The Filer

They command attention because, seriously, they file. Their desk is never covered in clutter, nor are personal belongings all over the office. Indeed, a lot of their identity centres around having an organized office and being on top of things. They are the individuals you turn to when you can’t find a document or remember when something happened or how a specific procedure should be followed – because they will most certainly be able to help you. The lifeblood of any successful, smooth-running organization – they are efficient.

With the Filer, it is not so much how they organize information, but how much information they store. Let it be said, however, that they do not pile and spread this information – they file it meticulously. It is not that they can’t let it go but that they have a hard time making decisions – particularly if the document in question pertains to a few people. “Better keep it – just in case” is usually what they say to themselves.

Have you ever wondered who is responsible for all those filing cabinets lining the walls and corridors? Or been in the stockroom at work and seen copious amounts of supplies and technology – beautifully organized and labelled – that are old and obsolete? Well, that will have been a Filer’s work.


The Filer has the biggest issues around letting go of things. As we discussed earlier, decision-making is difficult for them: they want to be sure absolutely no one else wants the document. If no one does, then how should they dispose of it appropriately (recycling or shredding)? It’s easier sometimes just to keep it, which is what they do.

So, we’re going to examine the process involved in the decision-making process of purging. Ask yourself the following questions to help you make decisions:

  • What function does it serve?
  • If there was a fire, would it need to be rescued?
  • Who else would have a copy of this item?
  • When did you last refer to it?
  • Is the information still relevant?
  • Does it make your life a lot easier having it?
  • Do you need it?
  • Is the space it is occupying more useful to you/your company than it is?
  • Can it be stored in a digital form?
  • Ask, “What would be the worst-case outcome if I threw this item out by mistake?” If the answer is little or nothing, throw it out.

Asking these kinds of questions will not only help you determine whether you need the item, but it will also decrease your anxiety in letting it go as you will have a clearer picture of its relevance.

If it is to be kept, then think of asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is it an archive file or current?
  • Can it be converted to a digital copy?

And remember these few simple rules:

  • Don’t keep what someone else is already keeping.
  • Seven years is good enough for most paper except some legal and financial files. Ask the company lawyer or accountant for further clarification.

Keeping stuff has a cost – either on your bank balance, your environment or your health. In this day and age, space is an expensive commodity and having storage spaces filled with clothes, toys, supplies and technology that are no longer wanted or obsolete is costly on many levels.

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The Nester

Meet The Nester: You can’t miss these folks. They have practically every room of their home in their office. Pictures, wardrobe, photos, blankets, first-aid, food. Their office is a home away from home. And that’s the best thing about them. They are friendly, thoughtful, responsible, always put you at your ease, they are welcoming, they cheer you up and they care about their work and fellow workers.

Personalizing your environment

The thing about The Nester is that they need to personalize their offices. And that’s a good thing. It’s just not a good thing when it takes over the office. You will know more about the personal life of a Nester than any other type. If there is a surface there is something personal, pretty, or inspirational on it.

How do you personalize your office without it saying too much about your personally or looking unprofessional? You have pictures of your friends, your family. Then there’s the artwork of your children or nieces or nephews, and don’t forget that great quote that you find so inspiring! You need them all around you to keep you motivated, to keep you grounded and to remind you why you do what you do.

Memories, The kitchen, the bathroom, the hall

The thing is, you really don’t need to have all of your home represented at the office. You want the best of it there – just some of the memories of who you share your home and life with.

  • Artwork – instead of putting it on the wall or your desk put it in clear plastic sleeves in a binder or art portfolio.
  • Photos – instead of sticking them on the computer and walls try using a digital photo frame. You can load lots of photos and have them rotate every day or week. Or put them in a small album.
  • The Garden – Plants are beautiful but only if you water them. If you do have a plant then really think about the best kind of plant for that kind of environment. Avoid ones that shed or can grow/crawl into others people’s spaces. And keep it simple.
  • Food – think about having a plastic box, see-through and labeled with your name on it and put it in the kitchen. You can put your own mug, teaspoon, tea towel etc. in here. Again same goes for food items – in a box, with your name and either on a shelf or in the fridge. If you need a snack it will be safe and sound in this box and not stuffed in a drawer or cupboard somewhere.
  • Wardrobe – Shawls, shoes, cardigans. It can really collect. And sometimes the office feels cold and you want that extra layer on you. If you have a car keep your spare shoes and clothes in the trunk in a bag or box especially for the office. If you don’t drive to work? One spare shawl or cardigan over the back of your chair. Remember; less is more. It’s also more professional looking.
  • Bathroom – It’s amazing how many toiletries collect in the office space – in drawers, shelves, cupboards, and desktops. Again there’s nothing wrong with having ONE hand moisturizer but… keep it to one. Less is more.

