Is your home office cluttered? Is it clogging your creativity? Perhaps then it’s time to ditch the distractions and declutter your home office (once and for all).
If you have read any of my rants on busywork, you know I am not a fan of tidying your home office for the sake of tidying your home office because it doesn’t move you toward your goal and tends to fall into the category of ‘Fake Work’ (aka the stuff you do when you are in denial about being afraid to do what actually needs to be done).
There is one exception to the rule regarding tidying your home office: when clutter starts to clog your creativity and interfere with your day-to-day productivity AND (this is important) you find yourself with a lull in your calendar, such as the holiday season or between major projects.
That’s when it’s the perfect time to tackle the clutter and create clutter prevention systems to maintain your clutter-free creative zone.
Simple Ways to Maintain a Clutter-Free Creative Zone (aka your Home Office)
Home Office Decluttering Tip #1: Manage Paper Flow
Clear your desk of all paper. That means no mail, no bills, no business cards, no client projects, no notes, nothing. Not only does random paperwork clog your creativity, it makes it extremely difficult to find things when you need them with a random desk pile system.
Now designate a home for each and every type of paperwork: bill to be paid, client projects, notes and ideas, business cards to be data entered. Every single piece of paper needs a home and a specified time your calendar when you are going to pay attention to it.
Home Office Decluttering Tip #2: Clear your Visual Space
What do you see when you sit in your office and look around? Is it inspirational objects or clutter that is talking to you, telling you to tidying up or handle this or that? Clear your visual space of any and all clutter, including filing and containment systems.
Avoid the temptation to allow clutter to build up in your desk hot spots by occupying them with creative placeholders. Find a beautiful vase to repel the mail clutter on the corner of your desk or place family pictures on your corkboard to avoid tacking bills and other to-do’s there.
Home Office Decluttering Tip #3: Tackle your Inbox Daily
Set a timer for 15 minutes and empty your inbox. A quick way to get through a cluttered inbox is to sort into four categories: Trash for garbage or recycling, To-do for things you can tackle right then, File for client or project related paperwork and Follow-up for anything that requires action. That means what is left on your desk is an empty bin ready and a schedule for tackling all your Follow-up tasks.
Now make it a daily habit to spend 5 to 10 minutes at the END of the day and do the exact same thing – process all inbox paperwork into Trash, To-do, File and Follow-up.
Now repeat after me: now that my home office is decluttered, I promise to maintain a clutter-free creative zone and never use tidying my office as an excuse for getting stuff done!