Friday Professional Group

desk organization

Rae Organizes Her Desk

I’m the person with probably the messiest desk at our office – which maybe makes me the most qualified to look for desk organization tips! I’ve been trying to find new ways that work for my sometimes-scattered brain (does it count as chaos if I know where everything is?) to keep my things tidier and hopefully easier for other people to understand if they need to step into my zone!

My organizational problems tend to come from having a lot of paper and feeling like I don’t have a lot of places to put them (this is because I’m a big note-taker), so I started looking for cute, compact and functional ideas to hold my papers and pens and make my space a little neater.

I started out thinking I could use some of the ideas on Martha Stewart’s website, like her framed bulletin board or covered clipboards – but I don’t have the wall space where I could hang something like that up, since I sit at the very front of our office. Plus, I get the feeling that someone with some crafty skills would make things that looked a little nicer! As much as I loved the neat ideas like paint-can-canisters for holding mail, what turned out to be more important for my desk was tips like “get rid of pens and pencils you don’t need.” I took one look at my pen holder on my desk and realized this was me! Mark Shead’s 12 Tips For an Organized Desk was my lifeline here. I latched onto the idea of “organization by proximity” – keeping the things I need most often closest to me, like my favourite pen, my bright-blue Post-its, and my rack of everybody’s business cards that I put into interview folders – and putting away things I don’t use much. This meant finding a home for things like the building’s fire warden manual, which I think everyone else in the office has forgotten even exists! I also designated a scratch pad for notes and tidied up all the random paperclips strewn about my desktop, cleaned out my file holder, and even took a stab at the pen caddy. (I am not a kindergarten teacher and do not need three pairs of scissors at my desk).

So has any of this helped yet? Well, we’ll see – but I think I’ve made a pretty good start at no longer being the office slob. I did, at the very least, clean up things that should have never found a home on my desk to start with, since I am not the fire warden - this should make the whole ‘organize-as-you-go’ process run a little more smoothly.  And I did get to keep some cute and fun things on my desk, like the mirror Shabana bought me and a paperweight our summer student, Emily, brought me from Vegas. Even in the short time since I started to tidy up my desk, I’ve noticed it helps me think more clearly and feel more focused. Hopefully organizing-as-I-go and keeping the most important things near to me can be the key to happier, tidier working! (Then I'll just need to get started on my desk at home!) 


-Rae, First Impressions Coordinator

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