The first step to organizing your home office is to declutter your office. That can be pretty scary for many of us. But it doesn’t have to be a daunting task, when you follow these 11 tips and use the free printable Declutter Your Office checklist.
How Do You Declutter an Office?
You can find more details and in-depth explanation for each step in the declutter your office process are below.
- Remove obvious and easy to access items that don’t belong in the office.
- Pull everything out – and that means everything.
- If the job will take too much time and you have limited space, you can tackle one area at a time, for example the top of the desk, one drawer at a time, the bookshelf and so on.
- Put all the items into categories as part of the declutter your office process.
- As you sort, immediately place trash, recycling and donation items into labeled boxes or bags.
- Within the categories, put like items with like items.
- Wipe down all furniture and surfaces. Clean behind and under furniture.
- Be ruthless as you determine which items to declutter.
- If the job is too large, you can place items into labeled boxes for you to sort through later. This is a last resort hack to declutter your office. And the key is that you will sort through it in the near future.
- Make every single item earn its spot in your newly organized office.
- Consider going digital as much as you can.
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the Organized Home Challenge so you’ll have access to the support group, additional videos, and even giveaways.
Declutter Your Office
Let’s go through each step as though I’m there with you as your professional organizer working along side with you.
Make Space to Start Decluttering
Remove obvious trash or items that don’t belong in the office. Don’t waste time digging through piles or drawers yet. Your goal is to make more space for you to work and to give yourself and easy early decluttering win.
Pull Everything Out
You need to pull everything out so that you can determine what you have and how much of each item you have. You won’t realize that you have five staplers if you just leave them all where they are.
Plus, pulling everything out now as part of the home office decluttering process makes it easier to assess what you have and how to better organize it later.
It’s ideal if you can pull every single thing out and sort it all into piles and groups. However, this isn’t always possible given time and space limitations, so let me share two alternate solutions.
Address Smaller Areas of the Home Office One at a Time
You can choose to tackle one area at a time if, this is the better solution for your situation. However, you’ll have to be very careful to keep track of duplicate items that show up when you move onto other areas. You’ll need to group those duplicate items together so you can address them at one time.
You should only use this strategy if you are committed to work though your entire office decluttering and won’t give up after a few hours, having only created a bigger mess than you started with.
Declutter Your Office Hack
This hack should only be used as a last resort. But if you are overwhelmed, then this may help you.
Ideally, you’ll go through every single piece of paper and make a decision about whether to keep it and where it should be filed. However, if that’s just never going to happen because of your life situation, I suggest you remove the past six months of papers from the top of the stacks and any critical files or documents.
Put those in a bin marked current. You will sort through these papers as soon as you can. This will allow you to start fresh after you’ve completed the declutter your office process and stay on top of keeping paper organized from this point on.
Take the older paperwork and files and place them in a box(es). If you can easily identify the year or subject, identify those piles by binding them together with the identifying information.
If you can’t easily identify what the piles of papers are, then simply place them in a box. Do your best to keep them in the order that they’re already piled. You’ll keep them this way, because they’re most likely already in a rough chronological order with the oldest papers at the bottom of the piles.
Let’s be honest. If you had to find a specific piece of paper now, you’d have to dig through all those piles. So if you place these papers into a box and have to locate a specific single piece of paper, you can still dig through the papers – just in boxes rather than stacked in your office.
Be sure to mark the boxes with the date that you boxed them up. This will help you in the future know when you can declutter the entire box.
Sort Items into General Categories
Depending on what you have in your office and how much you have, you can sort items into general categories:
- Locate Somewhere Else
- Office Supplies
- Important Personal Documents
- Cords and Plugs
If you have a lot to declutter in your office, then you should sort into broader categories:
- Locate Somewhere Else
- Office Supplies
Depending on how large the declutter your office task is, you may be able to combine above step with the next one. Feel free to do the two steps separately or as a combined task in a way that makes sense for you depending on your personal situation.
Sort Categories into Groups of Items
It’s important to sort the larger categories into smaller groupings of like items. For example, office supplies will be broken into pens, sticky notes, index cards, paper, notebooks etc.
Sorting items into groups of like items allows you to see how many you have of each item. This helps you determine how many you need and want to keep. For example, do you really need to keep 5 staplers or 20 half-used spiral notebooks?
Take advantage of this opportunity to wipe surfaces down, vacuum or sweep behind furniture and do a deep cleaning. It’ll never be easier to clean these spaces as it is now.
Edit and Declutter Ruthelessly
Use the Declutter Your Office Checklist. You can down load the 9-page resource now.
Make every single item earn the right to remain in your newly organized office. Don’t just hold onto items because you’re overwhelmed or tired. Pop over to the Facebook group for encouragement if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
More decluttering your office help:
This is a big job. There’s no way around it. But you can do it. No matter how big the declutter your office job is, you can get through it when you take it step by step. Keep your goal in mind – a neatly organized office that helps you manage your life and paperwork, not one that adds to your stress.
In the next two lessons we’ll address specifics about decluttering paperwork and products and tips for organizing your office.
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