Ask Yourself These Questions To Declutter and Organize Your Home Office
Are you as productive in your home office as you could be? If your office is cluttered with papers, personal things and stuff that doesn’t directly relate to your work, the answer is likely no.
Whether you work from home five days a week or rarely at all, your office should be a place where you store important documents and you can quickly find them when needed. It should also be a place that promotes focus—an area that’s uncluttered by papers and stuff that should be stored elsewhere.
To help you get there, you should declutter and get organized once and for all—here are some questions to ask to help you get started.
Is it necessary for work?
This question is especially important if you do work from home a few days a week. If your desk is cluttered with your kids’ art projects, tax documents and papers from school, you’ll have a harder time focusing on work.
The same goes for the equipment surrounding your workstation—if that printer is encroaching on your space, it might be harder to get comfortable at your desk. If it’s not necessary for work, consider finding a better spot for it—whether it’s elsewhere in your office or in another room altogether.
Is it necessary for tax season/legal reasons?
Obviously, you can’t get rid of every document in your office—but you can get rid of certain forms after some time. Here’s a rough guide:
- Keep tax returns and supporting documents, such as canceled checks and receipts, for seven years
- Keep pay stubs for one year, until you get your W-2 and file your taxes
- Keep investment statements, bank statements and medical bills for one year
- Keep credit card statements for a month
- Keep newspapers, magazines and other periodicals until you read them; then, they can be recycled
Can I store it in another format?
Importantly, though you should keep certain documents for a year or more, you can also go green and keep digital files of bank statements and paystubs. Your credit card issuer, bank and employer likely house statements electronically and make them available for download any time. Cut down on paper by switching to electronic delivery of statements and shred what’s old if you have access to it online.
Does this belong in my office?
If the answer is a quick “no,” it should live somewhere else. We’re talking about toys, old electronics, spare furniture, exercise equipment and anything else that’s conveniently found a home where you still need to focus and do some work.
How often will I need to refer to it?
As you begin organizing your office, you’ll need to figure out just how often you’ll need access to certain files and forms. For example, you should keep tax returns for seven years, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to refer to them during that timeframe, which means they don’t necessarily need to be stored within easy reach. A hanging file in a drawer on the other side of your office may be just the spot.
Determining which office accessories, documents and books you use on a regular basis, versus those you seldom use (but need to keep) will help you figure out where things should be stored in your office.
Do I have a plan to stay organized?
Decluttering your office every few years when you’re up to your eyeballs in papers and other unnecessary stuff isn’t a plan to stay organized. However, putting the right storage solutions in place and setting some ground rules for what stays and what goes is.
Now that you know what you want to keep and what you want to shred, throw away or recycle, make a plan for reviewing documents each month and put a smart storage solution into place that works for you.
A custom home office storage solution can help you stay organized by providing a spot for everything you need to store now and into the future. It’ll help you maximize storage and give you enough space to get work done without the distraction of piles of paper. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule a free, in-home consultation.