Whether it’s full or part-time, home working is on the increase. According to figures released in the first half of 2013, the number of people working from home in the UK has gone up by 13 per cent in the last five years. This upward trend and rise in home-based businesses means that many of us now have an entire room which is labelled as a study or home office.
The great thing about having a home office is that you can pretty much put whatever you want wherever you want. The downside to this is that you can pretty much put whatever you want wherever you want…
…Because unfortunately, there’s usually no one complaining about the smell of your lunch leftovers, encouraging you to move them. There’s also no magic office-cleaning fairy who will empty your bin and polish your paper-strewn desk without disturbing a single one (I have done this, it’s not easy).
The bottom line is, you need to keep at least your desk clean and decluttered. You might know where everything is, but it does affect your productivity levels and the overall energy of the room. If you tend to feel unfocused, like you are procrastinating or flitting from task to task, or there’s just a general ‘stagnant’ feeling when you try to work, then it may well be worth your while trying to shift the energy in your working area to help keep you on track.
Decluttering the Home Office: Tips
- Firstly, some basic equipment is useful. A shredder, a letter tray and a filing cabinet (these are the ones I use) are essential to get you organised.
- The number one problem with clutter in the home office is usually caused by paper. Invoices here, letters there, and about 3 square inches of visible desk. Remove all paper from the desk and start organising it – is it something to do or being done (if so put it in the letter tray), can it be filed away, or should it be shredded/filed under B for Bin?
- Get a cork board near your desk so you can pin up things you need to refer to or see often. Mine includes my monthly goals for the year, a shitload of affirmations, and my action lists for making stuff happen.
- Likewise, a white board is also useful to use as a giant to-do list or for brainstorming.
- Changing from a paper-based filing system to an electronic one can help you do your bit for the planet as well as move that paper mountain; this reduces waste as well as taking up less space. There are many cloud-based storage systems available now (like Dropbox), and external hard drives can back up valuable data locally. Ask yourself: Do I really need to print this?
- And of course, make sure you have a pot to hold all your pens!
Cleaning Your Home Office
OK, so now it’s decluttered, your office needs to be kept clean – this is especially important if you (most likely) do lunch at your desk, or if you have feline office assistants. Here are some more tips:
- People tend to prod the computer screen for some reason. This drives me insane. Effectively see 100% of what you are doing by keeping a supply of screen wipes to hand, or wipe at least once a week with a smooth cloth designed for cleaning glass that has been moistened ever-so-slightly (don’t be drowning your LCD screens though).
- People neglect keyboards & mice; this is a shame because they are most likely the two things in the room that you touch the most. Wipe these over regularly with a damp cloth (I like to spray a microfibre with a few squirts of eucalyptus disinfectant). If you find you forget to do this, just buy a Mac instead. They come with a keyboard that has white keys, and makes any grubbiness much more obvious. Plus, they are awesome.
- Printers, speakers and the monitor stand tend to attract dust, so give them a once over once a week.
- Now that you can see the surface of your desk, wipe and/or polish it regularly so you do not dunk important documents in a coffee puddle. Also, don’t forget to wipe the chair you sit on too – leather ones can get a bit ‘sweaty’.
- Finally, empty the bin/shredder regularly. It’s a good idea to avoid putting any food-related rubbish in the office bin, because it doesn’t tend to be emptied as often as others in the house and may start to smell.
Decluttering and cleaning your home office may seem like a mammoth task at first, but it is worth it to keep your mind and your business running smoothly!