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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 March 13, 2019

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                      1. Work on the small tasks.

                      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                      2. Take a break from your work desk.

                      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                      3. Upgrade yourself

                      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                      4. Talk to a friend.

                      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                      7. Read a book (or blog).

                      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                      8. Have a quick nap.

                      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                      9. Remember why you are doing this.

                      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                      10. Find some competition.

                      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                      11. Go exercise.

                      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                      12. Take a good break.

                      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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