Is your home office in the spare bedroom, the hallway closet or on the dining room table? Do papers and files timeshare the sofa with a laptop and some fluffy cushions? Are you alarmed because you just yesterday found your favorite blouse under a pile of receipts? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then the odds are good that your home office space is in desperate need of a major cleanup and organization project. So how does today’s entrepreneurial career woman with a job, a family and an active social life squeeze this into the schedule?
Pick a spot and make it your own. The traveling home office may be convenient for the rest of the family but it is murder on organization and a clean home environment. Nip lost files, missing receipts and tangled computer wires in the bud by choosing a spot for your home office. Sure, if you pick half of the dining room table you may need to be flexible if company comes over, but the family needs to understand that for the rest of the time this area is exclusively yours.
Dust, wipe down and vacuum the new office space. Working with a clean slate is easier than trying to squeeze into a messy environment. Even if you have the luxury of using a spare bedroom, be sure to empty it out completely and clean the room from top to bottom.
Move in the electronics first. The computer, its peripherals, a fax machine, the copier and any other bits and pieces of machinery get first crack at the space. Set up the machines to fit the space and make ergonomic sense. As an aside, do you notice just how much more organized the rest of the home is looking (now that you are removing the machines you had tucked into the oddest spaces)? As you use twist ties to organize the wires and cables you just cannot do without – you are using twist ties to keep the cables looking neat, right? – go through the rest of your home and do the same. Pay special attention to the entertainment center and the kitchen with its countertop appliances.
Opt for movable paper storage. Whether you have the option of dedicating a room to your home office or must do with a corner of the dining room table, a file cabinet on wheels is an excellent storage solution. In the spare bedroom it adds convenience by having the paper right next to you when needed. For the spatially challenged, the top of the file cabinet also doubles as an additional tabletop.
Go paperless. Storing paper takes a tremendous amount of space. Cut down on the need to organize files and set up folders by going paperless. Scan documents onto the computer and invest in off-site file storage as well as a removable backup hard drive to ensure that data loss is not a worry you need to have. Shred and recycle no longer needed files and papers. In fact, give your entire home a once over to get rid of the paper that seems to accumulate so consistently.
Kids’ art projects should be stored in labeled portfolios and bills can be handled online; calendars and handouts may be scanned and integrated into virtual calendar functions that synchronize with other wireless devices. By cleaning up and organizing any remaining papers, you might be surprised to notice just how much clutter you get rid of.
There is little doubt that de-cluttering the home has a huge effect not only on its overall cleanliness but also your ability to keep it neat and organized. Don’t short-change yourself in the department of allocating yourself a home office space, even if you do not operate a business but instead have a hobby that takes up a bit of room. The cleanup involved in the setup of this space actually transfers to the rest of the home and – voila! – you are more organized all the way around.
More from Sylvia Cochran:
Organize Your Home in a Week and Remove Clutter in 30 Minutes a Day
Best Way to Organize a Small Laundry Room in Four Steps
Study Proves that Women Value Bathroom Cleanliness While Men Want Quality Toilet Paper