In my experience, there tend to be two types of home office – the pristine, rarely used, show-home style one; and the I-swear-my-computer-is-under-here-somewhere one. Unfortunately, most of us who work from home have the latter.
Whether it’s a case of space or storage, there is a simple five step system you can use to declutter your messy office.
Step 1: Assess the situation
The first question you need to ask yourself is: Why is my office so cluttered? Is it a lack of space, a lack of storage, or simply an over accumulation of things you don’t need and don’t know where to put? Start off on the right foot by acknowledging why you’re in such a muddle, and you will be able to help yourself.
Step 2: An office should be an office
Most cluttered offices are ones that have become a dumping ground for items that don’t fit anywhere else, which is something that must be avoided at all costs. Your office should be a calm space you can relax and work easily in – something that does not go hand in hand with mess.
If an item is not essential to your work, find another place to put it, whether that’s on the treadmill that hasn’t been used since 2004, the old TV that still works but only gets four channels, or your 17 year old’s primary school textbooks!
Step 3: Cut the clutter
We all tend to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’ in our office in the form of excess stationary and paperwork – especially if you’re not the type to throw things away. As a general rule, if you’ve not touched it in a year, then you don’t need it. Be thorough and honest with yourself – your aim is to cut the clutter, not just move it to a different place (and no one needs 27 black biros)!
Try making secure electronic copies of anything you think you may use again, on a backed-up hard drive, and get rid of the paper copies. Make sure you don’t throw out anything important like paperwork to do with your home, and that you shred anything that may have personal details about you or that you wouldn’t like to fall into the hands of others.
Step 4: Have the right kind of storage
Having the right kind of storage will help keep everything clutter-free and organised. Yes, that antique armoire may be absolutely stunning, but it does take up a lot of floor space and doesn’t really store anything but a couple of spare chair cushions. Think about what your clutter actually is, and buy storage based on that.
If you still have a lot of paperwork, forget about boxes and drawers, and go for the old favourite of a filing cabinet – there are plenty of versions that don’t resemble old school lockers (unless that’s your style).
If you have a lot of books, consider creating a wall of bookshelves. If you have tons of pens and pencils, get a set of drawers with drawer dividers to keep them tidy. Don’t overcomplicate your storage system; generally the most logical option is the best.
If you are pushed for space there are still plenty of options available, for example, built in storage, shelving or storage on wheels that you can keep under your desk while you’re not working.
Step 5: Keep it clutter-free
Once you have a place for everything, consider how you’re going to keep clutter-free. Anticipate when you’ll need more storage so you can pre-empt the mess, and make a resolution with yourself to leave the office tidy at the end of the day.
Sometimes the only encouragement you need to keep your office free of clutter is to make sure you have a stunning, functional contemporary office design that you want to remain looking great!
Estelle Page is a freelance interior designer and blogger who likes to keep things clutter free! She currently blogs for Interaction UK.