Home office organization is something we don't think much about until it's too late. You need a home office, so you create one. And over time, as you work in your home office, things stack and layer around you - used coffee mugs, a stack of files you keep meaning to put somewhere, software boxes, bills, orphaned pens - until one day, when something gets in your way or disappears for the umpteenth time, you suddenly realize that getting your home office organized is long overdue.
Pick Three Things and Throw Them Out
We'll start our home office organization with something easy just to get you in the mood and clear some space. There's probably a lot more than just three things either on your desk or scattered around your home office that can go from your workspace right to the trash or recycling bin.
Weed One Filing Drawer
Filing cabinets are the kings of clutter for most home offices, which is ironic because we think of them as clutter solutions. In reality, though, we stuff them with whatever we can't find a place for or whatever piece of paper we don't need to deal with anymore but don't want to throw away. So our filing cabinet becomes our own personal landfill and when it's full, we just move in another one.
Sorting through the standard-sized four-drawer filing cabinet can resemble a dig with years of accumulated stuff to sift through. So let's start small. Organize your home office by choosing one drawer and weeding through it, removing anything that's no longer current or necessary.
Clear Your Bulletin or Message Board
Bulletin or message boards are a feature in many home offices. Alas, rather than keep us posted on up-to-date events and helping us to keep our lives organized, they often degenerate into cluttered time capsules.
Look at yours right now. Is there anything posted or written there that relates to something you need to do today or even this week? What do you see instead? Pictures drawn by the kids? Photos from last summer’s camping trip?
Keep the purpose of home office organization in mind. We're not just decluttering; we're creating a workspace that will help you be more productive. There's nothing wrong with having the kids' pictures and family photos displayed in your home - but your home office is not the place for them. Take them down and move them elsewhere. Then clear all the old messages off the board. You're ready to move forward.
Organize One Desk Drawer
Drawers tend to be dumping grounds anyhow but in a home office. Start small. Select one desk drawer and taking everything out of it.
Sort through the contents, throwing out whatever is no longer useful and moving whatever is misplaced back to its better location. (The recipes, for instance, are probably best located near the kitchen rather than at your desk.)
Then insert a plastic organizer tray (available at any office supplies store) and put things back into the drawer, using the different sections of the organizer tray to keep things separate and easy to find.
Clear Your Desktop for a Week
Start by getting a large cardboard box. Now take everything off your office desk except for items that are absolutely necessary for your work, such as your computer and phone. Put everything you remove from your desktop into the cardboard box.
Put the box somewhere accessible but out of the way so you're not tripping over them. Then go to work just as you normally would. As you're working in your home office, if there's something you need that's not on your desk, fish it out of the box and put it in a logical place on or around your desk. For example, if you find you're word processing from typed copy, get your desk copyholder out of the box and put it back on your desk.
By the end of a week, you'll have everything you need to work efficiently on your desk or close to hand – and nothing else. As for whatever's left in the box, it belongs somewhere else, properly filed if it's a necessary piece of paper or thrown out if it's something that's just cluttering up your workspace.
Your Home Office Organization Can Stop Here
Take your home office organization further if you like. Organize all your desk drawers. Master your filing system. Go through the full organizational makeover if you want to.
Hopefully the organizing you've done is doing what it was meant to do – letting you get more done more easily when you sit down to work in your home office.