Keeping a home office free from clutter is one of the best ways to be productive if you work from home. Decluttering a home office creates a pleasant environment which makes it easier to work. Even if you are not running a business from home, a well-organized workspace helps keep important documents and files where they are easy to find.
In this article, you will find out what steps you can take to declutter your office space at home.
First of all, it’s good to know how a cluttered workspace can affect your productivity.
The Importance of a Decluttered Office Space
It is hard to underestimate the importance of working in an organized and tidy workspace. Even just from a logistical viewpoint, you can easily lose time searching for lost files or documents. Even if you have everything digitally organized, keeping files in order is extremely important.
Many scientific studies highlight the importance of keeping office space – at work or at home – clutter-free. A 2019 study found that office clutter causes your stress levels to rise. Working in a messy environment makes a person less productive, prone to procrastination, and can affect relationships.
Another research study suggested that a disorganized atmosphere also impairs a person’s ability to focus and process information. Decluttering desks, shelves, and other work spaces boosted an employee’s cognitive function and productivity.
How to Declutter your Home Office Workspace
Let’s look at a few practical ways to declutter your home office and get your workspace into an organized system.
Start from scratch
If it seems overwhelming to decide what is clutter and what is needed, clear everything off your desk and empty your drawer into a box. When you start working you will quickly realize items you need and what is clutter. After a few days you will have a good idea of exactly what you need to work productively.
Only keep essentials on your desk
Next, you have to give the essentials a proper place on your desk. It is easy to get used to items and not even realize they are there. So, scrutinize each item to know if it has a purpose and you actually need it. If you had forgotten about it or you don’t need it, put it into storage or get rid of it.
Invest in storage options
Space in many home offices is limited. Therefore, good storage options are a must to keep clutter away from your desk. Each item on your desk and top drawer should have a “home.” Items you only use occasionally should be in a specific storage place. These should be either in a bottom drawer or storage box. Remember to store items according to categories and label everything.
Reboot your office at the end of the day
It is only natural that some clutter builds up during the day as you are working hard. It’s essential to spend 5 or 10 minutes tidying up your home office space. Trash old papers, put items in their proper place, and tidy up your desk. You can then have a fresh start tomorrow.
How to Decide What Papers to Keep
One of the most important questions to decide is which documents, files, and papers you should keep. Knowing how to get rid of paper clutter can be a big step in efficiently organizing your home office space.
Documents such as birth and death certificates, passports, wills, house deeds, marriage certificates, and such like should be kept indefinitely. These should be safely stored close to your workspace but still out of the way.
For other documents, you need to decide which ones to keep and which to trash. Most countries have specific laws on the length of time you must keep financial documents. These include tax returns, financial statements, social security records, investment statements, and other tax-related records.
So, once a year, you should divide your tax files into three categories. These are current tax documents, archive files, and obsolete files. Safely store your archive files in a labelled storage box. You should shred obsolete files so that they don’t clutter your filing system.
You should also check out your country’s laws on which important papers you need to keep, and for how long.
The best and safest way to get rid of any kind of paper clutter is by shredding it.
How to Organize Important Documents at Home?
To avoid clutter in your home office, you need to organize a good home filing system. Remember, an effective filing system at home involves organizing physical (paper) files and digital files (emails, PDFs, etc.).
First of all, organize as many documents digitally as possible. Avoiding printing out unnecessary files is not only good for the environment but it reduces clutter on your desk. Organize digital files into folders and sub folders so that you can retrieve them quickly.
Creating a home filing system to organize important documents involves investing in the necessary supplies. You will need pocket files, file folders, and labels as well as storage boxes or drawers.
When you have the necessary supplies, your home filing system should be divided into records you keep forever and records that are kept for a specific length of time. Some general categories could be medical, bank statements, tax records, investments and so on.
Some home office workers organize their important documents by having a “one-touch” policy. This means that the time when they pick up a document or important paper is when they deal with it.
You should also spend some time each month discarding any paper items you no longer need. This way you can continually declutter your home office.