I just minimized my desk. I took a video of it to show the difference.
Be intentional about every item on it. Your home office should work the same way.
We’re in the process of moving. We’ll soon be leaving Italy and heading to Japan.
Like with every move, we want to downsize even more, so my office was only one of the areas I had to declutter and minimize.
Here are the steps I take every time my office, or any office, needs to be decluttered…
Step 1: Start With a Clean Slate
Get everything out of your office.
Take out all the papers, supplies, electronics, and even the décor that’s not hanging on the wall.
Yes, this even includes your computer, printer, etc., because step 3 is actually cleaning your office.
Step 2: Throw Out the Trash
Start with the blatant trash and papers you don’t need. You may prefer to shred some of the papers, but either way, get rid of it.
This includes anything you want to donate or didn’t need in the first place.
If your office has a trash can, empty it, clean it up (and around the area), and put a new bag in.
The goal is to get rid of all this trash now, so you don’t have anything to throw away afterwards.
It may take time to decipher the trash from the actual documents you need.
Go ahead and spend the time doing it now.
Step 3: Clean
You’ve removed all your items and thrown out the trash. It’s time to clean.
Clean all the surfaces. Wipe down your electronics. Dust the room. Sweep/mop/vaccum.
For your computer screen, you have to be careful not to use a harmful product. Here’s a great tutorial on cleaning screens, and here’s one specifically for LCD screens like iMacs and the like.
The key to cleaning screens is to use a microfiber cloth that was first soaked in rubbing alcohol to get rid of any oils. Once it dries, touch only one side of it to complete the cleaning. This will help your screen stay clean and streak-free.
Get under your desk and around all the areas you haven’t regularly cleaned.
Once it’s clean, it’s time to organize.
Step 4: Sort All Cables
Sorted cables makes your office look neat and it minimizes the appearance of clutter.
We’ve all seen out-of-control cables.
You have lots of options here. You can get fancy with cable clips, you can get structural with some screw-in organizers, or you can keep it simple with straps.
Whichever method you decide to go with, get your cables in order to make your entire office look more minimal.
It will help your productivity and creativity when your office looks clean and tidy, and cables are one of the main things often left chaotic even in the cleanest offices.
Step 5: Put the Important Stuff Back
Now that your office is clean, organized, and still bare, it’s time to start placing.
This is your last time to decide if something really needs to be there.
Figure out what you actually need and use. Some things can be put away in a cabinet or drawers, while other things just need to go.
Think about things like books. Do you really need them in the office or do you have a bookshelf somewhere else in your home where they actually belong?
We tend to keep a lot of stuff in our office that doesn’t really belong there.
Only replace the items that will make your life more productive and help visual appeal.
You want your office to be a calm space.
Step 6: Add Helpful Tools
Now that the essentials are in place, it’s time to add some new things, but only if they actually help.
The goal would be to add things that make your office look more minimal.
You could add some hidden drawers to keep things under your desk or some shelving to store the things you need in your office, but don’t really have a place for.
Consider productivity tools like a whiteboard or a physical calendar if you’re a visual person.
Take an assessment of what you have and see what could make your space more comfortable and productive.
Step 7: Use a System to Stay Organized
In Getting Things Done, David Allen gives a lot of great advice on organization systems for papers and digital items.
Find the system that works for you. Here are some tools to get started:
Once you’ve found your system, set a reminder to assess your office quarterly or semi-annually so that it stays as beautiful as it is right now. The more often you do this, the less work it will be each time.
This entire article serves as a system and a way to declutter every time you decide to do so. You could always bookmark it for future reference.
Bonus Step: Organize Your Computer
Sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to clean up your desktop and computer folders.
Out of sight, out of mind gets the best of us, but it will make your work day so much easier if your computer is organized.
If this seems overwhelming, just set a daily or weekly schedule to organize, sort, and delete computer files you don’t need. If you spend a few minutes doing this each time, your computer will be organized before you know it.
To get started with your digital organization, here are some easy steps:
- Delete the junk – Any files you definitely don’t need, delete them.
- Evaluate your folders – If you spend a lot of time looking for files, you need to get a system. Find the best titles for your folders and organize your files accordingly.
- Use the system – Whatever you come up with to keep your files organized for easy access, stick with the system every time you save or create a new file.
Digital Minimalism is a great book for getting your digital life in order. Or if you want a checklist-style method, Digital Declutter is a great book for that.
Further Book Reading
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- Digital Declutter by D.M. Elliot
- 10 Practical Steps to Start Practical Minimalism
- The Media Threat: How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
- The System We Use to Pay Our 5 Kids for Work Around the House
- How to Teach Your Kids to Invest
- Budgeting for Kids: How to Teach Budgeting From Age 3 to 18
- Alarming Studies That Show How Advertising Affects Your Kids (And How to Protect Them)
You CAN Raise Money-Smart Kids!
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