Organize office shelves to keep everything stored and out of the way but still easily accessible. This will also provide more work area especially when you have a small desk. Organize office shelves so that you can work efficiently, be productive and make a good impression on your friends, co-workers or clients.
Whether free standing shelving units like bookcases, built-in shelves like a desk hutch or wall mount shelves, they utilize vertical space without taking any or very little floor space. Utilizing the vertical wall space in addition to your square footage will make your office area much more open especially if you don't have a big area to begin with.
First step when you organize office shelves is to take everything out of the shelves.
Group the contents into categories like books, magazines, reference materials, files/folders/binders with paperwork, software CDs, DVDs and other computer media, decorative or personal items (like photos, plaques, certificates and mementoes), extra office supplies (like empty files, folders, binders and printer paper) and so on.
Discard anything that is broken or you don’t need. Make sure to shred papers with sensitive information. Donate items that are in good condition but are not useful to you anymore.
The best way to organize office shelves is to assign shelves for group of like items from each of the above mentioned categories.
Organize office shelves in such a way that the items you use the most are in the middle shelves that are closest to your desk (work space) so that they are easily accessible. Items you rarely need can be stored on shelves that are the highest, lowest and farthest away from your desk.
If you have shelves above your desk, you can use it to put printer, scanner, modem, router etc. which you wouldn't necessarily want on or inside your desk. They are easily accessible but are not taking up the work space.
If your desk has storage on the side(s) like drawers, shelves or a hutch with cubbies, use them to store small office supplies like pens, pencils, rulers, paper clips, paper punch, post-it, stapler, tape, scissors, printer cartridges etc. by grouping like items together. Please see my organize desk drawers article for more.
Store paper and larger supplies like files, folders, binders etc. on the built-in shelves of your table or in the cubbies on the hutch that are deeper or taller.
If you don’t have desk drawers, use the shelves to store these items. Use boxes, baskets or small portable drawer units on the shelves to group small supplies like pens, pencils, paper clips, thumbtacks, post-it etc. Another option is to use cigar boxes instead of plastic bins. You may be able to get empty cigar boxes from cigar shops for free. They make interesting storage bins.
Sort books, magazines, manuals and reference materials by themes like educational, self-help etc. and assign shelves for each category. Depending on the number of items, one shelf could contain more than one category. If this is the case, divide each category with a decorative accessory (like a photo or plaque) or a divider tab depending on the space available.
Keep magazines in magazine files. Recycle magazines after a year and reuse the magazine file. If you want to keep something specific from the magazines like an article just keep those pages. If this is something you save from every issue or often, assign a binder for these pages. Use divider tabs to separate each category. This way you can find what you need easily without taking up valuable space.
I use a 3 ring binder for organizing monthly household statements and manuals and an old magazine to organize my receipts. Please see my home office organization page for more information on these.
Sort through your papers and group them into categories based on person/client, company, project and so on and put them in manila folders or similar and label them. You can also subdivide them by year. Put these files or folders inside a magazine file (with label side facing out) so that you can arrange them vertically on the shelves. This way you can get to what you need without having to remove the ones on top. Also this will prevent them from falling down if the shelf is not full. Assign a different magazine file to store files from each category and label them.
You can use a box or basket to store your software CDs before putting them on the shelves. This will allow you to utilize the entire height and depth of the shelf by stacking the boxes. Using boxes will make it easier to get to the ones at the back or bottom because you don’t need to take out all the CDs in the front (or top), just the box in the front (or top).
A pace saving option to store software CDs is to use a CD wallet. They come in a variety of sizes (like 24, 112, 320 Disc etc.) and are available at supermarkets. These are very economical and holds a lot of CDs. They take very little space because they are not as bulky as stacking the CDs in their individual cases. Put the CD in the sleeve and put the paper cover with the security key / serial number (or cut out just the security key) behind the CD. This way you can pull out the CD on top and you have your security key right behind it without having to go find it in another place. You can also write the security key on the CDs just in case you lose the piece of paper with the security key.
You can use the same for books on CDs or reference materials on CDs or DVDs. Arrange them by themes and then by alphabetical order of author or title.
Organize office shelves in such a way that you can grab what you need without having to get up from your chair. So keep often used items close to the desk. It is easier to stay organized when the effort is less.
It is important that you maintain it. Always return items to their appropriate locations immediately after use. Otherwise you’ll be making more work for yourself in the future.
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