January 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm #158993
My organization recently moved me from an office to a cubicle. This will force me even more to be diligent about the incoming and outgoing paper (as well as anything else that goes on my desk and in my drawers). I am generally looking for ideas and office products that will help me manage this (i.e. hanging inboxes, multipurpose desk accessories, etc.). Thanks!
January 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm #176573
I have just finished decluttering my office space today, and it feels great!
The biggest thing I have done is to throw away any papers that I can get on either the intranet or internet.
Similarly, if I get emailed a document but need to print it out for a meeting, I save it somewhere on my computer. Any notes I take in the meeting in relation to the document I then add to the electronic document and any tasks I add to Outlook task. Then I shred the paper document.
I would love a Kindle, you can download documents and make notes etc really easily and it is so portable, best get saving….
I know this isn’t product suggestions, and it may be electronic version of your paper work exist, but less paper to manage in the first place will mean less storage solutions are needed!
Good luck DD – http://declutterdiary.blogspot.com/
January 8, 2011 at 12:13 am #176587
Ugh, I hated working in a cubicle – no door to close to avoid interruptions when working on a project, or on a conference call. No privacy!! Grrrr.
Anyway, my suggestion is anything that you can hang on the wall vs. sitting on your desk in the way of paper storage. I used to try to keep my less-used things in my desk drawer vs. desk top. THings that you don’t use every day, or even all day long, like letter openers, stamps, staple pullers, even extra pens/pencils. Or you could have one of those lazy susan arrangements that hold writing utensils, scissors, etc. in the center, and paper clips, rubber bands, etc. in compartments at the bottom. What used to bug me were the sticky notes that you write down while on the phone with reminders, phone numbers, and the like. One gal had a little “sticky notes” program on her PC that worked right from her desktop – until we were not allowed to add unauthorized programs to our PCs.
January 8, 2011 at 8:10 am #176605
I’d also suggest running a small desktop fan for white noise to help reduce the distracting “clutter” of office noises coming at you now. Or perhaps you could mount it on the cubicle wall somehow.
January 10, 2011 at 1:00 pm #176852
I went from having my own office (with a DOOR! and a couch for naps!) to working in a shared office with 10 other people. (whimper…)
I’m a programmer, so this may not work in a more paper-centric job, but: My desk is completely clear except for two laptops and a phone. Everything else lives in my little file cabinet.
When I’m working, I also have my cell phone out (for an app that lets me log into corporate databases), a notebook, and a coffee cup. If I need paper for something, it lives on my desk until it’s done and then is stored in notebooks in the filing cabinet.
I have to look at everyone else’s clutter – I’d go crazy if I didn’t minimize my own.
ETA: Oh, and if you are allowed: Headphones make things much calmer, and if you need to absolutely concentrate they’re a godsend.
Also, while I have everyone else’s visual clutter in a shared office with no cubicle walls, it does help us feel like a team. I think cubicles are the worst of both worlds – the isolation of walls without the actual privacy.
January 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm #176856
I’m writing this as a separate post because my earlier post wasn’t so useful for actual paper-managing tips.
It sounds like you have real papers you have to physically move around. These usually end up being of a few types:
–Can be computerized – do so when you can, and shred or file the originals.
–Must be filed – if they’re really long-term storage, try to get a big file cabinet *outside your space* to keep them. Lock it for security if necessary, but it’s best to have it out of your way if you’re not going to refer to anything in it more than once a week. Make a pile for that storage and file it daily. If nothing else it gets you up and away from your desk.
–Must be kept for regular reference – keep to a minimum, well-labeled. I really like punching holes in these things and keeping them in binders, as I find that easier to flip through than regular files. Also, then you can either stand them in your file cabinet, lay them in a shallower drawer, or keep them in a bookcase. Also also, if you need to handle them regularly it’s less likely for random papers to fall out a disappear. If you’re stuck with files, label well and maybe tack a quick organizational summary to the wall above the file cabinet.
–Must be processed and handed to someone else. For short tasks, just do it, then take it to the next person. Either take it to them immediately – exercise! – or tack binder clips to your wall with people’s names, and collect them for delivery once a day. For bigger projects, start a file folder or binder for each project and stick everything in there, so it can be put away neatly at the end of every day.
–Temp sticky notes and other ephemera – I have a daily “working” notebook that I keep my tasks and any other notes in, with the date in the upper right corner. Periodically I comb through it to put phone numbers into Outlook. Regularly I go back to see when I did X, or how I did Y, or why we decided Z. (If I have to check Y more than once I dogear the page and/or try to put it into searchable email to myself. I’m trying to move some of this to Evernote as well.)
–Inbox. If people really are going to put physical papers on your desk (sigh) I guess you should have a well-labeled box for such things, that you can keep as empty as possible.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a little OCD about having a clear desk, so aside from the Inbox I wouldn’t have anything else. Office supplies and my working notebook live in the shallow drawers of my filing cabinet; reference books and notebooks live in the deep drawer.
January 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm #176876
Thanks everybody! This is all incredibly helpful, so I appreciate your feedback. I am being very deliberate about what I put back into my drawers, binders, folders, etc and I hope to use all this advice for future papers. I have also discovered that Microsoft OneNote is helpful for taking notes on a computer and ToDoist is great for a virtual to-do list.
