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8 Ways to Declutter Your Office

decluttering tips for home offices

Cats and small dogs are good types of clutter to have in your office 🙂 (image by john_a_ross, flickr)

Why declutter your office? Because piles of papers, books, file folders, and old memos decrease productivity and costs money. Learn how to declutter here.

If you declutter your office, you’ll decrease stress and increase productivity. These easy tips for eliminating paper clutter will keep your office neat and organized.

“Clutter is stuck energy.  The word ‘clutter’ derives from the Middle English word ‘clotter,’ which means to coagulate – and that’s about as stuck as you can get.” ~ Karen Kingston.

Not only does clutter block energy, it can cost your business money. Use these eight clutter-busting tips to help you clear your space and your mind to release new energy and creativity.

How to Declutter Your Office

Switch to paperless statements

Virtually every bank, utility company, and major retailer that sends monthly bills now offers a paperless option.  Whether you opt to have your statements e-mailed to you or view them at the company’s website, this is a simple way to eliminate a monthly influx of paper. If you need to save the statements, simply create a folder on your computer and save them there as .pdf files. A related office organizational tip is to back up your computer files regularly.

Handle business communication by email

As with the first decluttering tip, most companies now have a way to conduct business online.  From changing your mailing address to making a compliment or complaint to closing an account, all of these activities and more can be handled online, saving time, money, and postage. Knowing how to declutter paper in your office can involve changing how you used to do things!

For more information on how decluttering increases energy and well-being, read How Decluttering Reduces Financial Debt.

Bookmark pages or save them as .pdf files

There’s really no reason to print out every interesting piece of information you see online.  First of all, information changes so quickly that information you print is likely to be obsolete or updated by the time you’re ready to use it.  When you need that information again, it’s usually faster to search for it online than to search through paper files, even if you’ve done a good job of keeping your filing up to date.

Scan your documents

If you have documents that you need to keep on file, consider scanning them.  Many newer all-in-one-fax machines have scanning capabilities.  If you’ve created the document on your computer, or found it online, saving it as a .pdf is another great way to declutter your office.

Limit yourself to two piles of papers in your office

If you must deal with paper clutter in the form of documents, allow yourself only two inboxes – one for “Action Items” that need to be done immediately or are pending some other action and one “To File.”  Once the filing inbox is full, commit to dealing with each piece of paper by throwing away, filing, or scanning it, and then start the process again. Decluttering paper clutter is a constant process.

Use a “tickler file” to organize your paper clutter

Tickler files are a great way to keep track of items that need to be done at a future date.  The simplest option is to use 12 file folders or an accordion file folder with 12 slots, one for each month, although some people need a more complicated system. As bills, meeting or party invitations, sales announcements, or any other future action items come across your desk, place them in the appropriate file folder or slot.  Be sure to process all papers in each folder or slot at the appropriate time.  In addition to keeping your office tidy, tickler files are a great way to remind yourself of important dates and deadlines that you don’t want to miss.

Declutter by eliminating paper to do lists and Post-It notes

How often have you written “to do” notes and then misplaced them?  All those little notes are messy and counter-productive.  One of the best tools for learning how to declutter paper clutter and managing your to do list is Teaux Deaux.  This elegantly simple, FREE tool makes keeping a to do list fun.  One of its best features is that it limits the number of items you can put on your list on any given day.  After all, there’s only so much time!

End your work day with a clear desk

This may be the hardest office tip on the list.  Rather than working up until the very last minute, get into the habit of planning to stop working 10- to 15-minutes before the end of your allotted work time.  Use these last few minutes to clear your desk and prepare your to do list for your next work session.  You’ll end your work day with a great sense of accomplishment, and begin a new work day with much less stress.

For more tips on getting organized at work, read Why Doing a Good Job Won’t Get You Ahead at Work.

If you’ve allowed your paper clutter to get out of control, it may take some time to dig out from under it.  However, once you see how wonderful it feels to have a clear desk, keeping it that way will be much easier.

If you have any thoughts on how to declutter paper clutter, please comment below.

For tips on organizing your office, read Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life.

Written by Sydney Tyler Thomas, a writer and small business owner living in Virginia.  She is author of The Joy of Soulful Knitting: Reflections on the Art of the Craft. You can also visit Sydney at her blog, New Calling.

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4 thoughts on “8 Ways to Declutter Your Office”

  1. How does clutter impact your health and emotional state? A long time ago I saw on the news how clutter affects us psychologically. Do you know anything about that?

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks Janice – I agree that paper clutter can reduce your productivity and quality of work. My problem is the opposite, though – I tend to through stuff out too quickly, and then find I need it later!

    The trick is to figure out what papers to ditch, and which ones to keep.

  3. It is time to control your clutter and control your life! Learning different ways that can help you clean your office, and fit the routines to your style, will help you keep your files in order. This will help your productivity and work quality. Thanks for sharing this article about decluttering your office space.

  4. Fantastic tips! Especially ending your day by cleaning up. I am guilty of putting that off and walking into a literal mess the next morning. Not very motivating!