Expert tips on how to get your home office in order

A wall-based storage system can transform a home office

A wall-based storage system can transform a home office - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

An organised home office can save you time and help you work more effectively, says local lifestyle management guru, Tracy Ross. These are her top tips…

Tracy Ross

Tracy Ross - Credit: Archant

I believe that having a well organised desk and office is a must for both your own well-being and the success of your business.

Organising your workspace will cut down on time wasted looking for important documents and force you to focus on the task at hand, without flitting to other projects that you spot on the pile on your desk.

Exactly how you organise your home office will depend on several factors, including the nature of your business and whether you share your workspace, however.

A decluttering session should help boost productivity

A decluttering session should help boost productivity - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Luckily these tips work across the board.

1. Think of the essentials first

Decide what you need to keep in the home office to enable your business and home to function effectively. The minimum is a desk, chair, lighting and adequate storage for paperwork, stationery and reference materials. You may also need a printer/scanner or storage for products. Next, you need to review the ideal layout of the room. Think carefully about how you will use the space and the things that you will need most frequently.

Think how much more you could get done if you could see your desk

Think how much more you could get done if you could see your desk - Credit: Getty Images

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2. Clear your desk

The next step is to clear everything off your desk to make a tidy workspace. Can you create storage solutions on the walls for a notice board or essential stationery? Your desk should have effective lighting (a desk lamp or floor standing lamp next to the desk), your computer/laptop and an in-tray system. I would recommend a tiered system so that you can clearly separate different tasks, ie. items that need to be actioned, current project, papers to be filed, and your diary/current notebook.

Some of my clients have gone paperless and use an online diary but most still have a paper diary and notebooks for client meetings. It’s essential that you have easy access to your diary so that you can respond promptly to client requests and manage your time effectively.

It’s also nice to have a couple of personal things around your workspace but keep this to a minimum.

3. Provide adequate storage

Now that you’ve identified the things that you no longer need to stay on your desk you can start to review your storage requirements. Don’t fall into the trap of buying more and more storage systems. Decluttering is key: get into the habit of clearing out the things that you don’t need on a regular basis.

You should start by going through everything in your home office and identify those items that need to be thrown away, displaced items to be returned to other rooms in your home, paperwork to be shredded and papers to be filed. This will make it much clearer for you to decide what you need in addition to your desk, such as a lockable filing cabinet for client projects and household paperwork or shelves for essential files. If you work in a business that has stock make sure you have adequate storage to store your supplies.

4. Create an effective filing system

I am often asked for the best way to file key documents and household paperwork. I think the simple answer is to set up a system that works for you and makes sense to other people. You will also need to think about creating an effective electronic filing system as well as organising your home office filing cabinet. I advise my clients to go paperless as much as possible. Effective electronic filing is so important. It can easily get in a mess without a system of folders that make sense to the way you work. It should be easy to file key documents that you are working on and retrieve information easily when you need it. Regarding the filing cabinet organisation, it’s important to have clear labels on all files. This will remind you where to put things back and save time when you’re filing paperwork.

5. Maintain a clutter-free home office

Now that you’ve decluttered and organised your home office so that it works effectively for you, how are you going to maintain an uncluttered space? Managing the systems that you have put into place is just as important as setting the systems up.

Here are just a few simple things that you can do to maintain an uncluttered home office:

• Schedule time each day to deal with incoming post, emails and client calls

• File weekly to maintain that uncluttered desk and workspace

• Schedule time once a month to purge unwanted paperwork and tidy your electronic filing system

• At the end of each day take a minute or two to tidy your desk so that when you arrive the desk day it’s organised and you’re ready to go.

If your home office is cluttered and you don’t know where to start please contact Tracy at Blissfully Organised Home Organisation and Decluttering on for trusted, confidential and valued support.