Drowning in Paperwork: How to Tackle Your Office Space

I know I’m not the only one in this situation. Here’s the scenario: you’ve made yourself an office. Whether it is an actual room, a corner in the home or a nook under the stairs, you have a place to work. However, it always seems like this area becomes the dumping ground for anything and everything that doesn’t have an immediate place to live.

My office was a perfect example of that.

When we moved into our home, there was one little room that became my office. We made it beautiful; everything I ever wanted my office to be was created in that space. We even converted the closet into an office closet with shelves for storage. However, all the efforts we made to make it nice and welcoming soon turned into the place for “everything else”.

I have family documents, work documents (so far, that sounds normal), charity event posters, gifts from brands (that are not office related), gifts I bought for birthday parties for the boys (one will be coming up soon), Christmas presents hidden from the boys, stuffed animals that didn’t make it to the appropriate room, candles, books, craft supplies…it was ridiculous.

So, you could imagine, that since my office had become a dumping ground, the beautiful space that I had made for myself inherently became a dump. It started off slow, and then gradually gained momentum. I have a beautiful loveseat that I inherited from my mother. Soon it was buried under papers.

What once was a place I imagined to be a sanctuary, and the loveseat to have a place of honour in my office for reading and relaxing, was not being used for anything more than a place to pile up things.

The loveseat made me upset, but my desk was where things were not allowing me to work.  It was such a mess of papers and other things, I was mentally unable to focus. Add to that, my great idea of purchasing a glass tabletop desk, that allowed me to see what was in the drawers below, and it was a sensory overload.

Enter Liz of ProjectOrganize.ca .

Looking back now, I don’t even know how she walked into my office with a straight face. But that is what has made my experience with her manageable and successful. I wasn’t judged, and I wasn’t criticized. Liz came into this project with only positive thoughts. She assessed the office space and heard me out on my issues with the room. Then after a few explanations and understandings of how I work, we began.

The first thing to tackle was what was on the loveseat. Where I saw a pile that had become unmanageable, Liz saw individual papers that all had a home somewhere, even if that home wasn’t created yet. For every single paper I lifted from the pile, we assessed what it was. If it had a category of something still going on in my life, we created a file for that category. If it was older, I had the choice to archive it into a different file system. And if it was of no use to me, it was time to recycle. Soon, the loveseat was cleared. Then we tackled the desk. I needed to claim my work surface back that very day.

A wonderful thing happened while we were clearing things. I opened my closet to show Liz the space that could be used (better) to store things for the office. And since there were things in there I hadn’t even tried to look at for some time, we found a gem I almost forgot I had.

Clear desk!! We still had a lot to do, but this was HUGE.

Liz asked me if I had a paper bin to keep on my desk, knowing I am a more visual person and having a “to-do” bin would be good for me to see what needs to get done asap. In the closet, I had stored a wooden paper tray that had once lived on my father’s desk. I knew I wanted to keep it, but now we had found a place of honour. My father was an incredibly hard worker. Having an item of his by my side on my desk was the icing on the organizing cake.

My father’s wooden paper tray, in a place of honour.

Once the day was over, we had cleared the loveseat and the desk. I also decided to place shelf liner on the glass top of the desk for less stimuli while working. It made such a difference from that day forward to see less while writing. I cleared the space, and my mind suddenly was clear to make better work choices and focus.

There was still a lot more to get through. My filing drawers and closet were next. But now we were on a roll. With Liz’s expertise and kindness, it was something that was simpler and not magnified into an impossible task.

To learn more about Liz and her services, visit www.ProjectOrganize.ca

Up next: Deciding on a filing system that works for you (and no, you don’t have to throw away everything!).

PART 1: I Didn’t Sign Up For This and I’m So Grateful It’s Happening

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