January 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm #176877
Another thing about cubicles is that they are much less secure than an office with a door. I’d recommend labeling things (like staplers) that have a tendency to walk and an extra layer of security on your computer is not a bad idea.
January 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm #176880
I cope with the cube by keeping the bare minimum of stuff on my desk. Tape dispenser, glue stick, paper clips, rubber bands – ALL that kind of stuff – are in the top drawer. My snacks and hairbrush are in the 2nd drawer. 3rd drawer is files I actually refer to often (procedures, attorney travel prefs, expense processing, etc.)
Otherwise, I keep only files for work in progress (no long-term storage) and only minimal mailing/filing supplies. I figure it’s a short walk to the main supply room and I need all the walking I can get.
Within arm’s reach I have only a small, nice (carved wood) pen and notepad holder with a tiny drawer for clips, from World Market; my phone; small HEPA filter; a plant; and my water & coffee mugs. These are all ranged about the back of the enclosure so that to my right and left I have clear desk space. Oh, and my stapler is snuggled up to the side of the mini computer my monitor sits on.
A cluttered desk makes me feel very oppressed, so it’s constant vigilance. I decided I would rather have to go and retrieve a file I re-shelved prematurely, than keep things around indefinitely for “justin case.” And I abominate loose paper. The only loose paper on the desk is a pending new matter request, which I am about to go and get a manila folder for so I can put it in my file sorter!
January 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm #176884
You already picked up on OneNote – I worked for the last six months to train myself to use that instead of post-its. Post-its are my worst clutter habit for the desktop.
Second worst is the end of the day clean desk policy- where I just shove everything into my top desk drawer. I’d recommend getting a specific drawer organizer if you don’t have one built into your desk to keep things under control. I like this one: http://www.spacesavers.com/Storage/Desk-Junk-Drawer-Organizers_2/5-Compartment-Desk-Organizer-by-Made-Smart
January 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm #176943
@IMC, I’m not entirely sure why you consider a cubicle to be more challenging than an office. Is it because the new cubicle is smaller than the your office?
The same strategies should apply. Keep the things you use every day within reach. Keep your reference materials together. Keep your project materials together. Label your stuff. Make time at the end of the day to put things away. Don’t let papers accumulate in your in-box.
And, remember that nothing is private. Try to be respectful of your neighbors. You may like to listen to “adult contemporary” while you work, but your neighbor may be silently gritting her teeth and wishing she could throw your radio out the window. I had to move because a neighbor couldn’t or wouldn’t stop with the loud personal phone conversations.
The in-box is one of the things that drive me crazy. I don’t like hanging in-boxes. Small papers can get lost, plus paper has a way of flopping over and getting in the way. I have a basket right by the entrance to my cube, yet certain people always bypass it and leave stuff on my chair. It’s never something urgent. Those same people tend to have nonexistent in-boxes, or in-boxes full of stuff that has been there forever because they don’t know what to do with it. One of the biggest offenders has a series of in-boxes, with specific instructions about what type of item belongs in each one. I make sure to walk past his boxes and leave everything on his chair.
The other thing, if you are in a busy location, is that people wiill walk away with your office supplies. I keep a bunch of pencils and pens, along with a pad of paper, right by my entrance. I make sure they are ones I don’t like (I buy my own because I don’t like what the office supplies), so if someone needs one they won’t go further into my cube to get one of my precious pens or pencils.
Finally, I’m in a government office where other people may need access to my files. There are public records laws, and other reasons, for this. It drives me crazy when my coworkers have no discernable labels or filing system, so you have to hunt for a project file if they are out. I make sure my cabinets are labeled and files are in order so anyone can locate anything if I’m not around.
January 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm #178705
I thought I’d update this thread in case anybody who wrote here (or who is looking for advice) is interested. I wish I could post photos of the results, but oh well!
I found clear wall pockets from the Container Store to put on the outside of my cube for mail and paper to shred. I have had the privilege to leave most of the paper that I originally had behind, and have organized the rest into labeled folders in two file drawers. Any other paper gets dealt with when I get it and then shredded or tossed. Of course my computer has been extremely helpful with managing paper, especially notes that I take while on the phone. I take notes in a notebook while at a meeting, which gets labeled and stored in my cabinet above my desk. Most of my desk accessories fit neatly in a drawer (labeled of course) while only cute and eye-catching things go on my desk (like this paperclip holder: http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/item/Sparrows-Nest-Paper-Clip-Holder/300_356/439972.html and this little guy for my office key: http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/item/Bendable-Magnetic-Man-Hook/300_356/414573.html) I left a few snacks on a file cabinet that sits next to my desk to temp people to come visit me 🙂
So far everything has been working well, but I just have to continue to be diligent about keeping things neat and organized. Thanks again to everyone for their advice!
January 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm #178720
It sounds like you found a good solution. Way to go!
February 1, 2011 at 1:41 am #178751
IMC: Glad to hear your news! Good luck with keeping your cute paper clip holder. I have worked in a cubicle, and believe me, staplers and pens just seem to walk away.
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