I’m not sure what it is about January, but when all the festivities wind down and the year stretches ahead with so much promise, I go into organisation mode. Feeling as though I’m starting my year out with my ‘house in order’ so to speak makes me feel prepared to take on whatever the next 12 months decide to throw at me and in the break between Christmas and New Year, I tackled my home office.
The issue with a home office, or any office space really, is that it seems to be a magnet for clutter. As a freelancer, I run my business from my desk and so it can easily be overwhelmed with paperwork, various half-completed projects as well as the accoutrements of months of long hours.
For you, it may be the area where the kids do their homework, where you pay your bills or do your weekly online shop or it may be the hub of your small or large business. Whatever you use your home office for, without some creative organisation, it can easily become a bit of a mess. So today, I’m sharing some of my tips for getting on top of the mess and getting your home office organised.
The Big Clear Out
The first thing I did before I started anything at all was to go through the piles of forgotten paperwork, magazines and the random assortment of miscellaneous things that seemed to have been thrown into this room over the last year.
I sorted everything into piles – one to keep and store, one for the shredder or rubbish bin and one for charity (the charity items were half-forgotten décor, cushions and things that I use in my styling work). You may find you have books or other items you no longer need or in the case of a room that has a dual function, you may need to sort out clothing, bedding and the like.
Depending upon your personal situation, this can take anywhere from one hour to a whole weekend. Divide it into manageable sections – the desk drawers, the filing cabinet, the shelving, etc. – and tackle one at a time to make the process manageable.
The Big Clean
Once everything is cleared from the space, you might want to grab the hoover and duster and give the whole space a good clean. It’ll make the room feel a lot fresher and with cleared surfaces and a clean floor, you’ll ensure you’re starting the whole space off on the right foot.
Assess Your Storage Needs
With the clear out and clean, all you should be left with are your necessities and perhaps a few decorative items you may want in the space. It’s also time to assess your storage needs.
Do you have a lot of paperwork? You may need things like storage boxes, file folders or magazine file folders. These will keep everything in one place, making it a lot easier to access if you need to find it later. A trip to a stationary supply store may be in order at this point! Make sure you get slightly more than you need to allow for any new paperwork or items you may need to store in the future.
Consider a few cardboard file boxes for important documents you may need to keep but don’t need to access very often. Remember, if you own a business, you will need to keep records and documents of your taxes for a number of years so be sure to sort and file by year to keep everything organised properly. Once they are in their boxes, label the box with the year and store somewhere away from your office – in the loft, under the stairs, the garage, etc.
If you find you need storage for products or samples for a business, make sure you have plenty of room on shelves or in larger pieces of furniture to store things neatly.
For storage that will be on display, for a truly harmonious space, considering ones that match in style to your surroundings like these inexpensive magazine folders that were covered in leftover wallpaper. You can check out that DIY here (it’s rather simple!).
On Your Desk
Consider what you need at your immediate disposal. If you like working from a tidy clutter-free desk, make sure the inside of your desk has an organiser tray for things like pens and pencils, paperclips, staplers, post-it notes and the like. If you enjoy a bit of styling in your home office (like I do!), you can have these items on display but use attractive trays and storage pieces that will add some style to your space instead of adding to the clutter.
You may also consider having two trays – one for work that needs attention and one for work that needs to be filed away. Don’t let the ‘to be filed’ pile get too high and do a weekly cleanout of these items – either file them away or scan them digitally then shred or toss.
You may find you need some larger furniture to hide things you don’t want out. I use a vintage sideboard in my own office which stores my camera gear as well as paperwork and smaller styling items. A small wardrobe or closet can also be used as long as it’s kept organised and not used as a ‘throw it and forget it’ spot!
You may find a set of bookshelves will do the trick alongside some labelled boxes too. Organise your books by subject matter, colour or genre (it’s up to you) and donate anything you haven’t read in the last year or does not have sentimental value.
I hope my tips have been helpful! What do you do to organise your own home office space?