We tend to ignore organizing our home office until it’s too late. As time goes on, miscellaneous items stack up in layers all around you until one day, something disappears and you realize you’re due for a cleaning.
Staying organized is a big challenge, whether you clock in to work at an office or work from the kitchen table at home. A cluttered work environment is not only unappealing but even worse, can waste valuable time and energy and negatively affect your productivity.
Here are just a few tips on how to organize and clean up your home office.
1. Clear the Clutter
Keep the primary purpose of home office organization in mind. You’re not just decluttering, you’re attempting to create a workspace that will help you be more productive.
Start with the simple stuff. Clear away any unnecessary papers you have piled high on your desk that have no real value. As you begin to sort through the clutter, start to strategize a way of creating categories in which to store the documents.
Then, create a filing system that best suits your needs and make it a point to file future printouts and documents as they are created to keep the stacks from piling up again. Remember to pause before printing and ask yourself if a physical print out is truly necessary. If not, use tools like Evernote to store and file your digital copies.
2. Remove Distractions
It’s important to keep distractions at bay, regardless of where you decide to accomplish your work. To keep a home office free of distractions, designate a location for mail away from your workstation and remind family members to keep the area free of toys and other miscellaneous items that invite procrastination or inefficiency into your day.
These days, cell phones and smart gadgets can be a giant enabler to procrastinating. Leave your phone in a designated location and check it only during breaks instead of jumping at every chime of the new text message bell.
3. Access to Tools
Sorting through a filing cabinet can feel like an archaeological dig with years of junk to sift through. Choose one drawer each day and weed through it, removing anything that’s no longer current or necessary. After the first round, this should take up very little time.
Documents and papers that you no longer have to keep should be shredded. You may be able to reuse old file folders.
Items like your laptop, pens, planner and anything else you use on a daily basis deserve a designated spot right on top of your desk. Other items, such as tape, stapler, envelopes or other less frequently utilized items should be neatly stored inside of your desk. Learning how to organize your tools in this way helps keep valuable real estate on your desk free of clutter and cuts down on visual distractions.
You know it’s time to clean up your virtual desktop when the background is so obscured with icons it’s hard to make out the image. Take the time to organize the items on your desktop to categorize materials and send everything else to the virtual recycle bin.
Not only will you have a much more attractive desktop screen but you’ll save countless hours searching for your important documents. Keeping everything in a cloud-based filing system, such as Evernote or Google Drive, will also prevent a catastrophe in case of a hard-drive failure and make files easier to find with a simple search.
5. Slow Down
One of the biggest pitfalls in learning how to organize things is actually finding the time to do it. We’re all busy people, but you have to invest the time to properly organize your space, so files, supplies, and other items are in an intuitive, easy-to-find place. Otherwise you will constantly working in chaos.
Once you’ve established a system that works for you, stick to it! Spending a few seconds to return items to a designated spot will help you save lots of time in the long run.
Keeping your home office clutter free will not only help you stay sane, but more importantly, keep your productivity level high.