Sue's messy office

You wouldn’t believe it, looking at my office last week, but I am not a hoarder.

Hoarders, as displayed to the world in the A&E show of the same name, have “an inability to part with their belongings” that is so out of control, they are on the verge of a personal crisis. A crisis, of course, that they are proud to have on national television.

It’s not an inability to let go that causes my office to overflow with papers and stuff. It’s a tendency to keep a lot of things for reference, and a lack of disciplined and regular purging. Who has time for tidying, especially when you’re juggling multiple projects and meeting urgent deadlines?

So when I decided earlier this year to finally treat myself to a new desk large enough to hold everything I need at my fingertips, and a new bookcase to replace the shelves hung on wall-mounted brackets, I had my work cut out for me. Out went the old: desk, shelves and contents. Before anything went on or in the new, I had to review and purge, which explains the waiting pile shown here.

It took me several days to conquer the mess and end up with an office that brings a smile to my face rather than an involuntary shudder. Here’s how you can do it, too:

•  Get rid of old files, out-of-date software manuals and conference summaries. If you haven’t looked at something for years, or it’s obsolete, you don’t need it.

•  If you subscribe to magazines and newsletters, don’t keep the entire issues. Instead, cut out the appropriate article or section you want to keep and file it somewhere you can easily find and refer to it again. I used to have dust-covered collections that went back years; not any more!

•  If you keep hard copies of projects you worked on, put them in one place. I had binders of client work in three or four different places and couldn’t always find one when I wanted to look something up. Now they are all on the shelves over my desk, where I can refer to them easily.

•  Gather all your office supplies in one spot and put like items together. Doing this showed me that I had bought envelopes when I didn’t need more, among other things.

•  Fix the things that bug you. Why did I have duct tape holding together a binder that I referred to often, when I had a perfectly good almost-new binder I could have used? Oh, right, that binder wasn’t available because it held back issues of a newsletter that I never referred to.

•  If you have awards or other items that make you smile, put them on display.

I promise that my office will never get to its former untidy state. But it will be an ongoing fight against my packrat nature, so I can never let down my guard!

Sue's tidy office