Organizing an Office Space

Take a good look at your clutter — you’re about to kiss it goodbye.

Clearing out office clutter requires an understanding of the factors that contribute to disorganization in the first place. The process is as much mental as mechanical. Before starting the organizing process, ask yourself the hard questions about your clutter:

  1. Are existing systems getting the job done, or are they contributing to clutter?
  2. Is lack of maintenance a factor?
  3. Are your things in their proper places but there are simply too many things?
  4. Is enough space allocated to each activity?

Once you've taken a good look at the causes of your clutter, map out an office environment that allows you to maintain order. Here's what you need to do:

  • Invest in Adequate Furniture. Offices need a clear work area, and that means providing adequate space for computer hardware and peripheral equipment, a spot for reference materials, file space and a location for frequently-referenced supplies and paper. Make sure your office furniture provides ample space for work and storage.

  • Establish Activity Centers. The office should be zoned into three activity areas: the work center, which includes a clear work space, the computer and frequently-used office products; the reference center, which includes binders, manuals, dictionary and professional books and materials; and the supply center, which contains paper and other office supplies.

  • Place Hardware and Peripherals Properly. Position your equipment based on frequency of use. If the printer is used daily, it should be within easy reach. If the CPU is used only for troubleshooting, it can be placed under or next to the desk. If a scanner is rarely used, it can be placed outside the work area. When setting up hardware, be conscious of access to drives, trays, and cords. Don't block access to drawers or take up legroom with tangled cords.

  • Establish a Paper-Processing Area. Establish an area within your work center for papers that need immediate action. Store paper associated with clients or ongoing projects in an area that's easily accessible and within your view. Establish a permanent filing system for papers you'll reference but not on a regular basis.
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