Streamlining Your Home Office

By Kristen Castillo

March 13, 2017 4 min read

If your desk at home is overwhelmed by clutter and there's little or no space to actually get work done, it's time to streamline your home office.

Cleaning your workspace can be a big job, but it's worthwhile.

"It really is about carving out a considerable chunk of time to thoroughly go through everything that is currently housed in the space," says Jeanie Engelbach, founder and "boss lady" of apartmentjeanie, a professional organization company.

Engelbach, who says clients are always surprised about how much time it takes to get their home office properly organized, advises clients to mark a date on the calendar to clean and organize the home office.

"Treat and honor it like an appointment and the project won't feel overwhelming," she says.

*Focus

When getting organized, focus on the job and move quickly, all while envisioning a tidy and organized area.

"The success of a cleaning project is one's ability to acknowledge, assess and act fast," says Engelbach. "Not to get mired in reviewing, reminiscing and reliving what is currently being edited will help make the process go smoothly and quickly."

She recommends sorting through "absolutely everything that is in the space" so you can decide what to keep, throw away, recycle, shred or give away.

*Easily Accessible

Be logical about organizing the space and maximizing your time.

"Frequently used files need to be" easily accessible, says Kelly Barber, a certified professional organizer and regional leader at Me In Order, a hands-on organizing firm. She suggests keeping commonly used papers close to your desk in a top filing drawer.

"Items that you use daily should be in arm's reach of your office chair," Barber says. "The less frequently you use items the farther they can be away from you."

For example, extra supplies, from staples to copy paper to spare notepads, should be kept in a cabinet or closet.

Once your home office is organized, make sure you have the right storage tools and containers to help keep it orderly. Don't overbuy storage containers, and if you realize you have a surplus of extra supplies -- for example, too many tape dispensers -- return the excess items.

*Label It

Create labels for files and other items in your office. That way, you'll easily be able to store and find the stuff you need when you need it.

Getting orderly could be as easy as color-coding each project. Barber recommends using a green folder for a home refinance project and a blue folder for medical bills.

*Finance Fix

Home offices are often used for more than just work. For example, if you're paying bills from your desk, you need to make sure you're prepared for the job.

"Keep an expandable file with envelopes, stamps and bills to be paid together so you are not spending time searching for all the necessities," says Barber.

*Add Personality

Make sure you enjoy working in your home office by adding personal touches to make the area welcoming.

"The space in which you work needs to be inviting but convey structure and order," says Engelbach, explaining that home office furnishings should be stylish, be functional and reflect the rest of the home's style.

*Staying Organized

Once your home office is streamlined, work hard to keep it that way, or the clutter will consume you.

"Keeping papers properly filed, desktop clean, piles properly corralled helps focus, time management and fosters a sense of calmness, which improves performance, confidence and attitude," says Engelbach, who advises cleaning out desk drawers every six months.

She concludes, "You'll hopefully never get so inundated by clutter, stacks and piles that you can't organize it all within the hour."

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