Love is in the air this February and I have a new organizing blog series to go along. I work with clients everyday on the art of letting go but I also give them the push to dive in and add items that bring them joy. This series is called Live with what you LOVE. I encourage you to be inspired to identify what makes you happy, create goals of how you want to live, purge what you can live without and add what brings you joy.
My clients can often be too focused on storage instead of function when it comes to their home offices. My goal is always to work on changing the mindset to focus on what is used and how often rather than how often something might be used someday. You can store everything in the world but that might not lead to a functional and organized home office. Your home office shouldn’t resemble a law office with giant files and boxes of files everywhere (a sight I often see). Every drawer and cabinet should have a purpose and the desk top should be sparse. The idea of less is more should always apply.
I once had a client tell me that he wished his office had a conveyer belt for for his paperwork. We had a laugh. The setup would be like at a sushi restaurant and you could let stuff pass by. Push a button to stop the belt, deal with the item, then push the button again to keep the belt moving. Wouldn’t that be nice! Knowing that everything was out there somewhere but you didn’t have to see it all at once would be a dream!
The secret to staying organized in your home office is…drumroll……………..making the time to maintain it! It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately it can’t be automated but you can do this and it’s easier than you think. But you have to make the time. Carve out a slot of time each day or a larger chunk on the weekend to process mail, pay bills, and work on family scheduling and even meal planning. Remember that this isn’t’ a storage space. Everything in this space should be needed in the current moment.
Tips for an organized office:
If you are looking for a place to start it’s on your desk top. What is lingering in this space is most recent and may require action. What you find on your desk top will let you know which area needs help next. If you need to file something but there is no room, you’ll need to tackle the file drawers next. If you need to work on bill pay but are out of supplies or lack a system for making payments you need to tackle your drawers and inbox next.
There is something about office supplies that makes us feel like we are productive but the reality is that you really don’t need all of that junk. If it doesn’t fit in your desk drawer or make sense on your desk top you DON’T NEED IT!
I’ve struggled with my office setup throughout the years. When we moved into our current home six years ago, I had a desk in the corner of our living room with the printer in the garage where my eBay supplies were and my files and stationery in file boxes in one of the guest room closets. Every time I sat down to be productive I found myself running from one zone to another, grabbing something off the printer, filing a document in the file boxes, etc. I evaluated the situation and I realized that my structure had to change which meant I needed a new desk. I was so hesitant to let go of my current desk because it was a wedding gift but at the end of the day it wasn’t working for me anymore. I needed something with file drawers, room for stationary, and a work space large enough to house my computer, a printer, and my inbox. I hated to let go of my desk but I knew in order to increase my productivity I needed a new structure.
Being in the estate business you’d think I could find a new desk in the matter of days but it took much longer. I couldn’t find something that had all of the storage that I needed. I ended up with my current desk which was a major splurge from Restoration Hardware but after months of looking online at Ballard Designs, Wayfair, Pottery Barn, and even Craigslist it was the only thing that checked off all of the boxes on my list. It’s a bit of a giant desk but I love it and I love that it is a landing pad for everything that I need. I no longer have bins of files in my guest room closet and office supplies lingering in the garage, it all fits in this desk and WHEN it starts to overflow I spend a few hours purging.
I love my file drawers! I keep my business supplies on the right side (stationary, checks, contracts, employee paperwork, sales tax records) and our personal paperwork on the left. (tax files, medical, warranties, Harper’s medical, and a memorabilia file so I can file cards and photos easily).
If you are looking for a guide on what categories you need for your paperwork check out this awesome blog post from Home Storage Solutions 101.