If you are just now joining us on the journey to having an organized home in 2016, welcome! Last week, we tackled the linen closet and this week we are taking on the home office. Whether you have a desk tucked in the corner of your living room or an entire room dedicated to office space in your home, this is one spot that can easily become cluttered and overwhelming. I am going to help you organize your home office from top to bottom and teach you how to tame the influx of paper that comes into your home.
Take a picture of your space before you start (and when you finish!). Viewing the fruits of your labor is so encouraging, and will serve as a reminder in the future when it is tempting to let your space get messy again!
1.Gather 5 large bins or boxes (nothing fancy, anything will do! if you don’t have boxes, use sticky notes on the wall) to designate 5 areas, one for each of the following…
- GIVE/DONATE: items that you no longer need but are nice enough for others to use
- PAPERS: Papers that need to be filed
- KEEP Home : items that belong in other rooms of your home
- KEEP Office: items that need to stay in office
- TRASH (use a trash bag or LARGE trash can!)
2. Quickly SORT each item into one of the five categories. You are NOT organizing at the time, just go with your gut, put it in a category and move forward.
And don’t worry about determining whether you should keep or toss a paper items right now, we will do that next. Literally gather all paper items (magazines, bank statements, unopened mail, coupons, letters, school work, etc) and put them in the paper category.
3. We are first going to tackle the PAPER category by sorting it even further. Give yourself 2 hours to go through your paperwork… and then be done! Each paper will be placed in one of the following categories: SHRED, FILE, TRASH.
WHEN GOING THROUGH YOUR PAPERS, ASK YOURSELF…Is this paper necessary to keep? Is it needed in the future?
If you answered no, toss it! Shred, if it has personal information on it (ATM receipts, bank withdrawal and deposit slips, credit-card receipts, and copies of most monthly bills which can be accessed online)
Discard/Recycle free consumer magazines like Pottery Barn, Ballards, etc which can be easily accessed online.
4. CLEAN. At this time, wipe down your desk, shelves, and sweep/vacuum/mop the area.
- Now you can organize all paperwork into a filing system. Approximately 50% of the papers you had at the beginning now should be tossed.
- Create a SORTING station to get control of the incoming paper clutter: TO FILE, TO SHRED, BILLS TO PAY, PERSONAL MAIL are good categories to start with. Make a habit of going through mail next to a trash can. If you don’t need it, TOSS IT immediately.
- Group like items: Mail. Magazines. Paper. Pens. Files. And contain them!
- You only need ONE – one stapler, one hole punch, one clock, one pencil sharpener, one tape dispenser, one bucket of pens. Keep it simple.
- Create a place for everything, and label it so that the rest of the family can help you stay organized too!
- Use shelving to decoratively display books and other accessories.
- Use the get one, give one rule. If you get a new magazine, pick one to get give away or recycle. Don’t let them pile up!
- A good rule of thumb for magazines: keep only the latest three issues of any one magazine.
- You can opt out of these as well using services like Catalog Choice and DMA Choice
*A word about PAPER: It seems to multiply in the night! Even as a professional organizer, taming the constant paper influx is one of the most challenging tasks I deal with in my own home. Diminishing the number of papers coming at you, makes this task more manageable. OPT OUT of mailing lists which send your free magazines, choose the “go paperless” option whenever possible, and sort through your mail when you get it. Create a mail sorting station in your home complete with a trash can. When you get your mail, sort it. Immediately discard junk mail. Divide the remaining into Coupons, Bills, and a slot for each family member. Immediately your paper just got a lot more tame!
Phew! Give yourself a round of applause. One of the most easily cluttered rooms in your house is now clean. 2 weeks down, 10 to go. Your home is thanking you already! How does it feel to have a freshly organized office? What questions do you have? I am here to help! And, if you like what you see, please share it with your friends.