Are you frustrated with the state of your home office? Let’s talk about my favorite ways to get it under control.
I have learned a lot working with my clients about what works and what doesn’t for getting and keeping your office organized. Even if it’s a small space, you have to share your office, or can’t find your desk under all the clutter, here are some ideas for you.
Where do I start?
I know it can be daunting to face the piles of paper, misplaced items, and a multitude of office supplies in your office. Not to worry, let’s break it down into steps and tackle them one at a time. You’ll have your office in ship shape in no time. Start by cleaning out everything that doesn’t need to be in this room.
Clean it up
Work your way around the room and get rid of the trash, empty coffee cups, and other projects that don’t belong in this room. Set a basket or box just outside the door to put all these non-office items into. When you’re done gathering all the things that don’t belong in this room, take one trip around the house to the other rooms and unload your basket.
Tame your tools
Once that’s complete, you’re left with actual office stuff that belongs in this room. To create order it will be key to tame your tools. Remember, less is more here! You don’t need stacks of office supplies, and a hundred pens. Pick out your favorites and ditch the rest. Either donate or keep a small storage bin in the closet for extras.
Sort the papers
Tame all the paper, post-it notes, and mail. Gather it all into one spot and do an initial sort. Divide the paperwork into three piles:
- Active items that need to be processed, tasks that need to be done, or items you use often. We don’t want these items to get lost in the shuffle.
- Inactive items you need to keep but don’t use often. You’ll file these away in case you need them. Think tax info, vital documents, and bills you’ve paid.
- Reference items for the items you want to keep but don’t have to. These are your personal fun files where you can keep poems you love, information about hobbies you have, and any reference info you might want to look at again someday.
Create a home for everything
Decide where all the supplies, books, and office supplies will live. Creating a home for everything will set you up for keeping your office from getting out of control. Once you’ve established a home for your files and supplies, add labels. This will help you straighten up in a flash when the clutter builds up. You won’t have to remember where anything goes or where you should put it.
Keep it up
Once you’ve cleaned out and set up your office, it’ll be easy to keep it organized.
Be sure and set up an inbox to corral everything that will be incoming day to day. And don’t let your office be the dumping ground for all the things. Let everyone know that this is office space, not a holding ground.
Bonus tip: Schedule time each week to straighten up, put everything away, and go through all the inbox items. Then block out time to get those actionable items done and put away.
What if I have a small space?
I know everyone doesn’t have the luxury of a dedicated room for their office. That’s okay, You can still keep a small space organized. Definitely minimize your tools and supplies and use other parts of your home.
A small drawer or basket can keep these items off your desk and give you more room to work. Keep out only what you need for that task and tuck other items away. You can always spread out a large project on the dining room table or garage workbench when needed. And your favorite living room chair or porch swing is a great place to read or study.
What if I have to share my space?
If this is you, assign a place for each person to keep their things. That can be a dedicated drawer, box, or basket. Portable file boxes are my favorite tools for this. Everyone’s box is stored elsewhere and brought to the desk when it’s their turn to work. The box can also be kept on the floor next to your chair while working. This keeps your desk area clear so you have space to work.
Creating a schedule with time for each person to use the space. This will allow everyone to have focused, non-distracting use of the office space for better productivity. But like anything, everyone will have to be diligent and respectful of each other’s scheduled work time. And add some flexibility to the schedule as one person may need more time than another from time to time.
Setting yourself up for success!
Your environment has a big impact on your focus, creativity, and productivity. Ultimately, you want to create an optimal workspace that’s inviting and functional.
Bonus tip: Add some background music, a candle or diffuser, and some flowers or decorative items that can turn a dull office into an inviting environment you enjoy working in.
Want to learn how to work with your organizing style and type, not against it? Take the What is Your Organizational Style? quiz to get solutions that are easy to implement and will last.