How to declutter and organise your home office

Do you despair at the state of your home office? Wish you could wave a magic wand and make it tidy? Read tips from a professional declutterer to get it organised – and stay that way.

An organised home office will save you time, help you work more effectively and be less distracting. It will stop you wasting time looking for important documents, and enable you to focus on the task at hand without flitting to other projects that you spot piled up on your desk.

That’s why I believe that having a well organised desk and office is a must for both your own wellbeing and the success of your business.

What’s the best way to organise your home office?

With more people setting up their own businesses and working from home I am often asked by my clients how they can best organise their home office to create that perfect home-work balance.

How you organise your home office depends on several factors. Here are the two most important.

1) Whether or not you share your home office

You may have a colleague who shares your space so you will need to provide a second workstation. Or you may use your home office for client meetings. A client’s impression of this space will reflect on your business. Alternatively, you may share this space with other members of your family. The home office often doubles up as a quiet space for music lessons, children’s homework and craft projects.

2) The nature of your business

What will you be doing in the space? Some businesses are purely cloud-based and simply require a desk, laptop and small storage space for key documents and stationery. Craft businesses or other product-based businesses may need space to create, package and store their products.

How to declutter and organise your home office

The key objective of this guide is to help you to get more organised in your home workspace based on how you work and the nature of your business. It will also help you to put some simple systems in place to improve ongoing time and paperwork management.

Are are my top tips for decluttering and organising your home office.

1) Plan your essentials first

Decide what you need to keep in your home office to enable your business and home to function effectively. The minimum is usually a desk, chair, lighting and adequate storage for paperwork, stationery and reference materials.

You may also need a printer/scanner, storage for products etc. Once you decided on the key essentials then you need to review the ideal layout of the room. Think carefully about how you will use the space and the things that you need most frequently.

2) Clear your desk

The next step is to create a tidy work space. You should start by clearing everything off your desk and identifying the items that are taking up valuable space. Can you create storage solutions on the walls for a notice board and essential stationery?

Your desk should have the following items – effective lighting (this can be a desk lamp or floor standing lamp next to the desk), your computer/laptop and an in-tray system.

I would recommend a tiered in-tray system so that you can clearly separate different tasks, such as items that need to be actioned, current project, papers to be filed, and your diary or current note book.

Some of my clients have gone paperless and use an online diary, but most still have a paper diary and notebooks for client meetings. It’s essential that you have easy access to your diary so that you can respond promptly to client requests and manage your time effectively. It’s also nice to have a couple of personal things around your workspace, but keep these to a minimum.

3) Ensure you have adequate storage

Now that you’ve identified the things that you no longer need to stay on your desk you can start to review your storage requirements. Don’t fall into the trap of buying more and more storage systems. Decluttering is an important aspect of any storage system.

Make sure get into the habit of clearing out the things that you don’t need on a regular basis. You should start by going through everything in your home office and identify those items that need to be thrown away. Displaced items to be returned to other rooms in your home, and paperwork should be shredded or filed.

This will make it much clearer for you to decide what you need in addition to your desk, such as lockable filing cabinet for client projects and household paperwork, shelves for essential files and storage for equipment and supplies such as letterhead, stationery etc. If you work in a business that has stock make sure you have adequate storage to store your supplies.

4) Get an effective filing system

I am often asked on the best way to file key documents and household paperwork. I think the simple answer is to set up a system that works for you and makes sense to other people.

You will also need to think about creating an effective electronic filing system as well as organising your home office filing cabinet. I advise my clients to go paperless as much as possible.

Effective electronic filing is so important. It can easily get in a mess without a system of folders that make sense to the way you work. It should be easy to file key documents that you are working on and retrieve information easily when you need it.

Regarding the filing cabinet organisation, it’s important to have clear labels on all files. This will remind you where to put things back and save time when you’re filing paperwork.

5) Maintain a clutter free home office

Once you’ve decluttered and organised your home office so that it works effectively for you, how are you going to maintain an uncluttered space? Managing the systems that you have put into place is just as important as setting the systems up.

Here are just a few simple things that you can do to maintain an uncluttered home office:

  • Schedule time each day to deal with incoming post, emails and client calls.
  • File weekly to maintain that uncluttered desk and workspace.
  • Schedule time once a month to purge unwanted paperwork and tidy your electronic filing system.
  • At the end of each day take a minute or two to tidy your desk so that when you arrive the desk day it’s organised and you’re ready to go.

If your home office is cluttered and you don’t know where to start, get in touch with Tracy Ross at Blissfully Organised Home Organisation and Decluttering

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi