Creating a Clutterless Workspace

Kenneth McCall builds creative and innovative tools for customer seeking self storage units. Kenneth is a managing partner at storage.com which provides storage units in Miami and units in Florida and other Gulf states as well as around the United States. In his spare time he likes to get outside, ideally with a boat and water-skis.Ken believes that creating a clutterless workspace is imperative and allows you to be comfortable in your home office and find what you need. Possibly a contrasting piece to Josh Doyle’s post on Making the Office feel like Home.

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A cluttered office leads to a cluttered mind. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Either way, even if you’re comfortable in a little bit of disorganization, having a messy office only leads to losing important things, forgetting important appointments and above all, losing time.

Not that long ago, I had a cluttered desk that could battle with the best of them. Papers were flung every which way. Reminders on sticky notes fluttered from random surfaces and bills lay scattered about the floor (with several featuring some forensically impressive boot prints). I hit the wall when I spent more than an hour trying to find a note I’d written while talking to my cousin about an upcoming family reunion. Pulling handfuls of random notebooks from a dusty corner, I determined that I had to clean this office. And I had to keep it that way or risk going mad or at least miss a lot of important dates.

Make Space

The first thing I found that you need to do when organizing your home office is make sure there’s room for everything you need. This might seem a little silly as the space might have worked fine before, but did you really have space for everything or were certain areas doubling or sometimes tripling up on their usage? That is, are your bill files in a stack on your workspace or are reference books being used as boards for sticky note reminders?

Before digging into your scattered paperwork, make sure you have designated areas for your main office needs such as a workspace for your electronics, a reference area for your bills and reference materials, and a place for office necessities such as white-out, scissors, paper clips and extra pens. These spaces don’t have to be huge, they just need to afford you enough room to do what needs to be done and not overlap with another area. If your workspace is always clear except for your laptop and printer, it’s much easier to sit down and get work done as you won’t have to move and perhaps be distracted by random office items before starting work.

Build It Up

While your workspace area needs to stay clear, the reference materials area is where you can start gathering all of your office miscellany and putting them in their appropriate places. The most important thing to remember is that everything should have a place. There shouldnít be a single item that needs to be in your office that doesnít have a place to go. If your filing cabinet is full or you donít have enough space for one, consider using wire filing racks or getting small, stackable filing boxes from your local home improvement store. You could even get a good piece of tin sheeting from a nearby hardware store and attach it to the wall.

Using industrial magnets or just some good, strong magnet clips can turn your wall into a vertical filing cabinet for important papers and reminders. As for the rest of those documents floating around, I actually found a small desk scanner that works wonders for paperless organization. There are several different types out there, but the basic idea is that you can run important papers through a scanner about the size of a rolling pin and the information is immediately sorted and transferred to a program on your computer. You can access all of your papers with a quick keyword search and dispose of the paper documents appropriately.

Take a Moment

Once you have your spaces designated and clutter organized and cleared, try to take a couple moments every day to sort and organize. This doesnít have to be a long time, it could even take just a few minutes, but by stepping back and sorting a couple things here and there you save yourself the hassle of dealing with a much larger mess down the road. At the same time, a little brain break is a healthy work habit. It allows you to focus on something else for a little bit and then come back to your current project with fresh eyes.

As I write this, my desk and office space are still clear more than two months after my home office overhaul. It takes some reminders every once in a while, but with a little effort, keeping a cleaner office will help you keep up with your work more easily and will probably even give you a better outlook on your work day. I know it did for me!

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