Monday, July 2, 2012

The Well-organized Office

By Pamela

My writing space could use a little help. Just the other day, I searched a good twenty minutes I could ill-afford to waste for a product ID number off a box of software that I knew was in my office but couldn't locate. In the process I spent five minutes organizing some paper products inside the cabinet under my built-in bookshelves. Even after I closed the doors on the neat stacks of paper, envelopes and magazines, I felt myself breathing a little easier. Clutter no more!

But before calling my friend Linda over for some professional help, I decided to look online at some organizational systems that might keep my writing space from becoming a nest of paper, notes, photos, clippings and everything else I surround myself with to stay inspired. Here are some few products you might find helpful, too.

The tangle of cords coming from my computer makes me yearn for the future when everything will be wireless. Right now my mouse is and that's awesome. Til then, these cord ID clips would sure make searching for the correct cord a lot easier. Available at In a pinch, I've also seen crafty folks use bread bag clips just as effectively.

Keeping up with my expenses for tax purposes tends to be a rather mad-dash-at-the-finish-line adventure. I make the appointment with my accountant and then spend the next week worrying about where I've put all my receipts and check stubs. This year I established a separate "tax" file within my email account and any email confirmations for purchases of books, magazines and professional subscriptions (like to Backspace) or receipts for writing conferences and classes, I immediately put there. The stack of papers needs to find a home in a pretty accordion file like this one by Martha.

My desk is an old antique monster that I bought because a) it's lovely, b) it had a great history (a doctor owned it and used it through med school--sometimes I lay my palms on it, close my eyes and will his intelligence to seep into my pores), and c) I try to never buy new furniture--unless it's upholstered. The drawers have some built-in dividers but I could likely use more to corral my odds and ends a little better. If I wanted to surrender some muffin pans, I could go this route, but I'm short on space as it is and they don't appear to be very space efficient. These by Bisley at The Container Store seem better suited for the job. I like how deep they are and they come in various sizes. I also like their one-piece design. I have some in my kitchen that expand--which is code for 'never stay together.'

In my office, my massive book collection keeps me inspired and entertained. I periodically cull through it and share my bounty with friends which leads to an attempt at some decorator-like arrangement--books stacked sideways with a piece of pottery on top, huge shells placed like bookends--and that lasts until my next Amazon shipment arrives. I do own a Kindle now but will always be a 'real book' gal--probably because I love lending out my library. Years ago I bought library pockets and cards in an attempt to keep up with who had my books, but I felt weird putting them into use. I didn't want to be 'that girl' who pulled out a date stamp before handing over a book, along with issuing a reprimand to return it within two weeks or face an overdue fine. I know some people keep up with their books via their computer, but I've never been that diligent. This handy journal might be a more feasible option for me. Not only can you record books you've read, books you want to read and more, but there's also a section for listing those you have lent out.

Lastly, my walls have framed pictures of my children on them, but I'm tempted to replace their smiling faces (or move them to another wall) and place a wall organizer near my desktop computer. I keep small notes stashed around my desk, photos of characters and places they might live, quotes and sayings handy. This Pottery Barn linen pinboard might be a beautiful way to keep it all together.

Time to get shopping! But, as my friend Linda would advise me, it's out with the clutter first.


  1. Some good ideas! My problem is that if I organize a work space (I don't have an office), I never end up working there. I'm a vagabond writer. Good thing my husband is more organized than I am.

  2. Ever since I bought a laptop, I tend to wander more too, Julie. But I stay pretty grounded in my office--especially when I'm writing for work. Whatever your method, it's working. I wouldn't change it if I were you!


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