The next room to conquer in this year’s reorganization project is your home office. This project is two-fold as it also includes organizing your desk as well. The home office is the nerve center of the entire home. It is where you have your computer, store your important documents and if you work at home, this is your business office. Having a clutter free and organized office is essential. To get started with your office organization project, it is important to create a plan for your office and desk. Once you have your plan of action in place, you can start working on the project. Following some simple keys to office organization will keep your office and desk clear of clutter and help make items easier to find when you need them.
1. As with any organizational project, the first step is to clear the room and desk. Go through the items and separate them into piles (or boxes): keep, store, donate or throw away. Throw away any old equipment, such as fax machines, printers, or scanners) that don’t work anymore. Throw out broken pens, paper clips and dried out highlighters and other older office supplies. You can donate excess office supplies that you no longer need to your local school. As you clean through the items, determine how often you use an item. Do you use it daily, weekly, monthly or yearly? Sort items that you are keeping in the room into categories, such as desk supplies, bills, and work specific projects. Recycle or shred old paperwork, such as tax documents over 7 years old or credit and bank statements over a year. If you have additional office equipment or documents that you want to remove from the room, but need to keep, but don’t have additional storage for, place the items in a storage unit. ezStorage has 45 locations in the Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area that can help with your storage needs from packing supplies to storage units.
2. Purchase organizational tools for your office and actually use them! Office equipment “must haves” for your office include: a filing cabinet, trash basket, shredder and a recycling center. Add a desk organizer for your desk drawer and storage bins for shelving units in the room. Set up a personal filing system for all of your documents from bills to family documents. Don’t let your inbox overflow. Set a time limit for papers that are sitting in your inbox. After a week, file or throw away (or recycle) the paperwork. Use all available wall space for storage by adding shelving and pegboards.
3. Clean up all of the wires that you have around your desk. The wires can be a tripping and a fire hazard. Put away (off of your desktop) all electronic equipment that you do not use that often. Try to use WiFi whenever possible to limit the amount of cords that you need. Use Velcro or binder clips to bind the wires together out of your way. Don’t forget to label the wires, so you know which wire goes with which piece of equipment.
4. When putting items back in the room, make sure that you put the items that you use the most near you and within reach. This includes desk accessories and your files. You are more productive when you have the items that you need directly in front of year. We waste at least 10 minutes a day looking for paperwork that ends up in piles on our desks.
5. Scan important documents into your computer. This will reduce the amount of clutter in your files and on your desk. (See Key # 1 for information on how long to keep documents) Back-up your computer files on an external hard drive or via an online back-up service.
6. Keep the surface of your desk clean and uncluttered. Keep cleaning supplies nearby to make sure that the surface stays clean. Make sure that your desk accessories that you have on the top of your desk do not enter your work area and cause more clutter. Only have items on your desk that you have to use on a daily basis.
7. Go through your mail immediately upon receipt. Have a designated spot to put bills and other mail that needs to be taken care of immediately. (See Key #1 for how long to keep bills and statements.) Recycle magazines and catalogs right away, if you do not plan on reading them. Collect older magazines that are cluttering your office and recycle them.
8. At the end of the day, set aside a few minutes to clear off your desk and put the items that you have used away in their proper places. This is also a great time to write your “to-do” list for the next day, so you are ready to start your next day clutter free. Organizing your office and especially your desk can be an easy weekend project. The hardest part is to keep it organized throughout the year! If you feel that the room is getting cluttered again, then go through the organization process listed above every few months.