With so many other things to think about when you're working, keeping your office space tidy, spacious and free of clutter might not be your top priority. But a cluttered office environment can seriously affect your productivity, your motivation, and even your professional image. So making the effort to re-think your workspace and work on your office organization skills will mean that you can get your work done in comfort and in style.
But where do you start? There are office supplies everywhere, piles of paper on the desk, a bunch of old filing cabinets filled with who-knows-what, an unhappy plant in the corner, and no clear system. No need to panic - we've put together a few golden rules to help you create the office environment that's right for you. We've also got a range of stylish, interesting and multi-functional office accessories and stationery, so that you can fill it with a few carefully-selected items that not only look great and help you create an individual office style, but will keep your workspace tidy and in check. With the right office products, a re-jig of the furniture, a few accessories, a couple of organisers, a clever use of space and a little bit of creative thinking, your working environment could be transformed in just a couple of hours.
1. Take a look around
It's likely that you spend a lot of your week in your office, whether it's at home or a shared space in a professional office with other workers. But before you get started with the de-cluttering, it might be a good idea to take a step back and have a look at your office environment as a whole, from an outsider's perspective.
Ask yourself some questions:
What kind of an office is it? If it's shared, decide the parameters of your space: where does it begin and end? If it's all yours, then have a look at the shape of the room and consider whether or not you need all the furniture you have in there at the moment, and if you do, whether it is arranged in the optimum configuration. Concentrating on the office style and look you'd like to create is a good place to start, because then you can arrange organisers, furniture and products accordingly.
How much space do you have? If it's quite a lot, lucky you - more space to move around in. If it's limited, then making the most of the space you have should be high on your list of makeover priorities.
Can you spot anything immediately that doesn't need to be there? Even little things will affect how you feel in the space; do you need to invest in a coat stand so that you don't have clothes flung across the back of your chair? It's the little things that will turn your office environment into a happy, rather than stressful, place to work.
2. Take the time to have a clear out
If you want to keep your office in a clean, tidy and calming state, then you need to get good at throwing things away. We all have way more office supplies than we actually need, and they have a habit of spreading themselves out, so it's time to really think about your office storage and system of organization.
First of all, sort all your things into piles of things you need for immediate use, things you need to have to around but won't use daily, and things you no longer need at all. What falls into the latter category can be thrown away or, if recyclable, recycled straight away, what falls into the second can be put into designated drawers (or a storage system of your choosing), and what falls into the first needs to be on your desk, labelled and held by an appropriate office organiser. Simple.
And whatever you do, don't be a hoarder. Take the time to clear and clean regularly; perhaps you could set aside ten minutes at the end of each day to tidy up and restore stationery, supplies and papers to their homes: you'll thank yourself when you sit down to work again. It's better to take a little bit of time to do it now than waste time looking for things later, compromising productivity and focus because of a messy, cluttered office.
3. A green office is a happy office
Not only do you need a strict system for what goes where and what gets thrown away, but as a lot of what you'll use in your workspace will be recyclable, you need a good recycling system, too. You might want to group all of your bins (paper, landfill, cardboard) together in one corner of your office space so that all your rubbish is contained neatly in one area. Get yourself a paper bin, so that you don't have to feel bad about clearing your office of all those notes and old memos. If you dream of a more natural office environment, we've got a bamboo paper bin here; it's made from environmentally friendly bamboo, so that even the material holding your recycling is recyclable. How much greener can you get?
4. A few key accessories
The right office accessories could be the difference between a haphazard working environment and an effortlessly stylish one. But it's not just about streamlining your office look (more of that later), it's about buying the right products to help you keep on top of your work. So rather than buying a selection of general office stationery and accessories, focus on purchasing products for your office which have been designed with a specific use in mind.
This bamboo note-holder is small enough to sit unobtrusively on your desk, but will keep all of your notes together in one place.Or, this organiser which mounts onto your desk or wall will provide designated spaces for your pens, notes, papers and office supplies without getting in your way. If you know what kind of work you do and what accessories you need to have to suit that kind of work, then you'll be less likely to clutter up your office with unnecessary products.
5. Make better use of your space, make better use of your time
Now for a few more questions:
Do you have the right furniture in your office? Do you have a surface for your printer, for example, which means that it doesn't have to sit on your desk and take up that valuable space?
Is the furniture that you do have arranged in the most convenient way? That is, have you arranged it so that certain important things are in reach of your desk? You need to be able to get to your business essentials quickly and easily.
Is there a clear path from your desk to the door, or do you have to dodge an inconveniently placed filing cabinet?
Can you streamline your office storage system? Maybe you could mount a few more shelves onto the walls to save yourself a bulky bookcase?
The aesthetic arrangement of your working environment is crucially important; it will affect your concentration and mood, thereby affecting your productivity and happiness at work. It's especially important that you consider the light in your office- can you let more in? Could you clear a space in front of your window to let the natural light flood in, or change your heavy curtains for light-coloured blinds? The look of your office isn't a shallow concern; it will impact upon your work.
Top tip: try to match your drawers, desk and other furniture in colour and design. It will give the illusion of space and give the room an instant facelift.
6. Have fun with it
Now that you've re-assessed your workspace, invested in the right office products, made friends with bamboo, kitted yourself out with some natural office accessories, found a home for all your recyclables, and got good and throwing things away, it's time to decorate. If you have your own office or work from a study at home, now's the time to make it feel like your own space, just like you would with any other room in your house. If your office is a shared professional space then it's perhaps even more important to make it feel like your own personal work area.
A bit of working environment greenery can really lift the mood of a room, but plants can be a pain to maintain. We've found a solution with some of the most convincing artificial plants you've ever seen, so that your office environment can be green in more ways than one. We've also got beautiful ceramic vases in a range of styles. And why not hang a picture or two? From city scapes to idyllic beach scenes, we've got a selection of canvasses which are bound to inspire and relax you.
No, your eyes don't deceive you, that really does say office toys.
Whether you've bought them yourself to brighten up your work day, or whether you've been given an office gift or two; having toys and novelty items in the office can be a double-edged sword. From framed pictures of friends and family to desktop games and puzzles, gifts and toys can make you feel at home when you're working, but take care not to clutter your space to the point that they are distracting and upset the new-found calm of your workspace.
But that doesn't mean you have to refrain all together: now that you've cleared some floor space, what better way to relax than with a spot of golf putting? It's a great way to take your mind off work for a few minutes, and can be stored neatly away so that you can maintain your clutter-free space.
It also works as an office gift for a colleague or friend who needs a little cheering up. Whenever buying a business gift, however, it might be worth checking out the recipient's workspace first before buying, as once you've re-organised your office you'll appreciate how a clutter-free working environment is a precious thing. Choosing a business gift carefully and thoughtfully could put you in a colleague or superior's good books, but adding to their clutter could have the opposite effect.
Have a read of our article about de-cluttering your desktop. There are a few handy tips and office products in there which could help you with your office makeover.