Whether you work from home completely or just have a home office for occasional use, you know that home offices can become the dumping ground for all sorts of papers and clutter. Over time, this can build up and add to your stress level as well as decrease your productivity. In this article, we will provide how to declutter a home office tips so that you can foster a work environment that is helpful to your productivity, it’s a vital part of a decluttering checklist.
Table of Contents
How to declutter a home office step by step
Step 1: Clear off the top of your desk.
The first step to decluttering your home office is to clear off the top of your desk. It is easier to declutter if you are starting with a blank slate.
As you assess what was kept on top of your desk, ask yourself if it really needs to go back there. For example, perhaps the papers would be better stored in a file folder.
You may realize that you have too much clutter on the top of your desk that is prohibiting you from using the workspace well. Do you need all of those pens or notepads to stay on the top of your desk? Maybe it would be better to keep one or two out and put the rest in your desk drawer.
You should limit the number of decorative items kept on top of your desk as well. While it is okay to have some mementos or sentimental items displayed, you want to ensure that they do not fill up the majority of your desk space and hinder your productivity. Free space on your desk is a good thing.
As you work through the space, you will need to decide if the items you come across as you declutter your home office should be kept, given away, sold, or trashed. Some stuff will be easy to get rid of, such as broken pens or unnecessary papers.
Some items may be in working condition, but you may find that you have too many. For example, do you really need to keep all the free sticky notes you have accumulated over the years? In that case, you may want to give them away or trash them.
Step 2: Empty your desk drawers
After decluttering the top of your desk, you probably found some items that would be better kept in your desk. Now is a good time to empty out the items that are in the drawers to declutter and make room for new things.
With a trash bag handy, go through what is stored out of sight in your office. Any trash or broken items should be tossed.
Similarly, some technology may be antiquated or you just do not use it anymore. There is no need to hang on to such items. Decide whether it is worth selling or donating or if the items should just be thrown away.
Organize your cables too. You can store them all together for easy access. Toss any cables that go to outdated technology that you no longer have.
Step 3: Clean
Now that the space is empty, it is a good time to clean your desk both inside and out. Use a damp rag or moist wipes to wipe down the surfaces. This is a great time to get rid of dust and dirt that builds up over time.
Step 4: Organize for Efficiency
With the space now cleaned and decluttered, it is time to place the items back in an organized manner. You want to ensure that you are organizing your office supplies, papers, and other materials in a way that is efficient and conducive to how you will use the items.
Declutter office supplies so that you only keep what you actually need and use. Think about where you would naturally reach for the items you have decided to keep. Maybe you just need a few pens stored in a pen holder on your desk. The rest you may choose to keep in a drawer or in a storage container in the closet.
Your home office should work for you and your life and business, so be sure to set it up in an organized manner so that you do not waste time trying to find items in your office.
Step 5: Sort for Relevance
As you are organizing the space, consider sorting things based on how relevant they are or how frequently they are used. Keep items that are frequently used within arm’s reach, if possible. This way you will not have to get up and go get something every time you need it.
Likewise, some items that you deem worth keeping you will not actually need regularly. These items can be stored in harder-to-reach locations since they are not used as often.
Step 6: Declutter bookshelves, cabinets, and decorations
You probably have more furniture in your home office than just your desk. As you are decluttering, consider going through your bookshelves, cabinets, or any other furniture in your office.
Is your office space cluttered with an overwhelming amount of knick-knacks? Can you make do with less furniture in the room? Consider how you can save space by reducing the amount of stuff you keep in your office without sacrificing functionality.
Decorations are an often overlooked part of the decluttering process. Free printables abound for a home office, but you do not have to display all of them at once. Instead, consider rotating the ones you choose to showcase.
As you go through your bookshelves, consider which books are worth keeping. Do you actually re-read them or use them as a reference? If so, they might be worth keeping. However if you know that you will not re-read the book, give it away or sell it.
Step 7: Consider if the Item Should be Kept Elsewhere in Your Home
As you are decluttering, you will likely come across items that should not even be kept in your office space. Avoid having your home office become a catch-all room. Instead, consider whether an item should actually be kept elsewhere in your home. If so, move it out of your office.
