An organized home office is essential for freelancers to get work done efficiently. The amount of time and energy you save by not having to look for documents and files when you need them translates into cold, hard cash. After all, the more work you complete, the more money you earn.
Therefore, it’s important for freelancers to learn how to organize and declutter their home offices.
In this blog post, I’d like to share with you a few of my top tips for keeping an organized home office.
But first, a confession. I used to be a pile keeper. That is, I’d have piles and piles of documents. And I enjoyed surrounding myself with these piles.
I told myself I always knew where everything was anyway, and I could always find stuff when I needed them. I’d get upset when anybody dared touch or move my piles.
But when I lost my home office and was relegated to a corner in the living room, I didn’t have space for my piles. I had to learn to keep a minimum amount of office stuff and control my piles from, well, piling up.
I have to say, I like the minimalist office better. It IS much easier to find things. Everything’s easy on the eyes. And, yes, I do get work done much faster.
How to Keep Your Home Office Organized
1. Have a place for everything, and everything in its place.
This is a cliche, but that’s only because it’s true. You need to designate a place for all your things — and make sure to put them in their proper place.
I have places for:
- files, both current and archive
- office supplies
- office gadgets and equipment
2. Organize your papers.
I used to get overwhelmed by documents, until I learned this strategy from Getting Things Done. Put documents (hard copies, that is) in folders. Label the folder and arrange them alphabetically in a filing cabinet. Even a box will do.
Doing this has helped me tame all the papers I have lying around. If I don’t want to throw something out, I simply file it away. Then it’s out of sight, but easy to find when I need it.
3. Keep your stuff to a minimum.
A home office is much easier to keep organized if you don’t have a lot of things in the first place.
Striving to minimize the amount of physical copies of documents is a good way to achieve this. Think twice before you print anything out, or decide to keep hard copies of it. Digital files take up much less space, even if you have to copy them in CDs, DVDs, or USB flash drives.
Also keep your furniture to a minimum. And don’t hoard all those office supplies — unless you see an extremely good bargain!
4. Purge often.
It’s easy for stuff to accumulate. So make time to get rid of unnecessary things regularly. I like to do this at the end of every day, and when I finish a client project. Look at each item on your desk and decide if you’re going to:
- act on it
- throw it
- file it
5. Make it a routine.
Set aside time to organize your space regularly, before they get too overwhelming. If you allow clutter to pile up, you’ll get discouraged by the amount of stuff you need to put away or throw. If you’re already in this situation, my suggestion is to break things up into smaller decluttering tasks. For example, just spend 15 minutes a day decluttering. Or do one drawer per day.
And Now, The Reveal
A few weeks ago, I told you I was putting together my home office. We’ve moved houses and, this time, I get one-third of the family room all to myself (pretty much). I didn’t get everything on my wish list, but I do have plenty of natural light, a height-adjustable desk from GeekDesk, and two bookshelves.
Here’s my home office! Because of the placement of the electric outlets, I couldn’t line the wall with bookshelves, but I got pretty close.
I get plenty of natural light from the sliding doors leading to the backyard. Which also means I can keep an eye on the kids while they play outside. In this picture, my desk is in stand-up mode. See how my computer cable pulls up the surge protector? If you have any advice on how I can fix that, I’d really appreciate it!
What does your home office look like? Feel free to post links to pictures in the comments below.
And if you have other decluttering tips you want to share, please do so in the comments. Let’s help each other get more organized and productive.