21 Office Storage and Organization Ideas for Smooth Operations

A well-organized office saves time and makes for a happier you – and happier colleagues.

Having to wade through piles of papers, jumbled drawers, tangled wires and boxes of stuff may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a real physical burden when you consider how much time you spend looking for things that are easy to find. must be. but are not. Disorganized electronic files and confusion are just as big a problem.

Then there is the mental load. Whether you consciously realize it or not, clutter can stress anyone.

Here are 21 ways to organize your physical and electronic workspaces.

Get it off the floor

Go vertical with bookcases and shelving. We often run out of desk space or floor space. Vertical storage makes more efficient use of space and places more at eye level.

Create “Activity Centers”

Put everything you need to complete an activity in one room, especially if you do an activity regularly. You don’t waste time looking for and assembling what you need. For example, packaging and shipping supplies and tools should be in one room. Or create a shelf for items you take with you on a trip, such as your travel case, neoprene covers, and portable chargers.

File it, scan it, shred it

Don’t use your desktop as your inbox, as critical paper (like checks!) can get lost. Signed contracts and other items you wish to keep on paper should be put away immediately. Scan everything else in digital form. Shred and discard or recycle the paper.

A folder for everything

Have a folder for all paper documents. Pendaflex suspension files, together with manila inner files, are an economical solution. Name both. Pendaflex folders are your placeholder in the filing cabinet and should always be left there. The inner manila folder is the one you pull out as needed. Then it’s easy to put the manila folder back into its pendaflex when you’re done.

Wrap computer cords

Do you have computer cables and electrical cords in a mess? You’re not the only one. Fortunately, special ties and cord covers can keep things tidy. Label your cords so you can find the right one if you need to disconnect or move something.

Use message boards to keep “Top of Mind” items for you

If you need to consult a checklist for a task or some sort of reminder, pin it on a bulletin board near your desk. This is good for any new process until it becomes an ingrained habit. Simply remove the item from the list when you no longer need to reference it.

Keep all manuals in one place

Do you ever need to consult your printer’s user manual? Or find the little instructional flyer that came with your Bluetooth headset? If you put all the manuals in a special drawer, plastic crate or folder, you don’t have to search for them.

Creating Divided Drawers

If your drawers don’t have built-in dividers, buy inexpensive metal or wood dividers — or better yet, recycled plastic. Organize chargers for devices; pens; paper clips; notepads and sticky notes; scissors and other articles. An organized drawer not only saves time, it also makes you feel less stressed if you don’t have to dive into a mess several times a day.

Use a label printer to keep the shelves organized

Not only files need labels. Shelves and drawers can benefit from labeling them. This way everyone in the office knows the right place to return things.

Keep a “To Do” List

Mental clutter is just as much of a problem as physical clutter. One of the key points in the Getting Things Done system is getting items out of your head and onto paper (or an electronic list). So you can focus on the task at hand. Just keep your to-do list short and clear.

Do weekly maintenance and cleaning

At the end of each work week, put things that were used during the week back in their place. Shred or archive paper stacks. If you don’t let the clutter pile up for too long, it’s easier to stay organized.

Use a central cloud location for business documents

A great way to save time and avoid having everyone set up their own ‘virtual archiving’ system is to use one central cloud location for business documents. With options such as Google Drive or OneDrive, you can set up central folders per subject or customer to share documents.

Use project management or task management software

A project management system keeps employees on track with projects. More importantly, it eliminates paper to-do lists and email instructions, and the confusion that results.

Scan and store receipts in the cloud

Then you can throw away paper receipts. With newer mobile apps, you don’t even need a scanner – you just take a picture. Advanced apps let you automatically sync receipts with your accounting or credit card information (avoid manual entry).

Using browser bookmarks for quick reference

Do you ever spend time looking for links to recurring reference sites or login screens? Or do you no longer know where to find them? Bookmark and organize bookmarks into folders so that you can access them with a few clicks.

Save Favorites Lists for Recurring Orders

Another time saver is storing favorites lists at online retailers that you use regularly. That way you don’t have to look up the same supplies every time. Sites like Staples.com let you save favorites lists, which is super handy.

Archive old files

If you haven’t used computer files (especially emails!) in the past year, archive them. You still have them, but you don’t have to wade through them to find current items. Also consider setting a policy to delete archived files after a certain amount of time.

Make sure you have enough antivirus and antimalware software

Few things can cause more disruption and confusion than lost files or time lost due to computer viruses and malware attacks. ‘Enough said!

Use a note organizing app

Note-taking apps like Evernote, Microsoft’s OneNote, and SimpleNote can help you organize and store web research and electronic notes.

Truly “smart” phones save time

Smart phones used wisely save time and can make us happier. We might be able to escape the office guilt-free for a family event, as we’re still in touch in case something important pops up. Get powerful smartphones with enough internal memory to run the necessary apps.

Automatic sync for all devices

Speaking of smartphones, business owners and employees alike use multiple devices — perhaps a desktop computer, tablet, and smartphone per person, all in the same day. File storage in the cloud or at least the ability to sync files automatically is essential to save time and avoid confusion due to not having the most recent file.

Upgrade computers for memory and speed

You may not even realize how much time is wasted if everything you do takes longer, or worse, crashes or crashes frequently. Sufficient memory and processor speed last year, maybe not this year. So upgrade!

Those are my 21 ideas for office storage and organization. What are your top tips for organizing your office and taming the disorganization and messy beast?

Office photo via Shutterstock

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