Design Dilemma Solved: Conquering the Paper Clutter


I got a great question from Sarah who has the popular problem of dealing with paper clutter in the office.


Sarah asks: “My entire office floor is just a sea of paper piles, mine included. How can I implement a stylish organization system that actually lasts?”


With the millions of stores dedicated to organizing, you’d think messy papers would be a thing of the past – not so! In fact, it’s probably the worst problem most offices deal with. It starts because there’s never a system of organizing to begin with; so one small pile of paper becomes four overflowing ones, and it only gets worse from there. It may be too late to do things right from the get-go, but that definitely doesn’t mean organizing your office is a lost cause. Here are my tips for clearing out that paper clutter once and for all.



Image found here.

  1. Sit down and take some notes

It sounds kind of silly, but to properly sort your stuff and create a lasting organization system, you’ll have to really pay attention to what you’re actually looking at while you’re going through your papers. This will help you make some file categories that you’ll use as your basis for categorizing going forward. Make new piles (I promise, it’s not counterintuitive!) and put post-it notes to label each new grouping. Also note how much of each category you seem to have – you’ll need to keep that in mind when choosing folders.

If you don’t have one already, add a recycling bin under your desk so you’re not keeping anything unnecessary.



Image found here.

  1. Choosing your categories

When it comes to sorting your papers, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every office. You could organize by type of document, how soon it needs action, etc. Pick whatever works best for you. Select some main categories (those were your biggest piles) to sort using a large portfolio or file cabinet if need be, then add some more temporary holding areas for your smaller groups, such as paper trays. Consider how often you use the papers as well; weekly or daily files would benefit from open-top files, while yearly records could be placed in covered boxes.



Image found here.

  1. Give yourself a bit of a break

Let’s be real – even the most organized person in the world has her lazy days. Instead of punishing yourself for being human, prepare in advance for your busier times by giving yourself a “miscellaneous” tray. It’s basically a designated holding place for those papers that can’t get organized right away. Of course, this tray shouldn’t become a cheat to get out of sorting completely! Make it a goal to empty it at least by every Friday so you can start fresh each week.

Image found here.

Like any worthwhile organizing endeavor, the key to sorting your paper monsters is just a bit of patience!


  • Alyssa says:

    Hi, I was just wondering where you got the shelving book case there from, I’ve been looking for one just like that. Seems like the perfect size.

    • Sayeh Pezeshki says:

      Hi Alyssa,

      Looks like it’s from Ikea. You can also cover the back with some cute contact or wallpaper for some added cuteness.

      Thanks for reading!

      Sayeh Pezeshki

  • Bethany says:

    Hi Sayeh, would you mind sharing where you got all of the storage boxes as well as the upright ones with the silver accents? Thank you!

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