a Piler or a Filer?

People tend to fit into one of two organization styles: filing or piling. Learn to master the art of organizing no matter your preference for staying tidy with these tips.
Contemporary Home Office With Navy Bookshelves And Yellow Accents

Contemporary Home Office With Navy Bookshelves And Yellow Accents

By: Lisa Frederick

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.

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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.

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