According to a survey conducted by OfficeMax, four in five office workers say a cluttered workspace makes them less productive. Clutter isn’t just an eyesore; it’s distracting. You’ll spend more time looking around for documents and items, meaning you’ll have less time to spend on productivity-driven tasks. To make matters worse, cluttered workspaces have been shown to decrease motivation, satisfaction, and even energy levels. Regardless of how cluttered your home office is, you can turn it around so that it doesn’t cause these problems.
Choose Multipurpose FurnitureConsider using multipurpose furniture in your home office. Multipurpose furniture, of course, lives up to its namesake by supporting multiple applications or purposes. A multipurpose office desk, for instance, can be used for writing documents, reading books, and using a computer.
Not all office desks are multipurpose. Many of them are designed for a single task, such as using a computer. If your office desk only supports a single application or purpose, it may inadvertently contribute to clutter. Therefore, you should check out some of the multipurpose desks, as well as other multipurpose furniture pieces, to declutter your home office.
Leverage Vertical SpaceYou can make your home office more organized by leveraging its vertical space. Lack of space is a leading factor that contributes to clutter. If you have a small 75 to 125 square foot home office, you may struggle to find convenient areas to store all your work-related items. While you can’t make your home office larger – not without a major renovation, at least – you can leverage its vertical space to reduce clutter.
Vertical space refers to the walls in your home office. If your home office has one or more unused walls, install shelves on them. Wall-mounted shelves offer a convenient way to display, as well as store, common work-related items. You can place documents, office supplies, decorations, devices, and other small items on them. Best of all, wall-mounted shelves won’t consume any horizontal space in your home office; they only consume vertical space, which most home offices have a generous amount of.
Invest in a Label MakerA label maker is a smart investment that can prove useful for organizing and decluttering your home office. Also known as a label printer, it’s a small handheld device that prints self-adhesive labels. You type a word or phrase on the label maker’s keyboard, after which it will create a “sticker” featuring that word or phrase. Just peel off the protective sheet to reveal the adhesive layer, and then you can place the label against any flat surface.
Label makers vary in price. On the low end, you can buy them for as little as $20. High-end commercial-grade label makers, on the other hand, can cost upwards of $150. Regardless, a label maker is a smart investment if you work from a home office. It will allow you to label all types of items so that you can identify and find them more quickly.
With a label maker, you can label the following items in your home office:
- Power and data cables
- Storage baskets
- File folders
- File cabinets
- Recycling bins
- Document binders
Shred ‘Em UpIf paper documents are to blame for your home office’s clutter, shred them. You probably don’t need to save all the paper documents that you print or receive. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in fact, 90% of all waste in a typical office consists of paper. A paper shredder will cut up your clutter-causing paper documents into narrow strips so that you can easily dispose of them. With fewer paper documents cluttering it, you’ll have a neater and better-organized home office.
Shredding paper documents is important for several reasons, only one of which is its ability to reduce clutter. It lowers the risk of identity theft by ensuring that no one can view any sensitive personal information contained in the documents. Statistics show about one in three Americans have been the victim of identity theft. If a thief wants to steal your identity, he or she may go through your trash while searching for documents containing your personal information.
There are even various laws requiring some businesses to shred – or otherwise fully dispose of – their documents. The Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA), for example, requires healthcare professions to shred documents containing any identifiable information about patients, including birth dates, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, medical account numbers, and telephone numbers. Regardless of the industry in which you work, though, it’s best to err on the side of caution by shredding any paper documents that you no longer need.
Set Up a Printing Station
Even if you print fewer pages in a typical workday, a printing station can prove useful in boosting your productivity while reducing clutter in the process. What is a printing station exactly? It’s an area of your home office that’s dedicating to printing. It contains your printer and all supplies and accessories that you need to print documents.
You don’t have to purchase a separate desk or any other furniture to create a printing station. Rather, you can use an area of your existing computer desk. Most printers are relatively small so that they won’t consume an excessive amount of desk space. If you have a standard-sized printer, you should be able to place it next to your computer monitor or monitors. With that said, you may want to add a transparent container to your printing station so that you can store ink, your printer’s owner manual, extra printer cables, and other supplies. Setting up a printing station will allow you to quickly and efficiently print documents, all while keeping your home office a little neater in the process.
