I often get asked "Is there just one way to organize?"
Often, there is a critical undertone to this question. Like "I've tried to be organized but it still hasn't happened."
Or, " I feel badly because I read one book and tried what they suggested and it didn't work".
My answer is always "There is no one way to be organized. The way to be successful in organizing is to find out what your style is".
How do you do this?
Ask yourself some questions.
What are your habits?
When you walk in the front door each evening, where do you put your keys? Mail?
If you have a lovely table for your purse, keys and mail but it doesn't get used because it isn't in your "coming home" path it is time to move it or retire that table for another use and put something in your path that fits in the space.
Are you a "need to see it" person or a "out of sight to be able to function" person?
Do you feel everything needs to look pretty? and then feel like a failure when you see piles around your desk?
Don't. If this is how your study should look for you to accomplish what you need to, then it is what it should look like.
Make sure your files are labeled with words that make sense to you. If the term "Oakland hotspots" doesn't make sense to you, what does? When you are holding a piece of paper in your hand ask yourself "Why/when would I look at this paper again?" Is it because you want to get ideas for a fun weekend in Oakland with out of town guests? Then labeling it "Weekend Fun, Oakland" might work better.
The last thing I would say is that no matter what your style might be, everyone needs to spend time figuring out a home for each kind of thing that is important to you. If you send a lot of gifts around the holidays and you save boxes throughout the year then, instead of cramming boxes into the corners of your bookshelves, closets and under your desk, I suggest you have one storage box you keep in the garage. This way you will know how much you have and when you can stop saving.
The ultimate goal of having an organized home and life, in my opinion, is that what is physically around you is what helps you accomplish whatever it is you want in life.
So what does an organized home look like? Any way you want.
So, if occasionally having to step around a pile of papers truly is in keeping with your perfect life, well, I won't argue with you.
And, if you look around and don't recongize who you have become, well, I can help with that!