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The Spreader

Meet The Spreader: You’ll recognize them in one of two ways. Either they will have what kind of appears like an organized space but when you open a drawer, a door, look under their desk, behind the door. Yikes!!!! Complete chaos. The other way you will recognize them is because literally everything will be in no particular order – if it fits, put it there. Their work is spread all over their desk, spilling out of drawers, cupboards. Nothing organized. The fantastic thing about The Spreader is that they have the most amazing minds. They are innovators. Their mind is full of ideas and thoughts. They are fast thinkers and tend be the creative type.

Of all the Organizational Personality Types the Spreader will potentially look the most disorganized. The clutter that surrounds a Spreader is “work in progress”. And while they work, they also eat, open the mail, reference books, follow up with people, make notes, read reports, install new software and technology and work on their computer and laptop. Everything collects around them as they focus on what they are working on.

The problem arrises with putting everything away. A Spreader is most productive, most creative when they start with a blank canvas – and that means a cleared desk. Which is why, quite often you will notice that they just shove everything that in on their desk into a box, on into a cupboard – out of sight – so that they can begin work.

Because they are more conceptual in their thinking they tend not to notice the clutter building up around them and also why they have a hard time putting things away. It is not that they don’t want to – literally they don’t know how other people do it. Their challenge is understanding.


A Place for Everything.

The particular challenge of The Spreader is knowing where to put things away and creating a specific space for everything they need.

Keep office supplies in one place and one place only. And don’t have any more than you need and use. No extra post-it’s – just in case. And that goes for files, books – everything. You need to assign a single purpose use to areas so that nothing bleeds. Your desk is where you work; it’s not where you store. Horizontal surfaces do not have to be filled with notes, schedules, and pictures – they are meant to be clear. Your drawers are for storage but make sure that stationary is not kept with non-related items or your snacks.

I am actually a closet spreader. When I work on a project everything is spread out all around me. BUT my home office is an organizational work of art. Seriously. It is because that’s what important. Spreaders need order. Having a place to put everything away after the flurry of creating and planning is the key.


You have to make a habit of putting things back and doing it. Put things back when you are finished. At the end of the day take ten minutes to quickly tidy up your desk and environment. It won’t happen on it’s own. And when you come in in the morning it’s just a great feeling to have a clear desk to start the day.

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The Piler

They don’t trust systems, if it’s out of sight it’s out of mind; they’re worried they won’t find it again. So they pile. They pile on their desks, they pile on the floor, and they pile on the window ledge. If there’s a surface – it has a pile on it. The great thing about these kinds of people is that they are the masters of multi-tasking and problem solving. They have all kinds of projects on the go, are active members of committees.

The Piler organizes chronologically not alphabetically. Also unlike the rest of us mortals “current” to a PILER can be up to three years ago! If they have a pile in their office it’s because that pile has something, some piece of information, that potentially holds an answer to something (another pile) they are working on now. Thus they can’t put it away yet – they still need it.

The piling system of the PILER only becomes a problem for them when they run out of space to pile. They know exactly what each pile is about and when it was created… so don’t move their piles or they will have a panic attack as they won’t be able to find anything anymore. So when a PILER does finally file something away, it’s when it’s ready for archiving.

Paper Management

We find The Piler has the biggest issues around paper management. So lets take a deeper look at The Why’s of piles of paper in the office. When it comes to paper people have 3 fears

Memories, The kitchen, the bathroom, the hall

The thing is, you really don’t need to have all of your home represented at the office. You want the best of it there – just some of the memories of who you share your home and life with.

  • Afraid to make a decision
  • Afraid to discard anything
  • Afraid you’ll never see it again

If you can’t find what you are looking for in 5 seconds your system is not working for you. Seriously.

It is not that Pilers don’t having a filing system, let alone a filing cabinet – they just don’t use them actively. To The Piler practically everything is “work in progress”. They are gifted multi-taskers so they can have a lot of projects that they are currently working on.

Filing System

The filing system for The Piler needs to respect their thinking process. The traditional systems for filing – alphabetical and categories – simply don’t work for The Piler. They need a system that supports the chronological process they use. They can have categories, however these categories will need to be more like “groups” than categories.

Work In Progress

This is where the piling for The Piler starts – with their current work. There are many options out there that can help keep the piles manageable, safe, and efficient. A drawer system is good, or a shelf specifically for each pile. Another option are hanging file folders with the wide bottoms.

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Go from Clutter to Clarity!

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