This is the weekend where we organize those areas in your house where you work or play.  This includes your home office, where the computer is and all the papers that collect there.  If your children have a play room this is the weekend you hit that.  If you have a workroom or studio where you do art, crafts, sewing, or any other hobbies we will look at these places.  Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work hard.

Organizing Your Home Office:

The battle of the desk!  If you have a pile of papers on your desk it’s time to sort through them.  You need to create three separate piles.  FILE – QUICK TO DO – PROJECT.  We didn’t even include the garbage pile…because that’s a given, but make sure you have a nice big bin for all that recycled paper.

Now go through the papers one by one.  If it just needs to be filed away, put it in that pile (you will do all that filing today).  If it is a fast thing that you could do quickly like update an e-mail address or enter information into your computer put it in the Quick To Do pile.  If it’s something that will take you much more work, then it’s a Project.  Each paper must be sorted into one of these piles.

Think about some of the projects you’ve put on yourself.  Do you really need to?  Will it add value to your life if you do it, or are you just putting more work on yourself for no reason?  Think about these things as you organize your papers.

Your second step is to sort through your files.  Many people believe that when you file something in a file folder it is equal to putting it in the garbage.  It will never be seen again.  Flip through the files you have and determine what you really need to keep.

Organization Tip:  Document Management – I created a rotating file system for my receipts, financials, and tax documents.  The last three years of receipts, bills, and tax information each get filed in two folders.  I only keep three years of all this information.  I have four folders set up to hold the older years, but I get rid of the receipts.  The only documents I keep in these older folders are tax information, and bank statements.  Once they move out of the old files they are shredded.  It takes me just a few minutes each year to make sure these files are rotated properly.  At any time I’m only keeping seven years of of files.  –KB

Other files that need to be retained like Wills, Life Insurance, Investments, or any other important papers are all stored together.  Make sure the information in them is current.

For this Office Organization we are concentrating on your Home Office only.  If you run a business out of your office your filing and storage of materials will be more specific to what you are doing.  Take the time this weekend to go through those papers, files, and books also just so that you are getting a good declutter done.  Files for your business should be stored separately from your personal files.

I run several businesses out of my home.   Files for previous years are boxed up by year and stored in the garage.  Each box is dated so that I know when I can dispose of the contents.  For my business I will dispose of all documents, but keep the financials and tax returns indefinitely.

But our focus is on the Home office.  After you have gone through your files, and cleared out the things you’ve decided you don’t need, it’s time to file away your file pile.  Just get it all put away.  Now that you know where all the files are, and they are tidy, filing should be a breeze.  You may even find some of the items in your file pile can go directly to recycle!

Take your remaining two piles.  The Quick To Do pile may remain neatly on your desk.  Each day try to do one or two of those quick things and you will soon find your pile gone.  The Project pile is a different story.  Depending on how much time each project will take.  Create a list of your projects, and estimate how much time it will take you to do each thing.  Then schedule it.  You could box the projects for now, and then start working on them once this Declutter Your Home Challenge is over.

If you keep books and magazines this is where you go through them.  Take a close look at those books.  Some of the subjects may no longer be relevant or even current.  Magazines easily get outdated.  If you are keeping them to read certain articles, then rip out the article, staple it together and put it in a reading file.  Most of the information you can find in magazines can be located on the internet.

I used to keep all of the Martha Stewart Magazines.  They were like gold to me, but I quickly realized that when I wanted to do a certain project I had to look through all the magazines to find what I was looking for.  So I went through all the magazines.  I ripped out any projects that interested me and created a binder for them.  I have all the Halloween crafts together, paper crafts, stitching crafts, fabric crafts all have their own little section.  When my daughter had a birthday party it was easy for me to look through the paper crafts to find a fun project for making party hats. –KB

Don’t forget to go over your desk top.  The same rules apply here as they did on your kitchen counter.  Only keep things on your desk that you use frequently.  If you don’t use the hole punch very often then put it in a drawer.  Take everything off your desk and give it a good wipe down.  Now only put back the things you use all the time.  You can have a few knickknacks on your desk, but don’t load it up.  Remember it’s a working space.

Open your drawers and clear them out too.  Don’t forget all those little spaces where you may have piled things or set things to get them out of the way.  Control the amount of office supplies you have.  Maybe you won’t use all those file folders.  Get rid of the excess (you may have lots of those after cleaning out your files).  Look under your desk.  Many times people will store things under there to get them out of the way…is one of them your briefcase?  Clean it out!

Hopefully this will give you a good start to your day.  I will post information about those play rooms or work rooms (My studio will be my hardest challenge yet).

4 Responses to DAY 22 – How to Declutter Your Home Office

  1. Jessica Murr says:

    Thanks for this article, it does help and I love the idea of the three piles. The trouble for me is that the papers pile up faster than I can sort them! I have a 4 month old baby, a husband who doesn’t believe in tidiness (his desk is 50 times worse than mine!), 100 “projects” and I operate three businesses out of my office which is shared by my sewing desk. Maybe I should send you some pictures…
    I’d love any specific advice you could offer!

  2. admin says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I totally understand what you are going through! Well except for the 4 month old. My husband also “collects” paperwork on his desk and then provides me with a stack of papers at the worst time for me to deal with. We have four companies plus two side businesses we deal with, two young school children and it seems like never enough time in the day.

    To get started I would highly recommend getting into a schedule of blocking off x amount of time each and every week to plow through those piles. Make it a consistent time so it becomes a habit and is blocked off on your calendar. I understand as a Realtor your schedule really isn’t always your own, but you have to commit to this to really make it work. Perhaps it has to be Monday evening from 10-12, or depending on the backlog, from 8-12, just fit it in where you can consistently work on it.

    Over time the piles will start to go down, and you will start to feel like you are getting somewhere. Here is a link to information on how to get rid of some things, and here is another method to help deal with those pesky “things,

    Hopefully that helps you get started!

    Karen

  3. liz says:

    It is so gratifying to see those pictures and know that I’m not alone in the need to GET ORGANIZED! Thanks for the simple day-by-day tips. I’m way behind schedule but at least it’s happening!

  4. Dilkhaz says:

    I used to have so much jewelry. My graetmodhnr and I used to shop for jewelry together it was one of our mutual interests. Close to two years ago, I began decluttering my house from all the stuff I had accumulated and noticed my jewelry box. Here I was close to 50 yrs old, and still had things I wore in high school. I purged all but what I wear and now keep it all in a wooden box originally sold with tea bags in it. It has been freeing to give up all the things I didn’t need, even the jewelry.