Operation {Re}Organization: The Office

Oh the office. Or should I say "office." (I clarified the need for quotes last week, in case you missed it.) I spent some quality time with it yesterday so I've got a few updates for you. I'm thinking this process needs its own mini-series - complete with a love triangle and plenty of drama. Ok, maybe not. But this is definitely going to need more than one post. I'll just get started today and we'll see how far we get!

Here are a couple of before pictures so you can get a better idea what kind of space we're talking about:

And yes, I know, the quality of these images is yucky. Technical issues. Our apartment is really hard to shoot because of the lighting situation we've got. But hey, before pictures aren't supposed to be pretty, right? The worse the before, the better the after will look in comparison.

Now, using these as before pictures is a little deceiving as well because we actually don't use the desk area to store our office supplies - plot twist! Betcha didn't see that coming. We've actually been keeping them all over the apartment due to storage issues and to meet our specific needs. What you see here in the plastic drawers and other containers are actually our craft supplies and tools. Those are a whoooole other organization project. I didn't even touch those yesterday.

Onto the task at hand. I attempted to follow my own steps in my approach to organizing our office. That means I started by asking myself questions about my goals for the space. I realized that I want:

  • A clean desk top. No clutter. It's small, so I want to make sure we can use every square inch we have.
  • Easy access to supplies. For us, this actually means keeping them in one drawer in the living room, which is where we end up working most of the time. This will likely be different for other people, but that's why everyone needs to think about their individual space and needs.
  • An inventory of our extra supplies. This is so that we know what we have on hand and don't spend money needlessly on things we already have, but can't find!
  • A new filing system. That's a big task in and of itself, but it definitely falls into the realm of office organization. I plan on tackling that soon.
  • To spend nothing. I wanted to spend zero, or close to zero dollars. By reusing what we have, even if it doesn't end up looking exactly like my inspiration photos, we will save money for other, more important things. Like the Nester says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."
Next, I gathered everything office-related from around our apartment. I ended up with this:

Not so so bad. Messy, scattered and disorganized, but not as bad as I thought. I did find things in just about every area of our apartment though (closets, under our dresser, in drawers). There was definitely a need for consolidation.

I then started cleaning out the drawers and assessing what I had (aka "purging")...

Quickly, the stuff seemed to grow and take over all kinds of surfaces. Chairs, dining room table, floor...oy. This is when I started feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I pressed on, making sure I emptied all the necessary containers.

Love the empty here:

Through this process, I did realize that I had a couple of systems already in place that were working including 1) a basket of all of our extra printer paper, large notebooks and legal pads and 2) two sets of small, plastic drawers that hold extra cords, buttons, command strips, etc. Small victories in the fight against disorganization!

I then grouped our office supplies in a couple of different ways. First, I grouped "like with like." Anything used up or broken was thrown out. I even tried every pen to make sure it worked. And we had a lot of pens. You can see some of this sorting process in the photos below. For instance, the white chair below has all of our "stationery" supplies including note cards, stamps, return address labels, and mailing envelopes. Second, I took all items I classified as extra supplies and put them aside to be stored in a separate container from the "now" supplies. 

What I ended up with was a single drawer of all the supplies we use on a daily basis (instead of several, scattered drawers and containers), and a single box of extra supplies that will live in the top of our closet since we won't need them every day.

Here's the drawer of supplies we'll use on a daily basis. I used two smaller cardboard boxes and a can (Yes, you read that right. It does have some pretty fabric on it though.) to corral different supplies.

It has:
  • All of our stationery
  • A few mailing envelopes
  • A selection of "good pens" and a highlighter
  • Scissors
  • Tape (one double stick, one regular scotch)
  • Ruler
  • One set of post-its
  • Whiteout
  • A small notepad (for quick, short notes)
  • A larger notepad (for list-making or longer notes)

And here's our box of extra supplies:

It has:
  • Notecards (three sizes)
  • Note pads of various sizes
  • Pens (probably won't need to buy more of those for about twenty years)
  • Tape (both double stick and regular scotch)
  • Printer ink
  • Staples
  • Colored dot labels
  • Whiteout
  • Post-its
  • Ruler
I even made a little inventory card so that I can see what we have at  a glance instead of digging through the extra supplies box.

In this process, I could see that I don't need to purchase any more office supplies any time soon - a great realization that saves us money!

By consolidating all this stuff, I only ended up using one drawer and one box, and we actually ended up with a lot of empty drawers and boxes. I'm excited about that. Yay space!

I think I'll stop here for today. (I'll bet you're ready for a break too if you've read all the way to the end!) I've got more plans for this "office" space, so I'll be back soon with more updates!


*** Update 1/29/13: I finished our office "nook!" Come on over here to see the results and here for the how-to on our little DIY desk - I'm thrilled with how it turned out!


This post is a part of the series "Operation {Re}Organization." To see other posts in the series, click the tab at the top of the page.

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  1. Amazing. Fantastic job. Quite inspring!

  2. Ok please can you pop over to my home in uk and organise me lol great job

    1. Ha! Tracy, I wish I could. I would be there in a heartbeat! A trip to the UK sounds lovely.

  3. I love that you are sharing all the steps of the process! And btw, your desk is AMAZING!


  4. both of your update links at the bottom are broken:

    Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist.

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