The Tidyist’s top tips for creating the perfect home office
As we’re halfway through lockdown 2.0, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share our next guest blog from Sophie Crowhurst, aka Tidyist. Sophie is a professional organiser and is here to share her top tips for creating the perfect home office. It’s time to de-clutter, organise your working space and pursue your dreams!
As a Professional Organiser in Chichester for over a year, during this time, I have visited many people’s homes to help them declutter and organise. I have witnessed first-hand how a tidy, organised home can have a huge impact on every facet of people’s lives. I love receiving messages from clients saying they have rediscovered baking, or they’ve been motivated to decorate a room, and they feel amazing because they now have a space to work at home. They no longer get as stressed by the never-ending tidying of kids’ toys, and for these reasons and more besides, have generally felt a huge weight lifted from their shoulders.
This year has meant that increasingly more of us have been working from home, and in some ways, this has been great. Suddenly gaining a couple of hours in the day because there is no work commute, and just having more time for yourself and/or your partners and kids through working to a schedule that suits you!! One of the downsides, however, is that with this flexibility and housebound working environment comes a brand-new stress of not being able to properly ‘get in the zone’ and focus on the task at hand. I can totally admit that I have been trying to write this blog for weeks but have ended up doing anything and everything to get out of just cracking on and starting it!
So, this morning I got up and had a total blitz of our office which had been neglected in recent weeks, and yes, you’ve guessed it, as soon as I was done, I sat down and started typing! My writer’s block had gone because the clutter that was surrounding me had gone. I encourage you to try out my top tips for organising and decluttering to create your perfect home office working environment, so you can find yourself ‘in the zone’ whenever needed!
1. Your desk or office location
Do you have a separate office, or have you commandeered a corner of the living room as your ‘work zone’? Whatever space you have to work with, you can still create that order you need to work most efficiently. Luckily nowadays most of us only need space for a laptop and a notepad so a huge desk isn’t always necessary.
There are several options for fold-out desks on the market which mean spaces can be easily transformed into a chilled workspace during the day and folded away in the evening.
I have seen people on social media transforming all sorts of areas into amazing workspaces.
A cupboard and under stair space that would normally be purely storage, transformed into useable workspaces that would make anyone want to go and write a blog!
Whatever space you have to work with, the key is to keep surfaces as clear as you can because any sort of clutter can distract you from the job in hand. Even if you think you don’t get affected by clutter, your brain will be taking everything in, and our brains like order!
I don’t know about you, but I have to do the washing up before bed because I cannot stand coming down to a sink full of dirty dishes. The same applies to your workspace; at the end of your working day make sure your space is clear, so you can start the new day with a fresh outlook.
2. Desk accessories and gadgets
As I mentioned before I truly believe keeping your desk as clear as possible is going to have the optimum effect on productivity. The things I recommend include the following:
- A desk lamp – I would say this is essential for those late-night sessions, or late afternoons this time of year! Turning up your laptop brightness isn’t the answer!
- Desk chair – using the dining table chair all day while sitting at your computer isn’t a great idea. An ergonomic chair where the height and armrest can be adjusted is essential. It might not be the most stylish option, but your spine health is more important!
- Laptop stand – If you are going to spend a lot of time at your laptop it may be worth investing in a stand and keyboard to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and bad posture. There are some beautiful ones out there and you can also get phone holders that can charge your phone at the same time.
- Pen and paper holder or notebook – even though most of our work is done digitally, it is always a good idea to have some pen and paper to hand for jotting down those brainwave ideas or an item that needs to be added to your to do list!
- Wire organisers – I don’t know about you but seeing wires all over the place really bugs me! Over the years I have used all sorts to keep them under control; elastic bands to bunch them together, and gaffer tape to fix them to the back of the computer. Empty loo rolls to store them in drawers, and plastic bag fasteners to keep them together, but none of them have worked. Luckily now there are endless options out there so just type wire organisation into Pinterest… mind blown!
You can buy rolls of Velcro that can be cut to size to bunch cords together, or fix wires to desk legs, etc. I have one in my Tidyist bag ready to tame any wires I find at clients’ houses. There are also flexible tubes that can hold several wires together to neaten them up immediately.
When organising excess power leads, the best solution I have found that we manage to keep looking neat most of the time is a screw organiser box from the pound shop. I take the lid off and store it in a drawer, and each little section is the perfect size for a rolled up lead!
Oh paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! When I am on a job, I can find paperwork in every room of the house! It’s crazy how much people keep a hold of! I think the younger generations aren’t going to have this issue as everything will be digital by the time they are homeowners, but for some reason, we still feel the need to hang onto gas bills from five years ago! So, here are the steps I would take to sort out your paperwork for good.
Go around the entire house collecting all the paper you can find, and I mean check everywhere, bedside cabinets, that junk drawer, handbag, bathroom cabinet; you will be surprised how much will be dotted about!
go through each sheet of paper and decide whether it needs to be kept, and then organise those into like for like categories. We keep hold of far too much through fear of needing them one day but the only bits we will ever need (that can’t be easily requested from the bank or energy supplier) are:
– Taxes up to six years old
– Marriage, birth and death certificates
– Insurance policies
– House deeds
Papers without personal details can be put straight into recycling, but the remaining need to be shredded or address/details scrubbed out with an identity theft roller.
The papers you have left should be easily sorted into less than 10 categories. These can either be stored into box files or a small filing cabinet. I have a Bisley 10 drawer unit under my desk which I absolutely love! You can just open the relevant drawer, pop the paper in, and it is automatically in date order. Then once it’s full it’s time to empty! I even have a drawer for each of my children so that anything relating to them can be found easily when needed.
If you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic, anything that can be digitised (i.e. you don’t need the original), scan it and save it to the cloud (e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive). If you have a shredder, it can be quite cathartic shredding all that paper – watch the pile go down to the bare minimum! If you’re wanting to get super organised, I recommend doing this on a monthly basis so it doesn’t build up.
- Keep up the good work
Once you have your paperwork decluttered and organised beautifully, now is the chance to keep on top of mail coming in daily, and I mean as soon as you bring it in the house, open and sort it. Don’t leave it until later because it won’t happen! If it isn’t needed it can be recycled immediately; if it needs to be actioned, have a ‘to do’ tray somewhere obvious so you remember to do it at a later date. If you can work through your paperwork daily it will never become an issue ever again!
I thought this would be a good topic to move on to after paperwork as this is also an area that can get out of control without daily taming. There is no better feeling than having an empty inbox (well that and a photo free phone)!
If you have let your emails get out of control it can be very time consuming to work through your inbox working out what you need to keep. A little trick I use when things have got out of control (which I’m sure some professional organisers would be appalled by but I love a hack to make life easier) is to move the entire contents of the inbox into a folder named ‘Emails up until date’. This way, you immediately have an empty inbox, but you can still search for and find an email if needed (just make sure you mark them all as read at the same time, so you don’t have numbers next to the folder!)
From then on, the key is to organise on a daily basis once again. Have a select number of folders that you store actioned, important emails in, a ‘to action’ folder, and then delete any you don’t need. Make sure you unsubscribe from any junk emails that you no longer wish to receive.
5. Everything needs a place
Most importantly the thing to remember when organising anywhere in your home including your office space, is that everything needs a place. When everything has a home, it makes it quick and easy to tidy up, and your space will remain the calm, clear, tranquil haven you need to be the most productive version of yourself!
Hope my tips have inspired you to create your perfect home office, if you need any more help or advice on organising any part of your home please get in touch via my website www.tidyist.co or Instagram @tidyist.co.
Great post from Sophie! Some really great tips!
Thank you Izzy!