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What to do with all that stuff

Utilize simple organizational tools
“Have nothing in your house [office] that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris
Everyone has stuff. Whether its paper clips, old stationery, or keys, the stuff we hang onto can reflect old habits or even old emotions.
We’ve all had some experience with stuff, such as keys, artwork, books, trinkets, and computer paraphernalia. At the Four Acres, we had inherited cartons of keys that had no identifiable homes. My father used to collect tools that spread out from the garage to the laundry room. A client kept old magazines for years.
Some people hang onto stuff unconsciously, deriving pleasure from owning rather than using or displaying. Think about the stuff in your office. Do you have several staplers scattered around your office, or do you have pens that are no longer useful or markers that are dried out? As you think about what you have and want to keep, use these keys to help you get organized.
What’s going on here? Stuff doesn’t clutter, we clutter. When we understand why, we can make simple changes to improve our quality of life at work.
Take inventory
An inventory of your stuff can keep all your keepsakes and infrequently used items organized and easily accessible for all of your future needs. No need to buy new things because you cannot remember where you stored them.
Keep like items together
Having office supplies in your desk, credenza, and closet can be confusing, overwhelming, and even expensive. Keep all like items together. That way, when you need a new notepad, you know where to look and don’t find yourself running out to the store to buy more.
Clear the way
If you are constantly tripping over wires or an extra guest chair, create a system to hide the wires or ask yourself, how often do I have visitors?
Utilize office equipment
If you are on the phone a lot, use a headset or a quality speakerphone so you can listen and write notes at the same time.
Buy equipment and supplies that you need. Do not just get by.
Get an ergonomic chair, which can be adjusted to fit your body so you can sit and work in comfort for long hours (when you really must).
Natural and full-spectrum lighting assures restful eyes and also enables longer work sessions (when you need them).
Buy a new desk when you need it. Do not tolerate broken drawers or a cramped work space.
Consider soundproofing or using acoustics insulation so you can talk privately without outside distractions.
If you make a lot of new files, buy a label maker.
Stock frequently used items, especially toner for the printer, paper, and labels.
Think vertically. Look at shelving systems to maximize the space on your walls. Making your office space-efficient can add visual appeal as well. Find your individual style from numerous shelving systems available.
Use long-term storage
Sometimes we have files, historical archives, or other stuff that need to be stored for a long period of time. Consider using offsite storage, or a records management or file storage company.
Recycle
Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s funny to think back now, but even back in those days, my mom and I were trying to improvise on being more environmentally conscious. I must admit, though, it may have been more motivated by saving money, but, nevertheless, the environmental impact was slightly affected by our efforts.
At one point, it registered in our minds that we were being wasteful throwing out the little bars of soap after every night a guest would stay. So we assessed what we could do, and the key to be resourceful was to find an alternate use for the soap. The process we implemented was to take all the used soap from the rooms, dry the bars out, shred them in a cheese grater, and use the soap scraps for laundry detergent. It was a simple solution that saved us money, and it felt great that we were no longer wasting the hardly used soap.
Even today, Americans rely on plastic made from petroleum and natural gas in virtually every aspect of our lives; just a fraction of our plastic waste gets recycled.
Follow these steps to keep material out of landfills and reduce pollution.
Paper in an office really adds up!
Create a recycling bin by your desk and one in all common areas. Always have the choice convenient and obvious so participation is easy.
Know your local resources for services to pick up or drop off recyclable items. Check out http://www.epa.gov for ideas.
Supply kitchen and break areas with glasses for water. Making drinking water accessible and convenient will minimize the use of purchased water in plastic bottles.
You can implement recycling and sustainability into your organizing. As you check in with your business process, you may realize that you can find some keys to being more green. With a few simple solutions and practices, you can start feeling like you’re contributing to the environment’s well-being. 
Remember, if you have stuff that looks good but serves no purpose, let it go. The key is to figure out why you need the stuff. Things don’t clutter…we clutter. And when you understand why, you can select the right systems to organize your stuff and improve your quality of life at work and at home.

Credit and Source:  This blog post is an excerpt from Anne McGurty’s book, Lost In Your Own Office, available on amazon.com.

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