10 Tips for Organizing Your Home Office Before Monday

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Home Improvement

If you work from home, your home office is probably the most important room in your house. It’s where you keep your files, communicate with clients, and manage your finances. However, if your office is cluttered and disorganized, you won’t be able to get much done. Follow these 10 simple tips to clean, organize, and declutter your home office before Monday rolls around.

10: Establish an Organizational System

Before you start cleaning, you need a system for organizing your stuff. This might include an inbox for assignments, a file rack for current projects, a shredder, and a filing cabinet. Establish a workflow that allows you to move paperwork from your inbox to your file rack, and then to your filing cabinet once the project is finished.

9: Clear Your Desk


Your desk is the most important part of your office, so start there. Take everything off your desk except for your computer, printer, and phone. Get rid of any unnecessary paperwork, office supplies, and clutter. You’ll be amazed at how much more productive you can be with a clean desk.

If you take a good look at your desk, you might notice a lot of accumulated dust. This is the perfect opportunity to clean and vacuum the area. While you’re at it, go through everything on your desk and consider how often you use each item. If you don’t use it at least once a week, set it aside. Once you have organized the rest of your office, you can find new homes for these items.

Investing in a filing cabinet is a great way to free up space in your home office. Make sure to buy a sturdy, fireproof cabinet that locks to protect important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and car titles. To maximize storage space, choose a four-drawer cabinet and use hanging folders to categorize papers. Come up with a system of organization that works for you and label every file.

One of the main reasons home offices become cluttered is people’s reluctance to throw things away. Spend some time purging your office of items you no longer use, such as old pens, paper clips, outdated documents, and broken office equipment. You can recycle many of these products. If you’re unsure when it’s okay to throw out certain documents, consult a guide on how long to keep important papers.

The first tip is to keep tax returns and supporting documents for seven years, but you should keep them forever if you have enough space. Pay stubs should be kept for one year until you get your W-2. Investment statements should be kept for one year until your year-end statements arrive. Bank statements and medical bills should be kept for one year, while credit card statements should be kept for one month after you’ve checked them for accuracy. Newspapers, magazines, and Internet print-outs should be disposed of as soon as you’ve finished using them.

Tip 6 is to organize your cables to reduce the number of wires underfoot. This not only reduces tripping hazards but also reduces fire danger and clutter. You should put away or get rid of any electronic equipment you no longer use. Use wireless devices like your mouse, keyboard, and printer, and a USB hub for multiple devices. Plug your remaining cables into a surge-protected power bar to prevent damage during electrical storms. Bind the remaining cables together with cable ties or clamps and route them through the hole in your desk.

Tip 5 is to keep important accessories handy. Always keep your most important tools close by and store them on a shelf behind or beside your desk. Fit your top desk drawer with a caddy or other organizer to hold your pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, sticky notes, Wite-Out, and tape. Before you put those supplies in the drawer, throw out any broken or empty supplies.

Tip 4 is to move office equipment off your desk. With your desk covered in technology, it’s important to clear some of it out of your workspace.

3: Move Your Personal Items


That adorable baby photo might be taking up valuable desk space, so it’s time to relocate it.
Barry Willis/Getty Images

Although you might love that cute photo of your family, it might not need to be in the center of your desk. Remove everything that is not directly related to your work from your desk, such as photos, magazines, awards, plants, coffee mugs, and souvenirs. You can still keep these items in your office, but just in a more remote area.

Instead, hang a framed photo of your family on the wall above your desk, so you can still see it every day without taking up any extra space. Place your plants on a windowsill, filing cabinet, or hang them from the ceiling. Build a shelf to display your awards and souvenirs.

Finally, choose one or two small yet significant personal items to keep on your desk.

2: Organize Your Calendar and To-Do Lists

How do you keep track of your assignments, meetings, and other commitments? Do you still use a paper Day Timer filled with notes? Or have you moved to a digital calendar but still rely on sticky notes to remind yourself of important dates and deadlines?

