Over the years I have found many commonalities amongst my clients, but the one that is most overwhelming is paper all over the office. So, I want to share a couple of tips that will make your office a place you will actually want to enter and be productive in.

Tackle the paper monster

Do you find you have piles all over the house? And yet, you can never find what you need when you need it. Here is a simple system to keep all paper in one spot, and keep it in action mode too. Have a three tray system in your office:

3 tray system, taming the paper monster, declutterTray One is for Action Items (things that need to be dealt with). Once you are done with the Action Item, it’s time to put the paper in trays two (To File) or three (To Shred) or in a nearby recycling bin. Any paper that enters the house goes in these three trays.

Choose one hour two mornings a week, I prefer Tuesdays and Fridays, and work on the Action Items pile for 45 minutes; pay bills, make sure visa bill is correct, make a phone call etc. Take 15 minutes to clear out the next two trays: file all papers in Tray Two and shred all the papers in Tray Three.

If you find two hours a week is not enough, choose your time accordingly. Some may want to look at going paperless all together?

Make your office just an office

There is nothing more defeating than walking into your office, feeling pumped and ready to work, only to be greeted by mess, chaos and general household storage overflow. If that’s your reality, then it’s time to declutter your office and make it just an office space. That’s right. No more sporting equipment storage in front of your filing cabinet, and no more corner spaces dedicated to extra canned goods. It’s time clean house.

  • Divide your office into 4 quadrants; choose the one closest to the left to the doorway.
  • Put all like items with like items in piles (pens with pens, clothes with clothes, toys with toys, and paper with paper) in Quadrant One.
  • Go to the next quadrant, clockwise, and do the same adding to the piles you created in the first quadrant.
  • Once you have done all four quadrants, it’s time to tackle each pile. With each one, make decisions based on the amount you have in each category (i.e. Do you really need 20 pens?)
  • See where you can donate or throw items away.
  • Remove all items that are not office related items. Find a home for them in other parts of the house; usually, in the room that you most likely will use that item.

Office rules to staying clean and productive:

  1. Give yourself a fresh start in the morning: take 10 minutes at the end of every day to put everything away
  2. Make is a habit not to store non-office related items in your office whenever possible
  3. Train your children that, while they may bring toys into your office to play with as you work, the toys have homes outside of your office and need to return to them at the end of the day
  4. Don’t be afraid to push back and impose boundaries: Remind the others living in your office that this is your place of business and should be treated as such. Whether it’s noise levels around the office or clutter in it, communicate your expectations, give examples, and then enforce them