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10 Quick Fixes for Creating Space in a Cluttered Home Office

10 Quick Fixes for Creating Space in a Cluttered Home Office

While the tendency to clutter your corporate office desk with stray papers and food wrappers is easy, imagine adding bills, letters, junk mail, kids toys and, you never know, even a cat to the mix. This is the reality of working from home.

Sadly not everyone has the luxury of knocking through walls to create a vast home office. You get just one room in the family home and, often, not a very big one at that. This makes keeping the space clutter free even more important. A messy environment creates a messy mind and can turn your professional sanctuary into a disordered space where you struggle to boost your output.

There are, however, ten very simple things you can do to create more space in your home office in no time at all.

1) Get a space-efficient desk

Home office desk with storage drawers

    Image credit: Home Decorators Collection

    One of the things I notice in more disordered home offices is the size and state of the desks inside them. Often intentionally too big for the room so an abundance of papers, documents and other items can be stored alongside a computer and keyboard, they can quickly sap up any spare space. Smaller desks don’t have to mean less space though, especially if you buy one that incorporates a roll-out shelf for your keyboard and mouse, storage drawers and room underneath for a bin and/or paper shredder. Not only will all of your essentials still be in one place, but stored safely away from the main hub of your desk and organised into their own unimposing spaces.

    2) Switch to a laptop

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    laptop on home office desk

      Image credit: Refinery 29

      Unless you’re a designer who relies on a larger computer screen to complete their work, it’s worth switching to a trim laptop to create more desk space. In addition to leaving more room for you to spread out when working, laptops use eight times less power than desktops and will save on your electricity bill in the long run.

      3) Organise loose stationery

      home office desk storage

        Image credit: Stylizimo

        Anything that’s rolling around loosely on your desk is instantly going to make your home office look more cluttered, no matter how small it is. In addition, imagine how frustrating it will be when you’re trying to work with all of those pens and pencils getting in the way. Investing in a simple desk organiser can work wonders, and they’re available in a variety of styles to suit every kind of home office.

        4) Tie up wiring

        laptop wires tied up

          Image credit: Suck UK

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          Loose wires can quickly get out of control and, as well as looking unsightly, can become a safety hazard. Tying them up, getting a desk that incorporates cable management, or strategically hiding wires behind things like bookshelves all work wonders.

          5) Be brutal with what you throw out

          home office paper on desk - cluttered

            Image credit: She Knows Living

            Before you sit down to some serious work, take some time to walk around your office and discard every unnecessary item you can find. Throw away or shred unimportant documents, give old office décor you’re no longer fond of to a charity shop and put any stray food items back in the kitchen. Anything you don’t need while you’re working should be removed, which also goes for distractions. Game consoles and televisions have no place in a home office.

            6) Prevent décor build up

            home office desk decor

              Image credit: Jennifer Daigle Blogspot

              While throwing out old bits of paper and junk documents goes a long way in creating space, you shouldn’t neglect your office décor too. Designing a workspace at home is fun, and when something that’s completely you catches your eye in a shop, it can be difficult to pass it by. If you simply have to buy it, then get rid of something already in your office, and that you haven’t used or liked as much over the past six months to stop items building up.

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              7) Utilise wall space

              drawings and paper on home office wall

                Image credit: Boligcious

                Not all clutter is rubbish, and sometimes you might not want to throw out all those inspiring magazine pages or images. So why not make a feature out of them? Creating a pin board or mural out of items like these is an increasingly popular trend, you can even pin important notes up there too to free up more desk space. In addition, go for tall bookcases, recessed shelving or floating shelves rather than wide storage to utilise an empty wall without taking up valuable floor space.

                8) Decorate using neutral colours

                neutral coloured home office

                  Image credit: Ffffound

                  The shadows and atmosphere cast by dull and gloomy rooms doesn’t just impact your mood, but actually makes a home office appear smaller. Decorating in neutral colours is one of the best ways to open up a smaller space by reflecting natural light and making it appear brighter. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to white paint though – robin’s egg blue, light grey, beige, cream, pastel green and off-white all look great and are a subtle way to include more adventurous colours.

                  9) Don’t be tempted to over furnish

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                  home office desk in nicely furnished room

                    Image credit: Minimal Desks

                    While the home offices featured on interior design blogs incorporate bookshelves, chairs, coffee tables and sofas to stunning effect, the reality is that many of these spaces are considerably larger than your average home office. While a home office does have to be as attractive as it is functional to make working in there enjoyable, over furnishing for stylistic reasons will only make the room feel claustrophobic. Plus, simply filling it with really essential furniture will look much more aesthetically pleasing than if it was full to bursting.

                    10) Keep the room single purpose

                    single purpose home office

                      Image credit: Melissa Mercier

                      Your home office is for working in, so try not to let other areas of your life intrude. Deal with junk mail and bills in a separate room, keep out kids toys and dirty crockery and leave any leisure or “down time” items like televisions and books elsewhere. Once other areas of your life start creeping into your home office, it’ll quickly become disordered.

                      As you can see, a small home office doesn’t have to look as compact as it actually is. Creating the illusion of more space with these simple tips is a sure-fire way of not just opening out the room, but making yourself more productive in the process. Remember, an orderly space makes for an orderly mind.

                      Do you have any of your own tricks for creating space in a cluttered home office?

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                      Last Updated on November 19, 2019

                      20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

                      20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

                      Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

                      If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

                      1. Create a Daily Plan

                      Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

                      2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

                      Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

                      3. Use a Calendar

                      Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

                      I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

                      Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

                      4. Use an Organizer

                      An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

                      These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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                      5. Know Your Deadlines

                      When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

                      But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

                      6. Learn to Say “No”

                      Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

                      Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

                      7. Target to Be Early

                      When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

                      For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

                      Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

                      8. Time Box Your Activities

                      This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

                      You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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                      9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

                      Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

                      10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

                      Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

                      You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

                      11. Focus

                      Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

                      Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

                      Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                      12. Block out Distractions

                      What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

                      I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

                      When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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                      Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

                      13. Track Your Time Spent

                      When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

                      You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

                      14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

                      You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

                      Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

                      15. Prioritize

                      Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

                      Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

                      16. Delegate

                      If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

                      When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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                      17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

                      For related work, batch them together.

                      For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

                      1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
                      2. coaching
                      3. workshop development
                      4. business development
                      5. administrative

                      I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

                      18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

                      What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

                      One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

                      While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

                      19. Cut off When You Need To

                      The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

                      Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

                      20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

                      Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

                      More Time Management Techniques

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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