I love my home office; it’s my own space and it works so well for my business. What I don’t love, is how quickly and easily it can get cluttered! Does this happen to you? I recently did a big declutter home office edition and it really helped!
I’m someone who always tries to take 10 minutes at the end of my day to tidy up my space before I leave it. I write out my list for tomorrow, take all the items out of my office that don’t need to be there, and shut everything down. Yet, somehow, I find that every so often there’s clutter!
For myself, it’s easy for papers to build up quickly. With papers, I often need them for multiple days and therefore that can build up easily. As well I often wander into my office with different items such as lip balm, scrunchie, new oil for my diffuser, or a random pen. Over time these items collect and then my desk has a very little surface area.
Having a clean workspace is so important, as it really helps us be our most productive selves. Now, I set up a system where a bigger declutter happens more often. I’ve got it in my planner for the last week of each month. Depending on your space size and how much clutter you accumulate you might need it more or less often than once a month. But I’d suggest starting with that to learn what works best for you.
Keep, Toss, Donate
The first step in decluttering your home office is to literally take everything and place it in a different room or space. So, for me, as my office is its own room I took all the items to my living room which is the space beside. No item is too small in this process. You literally want to remove everything except for large electronics, furniture, and lights. This step will likely take quite a bit of time, especially the first time you do it!
Once all the items are removed, then you can begin to sort them into three piles:
Keep – Items you intend to use, have a use, and want to remain in your office
Donate – Items you do not need anymore, no longer in style with your space.
Toss – items that you don’t need, garbage.
Once complete put your toss pile into the garbage, being sure to properly dispose of any electronics or batteries. For your donation items place them into a pile for the next time you go to a donation center. Your keep items are what we are going to focus on next! Congratulations you’ve completed the toughest part of decluttering your home office!
Okay, now that we only have the items we want to keep. Let’s take some time and organize this into categories. These categories need to make sense to you and your business. Below I’ve listed some ideas if you’re unsure where to start.
Categorize items realistically, try not to think about your dream office and how it would go in this moment. There’s no point in putting things in obscure piles or locations because someday they might go there. Focus on where items go now and where you need them to be.
Physically move items so they go into a category together. You can use scrap paper or post it’s to label each category if you’d like.
- Electronic Cables
- Stationary Items
- Aromatherapy Items
- Inbox/Outbox Items
- Daily Use Items (ie. planner, lip chap, post its…etc).
- Medications/As needed items
- Fidget Toys/Sensory Items
Removing non-essentials to declutter home office
Okay, so now that we’ve categorized it’s time to really get tough about what needs to stay in our office. Now what I mean by this, is somehow, I manage to bring several lip chaps in over the course of the month. By the end of the month, I typically have 4-5 on my desk. Now, do I need that many, nope?
This is what I mean by removing non-essential. Remove items that don’t belong in your office or remove the quantity of an item in your office. Another thing I’m guilty of is bringing an Essential Oil in every couple of days and placing it into one of my drawers, but at the end of the month, I’ve got a collection because I haven’t returned them to my living room storage container.
So take some time now and really sort through what items are not essential to have in your office and find them a new home, or put them back in their old space.
Labelling to declutter home office
Awesome, time for a self-high five! Okay, so now we’ve categorized everything. Lets label! What I mean by this is let’s go around our office space with a pack of post-its and label where everything will go. This will save you so much time, if you just start to put things back in your office without a plan, you’re likely to continue to move them which can be a lot of work.
Take some time now to plan and label where all your items will go. Be sure to check in with your category to see the size and shape of each item when planning out where it will go. As mentioned above, be realistic with yourself. If you need a certain item on the left side of the desk because that’s where you most commonly look for it, there’s no point in confusing that system unless it doesn’t fit there. Make things simple and find a flow that works well for you.
If you have a space with drawers such as a desk, filing cabinet or shelves make sure to label those to of what goes into each space.
Now it’s time in our decluttering of your home office to take a look at your documents. So, before we place all your items back. Let’s take a look at what documents you need to be stored where. First, take a look at what type of system you have.
Do you have an inbox/outbox for documents, do you have a place you put receipts, do you have a space for notes to remember for a later date? Take a moment to think about your business needs what systems do you need in place, and what clutter can you remove.
So, for example – I have files with all my client’s info. I don’t keep those out as I don’t need access to them each day and therefore, they’ve filed away. However, I do have important reminders about clients on a post-it I keep under my monitor. To the left of my desk, I have a shelf where I keep papers that need to be put in a file folder, and I store notebooks in the drawer under my desk.
Basically, think about what you need every day for documents and keep those close by. With regards to items with occasional use then you can put those away in a drawer or shelf.
How long do you need documents? So, for tax documents put them filed away if they’re not current, you don’t need that cluttering up your space if they can be filed away. Same for any past client work, or previous notes to yourself that are no longer relevant. Shred those and only keep documents that are needed around your office/desk space. Other items can be filled in a cabinet or storage option.
Set up Systems/Tech Options
Woo! We made it to the point where we can put our items back! So, start placing all your items back in their designated spaces. Now, what do set up system/tech options look like? Well, this means setting up systems in your office space that will help eliminate clutter.
What I mean by this is can you use “Sticky Notes” on your computer to reduce scarp paper around your desk? For myself, I switch to a reusable notebook, The Rocketbook, so I can erase when done and I don’t have lots of tiny notes everywhere.
Is there a system where you can digitize your receipts fast for quick filing? Is there an online system that can track your expenses to help you quickly remove paper clutter? Take a look at your business and then look at ways you can set up systems to help reduce clutter build-up down the road.
Okay, now everything is back in its place. We likely have a bit of clutter because categorized items might not have a home yet. That’s okay! Let’s take a look around our space and see what types of storage options work well in this space. Do we need some boxes to put little papers into on the shelf? Do you need some boxes to place filing into neatly? Always check around your space and reuse items you already own for storage before purchasing.
Almost done! Phew, I know it’s a lot! We’re so close. The last step in our declutter home office.
Do a digital clean-up. Take a look at your desktop organize and sort all the files you have there. Take some time to declutter your email inbox. Every business is different but take some time to reorganize and purge all your unnecessary digital files, items, or apps. DON’T delete files you need!
Some common places where digital clutter can build:
- Email inbox
- Desktop Icons/Home Screen Icons
- Downloads Folder
- Old Programs/Applications
- Old Files Folders
- Bookmarks Bar
Congratulations, you did it! I hope you love your new decluttered office space. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’d aim for once a month doing this if your schedule permits, based upon how often you use your home office and how cluttered it gets you can adjust from there. Remember a clean office helps increase your productivity which is always a great thing!