You were excited that you could turn that extra bedroom into a home office and finally start your own business. You promised yourself that you were going to keep it nice and tidy, and that everything you did in the office would be work-related only. However, the kids soon started coming in and making messes, which simply compounded with your own messes and clutter. Before long, the office looked like a mess, and it still does. What can you do? Follow these simple tips to a cleaner office today.
No More Paper Mess
Papers are a huge problem, and one of the biggest reasons that the office gets disorganized. Make sure that you file your important paperwork right away, and simply shred the paperwork that you don’t need. Have a quality filing system as well, with tabs for each of the different types of paperwork that you have to keep. You can find these for very low costs at your local office supply store. Additionally, you need to get into the habit of filing these papers as soon as they come into the office. Make a chart if you have to, but block your time into allotted slots for tasks. Make “going though your mail” one of those tasks.
Organize Books and Other Items
You probably have a number of books, knickknacks and other items in your office as well. Perhaps you added shelves or a recessed bookcase, or maybe you made your own DIY bookshelf. It’s important that you always put your books and other items back where they belong when you finish with them. There are two reasons you should make this a practice. One it will help you stay organized and time efficient when the book is needed. Two, it will develop a habit that will transcend to other areas of your organizational challenges and improve them.
If you bring your books out of the office, return them so that you don’t waste time looking for them later. It’s remarkably easy to misplace things and most times very difficult to find them. Compartmentalize everything in your office. Do you have a lot of pens? Use a cup. Do you want to display your vintage toy collection? Get a fancy Glass case. The point is to have everything with it’s kind. This way there is no confusion when you need a particular item.
Once a Week
Even with relatively good organizational skills, the office can become messy and dirty. Make sure that at least once a week you go over the office and clean it. Dust, vacuum, and put everything in its place. If you do this, you will not run into the same problem down the line. You will finally be able to use the room as you originally intended and not be bothered by the reoccurring clutter. Set a day if you have to but make sure it gets done. This will be one of the most important steps in this process.
If you have kids you may want to make a rule that they are not allowed in your office during business hours or during the workweek. Or if they are going to be allowed in your office you could invest in a basket or trunk that would store all of their toys and could be kept out of sight. This is a good option because it is a way to clean things up quickly while not putting too many boundaries on your family.
If you do not deal with clients directly and do not have visitors in your work place you may think about giving your self a rule or two. Like, no shoes in the office or choosing to eat only in your kitchen or dining room. Food not only leads to clutter but spills and crumbs can create insect problems that no one wants to deal with.
Finally, Minimize. The amount of stuff you have directly affects the potential clutter you may be faced with. Keep it light. If possible store older paper work in a sealed container in your garage. Try and make everything in your office relevant to your work. Of course you want to keep the atmosphere welcoming and warm if for no other reason than because you need to be in there all day. But at the same time you don’t want the room to turn into another closet.
“Mom, where can I put my school project?”…”Put it in the office.” You also have to recognize that your family may not realize the impact that having a messy workspace has on your business and workflow. It’s probably not intentional but it’s not the four walls they call home everyday, so make it clear to help keep it clean.
Habit, Habit, Habit
The more you practice these steps and literally make them ritual, The easer it will become to complete and maintain each task. Surely, when you set out to build a home office you anticipated being busy. Now, don’t let the mess create stress. You’ve got things to do and possibly clients to see. First impressions are important and the cleanliness of your office reflects your character and habits. For example, let’s say you have an appointment with an accountant.
If you arrived at his or her office only to find it in shambles would you trust your money with such a person? Of course not, If they have trouble keeping their office clean what assurance do you have that they will keep your finances in order? None. So stay out of the storm and be proactive about maintenance.
Keeping your office clean doesn’t have to be difficult, and if you keep up with things, it will take just a few minutes a day. Now that you have some ideas on how you can keep your home office looking great, you can finally reclaim that beautiful office of yours. Once you have this down you can always fine tune your office with new paint or a fancy rug, leather chairs etc. But without these steps in order it will always collapse to chaos. Isn’t it about time you reclaimed your space?
Mike Miranda is a writer and pr person for Dunhill Homes.