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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Do's & Don'ts of Office Style & Organization

I’ve always enjoyed the Do and Don’t sections in fashion magazines. You know the ones that have photographs with captions under them “Do wear an animal print belt, don’t wear an animal print spandex body suit.” In these instances a picture is worth a thousand words. Being an entertainer and dressing well are not mutually exclusive so with the paparazzi following celebrities all over town it’s easy to catch a few fashion disasters. The Do’s and Do Not’s of office style and organization are just as funny, but much harder to capture in print.

I recently saw a cubicle that was a perfect example of an office don’t, but it would have been obscenely obvious if I had snapped a picture. It was filled with a collection of bird houses. I may be misinformed, but bird houses probably don’t
belong inside and certainly don’t belong in an office. Here are a few more Do’s and Do Not’s for Office Style and Organization.
  1. Do let your workspacestyle. Don’t let your personal style clutter your workspace. Color is a great way to convey your personal style at work. Pink paper clips, a pink stapler, and pink pencils will allow you to work efficiently while still enjoying your “Pretty in Pink” themed cubicle. On the other hand, your collection of salt and pepper shakers is best displayed at home. You need your desk space to work, if you really want to be surrounded by your collection snap a picture and frame a few shots for your desk.
  2. Do add a few touches from home. Don’t bring your entire home to work. A mild scent diffuser can freshen up your space and make it feel a bit more serene. A double-strength floral scented candle is a fire hazard and may offend your co-workers. A small dish of candy on your desk can be hospitable, but not if your office mate is desperately trying to lose weight.
  3. Do keep important information close. Don’t cover your walls with notes. Frequently used extensions, addresses, and accounting codes should be kept handy. Neatly type this information and post it on a strategically placed magnet or bulletin board. If you really don’t need to reference the information all day every day, create a frequently used binder and use sheet protectors to protect the pages inside. A wall covered in paper just looks messy. Although you might not mind the mess, your boss probably does.
  4. Do spend a few extra dollars for a fashionable alternative. Don’t keep every free gift that comes your way. You may not be able to afford actual art for your office, but for less than $20 you can buy a great artistic calendar. It’s useful and attractive. The only thing good about a free calendar is that it is free. Spend a few extra bucks and brighten your workspace.
  5. Do give useful office gifts. Don’t add to the clutter. Don’t buy the desktop Zen garden or any other executive “toys.” It’s hard to buy for a boss, client or office mate, but adding to the clutter on their desk isn’t helpful. Take the time to find out what they really like. Office supplies have come a long way, buying something they actually need in a style they like will leave a lasting impression. Check out the See Jane Work gift category if you need ideas.

Please remember. Pointing out Do Not’s is only funny if no one’s feelings are hurt. Sending someone a link to See Jane Work’s Pulling It Together section is discreet. Printing this out and taping it to a coworker’s monitor is not.

I can hardly wait to see the comments on this article. As always, we love to see before and after pictures so please feel free to


  1. Lol, oh my. This is really funny because a lady in my office has chicken figurines on her desk just like those! Somehow I have to show her this post without insulting her and her precious chickens.

  2. Oh how I wish I could post pictures of my neighbors' cubicles. One has an overhead cabinet with the door permanently open and the cabinet is FILLED with miniature stuffed animals: SpongeBob, Snoopies, various and sundry bears, Nemo, Beanie Babies, McDonalds mini toy characters, a little stuffed Junie B. Jones doll,... I could go on and on... Oh, and I forgot: she has NOT ONE INCH OF OPEN DESK SPACE. She got a gift for Xmas from a co-worker THREE YEARS AGO and it's still in the box on top of her desk.
    My other neighbor, on my other side, has created her own separating wall. She actually admits this! We have low cubby walls, only 4' high and she claims her other neighbor burps too loud so she stacks papers three feet higher on one side, on the cubby shelf, so that she can't see/hear her other neighbor. And there are papers all over the floor, post-it notes stacked 50 deep (at least!) on the desk in front of her monitor. They're the projects she's currently working on, she says. The VP has asked her more than once to clean up; she purges once a year, post Xmas, pre-New-Year's.

  3. I think one of the places that quality shows up is in the office. You don't realize this until you start using your supplies, folders, supply bins and furniture. You've got to be very careful when spending your hard-earned money on inexpensive office supplies. You should never skimp on folders, labels, and desktop accessories. How many times have you dropped your $5 stapler and it sprung apart in 9 pieces to never be put back together again? My suggestion is to think a bit before you buy, buy less, buy quality and you'll be happier in the long run.

    John aka OrganizingLA

  4. MMM, I love the new SusyJack calendar! Gorgeous.

  5. Organizing LA GroupieOctober 20, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    I love Organizing L.A.