Many extremely organised people cannot understand how disorganised people can actually manage to get any work done in a cluttered office. De-cluttering can increase productivity and efficiency as well as creating a calmer and more pleasant environment in your home office.
When working from home, different people work in very different ways – a professional project manager, for instance, will naturally be well-organised becasue it’s part of being successful in that role. Whereas a creative type may get inspiration from piles of “stuff”. So some people like to be, and need to be, extremely organised, with a filing place for everything and everything filed in its place. Others like to be surrounded by piles of work – maybe they think it makes them look busier when their partner arrives home from the daily commute. But more likely they work in a “mind-mapping” way with lots of connected pieces of information set out across their desk or even around the whole room.
The extremely organised types cannot understand how the seemingly disorganised types can actually manage to get anything done – and yet they do manage to, and often in a more creative way.
But if you are the “disorganised” type (or perhaps a better description is that you work in organised confusion) there will always be times when you lose that vital piece of paper: the important invoice, or contact details or just a scrap of paper where you noted down that brilliant new idea. That’s the point when you might start to think there is some benefit to being more organised and consider decluttering your home office. Clearing space in your office can help create a less stressful environment that will lead to a more organised, clutter-free mind.
In order to embark on the arduous task of de-cluttering we need to feel motivated that a clutter-free office will be worth all the effort. If you cannot appreciate the advantages of de-cluttering then you will never do it. We also need to understand that de-cluttering is absolutely not about throwing away items that you actually need but it is about knowing the difference between the things you need and the clutter.
So avoid the excuses, aim for a less stressful working environment and just get started de-cluttering your home office – here are some tips to help you:
- Categorise the paperwork and other items you need to store, for example: bank statements, invoices, receipts, insurance documents etc. Write all the categories down on a list – this will help you to get an overview of what you think you need and what you actually need. Remember that some business documentation needs to be kept for a certain period by law so consider a professional document archiving service that will safely store your important documents off-siteThis list may not be complete at this stage but will give you a good starting point.
- Check the legal requirements for the retention of paperwork for tax or regulatory reasons. There is no point filing 10 years of bank statements and invoices if the Inland Revenue only require you to store information for the past 5 years. Add this information to your list of categories.
- Organise your filing cabinet(s) – if you have more than one filing cabinet then take one at a time and remove all the folders. Check their labels (if they have any) and match these labels to your list of categories. Make sure the title is exactly the same to avoid confusion and mis-filing later on.
- Organise your files – many people prefer to file their paperwork in ring-binder files that can be stored on a shelf and sub-divided more easily. Paperwork that is more frequently accessed is better stored this way. Make sure you have plenty of clear plastic pockets and dividers to organise the paperwork.
- Buy a stationery cupboard – so that all your office supplies such as printer paper, printer inks, envelopes, pens etc can be neatly stored in one place instead of on your desk. It will be much easier to find what you need and you will know when you are running out of something.
- Buy more storage – you can never have too much storage space so buy as many additional storage units, filing cabinets or shelves as you can reasonably fit in your home office. Having plenty of storage will make it easier to be organised.