Creating a Useful Office Space

In our house, I am the keeper of the budget….and all papers for that matter. Over time, I realized I could not find anything. Nothing had a place. Nothing was organized. Nothing made sense. It was time for a change. I sat and thought about my office for a while and came up with several ideas to make it all make sense. For some, an office ends up being a “catch-all.” I had papers on the kitchen counter in a pile, and I had more piles of paper in the office. NONE OF IT WAS ORGANIZED!!!

organizing desk


To de-clutter, start by gathering three boxes. Label one TRASH. Label the second one ELSEWHERE. Label the third one NOT SURE. This one is for the few items that you are not sure if you should throw away or just put somewhere else. (See Everything Has a Place.)


organizing desk

This is the benchmark of how long you should keep the papers upon your desk.

  • Credit Card statements-Check them for accuracy, pay them, and then shred them. No need to keep such items around.
  • Junk mail-Trash
  • Bank Statements-keep for one year
  • Pay Stubs-keep for one year
  • Phone bill-keep for one year
  • Auto bill-keep for one year
  • Tax related documents-keep for one year
  • User Manuals-keep forever
  • Vital Documents-should be stored very safely. Fireproof safe, safety deposit box, locking file cabinet, etc.


In and Out

Now that all the paper is organized, a new system is needed to prevent such things from happening. Purchase two baskets. Nicely label one INBOX, one OUTBOX. Use the inbox to accumulate the mail, bills, etc–things that need to be handled. The outbox is reserved for things that are ready to be turned in, mailed, etc. The key here is to not let your inbox overflow. Make time every week at the same time every week to clear it out.

Other Office Supplies

There are many things you should keep in your desk.

  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Pens
  • A poker to put receipts on to balance your check register. (See my guest post on being thrifty.)
  • A printer
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes
  • Thank you notes (You never know when you will need to write one. It is good practice to have them on hand)
  • Loose leaf paper
  • Printer paper
  • Organize all of these items in bins or within a drawer. My desk does not have drawers, it has shelves, so I use baskets and bins for all of this now.
  • A planner/appointment book
  • A list of important phone numbers (You never know when you might need these.)

In the long run, you will be a much happier woman if you know where all of your papers are at…at all times. From this you will have the basics of a sensible organizing system. Everyone is different, and somethings may work for me that do not work for you and vice versa. Let me know what your office organization is like in the comments section.

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2 Responses

  1. Pagan Jade says:

    I love that you keep Thank You cards on hand. I do this too, as well as holiday cards, and even blank/all-purpose ones. I rarely get a thank you card from anyone anymore, but I still send them.

    My desk is a mess. No matter how many organizers or bins I have, it still gets messy and over-flowing–label-maker, router/modem, ink cartridges … I’ve finally decided that I’m going to need to find space in my house for these things. It can’t all go on my desk.

    So that’s my first step.

    • Courtney says:

      Yes it seems proper etiquette has gone the way of the birds. Yes, I have organized my desk before and ended back with a mess. It then became clear that I needed a new system. One that works for me. My system may be unique to me, but hopefully it gets others started to a path of organized thinking, organized office space. In reality, it is all trial and error.

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