Declutter is one of my favorite words. I love to clean, clear and organize any space. I also needed to declutter (and move) the home office. I work from home now. That feels so strange to say. I am no longer a teacher, instead, I am a freelance designer and writer.
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Let me tell you about our “office” situation before. A cute little IKEA desk was shoved in the guest bedroom at the far end of the house. The room has a window, but very little natural light, a view of the street. The desk was a bit cluttered from podcasting, and the drawers had not been cleaned out in a while. While space functioned as a guest room and a podcast recording studio, it has never functioned as an office.
Decide what you need for the office space to function
I needed something to change. I couldn’t shut myself in the back of the house all day long. I needed to create an office that inspired me and didn’t drive me crazy.
Before I even touched the home office/guest room/podcast studio space, I created a list of what I needed in order to encourage productivity. This was my functional needs list for a renewed office space:
- Natural light
- See the dog and let him in and out
- Greenery or illusion of greenery
- Nothing on the desk except my computer and one candle
- No cord clutter
- A different seating option besides the office chair
- The printer in a different room
- A desk that is just for my work
I was determined to make all of these happen for my new workspace. I am the boss after all.
Steps to Declutter your Home Office
The decluttering process was not going to take me too long since we had just done a major downsizing of our belongings a few months prior. That said, I am sharing a few more ideas here since this may not be the case for you.
Since my office space needed to be in the main living room of the house, I was going to minimize even more than the clutter. The office needed to blend into the surroundings and not be an eyesore.
Minimizing an office space is about getting rid of excess and finding ways to relocate items you don’t use every single day. Below are ways to declutter your home office and minimize even more if you need to.
1. Start with the paperwork
This is probably the most daunting task, but I say tackle it head-on. Sit down and get ready to shred, recycle, and file your papers. We have a wood filing cabinet and this is where I organize and keep all essential documents. The rest of the items were going away. Immediately after, sign up for paperless in as many ways as you can to keep the paper clutter down permanently.
How to minimize even more: See if you can digitize some of your documents to cut down on the paper clutter even more
2. Clear the drawers and shelves
Out of sight, out of mind right? Not if you want a functional space. Empty out the areas that can become the most cluttered like drawers and shelves.
By empty, I mean literally dump the contents out and start from scratch. No, I’m not going to tell you to find what sparks joy (although that’s great if you want). Organize what you have and get rid of non-essentials and duplicates. Do you need 5 highlighters? Do you even use highlighters in our digital age? What are some items you can discard or find storage for?
How to minimize even more: Remove all “decor”. These can find more prominent places elsewhere in the home. Having your wedding photo on the desk may be something you want, but the home goods poodle statue is probably just more clutter that inspiring.
3. Find ways to separate and organize items
After clearing out the shelves and drawers, only place things back when they have a designated space. Buy drawer dividers or silverware organizers to create a system for your things. I used small boxes and a few organizers from IKEA. For larger items, consider getting some soft cubes from Amazon to place your things in. The idea is to give the items you need a home that makes sense. That way everything isn’t crammed in there.
How to minimize even more: Avoid buying organizers for things that you don’t want to clutter the space. Keeping a filer for papers on your desk is asking for you to fill it up. If you don’t give them a home, you will be more likely to not let it remain on the to-do list.
4. Get creative with cords
Digital tech is incredible. Except when we are talking about the cords. They can cause some serious clutter in a home office space. Get creative with removing the cord clutter by buying a power strip and hiding it under the desk with command strips. Perhaps buy a decorative box and hide the power strip in there. Hiding the cords will immediately help your space feel less messy.
How to minimize even more: Unplug everything you don’t need daily. Store your camera chargers and such in a soft cube in elsewhere and only bring them out when you need to charge up.
5. Give everything a wipe down
The office space is often the last on my list for cleaning. Take a rag and some cleaner and give everything a good scrub down. Don’t forget to clean the screen of your computer and the keyboard too. Vacuum the floor and fluff the pillows (if you have some). I am at least 50% more productive in a clean space. It helps me focus and stay on task.
How to minimize even more: Keep a small pack of wet ones or a wipe in your drawers to stay on top of the gunk.
In addition to these steps, I needed the printer to be in another room. Our printer doesn’t need to be connected to the laptops. So this went into the cat room on top of the small filing cabinet and it works perfectly.
Avoid Having to Declutter your Home Office Again
This process of decluttering the office is a lot of work. Especially if you’re starting from scratch with decluttering. Do your best to keep the space up so you can continue to be amazing at what you do.
For me, this means straightening my desk at the end of each day. The coffee cup goes to the sink, the surface gets wiped, and my to-do list on my phone gets updated for the next day. This “closing” routine has helped me keep the space in order.
Do you work from home? What did you do to create a space that you can thrive in?