Working from a home office can be a blessing or a curse. You can leisurely sip your coffee while reading your email, wear your favorite bunny slippers and pajamas, and blast music as loud as your want. But if you can’t see the top of your desk, and can’t find a thing, it’s time to take action – fast.
Ah, the pleasures of working from home. No commute. The dogs and cats can hang with you all day. You set your own schedule and make your own rules. Did you know that, according to Forbes magazine, one in five Americans call home their office? And that’s great if you can be more productive, save money on gas, and spend more time with the family.
But, in order to be productive you have to have a dedicated space that is comfy, clean, and most of all organized! If you have piles of papers on the desk or floor, dusty pictures of the kids from five years ago, rubber bands that are not in a neat little ball, and post-it notes everywhere with tasks from a year ago, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get serious.
Here are my top 7 tips for keeping your domain pristine and organized.
1) Let’s reverse engineer first. The goal is to make your desk as uncluttered as possible which means the only things that should reside on it are those that you use regularly. A stapler, tape, pen and pencil holder, your inbox and a desktop organizer that houses your active files. That’s it – really. Oh, except your laptop or computer, of course. Don’t use your desk as a dumping ground for everything – think of it as your throne. Only the most important stuff is allowed to reside on the desk.
Nice leather organizer
2) Don’t be a hoarder. Inventory those office supplies. Sort them all out on a big table or on the floor and eliminate the extras. You don’t need 120 manilla folders or twenty nine highlighters. You really don’t. However, if you must keep more than two boxes of paper clips for unknown reasons related to trauma you experienced in college when your roommates stole all of yours, buy some attractive containers, label them and store them in a shelf in your closet or cabinets. And that rule applies to all office supplies.
3) It’s easy for your home office to become a dumping ground for the latest pair of shoes you purchased, leftover dishes from breakfast or lunch, the baby’s bottle, the Sunday newspaper (and it’s Friday) and a myriad of other non-work related items. Get a box, fill it up with everything that belongs elsewhere, promise yourself you’ll never do that again and, when you are all done with the finishing touches (i.e. you’ve completed point #7) distribute those items in their respective homes.
4) Let’s trash talk. No, not about your nosy neighbor who wonders why you are always home or the gardeners and garbage men who see you getting the mail in your jammies. We’re talking excess paper, junk mail, old magazines, PDF’s you printed that you haven’t read – shred and recycle immediately.
5) Filing. Ugh! Who likes to file? No one. However, there are probably some important documents that do need a home in your office, so put them in either a filing cabinet or – for important items requiring your attention daily or weekly – that attractive desk organizer.
6) Recycling – it’s in and it’s good to be green. So, all those old batteries and ink cartridges that you know don’t belong in the trash. Fill up a shopping bag and make a trip to the nearest Staples – you get money back in the form of a coupon (which you will not spend on paper clips). Make the trip and clear them out. It’s good for the environment.
7) Don’t be afraid of the 218 pens, pencils, and other assorted writing utensils. You probably have fists full of mismatched ones, just taking up valuable space. Consider donating them and keeping only your favorites. Or, with that coupon you will get from Staples, buy yourself a matching pack of brand new ones. Your treat for finally tossing the old ones.
Admit it, a clean office space is so much easier in which to work. You’ll feel lighter and I know you will be more productive. What is one of your best home office organizing tips? Please share in the comment box.
Lori Gersh is a hands-on professional organizer, move manager and the owner of Leave It 2 Lori. Her focus is on helping her clients in Beverly Hills, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, and other Southern California cities to declutter, organize, and transform their space. Whether you are upsizing or downsizing, organizing your home or your office, Lori and her team will handle it all.
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