- Jun 13, 2018
Us work-from-home peeps have it lucky. Our commute usually means getting out of bed and walking into the next room. We don’t have to deal with noisy coworkers, company-mandated team training, and office politics. But with every advantage comes a few challenges as well.
For starters, we are responsible for keeping or workplace organized and clean. A workspace needs to be organized whether it’s at home or in a traditional office setting, but a home office is more likely to become overrun by clutter. And that’s simply because most of us work home alone. When there’s no one to share the space with, we’re left to our own devices. And when that happens, the mess quickly piles up.
Keeping organized is one of the top ways to battle the influx mess. Having a system, knowing how to arrange stuff, being disciplined - all these are great ways to keep your workspace organized. To help you keep your workspace nice and organized, here are two lists: the first one has some well-known stuff I think are worth repeating. The second one is a bit more unique - I haven’t heard a lot of people talk about these methods.
Without further ado, here are my lists. Here’s hoping they help you!
The Usual Ways to Organize
1. Plan Ahead
Most of disorganization in my workspace was the result of just taking things day by day. I never thought I’d need binders or folder organizers, so all my stuff just piled on my desk. For my office chair, I commandeered a chair from the dining set downstairs. Since dinner chairs aren’t good for sitting all day, I took a bunch of pillows from the bedroom and piled them on the chair. My workspace was a hodgepodge of repurposed and badly-organized stuff.
I never thought about thinking ahead and anticipating what my needs would be. I would recommend you invest in things like storage, organizers, shelves (and a good office seat) early on. It’s kind of like RAM and hard drive space for computers - it’s best to get more than you think you’ll need. Because you always end up needing that much.
2. File Away
When a task or project is done, don’t let the papers and notes take up space on your desk. File them away! Not only will you conserve physical space, but you will also save some mental space, too. Because you won’t be looking at stuff that could distract you from the immediate tasks at hand.
3. Cull Regularly
Here’s one of the more challenging things to do. IF you no longer have a need for something, get rid of it. Sell it, give it away, recycle it - just get them out of your space. I have a system for deciding when to get rid of something. Usually, I haven’t had a need for something in over a year, I put it in long-term storage. Anything longer, I let go off.
4. Schedule Regular Clean-Ups
Cleaning up and staying organized should be a habit. Doing it once won’t cut it, because mess and clutter will inevitably creep back in. Since we’ve all got a lot on our plates, I suggest setting a few minutes out of the week just for organizing and cleaning up. File away those old papers. Give away unused office supplies. It’s up to you to decide what to do during this time, but the important thing is to it regularly!
Four New Ways to Organize
1. Adopt a Minimalist Mindset
Minimalism isn’t just about reducing clutter. Don’t get me wrong - getting rid of clutter is indeed a big part of minimalism, but that’s not all there is to it. You can declutter all you want, but if you don’t embrace minimalism, you’ll just accumulate junk all over again.
At its core, minimalism means training yourself to function with less. I have only three things on my desk - a laptop, a lamp, and a basket of Beanie Babies (more about that in a bit). It may seem pretty spartan, but that’s all I really need to function on a regular day.
Everything else is just a distraction. I used to have multiple notebooks, Post Its, and pens on my table. They looked cute, but I was constantly rearranging all this stuff (in real life, and in my mind). It took up a lot of mental RAM that could have been used for more important tasks.
Now, about those Beanie Babies…
2. Make Room for Your Mess
This might sound counterintuitive, but it works because you’re still keeping your general workplace neat, while giving yourself some leeway to make a mess. So you’re not too stressed out about cleaning up.
I love collecting Beanie Babies (none of them have retained their value - which is good for me, since I can buy ‘em for cheap). Left to my own devices, my home office desk will get overrun by my collection. What I did to preserve my sanity was put a nice metal basket on my desk, and designate it as my Beanie Baby wasteland. So all that clutter is confined to a neat little area.
You can try doing this as well (not just with the Beanie Babies, of course). If you love reading, keep a stack of random books in one corner of your desk. Or a large mug filled with whatever pens you’ve accumulated through the years. But remember to keep them confined to just one area.
3. Don’t Just Organize Physically, Organize Visually
Here’s an interesting organizing technique. Try to keep your color palette focused, and keep similar-colored items together. I decided I would limit my stuff to blues and greys. So all my folders, notebooks, and book racks are limited to those colors. What that does is create a seamless visual field. I’m not being distracted by that one pink object in a group of green or yellow items.
4. Don’t Have Lunch or Coffee Breaks at the Table
My boyfriend used to call my desk a black hole for coffee mugs. That was because I had gotten used to having my coffee breaks (and often lunch, as well) at my desk. Before long I had piles of plates and coffee mugs beside my stacks of papers and folders. After my boyfriend begged me to stop eating at my desk, I realized how much mess that was causing.
These are all legit ways to keep your home workspace organized! These methods helped me maintain sanity in my workspace - and they helped me be more productive and work more efficiently.
These tips are based are based on my own experiences trying to keep organized. Now it’s your turn to share! Do you have any tips for fellow work-from-homers?
Let’s hear your tips!