For those of us who work from home, a cluttered home office is a fact of life and has the unfortunate side-effect of spilling over into our after-hours lives. Office clutter can mean reduced efficiency which is sheer death of you’re trying to draw a line between work hours and home hours, or are rushing to complete a task before the kids get home from school and completely shatter your concentration.
Yankee Workshop ran an article on home organization in January in honor of National Organize Your Home Day. We touched on the home office, but since more and more of us are working from home, the organization of this space deserves some fleshing out.
For some of us, a cluttered desk is an indication of an acute hatred of filing. Take today as an opportunity to consider how often you access your files. If household bills are finding their way into your professional world, simply carving out a place for those to remain until paid may make all the difference. Once paid, do they really need to be separated into individual files, or can they be lumped together by month or by year? If you find that the only time you access your files is to add more papers to them, consider dropping them all into a single box for the year and then storing them that way. Yes, finding that one paper may be more time consuming later, but it will take less time than sorting all your papers every time you file them, and might make the difference in getting them off your desk in a timely manner.
Consider the same criteria for your business files. Paperwork is still a fact of life, but it doesn’t necessarily have to take over. If all else fails, consider purchasing colored file folders, cure stickers, or other moderately frivolous file aids…anything to lift your spirits as you perform the inevitable.
Sometimes, a cluttered desk is an indication of a lack of places to store things, or an unfortunate placement near the front door. You all know what I mean about the nearest flat surface near the front door. Moving your home office to another location might solve a lot of organization woes. Properly placed file baskets, in-boxes, or other dedicated receptacles can make all the difference. Remove all objects not related to your office work (ex. toys or papers that aren’t yours) and if they somehow keep returning, discuss the problem with the perpetrator, or find a receptacle to put all these objects into so they’re out of the way.
If you find your clutter is composed of a large proportion of tiny notes, dried-up pens, or stacks of papers that have been there so long they have dust on them, consider liberal use of the circular file cabinet.
One last common organization woe in a home office is the tenancy for office supplies to sprout feet and take extended vacations in undisclosed locations (pens, scissors, stapler, sharpie, tape). The first line of defense is to make sure all members of the house have their own sets of supplies. Strict rules about returning come next. If all else fails, consider a desk drawer with a lock on it.
Your home office is a place of work and you deserve to have it as useful as any place in an office building.