There’s No Right or Wrong Organizing Style
As a professional organizer who works with lots of different clients, I often get asked, “What’s the best way to organize?” And the answer is… it depends.
It depends on what type of person you are and what organizing style works best for you. Organizing isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. No two home offices are identical, and no two people working in them are identical either. Same goes for playrooms, garages, and especially creative spaces.
Let’s look at a few different types of organizing styles and how they work for people.
Pilers and filers
This one is pretty easy for most people to understand, and it’s often pretty easy to see which style someone prefers by simply looking at their desk. Pilers prefer to organize things in piles, while filers prefer to file it in a vertical manner.
You may be thinking piles can’t be organized. But in reality, they can. Piles can be organized using stacking bins, pull-out trays (pictured), or with a really helpful tool called Pilesmart. Like any organizing style, it’s all about having a system that works for you. So if piles work for you, create a system that works for your piles.
Filers tend to put things in vertical files (pictured), but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s organized either. You can have chaos in vertical files. Trust me, I’ve seen it all. Again, it just comes back to creating a system that makes sense to the filer.
Stuff away and stuff out
I’m a stuff away fan personally, but it’s not the right style for everyone. I like clear surfaces that create some white space as a nice resting focal point (pictured, but that's not my space). I make use of drawers to store my stuff, and I label the drawers so I know where to find things when I need them.
Other people prefer to have stuff out because for them if it’s out of sight, it’ll be out of mind. Nothing wrong with the stuff out approach if that’s what works for you, but it is still important to contain all that stuff in some way. That’s where clear bins and drawers or vertical filing systems can be useful to contain stuff while still keeping it visible and accessible.
Labels or no labels
I’m a fan of labels, but not everyone is. For some people, labels feel like an interruption in the space. For others, labels bring clarity and direction to the space. Either way works, as long as you can find what you’re looking for when you need it. For the no labels style, it might mean there’s a master layout plan for where things are stored rather than individual labels on each drawer or bin.
Not sure which style you are? That’s okay! Think about these styles a bit and begin to notice how you handle stuff, especially paper and supplies. Try a system for a little while and see if it works for you. Adjust the system as needed, because it’s not going to be a perfect system from day one.
If you’re setting up a new system, work with what you have first. It’s tempting to go buy a bunch of containers as the first step in organizing, but I encourage you to start sorting to figure out what you really need first. Most of my clients find they have plenty of containers to get started, and then they don’t need to buy anything extra until they’ve clarified their categories of things and thought about their personal preferences so they know what feels right for them.