How do I organize my home office? with these pro tips!

(This month we are excited to have professional organizer, Allison Moon share some tips to help you get organized. Use them in your  home or business office. Need further assistance onsite or a virtual coach? Reach out to Allison 😉 )

With so many of us now working from home, the state of our home office has become top priority. Home-based offices can quickly become catch-all spaces for files, mail, the kids’ soccer camp brochures and a strange variety of items. Being surrounded by chaos can be overwhelming and can become a huge road-block to productivity.

You can’t function like this!

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely decided that your home office needs a little TLC to get you back on track, to increase your productivity, and most importantly, be your best and brightest self. Work can be hectic and stressful enough without being surrounded by clutter and disorder.
You deserve a place where you can breathe deeply, stay focused and be as productive as possible.

I love organizing, but my greatest joy as a Professional Organizer is watching clients overcome what’s holding them back and reclaim their happiness. If you’re ready to get started on this journey, here are some pro tips for home office organization that will work for you!

Modern clutter free office – furniture by Three H

1. The Big Purge

The key step in any organizing project is to declutter. Often, this is the least appealing step because it’s difficult digging through old papers and making decisions you’ve put off for too long. It’s tempting to jump to the spot where we buy the pretty baskets and simply contain all the stuff! For lasting success, start with ‘The Big Purge’. This step is exactly how it sounds. You’re going to clear your home office of everything that doesn’t belong there. This essential step could take anywhere from a few hours to several days, but the time you invest will save you countless hours of stress and confusion in the long run.

In this step you’ll take inventory of each and every item and then make your decisions. So, if you’ve learned anything about decluttering, it’s that you need a variety of categories to sort your items into. However, do you know the main reason this is so important? It’s so that you aren’t tempted to take action on each and every item as you make the decision. This will slow down your progress considerably. For instance, don’t be tempted to take the hairbrush you find back to the bathroom. Instead pop it in the ‘To be moved from office’ bin and deal with all like items at once!

Okay, here are 7 great categories to get you started. Of course, some might not apply or you might think of others that would be helpful. Gather 7 big boxes or bins. If you have lots of space you could even create 7 piles.

Here are your categories:

Trash: You might be shocked at the amount of stuff in your workspace that simply counts as garbage! Start here. 

Recycling: Recycle any plastic or paper products that you no longer require and that aren’t considered ‘confidential documents’.

Shredding:  No doubt if you’re decluttering an office, you will come across papers that have confidential information on them.  Look for names, addresses, email addresses, passwords and banking information. You can either shred these with your own shredder or, if you have a large volume of paper to be shredded, box them up and take them to your local Staples. 

Items to stay in office: This pile is for the items that you need to find a proper place for in your home office, whether that’s a bookshelf, a filing system or another type of container. Loose files and books means more clutter and more difficulty finding things. Making sure everything has a home can help. Of course, if there is already decent order with these items, there is no need to remove them.  They might just need a little tweaking. 

Items to leave the office: Don’t forget to make a pile dedicated to all items that have ended up in your office but don’t belong there! If they belong somewhere else in your home place them here. 

Donations:  If you have anything in good condition that you no longer need or use (think: extra staplers, old binders, outdated books) place them in this pile. Choose a time to deliver these items to a charity of your choice and put it on your calendar. 

Action Items: This is my very favourite (and most important category).  Undoubtedly, you will unearth documents, notices, or invitations that require your attention.  Every single item requiring you to ACT on it goes into this pile.  When you come across a piece of paper you’ve been looking for, It’s going to be tempting to take action right away.  You will never get through the decluttering phase unless you fight this urge! Unless it’s so vital that you deal with it ‘now’, place it in the bin/basket knowing that you will come back to it. Also, take comfort knowing that this won’t happen again because you are creating a new office space where things won’t get lost!

As you’re working, ask yourself questions such as “Do I really need/use this item?” or “Does this take up more space than it’s worth?” This will help you make decisions and work as quickly as you can. 

This is a tedious, yet absolutely essential, part of your home office organization project. For bigger jobs, you might feel paralyzed and unable to get started. This is totally normal. Make the purge process feel more achievable by breaking it up into chunks that you can manage. You don’t have to do it all in one day!

Schedule 2-3 hour blocks of time to work on this step so that you can stay focused.  Cranking up some good music also helps. You got this!

2. Organize Your Desk

Home office desks often serve as “command centers” for all of the busy and exciting things we’ve got going on, so it doesn’t take much for it to become cluttered. However, nothing blocks our productivity and inspiration than having the entire desk covered with clutter.

While your desk organization style can definitely be influenced by the type of work you’re doing, I always encourage my clients to follow one guiding principle: less is more! Give yourself the gift of ‘negative space’ to make room for possibility and keep your mind free and clear.

We all may have unique desk space needs, but one thing we all want from our work environment is to feel in control. Give yourself room to spread out, to create, to sink into the task at hand. When you’re working hard, you don’t want to have to break your focus in order to clear a space so you can jot down a few notes. If the space is clear, your mind will stay clear and work will flow with ease.

Equally important is taking 5 minutes at the end of the day to clear off your desktop. This desk organization tip is such a game changer! When you sit at your desk the next morning, you’ll be so glad that you left the space clear and ready for you to get to work.

3. Invest in the Right Storage Solutions

Now that you’ve decluttered your office, organized your desk, created a mail system and planned your zones, it’s time to consider the storage solutions that will make your home office the perfect work space.

The perk of having a home office is that you get to choose the right furniture and storage solutions for YOU.

As a Professional Organizer, I hear all the time from those weighing the pros and cons of investing in quality furniture and storage solutions to organize their space. It can definitely be a costly investment especially if you purchase everything at once. However, let’s consider what it’s costing you to continue living and working in a situation that doesn’t meet your needs and leaves you feeling scattered, inefficient, and overwhelmed.

What time, energy- and even money- can you gain by creating an office space that helps you get your job done? You’ll spend less time looking for (or re-buying!) lost items and being distracted by clutter. Oh, and you’ll spend more time accomplishing tasks and making money!

Make sure that you have a large enough desk, storage that fits all of your reference materials, streamlined storage solutions for your electronics, and effective filing systems. Purchase furniture that is ergonomically correct in order to help you avoid distraction and discomfort.

Allison Moon is a Professional Organizer and owner of Allison Moon Professional Organizing. Her company is built on the belief that reducing the clutter in our lives will have a profound impact on our ability to engage more fully in our work, our relationships and our personal goals.  

For more information, reach out to Allison

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