With the New Year in full swing, it is officially time to DECLUTTER! There are endless problem areas in the average person’s home that need decluttering, but today I’m going to suggest some ways to declutter your home office.
It’s the start of a new year and you’ve set some pretty awesome goals for yourself, but you’ve got piles of crap in and around your desk with no rhyme or reason to your workstation. How on earth are you supposed to kick major boss lady booty when you can’t even get to your keyboard?!
Whether you work from home full-time, have kids’ schedules to juggle, or just want a calming place to browse Pinterest and answer emails within, these tips will absolutely come in handy!
1. Ditch the mismatched storage/organizational products and opt for a cohesive look.
I can’t stress how crucial this is. I realize I may be a little more O.C.D about cohesion than the average Joe, but this is highly important and a step that should not be overlooked.
When entering your workspace, you want to feel at ease and motivated to tackle all of your to-do’s! Having mismatched or random pencil holders, letter trays, bins/baskets will only add to the visual chaos that already exists.
I suggest sticking to a clean color palette like white or gray. Feel free to add pops of gold, silver or another accent color to add more visual interest to your space. Places like Target and Ikea have great "office-y" storage and desktop accessories AND they’re super inexpensive!
2. Clear the paper clutter!
There are four categories of paper in which you should be keeping accessible.
To contain the paper, I recommend this KVISSLE letter tray. I like that it's white, so it’s calming and fresh looking. It’s inexpensive, sturdy and you can easily label the lip of each shelf so that you know which tray is which. Don’t have the desktop space? A wall-mounted version is the perfect space saving solution!
Read – This is an easy one. Put pieces of paper in here that need to be read. Once you’ve read them, either toss them or move them to the next appropriate category i.e. respond, receipts or file.
Respond – These could be documents that need to be signed or mailed, for example. Once you’ve responded to these papers, toss them or move them to the next appropriate category, which if anything would likely be “file”.
Receipts - If you keep receipts for tax purposes, put those in a separate file like this clear plastic envelope. Once the year comes to an end and you’ve filed your taxes, shred all receipts. Don’t forget to label the outside of the envelope! Helpful tip - Be sure to keep this plastic envelope in a desk drawer or storage bin so that it’s not taking up precious day-to-day space.
And if you’re holding onto receipts for purchases that might be returned, then keep them on your “receipts” file shelf until you’ve decided that the item(s) is staying put!
File - For paper that needs to be filed, I strongly urge you to scan these and keep them in an electronic filing system. Surprisingly enough, you actually do not have to hold onto the hard copy of nearly anything. With so many things online now like bank statements, manuals, email notices, etc. you really do not need to have original copies. And for most snail mail, you can opt in for receiving it electronically.
For around $5, you can download apps (onto your iPhone) that allow you to scan documents using your phone. If that’s not foolproof, I don’t know what is! I’ve heard TurboScan and Scanner Pro are really good ones!
I suggest creating a routine where once a month you spend 15 minutes to sift through your “file” shelf. Discard anything that no longer needs to be filed. For paper that you do want to hold onto indefinitely, scan it and save it in an electronic filing system. If you’re feeling a little weary of completely discarding the original document (even if you’ve scanned and saved it into an electronic filing system), then move it to a file folder within a file cabinet.
Side note - I literally just took a break from writing this post and did just what I explained above. I sifted through my only file drawer and tossed anything that I no longer needed to keep. It literally took me 7 minutes. That's it. You probably just spent the same amount of time mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed. Nope, nothing new has changed since you last checked it 10 minutes ago. Don't get me wrong, I realize if you're just getting started with this whole decluttering thing, it will definitely take you longer than 5, 10 or ever 15 minutes but once you complete the initial purge, it really shouldn't be a lengthy task.
For paper that is important but you hardly need to access, keep it in a decorative box in a cabinet or on a shelf within your home office. I love these Ikea TJENA boxes! Your tax documents and/or receipts that I referenced above fall into this rule.
For important legal documents that fall into the below list, store in a fireproof safe elsewhere.
- Social Security Card
- PassportBirth/Death Certificate
- Marriage License
- Insurance Policies
Helpful Tip - Set rules for yourself so you can stay on top of the paper trail. If your letter tray or your file cabinet is getting full, then force yourself to sift through the piles before allowing yourself to add to them. You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to make decisions whether to toss or keep papers that have been sitting, untouched.
3. Pens, pencils, markers
Is there a reason to have 37 pencils and 20 pens in which half are out of ink? NOPE. Spend the 10 minutes needed to collect all writing utensils, check to see which pens and markers work and ditch any pencils that look crummy. If there’s only one person occupying the office, there’s really no reason to have more than a handful of pens, a handful of pencils, and a few markers. And again, if you want to be a little O.C.D about the overall "look" of your writing utensils, opt for all black pens and the same color/brand pencils.
Next, choose a holder that’s stylish and easy on the eye. I like to add pops of texture or even color in items like this. I love this hammered gold holder from Target.
4. Paperclips, rubber bands, push pins, etc.
Same rule as above, applies here! Collect all pieces, trash any junky ones, then make a pile of each. If you’re a visual person then this corked jar set is great for the desktop. If you’d rather keep these little guys stashed away, then opt for a drawer organizer like this one from The Container Store.
For any office supplies that you hold onto in bulk, don’t jam everything into one little organizer that ends up overflowing in your desk drawer. Instead, store your bulk supplies in a labeled decorative box/bin on a shelf or within a storage cabinet in your office. Replenish your cute little canisters or drawer organizers once they’re running low!
5. Desk drawers
This is such a commonly cluttered category. Cords, headphones and USB drives can be found in the silliest places. Collect all of them that pertain to the electronics in your office and if they have a counterpart, match them to it. For example:
Camera – camera USB cord and charger
Laptop – laptop power cord
I recommend using storage boxes to conceal all electronics. I love these utility boxes because of the tiered compartment tray. The utility boxes are great if you’re storing the box in a closed cabinet, but if you’re storing your electronics bin on an open shelf, I’d suggest something better looking like this one!
Speaking of electronics, control the cord chaos that lives underneath your desk and invest in a cable management box.
7. Trash & Recycling
Yes, please have separate bins for each. SO many recyclables come out of offices, so be kind to the earth and have a separate bin for them. : )
Stick with the same bin for each so these guys look nice and cohesive in your space. You can label them too, that way you know which is which.
8. Memo & Inspiration Board
I LOVE these boards. I think they’re a great decorative feature in addition to a helpful and accessible way to post notes to yourself, inspirational clippings or even fabric swatches (if you’re a designer!).
9. Bookcases/Cabinets/File Cabinets
These pieces of furniture are great to “house” all of your office goodies. Open shelving is great because you can see everything while closed cabinets can hide stuff that you’d rather not have on display. File cabinets are also great for many different types of professionals.
Find a few of my favorites below!
Okay guys, I think that rounds up most of my home office decluttering tactics! I hope you’ve found my suggestions helpful and please be sure to leave comments or questions below!