Cramped home office

Poorly designed home office space

SEVEN STEPS TO A PRODUCTIVE OFFICEHaving problems finding files and paperwork? A cluttered office is a nightmare to work in but it happens to us all at some point. Obviously it is easier to clear a home office than a commercial one but it is possible non-the-less. Papers, files, books and magazines, advertising leaflets all clutter our desks and shrink our office space making it harder to focus and make decisions.

This is a simplified set of steps to help you begin to declutter your office – it is up to you to sort your documents into financial, contacts, invoices etc

By the way, when I decluttered recently I ended up with two large bags of magazines and books. As my business is interior redesign that amount of literature was not really surprising. Thankfully it was easy to recycle them by taking it to my local doctor’s surgery giving patients something fresh to browse while waiting their turn. Don’t discount the fact that some of your unwanted/out of date books or magazines may be interesting to others ask around and be ready to pass them on.


time; shredder; files; containers for files; pc; Black bin bags or rubbish container; packing boxes


Making time

Now that you have made the decision to declutter your office begin by clearing some time each day for one week in your diary. Give yourself 15-30 minutes a day (if making time per day is difficult schedule it to suit your work style) to work on this project to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the process.


Shred unnecessary papers

Organize the supplies you’ll need. Make sure you have files to keep necessary papers in, a shredder for unwanted papers that are data sensitive along with spare box files or other system to house files that need to be kept for storage. Once all that is in place you can begin shredding eliminating unnecessary papers from your life will begin to feel good and the more you shred, the more you’ll want to shred. But be careful – once shredded, always shredded there is no going back!


Organize papers into file system

Begin by emptying the overstuffed filing cabinet and carefully separating the documents into piles.

  1. Current
  2. To be stored for x number of years
  3. To be shredded

Once the cabinet is empty restore the current files into their respective folders back into the cabinet and close it. Pack the files for storage into box files and place ready to be put away in a safe, easily accessible place.

It’s now time to concentrate on the rest of your office space – clearing out the accumulated clutter of (in some cases) years.

Start with a small area of the room so you won’t be overwhelmed with the amount of work at hand.  As before any kind of paperwork, documents etc needs to be carefully disposed of so begin looking at each piece of paper and decide if you really need it. If so, create a file and label the file. Place the file alphabetically in the chosen container for your new system. If it is not needed bin it or shred depending on the data it contains.


Keep a handy to-do list/business planner

When you’re sifting through the paperwork ideas may crop up re making contacts etc, create a to-do file folder of business items that should be handled relatively soon. Keep this file handy on your desk for now, these to do files are really handy and you may want to create a permanent space for it later.


Organize files on your pc wherever possible

As you begin to fill the container with all your newly organized files, decide on a place to keep the files handy. It could be under a desk, in a closet in the room or beside your desk for easy referencing later. Organize as much as you can on your computer to eliminate paperwork altogether. Dropbox is a great free online storage file where you can keep documents safe but easily accessible.


Recycle and donate unnecessary items

Donate or recycle wherever possible whatever is not needed in your home office area. Eliminate any items that could cause distraction to your work. Decide to only keep your office work and necessary related items in this room so that you can stay focused on work and increase productivity. Find local donation centres or charity shops who will take books/magazines etc. if you are treating yourself to new office furniture advertise your unwanted stuff online at Freecycle interested parties collect the items so you don’t have the hassle of trying to get rid of it yourself. Or why not get some money towards that new furniture by selling on websites like Preloved or Ebay?


Consider painting or wallpapering at least one wall in your office

Perfect Home Office

Light, bright and spacious

Once all your floor space, desk space and any other areas are decluttered, you may want to wash the walls and give the room a fresh coatof paint. Painting at least one wall in your office will brighten it, give it a new life and make it a place you’ll enjoy working and your clients enjoy visiting.  Finally open a window to allow in fresh air without having to worry that all your papers will fly all around. The fresh air will help to stimulate you to work in your newly organized office space. Watch your productivity increase dramatically, enjoy it and get some work done!

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