Choose a system that you know you can manage. You can go paperless and place all your important reminders on your personal device, such as your BlackBerry, iPhone, or laptop. This includes your deadlines, meetings, to-do lists, and appointments. Dispose of all your old paper to-do lists. Link the calendar on your computer to your phone, so you always know where you need to be.

You can also stick to a more traditional system, such as a memo board. Use a magnetic, write-on, or calendar-style board to record all your important events for the month. Hang it directly above your desk and keep it up-to-date.

1: How to Organize Your Computer

When organizing your home office, don’t forget about your computer. If you keep downloading programs and files onto your hard drive, it will eventually become cluttered and difficult to navigate. Here are some tips to keep your computer organized:

  • Create a filing system that works for you. This may include folders for clients, tax documents, and personal photographs.
  • Delete old files that you no longer need. If you haven’t used a file in the past six months, consider deleting it. Only keep important files such as personal photos, project files, tax information, and legal documents.
  • Back up your important files to an external drive or online storage service to prevent data loss.
  • Organize your email by creating folders to store messages by topic, sender, or date. Delete old messages that you no longer need.

For more tips on home organization, check out the related articles and links below.

More Resources

Related Articles

  • How to Set Up a Home Office
  • 10 Reasons to Work from Home
  • The Top 10 Computer Accessories of All Time

Additional Links

  • DIY Network
  • Home Office Weekly
  • National Association of Professional Organizers

Sources

  • CNN. “Spring Cleaning for Your Financial House.” (Oct.12, 2010) http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/moneymag/0703/gallery.financial_records_organizing.moneymag/6.html.
  • DIY Network. Tips for Increased Organization and Productivity. (Oct. 12, 2010)http://www.diynetwork.com/decorating/tips-for-increased-organization-and-productivity/index.html.
  • Good Housekeeping. “How Long to Store Legal Papers.” (Oct.12, 2010) http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/organizing/important-papers-to-keep.
  • Lankford, Kimberly. “Which Tax Records to Keep.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, January 3, 2008. (Oct.12, 2010)http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/ask/archive/2008/q0103.htm.
  • Mattei Andrea, Bob Adams, Katina Z. Jones. The Only Clutter Book You’ll Ever Need. Avon, MA:Adams Media, 2004.
  • McMurray, Sandy. “Cut Cord Clutter.” Microsoft Home Magazine. (Oct. 13, 2010) http://www.microsoft.com/canada/home/home-office/articles/cut-cord-clutter.aspx.
  • Schroedel, Jenny. The Everything Organize Your Home Book. Cincinnati, Ohio: Everything Books, 2007.

FAQ

1. What are some easy ways to declutter my home office?

Start by going through your desk drawers and throwing away any old or unnecessary papers and office supplies. Use organizers to keep your pens, pencils, and other small items in their own designated spaces. Keep your desktop clear by storing files and important papers in folders or in a filing cabinet. Finally, make sure to regularly go through your office and get rid of anything that you no longer need or use.

2. How can I create a more functional workspace in my home office?

Consider investing in a comfortable office chair and a desk that meets your needs. Make sure that your computer and other electronics are set up in a way that is easy for you to use. Use shelves or bookcases to store books and other items that you need to access frequently. Finally, make sure that your lighting is adequate and that you have a good view of your workspace.

3. What are some ways to organize my paperwork in my home office?

Invest in a filing system that works for you, whether that means using a traditional filing cabinet or a digital system. Use labels to keep everything organized and easy to find. Consider scanning important documents and storing them digitally to save space. Finally, make sure to regularly go through your files and get rid of anything that you no longer need or use.

4. How can I keep my home office from becoming cluttered again in the future?

Make organization a habit by setting aside a few minutes each day to tidy up your workspace. Keep a trash can and recycling bin nearby to encourage you to dispose of paper and other items that you no longer need. Finally, make sure that everything in your office has a designated place so that you can easily put it away when you are finished using it.

5. What are some creative ways to store office supplies in my home office?

Consider using mason jars to store your pens, pencils, and other small items. Use a pegboard to hang items such as scissors and tape so that they are easily accessible. Use a desk organizer to keep your papers and important documents in one place. Finally, use decorative boxes or baskets to store larger items such as notebooks and folders.

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