Set Up a Mailing Station
With the age of the internet upon us, email has become a more popular alternative to traditional paper mail. It’s a faster, easier, and cheaper way for businesses to send and receive messages. Nonetheless, you’ll probably still encounter scenarios that require traditional mail. Maybe your employer needs to need you a tax form, or perhaps you need to send a customer a paper invoice. With a mailing station, you’ll have all the necessary supplies and accessories located in a single and convenient area of your home office.
Try to set up your mailing station near the printing station in your home office. At the very least, it should contain a storage container for incoming mail and a separate storage container for outgoing mail. Other supplies to consider using in your mailing station include a letter opener, tape, pens, markers, and postage stamps. Rather than rummaging through your home office, you can access all your mail and related supplies at your mailing station.
Hang a Dry-Erase BoardIf your home office doesn’t already have one, consider hanging a dry-erase board somewhere on an open wall. Also known simply as a whiteboard, a dry-erase board is a flat board covered with a glossy finish. You can use it to make nonpermanent notes that, as the name suggests, can be erased without the use of water or liquids.
Dry-erase boards have been around since the 1960s, though they didn’t become popular until several decades later in the 1990s. Since then, dry-erase boards have become a staple item in both commercial and home offices alike. You can use a dry-erase board hundreds or even thousands of times without wasting any paper. If you typically use sticky notes to keep track of your daily tasks, consider switching to a dry-erase board to prevent sticky notes from creating clutter.
A dry-erase board isn’t the only solution for creating nonpermanent notes. Chalkboards are another option. The problem with chalkboards, however, is that they create clouds of dust during use. This chalk dust has been shown to trigger respiratory allergies in some individuals, and it’s also been shown to damage computers. The good news is that dry-erase boards don’t produce clouds of dust, making them a better choice than their chalk counterparts.
Install a Hanging Storage UnitYou can install a hanging storage unit on your computer desk for additional storage space. Hanging storage units are designed to “hang” from a flat surface, such as a computer desk. They don’t consume any additional space. Rather, they take advantage of the vertical space below an overhanging and flat surface.
Hanging storage units support most small and lightweight items. They typically feature several trays, each of which can be used as a separate storage container. Using a hanging storage unit, you can store notes, business cards, stationery, and other small and lightweight items. Keep in mind; you aren’t restricted to using a single hanging storage unit. Rather, you can use multiple to create additional storage space in your home office. Just clip each of the hanging storage units onto your computer desk, after which you can fill their individual trays with your desired items. It’s a simple and easy way to make your home office more organized.
Upgrade Your TrashcanMany office workers prefer small trashcans because they are discreet. If a trashcan is large, it will stick out like a sore thumb while potentially harming the surrounding aesthetics. As a result, smaller trashcans are often preferred among office workers. Nonetheless, upgrading to a bigger trashcan can keep your home office’s clutter in check.
If you work in a commercial office, a small trashcan may suffice. Commercial offices typically have cleaning crews that dispose of workers’ trash, vacuum the floors, and perform other cleaning tasks. In a home office, however, you’ll be solely responsible for taking out the trash. If your trashcan is too small, it may quickly overflow with trash, especially if you don’t take it out daily.
Clean Up Computer Files
Before cleaning up your computer files, create a complete backup of all your data. Next, go through your computer while deleting any files that you no longer need. You may discover that well over half of your computer files are junk. By deleting them, you’ll free up space on your computer’s storage drive while. At the same, your computer will have a cleaner interface that’s easier to use.
You can also organize the way in which your computer files are displayed or arranged. Many office workers are guilty of creating desktop icons for all their files. Each time they download or create a new file, they’ll add a shortcut to it on their desktop. It doesn’t take long for all these desktop shortcuts to create a messy and cluttered digital working environment. Rather than filling your desktop with shortcuts, use a hierarchal method of organization that involves folders and subfolders.
Turning a blind eye to your home office’s clutter won’t make it go away. Rather, it will become worse as the clutter accumulates. If you’re facing this scenario, apply the strategies described here to organize and declutter your home office.
President at Office Chairs Unlimited – I have been in the furniture industry for over 20 years, and I’m an expert (just ask me) on all things furniture. I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.