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

Built-in bookshelves in a deep shade of navy make a bold statement in this contemporary home office. Yellow accessories stand out and add a punch of personality, along with rows of colorful books.

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.

15 Ideas for a More Organized Home

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A Clean Cleaning Space

Rolling storage offers plenty of space for cleaning products and can be arranged to fit any laundry room. Rods for drying clothes as well as high shelves to store out-of-season clothing make it easy to keep everything in its place and off the floor.

Out-of-the-Box Idea

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

Stacked Storage

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.

Room for Two

Do your kids share a closet? Try dividing the space with a built-in workspace. All you have to do is close the doors to keep messy projects out of sight. Plus, the open shelving is great for extra toys.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Making Space

By taking advantage of all available space, you'll find creative ways to keep your home organized. A shelf beneath the stairs turns wasted space into stylish storage. Design by John Gidding

Building Up

The best way to stay organized is to install storage systems that fit your specific needs. A high shelf keeps excess items out of the way but accessible when needed. And a shelf to hang bikes is a genius solution for freeing up floor space in the garage.

Sabrina's Secrets

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.

Photo By: Melanie Acevedo

Pet Problems Solved

Keep pet toys, treats and food corralled with a rolling shelf that provides space for all the essentials. No longer will you have to search for a leash or your dog's favorite tennis ball.

© 2011, HGTV

Wash Room Remedy

If you're sick of a bathroom countertop covered in toiletries, consider installing a few narrow shelves along the wall. Pretty glass canisters make great storage for daily items, while a vanity with drawers provides space for everything else. Design by John Gidding

A Working Office

Another fantastic place to add extra shelving is the home office. These built-ins by CliqStudios provide ample space for books, pictures and knickknacks, leaving the desk completely free for work.

Upcycled Style

Set the tone for the rest of your home by keeping your entryway looking good. Organize mail right a way with a cute and colorful shutter. You can even attach a hook or two to store your keys! Photo courtesy of Holly Marsh

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.

Mixing It Up

It's always been a great way to organize your footwear, but an over-the-door shoe organizer can be used for so much more. Hang one in the pantry to hold your canned goods, spices and condiments. Photo courtesy of Laura Whitt

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Laura Witt

Pristine Pantry

Take your pantry to the next level with see-through, pull-out baskets with easy-to-read labels. Grabbing a snack and heading out the door has never been easier (or looked so good).  

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.

11 Inspirational Home Offices

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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.

Photo By: Virginia Bell; Edit by Virginia

Double Duty

Tuck a chair under your console table for an instant home office. Bonus: You can watch a movie with your family while you address holiday cards!

Stairwell Study

Carve out a study nook in the oft-unused space under your stairs. You'll find ample room for a desk, shelving and cabinetry.

Photo By: Sage Design Studio; Inc.; photo by: Leslie Goodwin

Take Note

You won't forget a single item on your to-do list when it's written on a cabinet-sized notepad. Cover a standard cabinet with chalkboard paint and start planning.

Photo By: Martha O’Hara Interiors; photo by: Troy Thies

Space Saver

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.

Photo By: Martha O’Hara Interiors; photo by: Troy Thies

Tidy Shelves

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.

Bring on the Bling

Glam up your home office by adding shimmery sheets of gold leaf to a basic desk. Complement the glass desktop with a clear lamp for unobstructed creativity.

Photo By: Honey & Fitz; photo by: Ruth Eileen Photography

Perfect Fit

Make your own corner office with a colorful Parsons desk and gallery wall for inspiration. Economize the space with matching ottomans that can be tucked under the desk when not in use.

Upper Limit

Don't overlook the fifth wall when decorating your personal creative haven. A wallpapered ceiling draws the eye up, makes the room feel larger and invites inspiration.

Corkboard Calendar

Keep your social schedule in check with a larger-than-life calendar. Birthday invites and reminders find a home on days separated by rope and pinned by reusable date markers.

Photo By: John Bynum Custom Homes

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