Get More Done & Stress Less with These Simple Office Organization Ideas
What if I told you that there was something you could do today that would boost your effectiveness, reduce your daily stress, and maybe even set you up for a nice little promotion?
I know, you’re probably thinking, “That’s absolutely crazy, Jeff. Get out of here with that bag of hot nonsense. Who gave you the keys to the SnackNation blog anyway??”
A valid question. But it turns out, there is something that checks all those boxes, and happens to be entirely within your control.
It’s organizing your work environment. And we gather the best work office organization ideas out there!
Hear me out.
An organized work environment has a lot more than just visual appeal. For starters, DIY office organization has been shown to reduce stress.
The appearance of clutter signals to your brain that there’s extra work to do. When your brain feels overwhelmed by all this (actual and perceived) work, it triggers a stress response. Organizing your workspace reduces the frequency of that stress response, and gives you a feeling of control.
Plus being organized will help you become more efficient. Searching for files in a disorganized workstation just wastes time and renders you less effective.
If your goal is to move up the ranks, there’s evidence to suggest that clutter decreases your chances of getting that next promotion, both by boosting your effectiveness and by creating a positive impression of your work habits with higher-ups.
There’s a cultural argument to be made for office organization too. How you organize your office affects how your team behaves in that space, so strategically organizing your office will help you create the company culture your team needs to hit their goals. I hope you are starting to see the power of simple office organizer ideas.
If the thought of re-working your messy desk or moving around office furniture gives you heart palpitations, fret not my messy amigo.
We’ve put together the best office organization ideas – these are tricks, tips, and hacks that we either use here at SnackNation, or that other companies are doing that we really love.
And because both types are important, we’ve included personal organization hacks and more general office organization tips.
Hide the Wires
Out of all the work desk organization ideas this one has to be our favorite. With all of the monitors, computer towers, mice, laptops, phones, and chargers that adorn the typical office desk, the number of wires in front of us can quickly get out of hand.
Because reducing visual clutter helps reduce stress, hiding all these messy wires is essential. If your desk doesn’t have a slot to hide them, trying using binder clips to group them together and get them out of sight.
On a side note, you’ll also save yourself the trouble of always fishing for that one cable that always seems to fall behind your desk into the land of no return.
If you want to stay organized, your label maker should be your best friend.
Simple things like labeling cabinets will not only save you time and frustration but will limit the number of interruptions you get during the day.
People will stop asking you where the printer paper is five million times a day if you slap a “PRINTER PAPER” label on the right cabinet or drawer. (Ok, a few co-workers probably still will.)
Don’t stop at your desk, dive deep into your computer files to take your productivity to the next level. Sort your files by project and archive “final” versus “draft” versions of deliverables.
For an extra adventure, get folder happy with your inbox. Take control with one of these 9 ways to sort your emails.
DIY Cord Labels
Have you ever been working on an important project when all of the sudden your monitor goes black?
At first, you panic, you think that you might have broken your computer and lost your work forever. Then you remember when Jim down the aisle called IT because his computer was “broken,” and as it turned out, it was just unplugged.
With a glimmer of hope for that loose plug, you crawl under your desk to discover what could be described best as a cable jungle.
Avoid this time suck by making DIY labels for the important cords in your life.
One simple hack, use colored tape to distinguish your monitor from your neighbor’s space heater.
(Via Simply Spaced)
Another option, buy your own colorful power strip. With your own real estate, there will be no confusion when you computer charger mysteriously goes missing because someone mistook it for their own.
Here’s an easy way to get rid of all the random scraps of paper, messy notebooks, or errant post-it notes that litter so many of our desks – go paperless!
Apps like Evernote, Google Keep, Bear, and a ton of others make cloud-based note taking super easy.
I personally switched to Evernote about two years ago, and I can’t believe I was using a pen and paper for so long. Evernote enables me to take notes faster, sync my notes across devices, and (the best part IMO) search my notes to find the exact info I need.
Tools like Dropbox and Box are essential when it comes to reducing paper clutter and file cabinet disasters. Saving and sharing files in the cloud will help your office reduce paper waste and, fortunately for you, those persistent printer jams.
Use A “Daily Docket” Style Notepad
If paperless-ness makes you uncomfortable, try switching from a boring old to-do list to a “daily docket” style pad.
The super simple, intuitive layout of the daily docket notepad helps you visualize your entire day in one fell swoop, while also separating your errands, tasks, meetings, and notes.
We recommend InkWell Press’ docket style pad.
If you are more of a DIYer, you can make your own docket-style notebook with just 4 supplies. Find free printable covers here.
For a fun and creative office gift, you can even make custom pages for your coworkers. Be sure to include the things they always manage to forget, like the WiFi password.
Use Wall Space to Your Advantage
If you sit near a wall or tall cubicle, don’t let that space go to waste. Use it to free up precious real estate on your desk by storing mail, office supplies, or electronics on the wall.
