Tidy desk, tidy mind: We asked experts for their best decluttering tips, whether you work from home or in the office
When you are surrounded by clutter, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand. Whether you work from home or in an office, an organized workspace can do wonders for your stress levels and well-being, not to mention your efficiency.
Being surrounded by clutter on a daily basis will affect your productivity, your concentration, your mood, your relationships with family members if you are working from home, or with co-workers because we will be narky when we can. Not locating things,” says Anne Marie Kingston, a professional jammer in Clonakilty (WhiteSageDecluttering.com).
The first step is to get rid of the mountains of paper, outdated files and used ink cartridges.
“Go back to basics, clean up the decks and have everything up to date in 2023,” she says. “If there are notes on courses or things you’ve done, have you referenced them in the last 12-18 months? There’s no point in having a first aid course in a folder if it’s from 1999. I’ve gone into homes and offices and taken out accounts for the last 20 years. They should be taken away and shredded.”
Once you’ve reduced the clutter, you can start getting organized. Niki Bowman who provides decluttering and organizing services in Galway (SimplifyandSort.com), suggests that once you’ve assigned a home to whatever you hold onto, it’s important to set up a system “to keep track of the organization.” “I also suggest resetting the desk weekly, either at the beginning or end of the week,” she says. “Spend just 10 minutes tidying up – a little regular effort will help keep your desk tidy.”
Here we asked professional organizers about their favorite tools for maintaining your workspace.
File and paper storage
Talathy O’Sullivan is the founder of the Dublin based home organization service SuperSorted.ieand she notes that while many of us go paperless, we prefer the “don’t batch file” paper control system for the remaining documents.
She recommends Bigso of Sweden’s Johan suspension file box (€34.99, The Organized Store), which is made from sturdy fibreboard and comes with eight suspension files for A4 paper.
“It looks great on a shelf. It’s almost like a cardboard box but looks a lot nicer – it’s just the right size, not too big and great for storing paper,” says Talathy.
“They’re a lot easier to get into than the accordions, which make it very difficult to see what you’re seeing. So it’s a box, but it behaves like a filing cabinet. Assuming you don’t stuff this thing to death, you can easily navigate through the files and see what you’ve got.”
Niki is also a fan of the Bigso file box. “I like to call these boxes to-do stations,” she says. “They should contain files for things that need to be handled, papers that need to be filed, and other actions relevant to the job, which may include posting, tracking or shredding, etc. Then, once a week, take 30 minutes to delete the dropped files, make sure everything is done, archived, shredded, etc., and start over the following week.”
On a smaller budget, Anne Marie likes a basic file folder (€6, Eason). “You can make it as complicated as you want. My approach for the past 30 years has been to keep it simple, so I use lever arch binders,” she says.
“You can get very technical with it and do it alphabetically, but that’s where the overload comes in and that’s where it becomes difficult to sustain.”
She also recommends the Dymo label printer (€22, HuntOffice.ie). “It’s great for clearly labeling folders,” she says.
If you have fewer papers to manage, Talathy recommends Ikea’s Tjog magazine folders (€7 for two). “They’re a great organizational tool,” she says. “You can put all your notebooks and papers in it and everything stays neat and tidy.”
For those short on shelf or drawer space, she advises getting a freestanding unit like Ikea’s white Alex drawers (€90).
“It even has a file storage drawer so you don’t have your papers on your desk,” says Talathy. “It’s versatile because you can store it either under the desk or next to the desk.”
You can also create extra storage space with the Råskog trolley (€45, Ikea), which comes in four colors with wheels for easy movement and three shelves, including an adjustable one in the middle.
“People can use the Ikea carts to store supplies. One compartment could be your computer paper and then you could have pens and pencils on top. Depending on how big they are, you could potentially put magazine binders on them as well,” she adds.
Organize and clear out your desk
Suzy Kell, a decluttering coach in Dublin (SuzyKell.com), notes that desks are often littered with crumbs, old cups, and other Snack-Time clutter as the week progresses.
“Keep a tray near you to catch them so you can conveniently carry them back to the home kitchen or office on the way there. It’s amazing how well this works,” she says, recommending a round bamboo serving tray ($19.99, Amazon) if you don’t already have a suitable option.
Another storage idea is an acrylic paper holder (€11, Amazon) that keeps items close at hand. “My kids have them and they’re great for holding iPads or small notebooks because they fit snugly,” says Talathy.
To keep your desk tidy, keep your wires, cables and chargers under control. Suzy likes the Avantree Velcro cable ties ($6.75 for 20, Amazon). “If there’s one thing that has the potential to crank frustration to 100 in two seconds, it’s unexpectedly catching your foot on a wire. Try these cord organizers with Velcro — they stay attached to your cord as you unwrap them and provide a way to keep headphones, USB cords, and chargers from getting tangled when you turn them over,” she says.
Niki recommends the CableDrop clips ($14.95 for six, The Organized Store): “I love using them to keep cables in place – no more slipping off the back of a desk – and they keep things organized.”
Desk drawers can all too easily become a dumping ground for tons of notes, receipts, and old pens. Implementing a desk organizer system can go a long way in keeping your supplies organized.
“They don’t have to be expensive either — you can use cardboard or iPhone boxes,” says Talathy, noting that she uses the InnoGear drawer organizer trays ($17.99 for set of 12, Amazon) at home.
For a bamboo option, Suzy likes the drawer dividers from Utoplike (€24.75, Amazon). “Similar to a cutlery drawer, storing like-with-like in dedicated compartments can have a massive impact on your ability to find what you need, when you need it. Put stationery, snacks, and lip balms in their own little boxes to keep them handy,” she says.
Anne Marie notes that you should get a notebook to keep your login details together, rather than jotting down passwords on pieces of paper. She uses the Busy B password notebook (€10.40, Amazon).
“Basically you have all your usernames and passwords in one book because we have so many passwords and we have a lot of stuff on our heads, so I find it really handy to keep them all in one little book,” she says.
https://www.independent.ie/life/tidy-desk-tidy-mind-we-asked-experts-for-their-top-decluttering-tips-whether-you-work-from-home-or-in-the-office-42333905.html Tidy desk, tidy mind: We asked experts for their best decluttering tips, whether you work from home or in the office