A perfectly clean and organized office can become a total mess in a matter of hours. The busier you are, the less you pay attention to anything other than work, and, before you know it, you’re surrounded by clutter. The best way to cope with this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You need a system that ensures your workspace stays tidy no matter how hectic your workday is. The worst thing you can do is become accustomed to the mess and start to ignore it. A cluttered office may cause stress, hinder productivity, and leave a bad impression on your clients. On the other hand, a workspace that is clean and organized can help you focus and reach your full potential. Our brief guide to decluttering your office will help you achieve this goal.
People often become so accustomed to the clutter in their homes and offices that they stop noticing it. Unlike you, your visitors are much more aware when they step into a messy office. If you’re not sure how cluttered your office space really is, take some photos from the door. This way, you will see more clearly what your guests see, and you might be shocked by the results. With this new perspective, you will be able to identify problem areas and declutter your office more easily.
Your office is probably full of items that haven’t been touched in ages. Identify those items and free up some valuable space leaving only the essentials. It may sound a little unconventional, but you can start decluttering your office by emptying it completely, cleaning all surfaces, and adding things back one by one as you require them. This way, it will become clear what is essential and what isn’t. Getting rid of all distractions will help you maintain order and boost your productivity.
Be ruthless, even with your just-in-case items. If something doesn’t help you with your work or make you happy in any way, it has to go. Also, do not keep any duplicates unless it is really necessary. Keeping a few things for their sentimental value is perfectly fine, just make sure that it’s nothing bulky.
After you determine what stays and what goes, decide what to do with the items you won’t be keeping. The first option is always donation. Helping a struggling business by donating your office supplies, electronics or furniture is the best thing you can do. The items that cannot be donated should be dropped off at the nearest recycling center. As you know, everything can be recycled these days. Finally, there will also be items you should keep outside your office.
Once your office is free of non-essentials, look around and consider rearranging furniture and other items. Sometimes, we can stay clutter-free just by utilizing office space more effectively. For example, you can set up zones for specific tasks or keep the more frequently used items closer.
Sunlight and light colors can create an illusion of space and cleanliness. Therefore, avoid dark wall paint and thick curtains. If you’re ready for a more radical change, consider adding windows or eliminating walls to create an open floor plan office. To separate one area from another, you can invest in semi-transparent office dividers. This way, your workspace will look more spacious and less cluttered.
Go paperless to declutter your workspace and reduce your business’ carbon footprint. A large portion of your office clutter is probably paper. As business cards, sticky notes, meeting notes, and documents keep multiplying, offices start running out of storage space. Your desk drawers and filing cabinets can be put to better use. Instead of keeping tons of paperwork around just in case you may need it one day, digitize everything you can by making electronic copies (scan everything or type it out). You’ll be able to search through digitized documents more quickly and easily.
There are many apps available that can quickly and easily scan documents. You can store those documents on your computer or smartphone where they won’t be taking up any physical space. When you’re done, discard or recycle the paper versions. If you have collected hundreds of business cards over the years, either take photos of them or add the people as contacts and throw the cards away.
Some inexpensive supplies like wall hooks and bins can do wonders for your workspace. Although functionality is a priority, you can get creative with fun colors and textures to brighten up the space. Only a few essentials like a couple of pens, a notebook, and your laptop should stay on your desk. Everything else should be categorized and stored in drawers and bins.
Every inch of office space counts. If the room is small and there is too much stuff you need to keep, use the walls to add extra storage. Install vertical shelving and place the most used items on the lower shelves. Pegboards are an effective alternative to traditional shelves. You can also use them to mount routers, cables, and other things and hide them on the back of your desk. In addition, invest in all in one units like a scanner-printer-fax to save space.
In case you need to keep too many items, consider renting out storage space in a convenient location. For example, if your office is in Philadelphia, opt for Philadelphia-based storage for all the unnecessary items. Make sure your storage unit is clean and secure. Most importantly, if you’re storing important documents, ensure the unit is equipped with climate control to prevent permanent damage.
Once you declutter your office space, you need to keep it that way. Developing strong organizational habits is much better than starting from scratch over and over.
Whenever a new piece of mail or a new document enters your office, determine where to place it. Deciding whether to store, digitize or throw it away before the end of the day will help you remain clutter-free. Instead of leaving everything on your desk, put every item where you want it to go as soon as you’re done using it. This way, you will be able to locate everything more easily and you won’t accidentally buy a duplicate because you can’t find something. It is easy to keep your office space tidy if it never gets messy in the first place.
Schedule cleaning and decluttering your office in your calendar and commit to the task, no matter how exhausted you are. Postponing this job only makes it worse. Make sure the time you allocate for cleaning doesn’t interfere with any other task. You could hire professional cleaners but they won’t be going through your papers every week to see what should be thrown away. This is your responsibility.
Brooke Kitson is a professional content writer and editor, born and raised in Philadelphia. She has covered a wide variety of topics, including home and office design, renovation, and maintenance. Her goal is to help her readers make the most of their living or office space and use it to its full potential.
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