This pegboard solution looks cool and keeps your office supplies right at your fingertips.
Honeycomb shelves are fashionable and functional, and pretty easy to make yourself. Here’s a tutorial from Boxy Colonial.
We also loved this hanging storage solution that uses upcycled disinfected wipes containers. Here’s a set of instructions. (Via Make It Love It.)
If you don’t have space to create your own hanging office supply board, get together with your team and put together a shared collection. Not only will making the board help you get to know each other better, you can also bond over your favorite office supplies.
Create a DIY Mail Station Using Old Books
This super sweet idea comes from Beyond the Picket Fence. A few old hardcover books, some paint, and decorative fabric is all it takes to create a mail solution that looks amazing and keeps you sane.
(Via Beyond the Picket Fence)
Without the mail cluttering your desk, you will take your productivity to the next level. Inspire your team members to take charge of their mail with your new folders and impress your boss with this simple organization hack. And it’s one of those fun desk organizer ideas you can do right away.
Clean Up Your Closet with DIY Pallet Shelves
The best way to free up closet space is to go vertical. Shelving enables you to efficiently store snacks, office supplies, or unused technology. But don’t pay top dollar. You can make your own rustic-yet-functional shelving units using used packing pallets.
(Via Ana White.)
Or fashion killer shelves out of old pipes and wood for an industrial look. Here’s a tutorial from Cherished Bliss.
Use an Old Box as a Monitor Stand
If your office is anything like ours, you receive a constant stream of packages. The leftover boxes can take up a lot of space and be hard to get rid of.
The next time you find a cool looking box, one that isn’t too beat up, you can use it as a quick and easy monitor stand. Not only will it take the strain off of your neck, it will also serve as a cool shelf for your favorite desk supplies.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can wrap the box is decorative wrapping paper or cover it with your favorite stickers.
Automate Recurring Tasks
I’m guessing there are a ton of tasks that you do on a regular basis that take up a disproportionate amount of your time.
If you’re an office manager, you might be in charge of restocking office supplies, scheduling meetings, or checking in visitors. Automating these tasks essentially takes them off your plate.
Heck, it’s a big part of the reason why we designed the SnackNation membership model the way we did – to save you the time and hassle of finding and ordering great tasting snacks every month.
Task Management software like Trello also makes it easy to automate a ton of other recurring functions.
Use On Demand Self Storage
Sometimes you have a ton of stuff that you aren’t using just taking up space, but hauling out all those old desks and that office hammock (seemed like a cool idea at the time) just isn’t feasible. Plus you have no place to put them!
Uber-convenient on-demand self-storage solutions like Clutter take care of all that for you. They pick up your stuff, store it for you offsite, and then bring it back whenever you need it.
Organize Your Inbox
It’s crazy how much time we spend in email. Even if your physical desk is spic and span, a messy inbox can leave you feeling just as overwhelmed.
Complicated labeling systems really aren’t the way to go – they usually just create more work for you. If you use Gmail, switch your inbox to Priority mode, unsubscribe instead of deleting newsletter emails that aren’t providing any value anymore, and create filters for certain types of emails (like ones with tons of recipients).
A Mailchimp employee also shared a fantastic email processing system that limits time spent in your inbox. Instead of spending tons of time labeling everything, this person marks any email requiring action unread – everything else gets archived.
Check out the full system here.
And of course, you can also reduce email traffic by using Slack for internal communications.
Use a Ticketing System to Manage Inbound Requests
This is a great tip for Office Managers, IT pros, Administrative Assistants, or anyone else whose job requires them to field a ton of inbound requests.
ZenDesk is a great ticketing solution that not only helps you track all these incoming requests, but also helps you respond to them in a way that doesn’t interrupt your workflow or completely hijack your daily schedule.
If a paid system like ZenDesk isn’t an option, here’s a DIY solution from Office Manager Megan.
“I have [an Excel spreadsheet] that I keep on a network that I update.
Whenever somebody sends me an email asking me for something to be done, I’ll put it on that list. I have it set up as the tasks I have.
At the top I have tasks that are on hold. I have recurring tasks, what the status of them are, what the task is, what the status of them are, when the due dates are, who’s responsible, who it needs to be submitted to, and then I have tasks that are in process. Everything is all dated.
Every week I make a new sheet so I can go back through old ones.
It’s just a matter of being diligent and updating it. What I also do is I’ll print out the email request with an email and I’ll keep that pile of paper of things to do. Then I’ll compare it to my list to make sure it’s on there and it’s done.”
Download Megan’s template here (thanks, Megan!).
Make Drawer Dividers with Cereal Boxes
Create the perfect place for scissors and tape by shortening cereal boxes and covering them in felt or contact paper. This easy-to-make project looks great and will keep the clutter away from your desk.
Tame Desk Clutter with a Undershelf Basket
Feel like you are always running out of desk space? Free up some of that valuable square footage with a simple and inexpensive undershelf basket.
