For many of us the home office is a sanctuary; a place where we can sit, focus, and get things done. At least, that’s what we strive for. The problem is, after a while, things can get a little out of control. Take, for example, my husband Chad, his office is at the moment a bit of a disaster – he spends so much time preparing for our weekly videos that his workspace gets overwhelmed with camera gear, magazines and all sorts of other stuff.
When we’re laser focused on work, it’s easy to forget about our surroundings. So here are a few tips to clean and organize your office so you can keep your productivity at peak levels!
Clear Desk, Clear Mind
The more cluttered your desk is, the more easily you become distracted. The more easily you become distracted, the less work you actually get done – and it’s not just me saying this, there’s actually a lot of research which proves that clutter (or multiple stimuli as these fancy studies call them) clogs up your visual field, and that, in turn, clogs up your brain. In other words, your brain doesn’t know what to do with all of the visual stimulation going on at your desk!
Luckily, the solution is super simple: make your desk as clear as possible. It’s best to only have items on your desks which you are currently working on, everything else should be put somewhere else, like a storage bin or a filing cabinet.
A clean, clear desk will help you be more productive with your work, and just brings an overall sense of calm into your office space.
Group Similar Items Together
Chad has had a set of drawers in his office since we moved into this home about 3 years ago. He uses them to store cords, tools, papers, user manuals, camera equipment, adapters, electronics, and all sorts of other random stuff. Basically, it’s a repository for things that just don’t have a home – ie. a messy cluster of disorganization.
This disorganization makes it really difficult to find a cable, or anything else, when you actually need it, so that’s the challenge here. The plan is to downsize these drawers into much smaller storage drawers and bins, and use some technology along the way to organize things so we can find them better in the future.
Start by going through each and every item and get rid of all the stuff that is outdated, broken, or just plain useless. These items can be donated, recycled or just plain tossed.
Now we’re going to take what remains and group like items together, so office supplies will be in one place, cords and cables will be in another, user manuals in another and so on.
Finally, we downloaded the Bella Storage Solutions (free!) app and took pictures of each and every item that we had in the drawers, and then we scanned in the unique bar code for each bin and added items to each. Now, whenever we need to find an HDMI cable, or whatever, we simply use our phone to find its exact location.
Prune Your Paper Piles
Now that we’ve at least corralled all of our papers into one spot, it’s time to start reducing the number of papers you actually have on your workspace. Start by putting all of your papers into one pile. Next, you’re going to pick up each piece of paper, one by one, and decide its fate. One of three things are going to happen:
- If it’s an important actionable piece of paper that you need to tend to soon, put it in one pile – keep all of these in a single pile on your desk and deal with them when you can.
- If it’s an important piece of paper which does not require immediate action, but you need to keep it for your records, for tax purposes or whatever – these go into a filing cabinet or storage bin.
- It’s not an important piece of paper so you can shred it or recycle it.
Tame Your Cords
As much as technology has made our lives easier, it also creates a huge mess under our desks. Stray wires, cables and cords look horrible and they can be tripped over or damaged quite easily if they’re left just hanging out.
There’s no shortage of products that will help you tame a tangled mess of cords. Consider some flexible tubes (found at many hardware or dollar stores) which can keep a group of cables together and can easily be tie wrapped to the underside of your desk.
You can even consider using a cable box which keeps all of your cords contained in a simple box as opposed to randomly hanging around in tangled bunches under your desk.
Get Creative With Space
I know I’ve mentioned this in several of our organizing articles, but utilizing unused space to store items is a creative way to manage clutter – especially in small rooms like a home office.
Using vertical space is one of my favorite ways to do this; You can use the walls to keep papers, folders, and anything else for that matter, or you can store plenty of items on the back of your door using a hanging organizer, which leaves you with a world of additional storage space.