Whether you are an occasional telecommuter, run a business from your home, or have a dedicated space for managing household operations and finances, you know that a home office is an essential part of today’s living spaces. Keeping your home office organized is vital to ensuring a serene and functional workspace. But it can be a challenge. Here are some tips for maintaining an organized and clutter-free home office.
- Have a dedicated workspace. It is important to designate the home office as a space distinct from other rooms in the house. You do not want all the equipment, furniture and work materials intruding into your bedroom, dining area or family room. You want your workspace to be functional, comfortable and inspiring. While a separate room is ideal, creative use of space can also allow for an office area to be set up in an alcove, hallway or unused corner of a room.
- Give yourself enough space. Make sure your work area provides sufficient space for your needs, including room for files, equipment and supplies. Your office furniture should provide the working surface you need as well as adequate storage. Be sure to account for extra space that may be needed for equipment with cords, trays and ventilation requirements.
- One of the greatest challenges to keeping workspaces organized is managing clutter. Start by grouping all similar items together. For example, all supplies, all reference materials, all client files, etc. You might find you have duplicates you can discard or items that are broken, outdated or do not belong in your office, such as pens that don’t work, old magazines, or outdated paperwork.
- Organize by frequency of use. After grouping your office items by type, decide what you need to access frequently and place those items close at hand. This might include your printer, a few pens, certain file folders or books. Items needed less frequently can be tucked away in drawers or stowed in a closet or on a shelf.
- Group items together in containers. Now that your similar items and frequently used items are grouped together, keep them organized in labeled bins, drawers or shelves. You can set up separate bins or trays for extra pens and other supplies, for bills and bill paying items, for extra filing folders and labels, etc. Make sure every item has a place to go and always return items to their proper bin or drawer when finished using.
- Manage cords. Keep cords organized by using Velcro strips, twist ties or any cord management solution. If you have a lot of cords, take the time to label them with folder labels or masking tape folded over to make a tab so that you know where each cord leads. If possible, replace equipment with wireless devices and peripherals such as wireless printers, keyboards and mice.
- Paper processing. Paper clutter can easily get out of control without a proper management strategy. Set aside an area in your workspace just for paper management and address any papers as often as possible. Any item that requires action can go into an action folder or inbox tray. Using folders of different colors can be a quick and effective way to manage your files. Use a different color for each work project or client, and have certain colors just for personal or household files.
- Don’t forget wall space. Use empty walls for message or bulletin boards or to install shelving or cabinets for extra storage. You can set up a shelf for photos or other personal items you may wish to keep nearby. While it is nice to personalize your workspace, if your space is limited, excess personal items on your desk do create more clutter. One or two small items can add a nice personal touch.
Keeping a home office organized is an ongoing effort. Once your workspace is set up with proper furniture, equipment, file storage and supply containers, it is up to you to ensure your office continues to serve you as the efficient, functional, motivating space you want it to be. The simple habit of taking time at the end of each day to ensure all papers have been processed and filed and all supplies and books returned to their proper place will get you started off fresh and inspired each day and motivate you to keep your space clean and clutter-free.