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4 Essential Ways to Declutter and Reorganize Your Office Space

Man working in a messy, cluttered office.

Your office is a lot like your wardrobe at home. Despite your best intentions—and no matter how well you try to maintain it—it will eventually need to be thoroughly decluttered and reorganized.

Here are our four tips to not only get the job done right, but also use the process as an opportunity to optimize your office space for maximum productivity.

1. Purge all those items you don't need

If you want to start over, you're going to need a clean slate. Start by carefully considering everything in your immediate environment (and shared spaces too if you're responsible for the office as a whole) and asking yourself how much of that workplace paraphernalia is actually needed on a day-to-day basis.

There are certain exceptions to this purge, including phones, computers, printers, and other obvious essentials. But does that hole-punch really need to be kept out in the open? Shouldn't those reference manuals live on the bookcase rather than on your desk? And when was the last time you used that external disk drive, anyway?

Close-up of cluttered desk.

Clear all surfaces, give them a deep clean, and only restore the items you use regularly. Everything else either needs to be either stored or thrown out. Be ruthless, but don't rush it. Whether it takes a few hours or a few days, this is a job worth doing right.

2. Put everything in its right place

The ubiquitous stationery cupboard is there for a reason. In fact, a well-maintained, conveniently located supply cupboard can make a significant contribution to overall efficiency and productivity. No more fruitless searching for pens, notepads, and other small-but-vital implements.

But not all cupboards are made equal. Think carefully about the type of supplies you need to store (after the purge, of course) and choose your storage furniture accordingly.

You have plenty of options at your fingertips. This steel storage cabinet from Alera® has a relatively low profile at just 42-inches, which means it can easily do double duty as a sideboard or counter; this heavy-duty carousel cabinet puts up to 168 binders in easy reach at all times for maximum accessibility; this generously proportioned Sandusky® cabinet has clear acrylic doors so you know exactly when you need to order more printer paper.

Tripp Lite<sup>®</sup> White Steel 32-Device AC Charging Station Cart

And if you really want to futureproof against clutter, consider a charging station cart complete with built-in circuit breaker, cord wrap, and flexible configuration.

3. Adopt a new approach to filing

If you're regularly faced with an overflowing in-tray, your problem is not with paperwork—your problem is with postponed decisions. That could point to larger challenges with time management, especially if you're often faced with a crazy work schedule, but you can at least treat the symptoms by implementing a simple two-tray system.

Close-up of messy desk covered in loose papers.

Tray one is for new items only. It should be emptied on a daily or even hourly basis depending on the nature of your work. As soon as a file is retrieved from tray one, it is either resolved or moved to tray two for follow-up. Don't allow tray two to overflow: these items are for your attention in the near or immediate future, and they won't go away until you take care of them.

This elegant, stackable wooden paper tray by Victor® will do the trick, as will this smartly designed paper tray by Office Mate International, which you can use to configure each tray at a handy 90-degree angle.

Close-up of colorful file folders in file cabinet drawer.

Once a file has been through your two-tray system, it gets shredded, goes into the recycling, or finds a new home in your file cabinet. This is where serious organization skills are needed. Start simple with a color-coding system, even if it's just to reassure you that filing can be a quick, painless process that doesn't need to be put off for another day. Or three.

Stop the spread of mugs, bowls, and spoons

Okay, so office clutter and disorganization is not always directly related to paperwork, technology, and other typical tools of the trade. Sometimes it's kitchen cupboard spillover that does the damage. Dirty dishes in the sink, discarded coffee mugs on conference tables, disowned platters in meeting rooms.

You might have a deep-seated issue with workplace culture—or, hopefully, you may just have a kitchen or break room in need of better storage. Fortunately, there are several ways to approach this particular quandary.

Try to make your existing fixtures work smarter. Create storage within storage using cabinet organizers, and make sure any storage rooms or walk-in cupboards are lined with open shelving for quick and convenient access. Carts are also an effective weapon against kitchen clutter: it's easy to retrieve those stray mugs and bowls with a high-quality cart, like this 300lb-capacity model by Rubbermaid®.

Sink full of dirty mugs.

And while you're at it, help your coworkers transform their attitude to kitchen cleanliness. Implement a dishwasher routine that's easy to follow, post reminders in plain sight, and appoint somebody to continually promote a collaborative "clean as you go" mindset.

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