By Matthew Anderson
Working from home can be a great thing, but if there’s one thing that home offices can easily fall victim to, it’s clutter. When your business and personal lives are so closely entwined, it’s sometimes easy to overlook a family member leaving something on your desk, or to let a bit of paper fall through the cracks here and there, or maybe to brush off cleaning tasks with a quick, “I can get to that later,” or even, “It’s more important to have the rest of the house look good.”
The problem, however, is that having a mess for an office leads to distraction and lowered productivity. A cluttered office lends itself to a cluttered mind, and it’s safe to assume that spending the first hour or so of every day cleaning up your workspace is fairly low on your list of “exciting business duties.”
Now for the good news – organization is not as hard as you think! Sure, you might picture a few days spent meticulously slaving over a total office redesign, but the truth is that there are a million little things you can do in just a few minutes that will help. Over time, these things will add up and begin to transform you into a more organized business owner who can devote every work hour to “important” work.
With that in mind, here are five incredibly simple organization ideas to get you started:
1. Bread Clip Cord Labels
Is the back of your desk a rat’s nest of black and grey wires? Have you ever lost hours of work when you accidentally unplugged your computer instead of the thing you were trying to unplug? Well, this ingenious idea will make sure that never happens again! Instead of throwing away the clip on your bread bag, use it to label your office cords by clipping it right above the plug. A quick glance at the tag will make sure you never unplug the wrong thing again!
2. Office in a File Chest
Old chests are a great decoration for any room, but everything in your office should also be functional. Enter the file chest! A pair of simple metal rods lets you forgo a normal filing cabinet, and with the addition of a bulletin board and some extra storage above your files, this little piece of furniture can be pulling double or even triple duty in the organization department. Even better, when closed it can provide another place to sit if a meeting gets a bit overcrowded!
3. Mint Tin Drawer Organizers
Drawers are good organizational tools, but all too often they become cluttered catch-alls for things like “all papers” or “paper clips, push pins, tape and anything else that’s small and in my way.” When that happens, it’s time to take things a step further and start organizing the drawers themselves. These mint tins are the perfect size to hold all the little things you might need during the day, while helping avoid wasting time rifling through drawers to find something.
4. The Forced Throwaway
This isn’t an item, but rather an idea to help you begin eliminating the unnecessary items that you may not know you don’t need. Once a week, go through your home office space and pick five items that you can get rid of. They don’t even have to be big items.
Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you “need” to hang on to that half-bent paperclip. Perhaps you’re keeping a “scrap paper” bin, but you never actually use the paper that ends up inside it. Do you really need three pictures of your family on your desk when they’re literally on the other side of your door?
Move things, throw them away, file them, recycle them – do what you need to do! If you can’t find five things, start with three. Stick to it, and watch as your clutter disappears week after week.
5. The “Need It” Experiment
This last tip is a somewhat more “extreme” solution. First, completely empty your office, and store everything in another room. Whenever you need something for the task at hand, retrieve it from the other room and bring it to your office. Once the task is complete, find your items a place in your office.
Do this over the course of a week or two, only bringing in items as you need them for immediate use. When the time is up, find a new place for anything you didn’t bring in. If you don’t need it over the course of a week’s work, chances are it doesn’t need to be in a prominent place in your office.
Hopefully, these ideas will help you start identifying the areas of your home office that could use a bit more organization and let you free up your most important asset – your time.