Getting my desk organised last week after the arrival of my new super-compact HP DeskJet 3720 printer prompted a massive sort out of the rest of my home office. I went through old files, binned bags of obsolete paperwork, moved furniture and generally tackled my problem areas – paperwork, reference material and office stationery – so that I could enjoy the benefits of a more ordered workspace. Just moving furniture gave the room an instant refresh – it’s almost like hitting a reset button. Other things I did:
- Finally let go of a load of magazines. They were all titles I’ve worked on, but I really don’t need 15 years’ worth of magazines so I went through them and got rid of ones I couldn’t see a use for anymore
- Cleared my magnetic memo wall (previously just being used to display pictures) to make it more practical and help keep me organised
- Cleared the large cupboard that was so crammed full of folders, files and books that we’d given up even opening the doors. I pulled everything out, streamlined it, and relocated the files to my open shelving unit so that I could use the cupboard to store stationery supplies
- Sorted a stack of books to go to the charity shop
- Consolidated the numerous stacks of printer paper from around the room (I counted five) into a single pile
- Packed a couple of small boxes of sentimental paperwork and put them in the loft
- Went through my mountain of paperwork and filed everything away
There was definitely one of those moments mid-clear-out when you wonder what on earth you’ve done – I managed to trap myself in a corner of the room, blocked in by a half-moved shelving unit and piles of stuff. But once I’d got everything in place, I felt lighter and calmer and knew it had been worth the effort. I’m in deadline hell at the moment, with a million pieces of work due at one time, and I questioned the wisdom of spending time on an office makeover, but it has had such a positive effect on my productivity that any lingering doubts about whether it was just one of my crazy procrastination tactics have been swept away.
I want to form better habits in order to keep on top of the clutter and maintain an ordered workspace. I work from home, and I spend a good portion of time in this room, so it’s important that it’s somewhere that feels uplifting and energising. I’m mindful of how successful my touch it once principle for housekeeping has been elsewhere at home, so I kept that in mind when I thought about how I could stay organised in my office (and hopefully increase my productivity and reduce stress). These are my seven golden rules to keep me on track:
- DECLUTTER EVERY WEEK Look at my office with fresh eyes at the end of every working work, identify any areas where clutter is starting to form and clear it away.
- FILE PAPERWORK IMMEDIATELY Put paperwork where it lives, not start a ‘to be filed’ pile, whether it’s post’s just come through the door or the paperwork relating to a task or project that I’ve just finished.
- CLEAR UP EVERYDAY Allocate time to tidy my desk and the surrounding area as soon as I finish a work session so that it’s clear and ready for me to start work the next time.
- KEEP MEMO BOARD UP-TO-DATE Use the allocated areas on my newly cleared memo wall – projects, need to do, dates – to store current paperwork (so it’s not in a pile on my desk), and to help shape my to-do list for that week.
- STORE STATIONERY SUPPLIES TOGETHER Keep things like printer paper, file dividers, pens, plastic wallets in one place so that it’s easy to see when they need topping up. Printer cartridges are one less thing to worry about, as I’ve signed up to HP Instant Ink – when ink levels in the printer run low, HP will automatically send out new ink cartridges. Genius.
- FILE & LOG RECEIPTS WEEKLY Save time and stress when doing my tax return by logging my receipts each week, including printing off receipts for online orders I’ve placed.
- CLEAN ONCE A WEEK There’s nothing worse than trying to work in a dirty space, so take time out at least once a week to give the office a quick blitz – vacuum floor, dust surfaces and clean monitor screen.
When I write it down like this it doesn’t seem too hard – doing smaller tasks regularly should hopefully avoid clutter and chaos building up and save time in the long run. If I start to fall off the wagon, I’ll head back to this post to remind myself of my golden rules, and how much happier I feel working in a tidy, organised space. Do you have any golden rules for staying organised? I’d love to hear them if you do!
Oh, and don’t forget that you can win the world’s smallest all-in-one printer for yourself. Share your own desk or shelf space on social media using the hashtag #HPShelfie, and I’ll select a winner each month during the course of July and August to receive a new DeskJet 3720 printer, plus a year’s supply of HP Instant Ink (HP’s ink replacement service monitors the ink levels in your printer wirelessly and sends new ink cartridges out to you when you’re running low). I can’t wait to see your shelfies!
Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with HP, but all views and content are my own