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How to Organize Your Home Office for Maximum Productivity
Does your To Do list seem interminable? If you wake up every day with more on your plate than the day before, office organization is no doubt at the bottom of your priorities.
Yet, even if you may feel like you have zero time to slow down and organize, we urge you to reconsider. Disorganization actually costs us time while a neat and orderly office space helps improve productivity in the long run.
In fact, a study published by Current Psychology found a significant link between clutter and procrastination. Other studies have shown that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being and increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, especially among women.
So, no, you’re not imagining that the strewn papers across your desk (and let’s be honest, the unsorted laundry and toys that creep into your home office space) are contributing to how tired, anxious, and overwhelmed you feel.
Let’s put a stop to procrastination and dive into how to organize your home for maximum productivity.
A Big Sweep
The first step to creating an organized home office is to take stock of everything in your office.
Start by taking absolutely everything off your desk and giving it a good wipe down. Use compressed air to clean your keyboard and any other hard to reach areas. Clean your screen carefully with a microfiber cloth.
Then, grab a trash bag and get to it. Before putting anything back on your desk, ask yourself if it deserves a spot in your periphery while you’re trying to focus.
Get rid of anything you don’t use regularly – that’s what the trash bag is for. (Of course, donate or recycle what you can.) Shred documents you no longer need. Is that fake plant dusty? Unless it makes you smile, it’s time to say goodbye.
That goes for furniture, too. Are your desk and chair at the proper height for ergonomics? That is, do your feet rest flat on the floor and are your elbows at 90 degrees when you type? If they’re not, an overhaul of your furniture should be your next big project.
Create a Clear, Designated Work Space
Because working from home has already erased so many boundaries between work and home life, you need to be very intentional to create a space that is only for work. Ask yourself, does this really belong in my home office space?
You may be tempted to have just one space for anything that feels like work, such as paying bills and filing taxes, but in order to be completely present for your day job, it’s best to keep your personal paperwork on a different desk or room. If that’s not an option, maintain a separate filing and storage system for all your personal papers.
Additionally, while working from home means you can decorate the way you want, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Are all those pictures of friends and family distracting you or inspiring you? Be honest, and move them elsewhere in the house if you find your mind wandering when you look at them.
Set a System
Next comes the fun part. It’s time to create a system so you can be more efficient.
Whether you use a physical filing system, or you’ve gone all digital, a regular audit and reorganization of your files is mandatory so you can always find what you’re looking for quickly.
If you use paper, a filing cabinet, or a desktop organizer, make sure it serves you. Stores like The Container Store have options so you can find exactly what you need.
Color-coding is your friend. Whether you use labels on your email, have dedicated folders for each project you work on or prefer to use a chronological system, make sure that you know where everything you need to do your best work lives. If you’re going old-school, make sure to label everything with bold, easy to read labels.
Store Like With Like
Store things together according to function. For example, put away all sticky notes in the same place along with rubber bands and things like paper clips. Put all tools together (staplers, tape), and all writing-related items (pencils, pens, notebooks, erasers) in the same place.
When you need to reach for something, you won’t waste time looking through several drawers, because you’ll know exactly where that staple remover is.
Consider Going Vertical
Your desk should only have on it the things that you absolutely need within reach. Things that you use more rarely can be put away in drawers, filing cabinets or other storage solutions. If you have some things you want near but not in your way, consider utilizing your wall space, especially if you’re working with a small space. You can hang shelving, calendars, or whiteboards to clear up space on your desk.
Enjoy Your Organized Office
The positive mental health effects of decluttering continue over time. Once you start clearing, you’ll begin to feel energized and motivated. Feeling accomplished also feeds into itself, so don’t be surprised if you get the urge to tackle other organizational projects.
You’ll reap the benefits of feeling less stressed and more in control as long as you keep tidy and stick with your organizational system.
Looking for more ways to feel capable and empowered at work? Make sure you’re getting enough movement. The most important thing you can do for your productivity – and your health – is to take movement breaks and move even while you sit.