5 wonderful tips to keep a home office tidy
One task that I noticed I was spending more and more time doing each day was tidying my home office.
Whether that was because my workload had recently increased and now there’s a bunch more folders and papers to organise, or whether it’s because I’m procrastinating even more, is up for debate (it’s the latter, no doubt about it).
What I would like is to be able to sit down at my desk, minimise ‘busy’ time, finish the work I need doing, and get back outdoors for a run with the dog as soon as possible.
One of the ways I eventually able to achieve this and keep my ‘wandering mind’ on track was to get into the habit of keeping my home office as clean and organised as possible.
And by organised I don’t mean ‘I have a paper tray and will stack all loose sheets and books neatly into a pile’ organised.
The task of establishing a tidy office is time well invested as evidence shows a messy desk is connected to a sense of being overwhelmed which in turn perpetuates procrastination.
Taking inspiration from the recent trend of decluttering, keeping a home office clean and tidy can be achieved by some simple practices that need just a dash of discipline.
I’ve listed what has worked wonders for us below.
Keep Surfaces Clean And Clear
Make the most of your desk real estate by raising all permanent features such as monitors, keyboards, pencil pots and coffee cups off of the desk surface.
This can be achieved really easily by the addition of a desk accessory such as a monitor riser and allows you to lay out all of your papers for the day without any object getting in the way. It’s also a heck of a lot easier to get into the awkward corners for a good dusting!
With our own desk set-ups we created a monitor riser with shelf add-ons, and by doing this we created space for our indoor plants, pencil pots, coffee mugs and mobile phones and won back all of that space from the desktop.
All whilst adding style points!
The problem of a crowded desk was in fact the inspiration behind Eden Indoors and the blog that you are reading right now. We’re so fixed by the idea of maintaining a clean work surface that we reviewed dual monitor mounts in another post to help those of you looking to lift 2 monitors into the air.
Give Everything Its Own Place
Everything on your desk should have a purpose.
It’s fine to have small items like a little motivational plaque just be sure to celebrate it rather than tucking away from view.
Conversely, nothing that’s on your desk should be there ‘just because’ or due to it being ‘easier to leave it there than anywhere else’.
It’s useful to remember that constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus.
Giving each and every item in your home office a place it can call its own promotes a sense of invested ownership into the decor and a pride in the set-up appearance and functionality.
At the end of each working day everything that has been moved should be replaced back to its original place.
This action signifies the end of the working day and makes it easier for you to pick up where you left off the next time you sit down at your desk.
Be mindful however as over cleaning can start to creep in as a form of procrastination itself.
Get To Grips With The Tangle
Unfortunately electrical and optical fiber cables are hard to avoid in any home office design.
One of my major pet peeves is to spend time unravelling and organising cables at the start and end of each day (I work away from home frequently). Or switching cable types around find the right connector to charge all of my devices. It seems such wasted time and feels like it takes forever. Even looking at the picture below gives me the shivers.
Cables remain unsightly and can be a trip hazard even when apparently tucked away neatly.
A quick, easy and inexpensive fix for this is to use any one of a number of cable management tools. These include…
> a cable tray (a ledge that hides unsightly extension cables from view) built into the underside of your desk or table a table
> cable tidies used to keep loose and curled cables in check. These useful wee items can also be stuck to the underside of a desktop to keep cables out of site and off the ground
> velcro cable ties help bundle together cables running along the same route
> a neat cable tidy box hides unsightly extension cables and all of the plugs that feed into it
Declutter Home Office Paperwork
Study materials, textbooks, industry standard handbooks, time-log spreadsheets, invoices….there is no end to the documentation that is required of most jobs or studentships.
It’s worth taking a couple of hours to pull out all of the aforementioned papers and if you haven’t already done so, formulate a filing system that helps you easily and quickly locate the information you need to hand.
After all, wasting only 2 minutes daily looking for a folder that has been misplaced can add up to wasting a whole day of work by the end of a year.
File away any paperwork that is not relevant to an active project to prevent potential distractions. Out of site is out of mind as they say.
Although it helps, you absolutely don’t need a standalone filing cabinet to create an efficient system. A4 binders will do just fine.
Paperless systems should be approached with the same due diligence as a physical filing system.On average it has been recorded that searching for lost or inaccessible documents costs IT workers 27 minutes per day!
As for cloud based filing systems, we managed to get our free Dropbox storage space up to 6.5GB simply by following the start-up checklist and referring a family member to the same free Dropbox basic account. This has proven plenty of space for our day to day working.
The very last task of each day sets you up for continued success by planning ahead.
As mentioned above, at the end of each day take the time to tidy everything from your desk surface and return it to its designated place.
Don’t be tempted to leave things laid out as they are just to save a minute or two the next morning. Who knows when that time might come when you have to describe over the phone where an important paper is ‘supposed’ to be located.
A clean and clear desktop signals the end of the working day and prevents the urge to spontaneously sit down later in the evening.
Empty your mind of final thoughts by writing a short to-do list of no more than 3 items. These will form a reminder of where you left off and get the ball rolling quickly the next morning.
Art in the work space boosts production by instilling a sense of pride in the workforce, inspiring employees, and uniting with community and culture.
When working from home you are surrounded by a lot of potential distractions. Creating the right environment to work from can make all the difference to how your day unfolds.