Tips for Decluttering a Home Office
Develop a System for Dealing with Paper
Paper overwhelm occurs so easily. Whether it is documents you receive in the mail or papers from your kids’ school, it is easy to have papers just pile up if you do not have a system in place for how you will deal with them.
The first thing you need to do is designate a spot for papers. This basket or tray will help you find what you need without having to look through piles everywhere.
In addition, by having one designated space for papers, you know when you need to set aside time to sort through them.
When you are looking through the papers, make quick decisions by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I need this paper? If the information is irrelevant, toss the unnecessary paper into the trash or shredder.
- Do I need to keep this paper or can I just record the information digitally? For example, once you add the event details to your calendar, you may decide that you do not need to keep the paper invitation any longer.
- Do I need to retain a hard copy of this paper? Some documents may be worth keeping for a while, such as outdated credit card statements or bank statements that may be helpful at tax time. In this case, you should have a filing system so that you can easily locate the documents you need without having to sort through piles of random papers.
Organize Your Space
One of the main goals of decluttering is to be able to easily find what it is that you are looking for or need. To use your home office optimally, you need to have an organization system in place so that you can access the materials that you need.
For example, instead of having office supplies and writing instruments strewn everywhere, consider using storage options such as drawer dividers or pen cups so that you can quickly find what you need.
Using a label maker is another helpful idea so that you know where things should go and can quickly locate what you are looking for.
Keep What You Actually Use
If you are like me, you probably have a wide assortment of pens in your desk, but you consistently reach for the same few. Consider decluttering your writing instruments to just keep what you actually reach for and use.
You probably have broken pens or pens that are nearly dried out. Toss them in the trash. Do you need to keep every free pen you have been given? Probably not. Don’t hesitate to throw things away in your decluttering process.
By just keeping what you actually use, it will help you keep your space clean, make it easier to find things, and give you more room for actually working at your desk.
Develop a Filing System
Regardless of whether you have a designated filing cabinet or just use a box or desk drawer, having a filing system that works for you is essential. You want to be able to easily find the papers you are looking for, so it is best to use well-labeled file folders.
Instead of shoving papers in a folder haphazardly with all the things in random order, consider instead using different labels or a color-coded system. You may choose to have a folder for bills, another for medical paperwork, and another for documents related to your home. Important items should be easy to locate if you have an effective filing system in place.
Be aware of how you store sensitive information. Consider a filing cabinet with a lock or a fireproof box if you are concerned about theft or fire.
Be Mindful of Digital Clutter
As you declutter your home office, consider the digital clutter you have as well. If your desktop has 100 icons on it and no file system is used, it will probably be difficult to find what you are looking for on your computer. For your workspace to be functional and set up for success, consider not just the stuff in drawers or on the surface of the desk, but your computer as well.
Talk with Your Family
Talking with family members can help you establish a system that works for your life. What should people do with paper that is received? Where should it go? Should people place bills or other important papers on your desk or is there somewhere else to put them so that they do not get overlooked? Is there a mail station in your house where all the mail goes until it can be opened and sorted?
Having a conversation and establishing a plan can go a long way in not cluttering up your office with miscellaneous items while also ensuring that important stuff does not get overlooked. Be realistic and create a system that will work for you and your family.
Decluttering Office FAQ
How do I get rid of office clutter?
To get rid of office clutter, set a timer and get started going through it. As you analyze what has accumulated in your office, decide whether it needs to be kept or whether it should be given away, sold, or trashed.
How do I reduce home office clutter?
To reduce clutter, be realistic about what you use and how often you use it. Then be ruthless in eliminating all the things you no longer need. Developing a system to regularly purge your home office as well as a process for keeping it tidy and manageable will also help keep the task from getting overwhelming next time.
How can I make my home office clutter free?
The best way to make your home office free of clutter is to determine a place for everything you keep and immediate place items there. Avoid creating piles to deal with later. Immediately take action on papers and other items that fill your office space.
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