Cleaning & Organizing Guide to Your Home Office

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If you can’t find your files, chances are your business is suffering. If you’re losing track of messages from customers, business leads and even payments and receipts, chances are you’re losing business and income.

Where To Begin

The ultimate goal for organizing your home office is to create an environment that is free from clutter, pleasant to look at and easy to use. This spring cleaning guide can help launch you to a home office that is free from piles of papers and stacks of files.

Your Problems List

Before you begin cleaning and organizing, take a moment to make a quick list of all the things you can think of that aggravate you about your work or your home office. This can include everything from, “the printer jams all the time” to “there’s not enough light.” Anything that detracts from your peace of mind goes on this list.

When you’ve finished spring cleaning your office, you’ll probably be able to cross off a number of these problem areas. The remaining problem areas will need to be addressed if you want to reduce your stress and improve your productivity. Focus on tackling one problem at a time, whether it’s every day, every week or every month.

Decide What You Need

Your office essentials will vary somewhat depending on your business, but your goal is to create a place for everything and then keep everything in the place where it belongs. If you’re surrounded by stacks of paper, do you need more filing cabinets or just a better system of getting the paper into your filing cabinets? If your home business is crafts, do you have enough storage to hold all of your supplies?

Your Desk

Ideally, the only things you want on your desk and in your desk drawers are the supplies you use every day. That means going through the stacks of paper and either filing them or creating folders to file them. It means going through your drawers and getting rid of or moving everything you don’t use every day. Your desk area should serve as your command post. If you’re constantly getting up to get books or supplies, move those items to your desk area.

Your Shelves

Your shelves should ideally contain books you actually use and bins of supplies. If you have stacks of files and papers on your shelves, you’ll need to go through these and file them away or create files for them. Displaying things like artwork or photos of your family or special mementos can make your shelves more appealing. Organize your books by grouping subjects on different shelves or alphabetically by subject. Remember to keep your frequently used books as close to your desk as you can manage it.

Supplies

Keep regularly used supplies at or near your desk. Other supplies can be grouped together in bins and stored on shelves or in cabinets. Go through your supplies and get rid of anything you don’t need — labels with your old address, pens that don’t work, etc. If you find yourself frequently going in search of supplies somewhere else in your home, make a list of those frequent items and buy some to keep in your office.

Light

If your home office is bright and cheery with lots of windows, natural light and great views, then you have an enviable set up. If your office feels drab and uninspiring, consider replacing all of the light bulbs in your home office with plant lights. Also known as UV or full-spectrum light bulbs, they are available for standard fixtures as well as track lighting and even fluorescent fixtures.

A lack of sunlight has been shown to increase depression. Using full spectrum bulbs can go a long way toward improving your mood and the feel of your home office. It will also enable you to keep a plant on your desk without having to watch it wither away. If the lack of light is killing your plants, imagine what it’s doing to you!

Now That You’ve Got Light, Get Yourself A Plant

If you want some fun, easy decorating ideas for your home office, try your hand at the ancient but trendy technique of feng shui. Feng shui is largely about decluttering and then decorating with a few, carefully selected items to create a harmonious environment. One typical feng shui recommendation for your home office area is a bright, cheerful plant. A favorite feng shui plant is jade.

Not only does jade symbolize wealth (hey, it can’t hurt!) but it’s a beautiful plant and super easy to care for. You can usually find jade plants at Lowe’s and Home Depot in the outdoor plant area.

Jade plants stay a beautiful green, flower occasionally, don’t require pruning and won’t litter your desk with fallen leaves. Water it now and then and stick a little plant fertilizer stake in it. To really spruce up your desk area, look for a pretty flower pot to keep your jade plant in.

Filing Cabinets

The best system for organizing your filing cabinets is A to Z. You may resist this believing that your method of grouping things together by project or subject is really helping you to be organized, but give A to Z a shot. You’ll be surprised. You’ll actually be able to find what you’re looking for first time around. If you have project folders that you refer to every day, consider purchasing a decorative open file box for your desk top. You can pick them up at Walmart or Target for around $20 in a variety of finishes and colors. You’ll find them in the home decorating section not in office supplies.

Paper Products

Stacks or drawerfuls of paper can be an intimidating form of clutter. Manage these during spring cleaning in one of four ways. If a form is important, scan it and retain the original. If a form is less important, but you want to keep a copy, scan it and dispose of the original in one way or another. There are two further ways of getting rid of paper. Either repurpose the paper by using the back as scratch paper, or, if this is not possible, shred the paper and recycle it.

Wire Clutter

Computers, printers, routers, desk lamps, and other electronic devices all require at least one wire, if not more. Take advantage of spring cleaning to get wire clutter under control. A simple binder clip, twisty tie, or zip tie can do a lot to clear desk and floor space.

Writing Utensils

During spring cleaning, try to find all of your pens and pencils that are on the brink of death, and use them all up before using newer pens. This will reduce the amount of clutter in or on your desk to an extent.

Start Managing Things Electronically

Rather than having a desk calendar or an appointment book in your home office, try using a computer-based calendar system. Rather than leaving sticky notes on your desk, try using one of the many sticky note applications for a computer. This saves money and makes for a cleaner home office.

Rotate Furniture and Decorations

It’s nice to have a change of scenery in a home office. Consider swapping any decorations that you have in your office with those in other rooms of your house, and think about whether you’d like to rearrange some of the items in the room. Change can be good.

Vacuum and Dust

Vacuuming and dusting a home office can be stressful to those that are sensitive to dust. Fortunately, spring provides the opportunity to open windows and allow fresh air into a home office. Take advantage of this opportunity.

It’s not necessary to scour your home office during spring cleaning, but even small improvements in your workspace can result in improved productivity, a reduction in wasted time, and a more pleasant place to work overall. Have your own tips for doing spring cleaning in a home office? Feel free to share in the form of a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Computer Files

Is your desktop an explosion of icons? Does it take you more than a couple of seconds to access the program or folder you need on your computer? Clean up your computer desktop. Reduce the icons on your desktop to things you use every day and things that you never use but ought to.

Organize your icons around the four corners of your desktop and leave all of the space in the middle empty. This way, when you have a window open, you won’t ever need to search for something behind it. When you start up your computer, you won’t instantly be overwhelmed by the chaos of your desktop. A clean computer desktop can go a long way toward feeling less stressed and more ready to work.

Try this: Use the top left corner for icons related to your computer’s memory, set up and controls. Use the top right corner for security icons and accessory icons such as your phone, ipod, camera, reader, etc. Use the bottom right corner for your trashcan. Use the bottom left corner for your files and project folder icons.

Consider organizing your computer files alphabetically. Create A to Z folders and file your documents and folders into them. It seems like a lot of work, but once it’s set up, you’ll be able to find just about anything you’re looking for quickly. You can group documents into folders by subject and then file the subject folders into your A to Z system. Use subfolders to help further organize things.

For example: In the “T” folder, you’d have a folder titled “Taxes.” Inside the “Taxes” folder, you may have other folders like “Personal Taxes” and “Business Taxes.” Inside those files, you can break it down even further into “2020 Personal Taxes.” If you spend a lot of time searching for things and frequently come up empty using your computer’s search function, consider overhauling your computer files into an A to Z system.


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