Tips from The Clutterologist

Cluttered desk with paper and computer

Three Simple Steps for Daily Paper Control

That messy desk is costing your business money. Lots and lots of money.

U.S. corporations lose an estimated $177 billion annually because of clutter, Brother International reported in 2010. That includes the lost productivity of workers who are unable to find the information they need on their desks and in files.

Is it really so hard to stay on top of our office clutter?

Clutterologist Lauriann Stepp said it doesn’t have to be, but we have to work at it every day. She recommends assigning one of these fates to each and every physical and electronic document, including mail:

  • ACTION: These are your to-do items (documents you need to read, bills you need to pay, phone calls you need to make. These should be the only papers on your desk.
  • ARCHIVE: These are papers to be filed for long-term reference. Put them aside as you go, but take time weekly to file them (systematically, of course).
  • ADIOS: Not surprisingly, these are papers that should be recycled, shredded or trashed.


How should you organize your office space? Stepp suggests:

  • Know your vertical files from your horizontal piles. Keep desk items in vertical containers, and use horizontal trays for supplies like copy paper and manila folders
  • File cabinets are only of value if you actually use them. To increase those odds, keep file cabinets near your desk for easy and regular filing reach


And what about the office supplies and inventory we put in storage units?

  • Make the most of your vertical space by adding five-shelf systems
  • Label shelves and clear containers to categorize inventory for easy access