I realize that not every home has an office. This is one of those “extra” rooms in a house that gets assigned a use based on what the occupants need. Our “extra” room is actually a formal dining room. But let’s get real. There is no formal dining happening in this house right now! What we DID need, was an office. And so, it became one. And now it’s time to lighten it up!
Because both my husband and I do work from home and because we wanted a “command central” for running the business of a home, creating an office space was perfect for our family. He and I each have a small desk, we have a printer, filing cabinet, office supplies shelf and art supplies drawers. Each of these is a place to be organized… and a place to get cluttered!
My task today was to take a look at each space and see what needed to be lightened up.
First, my desk. I’ve already mentioned how I keep my inboxes clear… and other than my computer, my small file box, and a few notebooks, that’s all that stays on my desk. I took a minute to see if there were any old papers that needed recycling (there were) and any items that ought to be somewhere else (matchbox car??) and then I moved on to the next area.
And if you’re wondering… NO… I did not touch my husband’s desk. There are a few places in this house that are his areas only. I do not touch. What’s on his desk is his responsibility. OK, I may have just stacked all the user manuals for the new appliances there. That’s my job to file!
Second, I take a look at the filing cabinet. I only keep papers for 7 years, unless it’s something that I should hang on to indefinitely. I file new papers into the front of a folder, so that when it comes time to purge, I know the oldest will be at the back. A quick look at dates and I can pull out a stack of old bills, receipts, etc. I’ll glance through them quickly and check that they’re actually older than 7 years and not something I want to keep and then… into the mighty shredder! If I only have a small stack, I’ll shred it myself. But if I have an extra big stack, I’ll put it in a box in my garage that I take somewhere to be shredded. Lately, there have been some fundraisers in my city where you can drop off up to 3 bags of papers to shred for a small donation. That’s been a great resource.
*Reality check. There is still a file cabinet in my garage full of old files that need to be gone through since before we moved. It’s been sitting in the garage for a year, waiting for me to get to it. Currently, it’s part of my attack-the-garage list for this summer. I’ll let you know how it goes. Just keepin’ it real.*
Third, I go through the office supplies. I keep everything in these sleek black boxes to keep it looking neat and tidy. Makes my heart happy. I have yet to actually label the boxes… but I know what’s in each one, so I just haven’t bothered. Going through the boxes has the double purpose of clearing out any old items AND noting if I need to buy more of anything. I tend to stock up on items when they go on sale (back to school, for sure!) but it’s good to note if all the glue sticks have dried up or the tape dispenser doesn’t actually have any tape left on it. Ahem.
Same goes for the art supplies drawers. Take out anything that belongs somewhere else. Take out any items that we no longer use or want. Take out any trash. And of course, note if there is anything that needs to be replenished. Crayons? Paint? Brushes? Paper? Scissors? Stickers? Check!
Final steps: Take all those items that I put in the Put Away box and get them to their rightful home. Take all those items that I no longer want and put them in the donation stash. Take out the trash. Do a happy dance!
As always, it’s great to take a moment and see if the current set-up is working well. Any new folders to add to the filing cabinet? Does the location of the office and art supplies make sense?
This process can be applied to whatever is the “extra” room in your house. Guest room, rec room, craft room, exercise room, solarium…whatever! Just grab those 3 boxes (Put Away, Give Away, Throw Away) and your notebook, decide what you DO want to have in that room, and get the rest outta there! Lighten it up!