11 Ideas to Refresh Your Office Space
Each spring and fall I spring clean my office. First, I assess what supplies I'm running low on and then I head to Staples to stock up. I prefer Staples because you can order online or shop in the store and their prices are budget-friendly so I can stock up without feeling like I'm spending way too much money or basic office supplies.
Here are some ways to make organizing your office - and keeping it that way – more enjoyable.
1. Functionality is most important with office tools and accessories,... but don’t sacrifice style.
Looking at something pleasing while you’re slogging away can make work much more fun. So when choosing a container to hold printer paper or an in/out box, look for ones that are aesthetically pleasing to you. Here are some ideas:
- I stock up on these budget-friendly plastic storage bins from Staples. They're perfect for files and storing paper. But they go beyond that--I like to keep my desk as clear as possible so I also use them to store things like staplers, the microphone I use to podcast, and any other accessories or office appliances that I don't use every day. They easily fit in a closet or can look attractive just stacked up in an office corner. They also work well if you're using the basket method to store papers for a project.
- For larger projects, this 40-quart container is great for organizing and storing a large number of files.
- If you lack a closet to store your plastic bins in, this storage cart would work great in a home office or at a small business. I like that it rolls so you can move it over to wherever you're working.
2. Figure out what makes you feel more organized and productive and keep it nearby.
If it helps to see the month laid out before you, hang a calendar above your desk. If drinking cold water keeps you alert, have a special coaster for your desk. If a certain color or pattern brightens up your day, use it in decorating your office.
For me, having the right pens handy makes me feel organized:
- For writing out checks or taking notes on notecards, I use these rolIer ball pens from Staples.
- I receive and ship a lot of items, so I have a bin dedicated to shipping supplies. I use this marker to write out or cross out addresses.
- I do a lot of reading and research for my articles so I use these super bright highlighters for note taking.
3. Non-traditional furniture and organizers can be less expensive and more suited to your individual needs.
If you’re setting up an office in your home or in a small office, you probably don’t want it to look and function like a cubicle farm. A desk with storage areas can be made out of an old door and some wooden crates. Filing cabinets can be cardboard boxes. Pencils can go in old cracked mugs. Aside from a good, comfortable chair (which you’ll start to need at some point if you don’t already) offices are one of the easiest rooms to set up in a cheap and creative way. That said, chairs are important. A nice, supportive chair is a must-have is you're going to be sitting for long periods. Luckily, you can find a good chair for less than $100. I like this simple option from Staples.
3. A brilliant idea, blatantly stolen from a minimalist blog: have an office junk bowl.
Keep one small receptacle in which you permit yourself to place things that fall into the category between “use” and “throw away.” When it becomes too full, it’s time to make decisions.
4. Constantly corral your papers and other “stuff” in dedicated areas.
If you’re not going to do all your filing right away, then have one place - ideally near your files - where it can be neatly stacked until that happens. The same goes for anything from receipts to incoming and outgoing mail. It’s fine to have a few stacks of paper around, but if you keep your mess somewhat organized now, you will save yourself tons of trouble later.
5. Dump the swag.
Throw away or recycle non-working pens, papers you no longer need, and useless company-logo swag as soon as you can. Just because something was free, doesn’t mean you need to keep it.
This kind of random office flotsam can pile up for years and become overwhelming.
7. Group similar items together.
This way when you need a pen, you know to always reach for the drawer on the left, and when you need an envelope it will always be in that one box near the printer. Scattering like items all around an office is a guarantee you’ll waste hours searching high and low for what you need.
8. Go as paperless as is possible or comfortable for you.
The more bills you can pay online, the fewer pieces of paper you have to accommodate. However, consider your own personality before you spontaneously digitize everything. If you’re the type to forget anything that isn’t written down in front of you, there’s no need to go from a paper to-do list to an app just because it’s trendy.
9. Don’t work in the dark.
A brightly lit office is easier to see, and therefore easier to organize. If you can’t work in a room with good natural light, find lamps that will work in your space. Adjustable ones are (literally) the most flexible choice. Also keep in mind that even nature has its problems; make sure your chair isn’t situated so you’re staring right into the noonday sun.
10. Use labels, color-coded files or stickers to quickly identify different categories of belongings or tasks.
Use red file folders to indicate papers you need to look at now, and blue ones to hold things that can wait till later. Or, store everything in identical boxes with small tabs distinguishing the “taxes” box from the “extra phone chargers” box.
11. Restrict your office to office objects.
This will be harder if your office is a corner of your bedroom, but in general, try to keep non-work items from straying into your workspace.
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