A dedicated zone is the first step to an organised home office. Find an area to house a desk, one that has good lighting and some wall space, says Jessica Haslem at Flexi Storage. “Not all of us have the benefit of a room dedicated to an office. However there may be areas that can be turned into an office, such as a nook under the staircase, or even a wardrobe that you can place a desk inside,” she suggests.
Take on the decluttering process section by section, says organisation expert Steph Pase (justanothermummyblog.com). “Having piles for donation and rubbish is super important to make sure you clear away the clutter,” she says. “Just remember when decluttering, it's going to look worse before it gets better, but keep going through until the end!”
You're now down to the essentials, but still the paper mountain remains! Create a paper tray ‘processing station' with documents divided into actions – for example ‘to pay', ‘to do', ‘to file' and so on.
Processed documents can be placed in a colour-coded set-up, alphabetical folders or suspension files in a drawer. “This really depends on the individual, but colour coding can definitely help,” says professional organiser Natalie Jane (beorganised.co.nz). “I prefer to use suspension files in a drawer as you can see your papers at a glance.”
Invest in decent labelling for your new boxes, files and cubby systems. Having everything properly identified in your home office will help make things easier to find, and ultimately save you time.
Stationery has a habit of building up and spreading out everywhere. Use a variety of containers, or even a tray broken into compartments like a cutlery tray, to organise office supplies including paperclips, pens, staplers, scissors and sticky notes. House only the necessary supplies on your desk, with extras tucked away in your desk drawer.
Books, magazines, cords or devices can be sorted in wire or seagrass baskets, or cubby holes. “Every item needs a home and like items should be stored together,” says Natalie. Try a system like Flexi Storage's ‘Clever Cubes', which can be combined with any configuration of drawers and baskets to create neat storage for all sorts of items.
Keeping your desk well organised doesn't mean you can't inject some personality. Attractive lighting, a few family snaps and potted plants can all enhance your work environment without adding to the clutter. In fact studies have shown that looking at plants can actually help improve your concentration!
At the end of each workday, take some time to put things away. File those papers, remove the extra stationery and leave the area looking organised. “By having a decluttered office area, it allows the mind to be clear and focused,” says Jessica Haslem. “It's been identified that there is a positive psychology when it comes to organisation; keeping things clean and organised is good for you.”
Your home office is sorted, but if your files and cubbies are now full, Steph Pase suggests thinking outside the box. “Can some of the paper be scanned and kept digitally? Can you get all your bills sent via email? Go through any old archives and decide if you really need to keep them or not,” she suggests. Archived documents can be stored elsewhere – in the garage, for example, or in plastic boxes under your bed.
Wires that lie on or around our desks are a reality in most workspaces. Keep them tidy and out of the way with clips or cable straps. To help you figure out what goes where in a spaghetti snarl of cables, label each cord. Stow cables that you're not using in drawers – wind them neatly and label them to save yourself identity hassles later.
Take advantage of every nook and cranny. “When it comes to using your space creatively, there is always one section people forget to utilise: the walls,” says Steph. “Buying removable hooks or floating shelves will free up so much more space.” Create a pegboard or corkboard, put up shelves, and use hooks for calendars. Making a memory board for important notes is as easy as simply buying a mesh panel and some wooden pegs.