Once all your office supplies are gathered together, you have to sort through them, test them, and find a good way to store them all together.
Put similar items together. Paper goes with paper, pens and pencils go together. Since this is only temporary, you can use ziplock bags and Tupperware containers to separate the little stuff and use boxes to sort the notebooks, folders, and files.
Once you have sorted your supplies, test the supplies that you have. You’ll want to make sure they are still good; there is no point in keeping office supplies that don’t work well.
· Test the pens to make sure they work. If you don’t get a nice thick line immediately after trying to draw little corkscrew squiggles, then a pen is bad and should be tossed. Also, if you don’t like the way a pen writes, get rid of it. If you are like me, you probably will never use a pen you don’t like if a pen you do like is available.
· Make sure the mechanical pencils have lead and the erasers aren’t used up. Toss ‘em if they are missing either lead or erasers or both. (It might seem wasteful, but you are working on organizing now. Work on saving the planet later.)
· Test the markers. If you don’t get a nice good stroke of color as if they were new, toss ‘em.
· If you have a gluestick, you’ll want to test it too; glue sticks tend to dry up after a few years. Toss out dry gluesticks.
· If you have a 3-hole punch, empty all the little paper holes out of the bottom reservoir over the garbage can.
· If you’re down to the last three sticky notes of a pad, recycle them. People usually gravitate to the thicker pads of sticky notes when presented with a choice between a thick pad and a thin one with only a few sticky notes left.
· If any of your paper is stained or dog-eared or bent, recycle it. You’ll want to print on nice clean, pristine paper.
· Any notebooks that only have a few sheets of paper left in them can be recycled. You’ll enjoy a new notebook more.
· Sharpen your wooden pencils to a fine point. If they are missing an eraser, don’t bother; just trash them. (Some might argue that they can always use a detachable eraser with eraser-less pencils, but if you have a choice between a pencil with an eraser and one without, you will choose to write with the one with an eraser every time.)
· Recycle any bent or torn folders. You will enjoy using nice ones much more.
· Make sure your binders have rings that close snugly. If they don’t, trash them because they will be more irritating than they are worth if you have to readjust papers in them all the time.
· Make sure your calculator has batteries that work.
Store your supplies
Once you have sorted and tested your office supplies, you need to find a home for them as close to your workspace as possible so that you can have easy access to all it. Having them out all at once will get in the way and look cluttered, so the best place for them will be in your desk drawers. If you don’t have desk drawers*, you need some kind of box with drawers to put them in so you can keep them near your workspace.
This is when you can go shopping for organizing containers. As you look, keep in mind the amount of supplies you will need to store.
Some supplies office supplies are best stored flat, such as printer paper, notebook paper, and graphing paper. Paper trays work well for paper. Alternatively, you can stack them on top of each other, keeping the most frequently-used type of paper on top.
Some paper supplies can be stored standing on their side, such as manila folders, hanging folders, notebooks, two-pocked folders, binder page dividers, and binders, especially if they are all stored together. The stiffer stuff (like binders) will keep the limper stuff (like hanging folders and binder page dividers) from sagging if you put some sort of bookend in to keep them upright.
Laminating sheets, page protector sheets, envelope labels, letterhead paper, and envelopes are best stored in the boxes they are sold in because they will stay nice and pristine and they’ll stand upright.
Organizing trays are helpful for small things like tacks, paper clips, binder clips, scissors, sticky notes, extra staples (in their box), stamps, glue, tape, extra pencil lead, etc.
Markers and colored pencils are best stored upright in a cup or deep bowl where you can see and grab what you need.
If you have desk drawers that are taken up by something other than office supplies, it is time to be tough and move that stuff. Drawers are important organizing tools for your workspace and they should not be taken up by things that don’t help you with your office tasks.
*The annoying tendency for stores to sell computer desks with no drawer space is a topic for another post. (One of these days I’m going to have to write a blog post critiquing the different kinds of desks out there.)
Do you need extra help with organizing and de-cluttering? Hire me! Go to www.phoenixhomeorganizing.com for more information about my services! Did this article help you? Be sure to share it with your friends!