The home office is a sacred space to anyone that can use one, and avoiding clutter is a crucial way to ensure that the office stays productive. Whether setting up at home for the first time, or seeking to optimise the current home office arrangements, our 10 tips will ensure a clear space that is perfectly conducive to a great working environment.
1. Start Anew
The chances are that your room of choice is already in use for something else. Even if it has been an office for a while, there are always benefits to starting over. In rooms that have served other purposes, it can be worth clearing out anything that is not going to form part of the finished product to have a good idea of the available space and a vision of how the office will end up looking. For offices that are starting over, remove any furniture that will not be in use in the future and check drawers, filing cabinets and other storage spaces to ensure that they are clear. It is important to keep hold of business documents that must be kept on file by law, but anything else can potentially be discarded on a case by case basis.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of a Clear Out
When your storage cabinets have been cleaned out, it is time to address anything else that might be hanging around. Many individuals that work for themselves are oddly attached to stationery, but the fact is that you probably do not need the hundreds of pens and numerous cables that are probably cluttering your current office space. It pays to be ruthless, and anything that makes you wonder whether you might need it in the future should be stored elsewhere. If, after a few months, you haven’t needed any of those things, they can be safely disposed of.
3. Make a Scanner a Priority
When clearing out your documents as part of tip 1, you probably came across things that you were unsure of keeping hold of. Paper takes up space, but scans do not – at least not physically. Scanners have enough use that they are fairly essential in many homes, but they can be a crucial space-saver in any home office.
4. Use Vertical Space
Outside of the main desk, the biggest space-hogs in a home office will be the storage cabinets. Never forget that you can go upwards as well as outwards, and it could be the perfect time to bring in taller storage areas or simply put shelves on the wall to make the most of the available space.
5. Don’t Underestimate Cable Management
There will be some parts of a home office that will be moved around regularly and require quick access to cables, such as a laptop. For the most part, however, everything will stay firmly where it is until it needs to be replaced. Trailing cables are not a good look and they can also have a real effect on productivity and mindset. There are plenty of options out there for reducing this kind of clutter and even the most simplistic can keep errant cables out of sight yet easy to access later.
6. Keep the Desk Clear
This is not a hard and fast rule, and there are people out there that swear by keeping everything within easy reach on their desk. However, we tend to feel that this is an easy excuse for procrastination or simply a bad working mindset. Plan the office to have plenty of storage and use the desktop only for what you’re working on currently.
7. Keep the Computer Clear
If you use a home office, the chances are that you use a computer and a cluttered screen can be just as bad as a physical desktop. Organise your files in a manner that makes sense for you – while search functionality on computers is very effective, nothing beats knowing what you need and where it is for time management.
8. Don’t Forget the Bin
Whether it is drink cans, documents or pencil shavings, you are going to produce plenty of rubbish in an office where you spend hours at a time. Maintain the ruthless mindset from when originally clearing up the office space and planning it out, and unless something is absolutely essential, do not give it chance to be the source of procrastination in the future and get rid.
9. Make Time to Keep Everything in Line
The tasks keep on coming in any home office – there is the work that needs to be done, admin tasks around it, accounting and everything else that goes with the territory. The idea of devoting time towards doing something else can seem intimidating, but the most effective planning strategies are constantly revisited. Just 5 minutes a day or 20 minutes each week can ensure that everything in order and that the focus will be on productivity when the office is in use.
10. Don’t Go Over the Top
Believe it or not, it is possible to over-organise. You will have noticed that we have mentioned procrastination as the enemy of anyone that uses a home office regularly but filing and tidying can contribute in the wrong way. Not everything needs to be filed, and not every document that passes through the business needs to be labelled and scanned. There is nothing wrong with being picky about how you arrange your own office, and the ultimate focus must always be on working smarter, not harder.