The pace of a school day is intense. Just getting through the demands of each day is a challenge, even without any unforeseen circumstances. Finding time to organize during the school day is almost impossible, so most teachers leave this task for the summer. Even then, organizing public spaces usually gets accomplished before organizing personal spaces is ever considered. With the additional challenge of a limited budget for supplies, organizing a school space is a unique challenge, but it’s also one of my favorites!
I was fortunate to be able to help this middle school media specialist organize her office earlier this summer. During the school year, floor and furniture surfaces, file cabinets, and drawers had become cluttered and disorganized. It was difficult to find a needed item quickly amidst the disorder.
In looking at the spaces, I noticed that not only were items not grouped well, but there was a lot of wasted space. A deep drawer might be filled with shallow items, leaving the rest of the space empty. Another challenge was created by the fact that only 2 of the 8 drawers of the file cabinet had metal racks for hanging file folders. Consequently, some papers were stacked on the bottom of the drawer, making specific files difficult to find. With 2 more drawers fitted for hanging files, we predicted that all papers would fit into one file cabinet with 4 drawers, leaving the other file cabinet for general storage.
We started by clearing any items on the floor or surfaces of furniture. In my experience, clutter on surfaces contributes most to the feeling of general clutter and disorder in any room. We removed every item from the desk, cleaned it off, and only replaced what was absolutely necessary to have ready for quick access. By eliminating unneeded items and better utilizing space, we were able to eliminate a set of plastic drawers and a small bookshelf that were needlessly taking up floor space.
The lack of functional file cabinets was of particular concern. We weren’t sure how to equip the file cabinet drawers to hold hanging files. With a few minutes of research and a quick trip to Office Max, we purchased and then installed adjustable metal racks into 2 more file drawers. This solved the problem of paper being stored in stacks on the bottom of the drawer and allowed us to put all of the paper into labeled hanging files, allowing for easy access.
The final challenge was to better utilize drawer space and to logically group a large variety of items. Categories of items included basic office supplies, items for food and beverages, comfort/hygiene items, tools, book labeling supplies, and party supplies among others. For the most part, we used containers the client already had, including empty boxes, baskets, and dollar store containers. Figuring out how to best arrange items into deep drawers and not waste space was like a 3 dimensional puzzle, and I love the challenge of a puzzle! By the time we finished this project, the client was thrilled and looking forward to using the newly organized space when school resumes in the fall.