How to Declutter a Home Office

Six Parts:Location of your home officeDesk spaceStationeryFiles and filing cabinetsStorageStaying organized

The home office is the place where you need to maintain a professional and clear mind. Clutter can inhibit your ability to take working-from-home seriously and it can definitely slow down finding things when you need them. Decluttering the home office isn't too hard; it simply requires a determination to rein in the mess, create organized systems and ensure that things have a settled place from now on. Have courage, you can do this!

Part 1
Location of your home office

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    Identify the place in your house which would be the best place for your office. It should be somewhere that is convenient, yet private. Preferably choose a spot where you aren't likely to be disturbed by family members, guests and pets.

Part 2
Desk space

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    Clear your desk. Place everything that is already on it in piles for sorting. Clean the desk with spray and wipe off dust, etc.
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    Sort through the piles. Use what you find to see what is needed most for a future system. What categories of information are obvious and what bits and pieces need their own box, can or drawer?
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    Empty the spaces for restoring things neatly. To save time, have boxes and trash bags; separate the "to-shred" stuff and the garbage. Give away all that you can.

Part 3

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    Consider getting a stationery cupboard. This way, all your office supplies such as printer paper, printer inks, envelopes, pens etc can be neatly stored in one place instead of on your desk. It will be much easier to find what you need and you will know when you are running out of something. On the downside, if that takes up space you can barely spare, use the desk or boxes instead.

Part 4
Files and filing cabinets

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    Make a list of categories for filing. This should relate directly to the work tasks performed in your home office that result in paperwork. They should also be the same as digital files or folders, so that you can match up paper to digital copies with ease.
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    Organize your files. How do you prefer to keep your files?
    • Do you want to file the paperwork in ring-binder files? These can be stored on a shelf, sub-divided with ease and you can see them for quick access. If you need to access the paperwork frequently, this is the best way to store it.
    • Do you want to file the paperwork in filing cabinets? These can be a great way to keep huge amounts of paperwork. Drawbacks include the cost of the file (although do check Freecycle and auction sites for cheap or free ones from old offices), they are bulky and it's easy to lose paperwork in them, stuck between the many levels and files.
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    Use clear plastic pockets to organize your paperwork. These are a boon to the home office worker; everything can be keep neatly, found easily (you can see straight through the cover) and stored inside hanging files or binders. Add a plain sticky label to the outside for naming the contents. It's recommended that you use pencil for labeling; that way you can erase and write anew, each time the paperwork is no longer needed.
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    Organize your filing cabinet(s). If you have more than one filing cabinet, tackle one at a time.
    • Remove all the folders.
    • Check their labels (if they have any). Match these labels to your list of categories.
    • Make sure the title is exactly the same to avoid confusion and mis-filing later on.

Part 5

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    Buy more storage. You can never have too much storage space so buy as many additional storage units, filing cabinets or shelves as you can reasonably fit in your home office. Having plenty of storage will make it easier to be organised.
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    Consider renting a self-storage unit. Self-storage is simple to arrange, relatively inexpensive and available in or near most major towns and is particularly useful for old documentation that you won't have to access frequently. A storage unit at a self-storage facility will help keep your home office de-cluttered when there simply is not space to store everything at home.

Part 6
Staying organized

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    Decide what your daily system is for work and family. Get a binder and an application for each. Make a flow-chart of your daily routine of the most important things you must do.
    • For example, if you are in sales, get a good CRM and have a method to get information to customers on the fly.
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    Make use of apps. Apps can help you keep the home office operations running smoothly, helping you to keep clutter to a minimum.
    • Windows apps you might find handy include: COZI calendar for family (all kids stuff in here; teach them to add their events); SFDC; Smartforms 365; Camtasia; Createbook; Evernote; Project Timeline; Qool; SmartDraw (to make infographics, timelines, etc); and your own website.

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Categories: Office