How to Organize Your Papers and Tools Systematically For Optimum Productivity

There are many different factors that affect our productivity when we’re at work. Of course simple things like our mood have a big impact, as do things like our wakefulness and how well trained we are. Then there are environmental aspects like the tidiness of the office, the noise levels and the temperature and generally how comfortable we are, and then there are things like the way we’ve laid out our office supplies and our desk.

This latter point impacts the way we work in a number of ways, it helps to keep our things looking neat and organized for instance so that we don’t feel distracted and claustrophobic due to walls of papers or piles of pens. At the same time it helps us to organize our papers so that we can quickly find what we need and don’t have to search through our things for ages to get there.

In order to keep your desk looking good and functioning well though, it’s important to have a system. Here then we will look at how to develop a system that can help you to keep your papers and supplies in order.

Pen Holder

A pen holder is highly useful for keeping things like pens, pencils and letter openers and it allows you to always find something to write with quickly and avoids a situation where you have pens rolling all over the surface. Make sure though that once a fortnight or so you check your pens and throw out any that aren’t working as these will just end up stuffing your holder full otherwise and dissuade you from storing more in there.

More Holders

Look around your desk and pick up your loose items. Now anything that you pick up more than four times you might want to consider getting a holder for. That could mean a pot for loose change, a box for receipts or a business card holder. But simply by selecting a single place for those items you will make it easier to keep your desk organized and you’ll have one place to find them when you need them.

Utensils Drawer

It’s also worth having a utensils drawer in your desk and traditionally this will be the top drawer so that the utensils like staplers and hole punches are easy to quickly grab. Again though the threat here is that you end up filling it with countless other items – so again try to have a sort through around once every two weeks.

Waste Paper Bin

If you or your staff have to travel the length of the room in order to find the nearest bin, then this is only going to cause you to leave rubbish on your desk or to stuff it into draws. Every member of staff should have a bin right by their desk as this way they can easily discard their papers easily and will be more inclined to do so.


Having multiple trays for storing your papers can be a godsend. Trays on top of your desk allow you to quickly and easily file papers that you can then sort through later (at your allotted two-week sorting time). Have a few trays for things that you are currently working on and need right now, things that you need to be nearby but not necessarily to hand (maybe something you’ll need tomorrow or later on in the week) and a third for things that need to be filed away permanently in your filing cabinet when you get the time to get through papers. This way you won’t create a situation where you have just one pile marked ‘to sort’ and you will be much more likely to find the things you need quickly.

Jason Bruce owns a business blog and writes about the environmental aspects of an office. He refers Comstat Office Supplies for small businesses.

Featured image on home page courtesy of sindesign.

Filed in: Office Space
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