Tuck your desk necessities away, warm up your typing fingers, and stretch out those elbows. With this quick solve, you can get down to work without worrying about the embarrassment of knocking something on the floor.
It doesn’t get easier than this!
Build an Office Library
If you’re like us, you might have a ton of random reference books lying around in random conference rooms that no one really looks at – mostly because they don’t know they’re there!
Organize them in a centrally located office library to encourage people to actually crack them open.
All it takes is a few shelves, your trusty label maker (aka best friend), and you’re in business. Organize by topic, then alphabetical by author.
Put Your Desks on Wheels
Here’s a cool a trick from the startup world. Install casters on the bottom of your desks to make it easy to reorg your office in minutes.
What’s the advantage? The ability to reconfigure gives your team (or company) a degree of flexibility that encourages collaboration and inspires creativity.
Store Receipts in a Mason Jar
How many times have you had to return something, process an expense, or register for a warranty – if only you could find the receipt!
Paper receipts are still a reality for a lot of businesses. Keep them safe and secure but putting them in a mason jar.
If that’s a little too analog, go digital. Use expense tracking apps like Concur and never worry about losing a receipt again.
Use This Magnetic to Avoid Dishes in the Sink
How frustrating is it when dishes pile up in the office sink … despite the presence of an office dishwasher! Unsightly dishes in the sink gives visitors the impression that your business just IS NOT SERIOUS.
Luckily there’s an easy fix. Most often, the dish pileup happens because people don’t realize that the dishwasher is either dirty and hasn’t been run yet, or clean and needs to be emptied. This magnetic sign from Dish Nanny tells your office what action to take.
On a side note, WHERE DO ALL THE FORKS GO??? Seriously, are people taking them home? Are they throwing them away by accident? Is there a black market for silverware that I don’t know about? Are there cutlery gnomes that steal forks from unsuspecting offices?
WHERE. ARE. THE. FORKS. PEOPLE.
Organizing stuff takes time. Start any organizing initiative by first decluttering everything you plan to organize. This keeps you from wasting time on organizing things you’re not going to use. It also makes sure your final organization scheme will be as useful as possible since you will only organize the things you really do need.
You might be thinking, “Of course I need everything I plan to organize!” Even if this is true, it still doesn’t hurt to examine everything just to be safe. We all have the impulse to keep things, sometimes everything. After all, we never know when we might use them again.
Pay particular attention to duplicate items and items with duplicate functions. For example, do you have 3 pens, 2 traditional pencils, 2 mechanical pencils, and maybe a colorful gel pen? Select just 1 or 2 writing implements and donate the rest.
Throwing away useful items is wasteful. Be sure to donate or swap functional items that you no longer need in your workspace. Consider setting up an “office swap” in the corner of the kitchen or the break room. Everyone can display discards they want to put up for grabs. People who truly need them can snatch them up.
You might also work with your co-workers to organize a monthly GoodWill donation run. Specify a location for the “dump” pile and have one volunteer deliver the donation box at the end of every month.
If you truly can’t part with some of your items, then consider putting them in a box and storing that box in a totally out of the way location. This will keep the items from cluttering your work space, and it will stop you from feeling the squirminess of parting with things you don’t want to let go of.
Create a “landing pad”
Designate a section of your desk as your “landing pad.” Mark the area using a decorative mat, cutting board, or tray. You could even create a border using some decorative washi or duck tape.
Take a look at your “landing pad.” From now on, this is the one and only place on your whole desk that you’re allowed to put things on. Everything else stays in a drawer or a cabinet. The rest of your desk stays pristine, unmarred by even a pencil or your cell phone.
When the landing pad is full, it’s time to put things back where they belong before you put out any more items.
This might seem extreme, but often clutter goes from unnoticeable to out of hand when we get out of the habit of putting things away. Keeping something on your desk you only use once a week or even once a day will not “speed up your workflow.” It will clutter your desk.
Do a sticky note “detox”
We love sticky notes as much as everyone else, but sometimes, we find ourselves abusing them. The feeling of grabbing a sticky note and jotting something down feels so natural that it’s easy to understand why we fall victim to “sticky note clutter,” the chaos you feel when you have 12 sticky notes stuck to a monitor instead of one simple full-page list.
Take a break from sticky notes to end the cycle of clutter. Return to stickies when you’re ready to commit to using only a few every day. Your workspace will feel way less cluttered, and you’ll appreciate sticky notes more than ever.
Use transparent bins
Sometimes we subconsciously avoid putting things away because we’re afraid we might forget where we put them. (Remember that time you couldn’t find some important meeting notes because you put your blue notebook away and couldn’t find it?)
Organize items in transparent bins to reduce clutter while keeping things as visually accessible as they would be if they were neatly displayed atop your desk.
Are you a master of office organization tips and tricks? What’s missing from our list? Let us know in the comments! (But keep it organized.)