Every spring, around tax time, I start avoiding spending time at my desk. You too? The problem with avoiding spending time at my desk is that papers start to pile up and disorganization sets in!
I spend more time working from my sofa or the dining room table to avoid my home office and escape the anxiousness I feel about working on my taxes.
All the work I put in at the end of December to start the year off with a clean desk and solid first quarter goals, seems to get tossed to the side.
And the worst part is the more cluttered my office gets the more cluttered my mind gets. My productivity starts to plummet.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who this happens too!
If you aren’t someone who finds themselves drowning in a desk full of paper, pretty please help a work from home girl out and share your tips for keeping the paper piles from even starting in the comments below!
But if you are like me and have been avoiding the mess that is your home office then join me and follow the steps below to spring clean your home office!
Home Office Spring Cleaning
1. Backup Your Computer Files
If you are like most Solopreneurs, me included, your computer is the heart of your business. How many times have you meant to back up your files but didn’t?
Right now, before we go any farther, plug your external drive backup in and let it do it’s thing while you are working on spring cleaning your desk.
If you back up to the cloud take a minute to make sure all your settings are up todate.
And if you are trying to figure out why I included this in a Spring Cleaning article, March 31st is World Back Up Day. Head into April Fools day without any worries about your computer files!
2. Tackle the Paper Piles
The next step to spring cleaning your home office is to tackle ALL of the piles of paper. It’s time to sort the unorganized piles into three piles and trash.
- Needs Action
- To be Filed
I’m going to address the four piles in reverse order because I am a big believer that checking off easy wins builds momentum to get harder tasks accomplished.
Let talk address the trash pile first. Grab a trash bag and put every envelope you find and that you have no reason to keep in the trash. If you are like me half of your pile will immediately disappear!
While you are putting envelops in the trash simultaneously put the contents of those envelops into one of the other three piles.
If you are unsure what goes into the trash vs shred pile, put anything with your name, address, client info or anything that you wouldn’t want a stranger to get their hands on put on in the shred pile.
One you have sorted the piles it’s time to start shredding. I like to do this step next because in just a few minutes another huge pile is gone!
You have a couple options for shredding.
You can purchase a shredder that sits on top of a regular trash can like the 6-Sheet Auto Start/Stop, Strip-Cut Paper/Credit Card Shredder without Wastebasket, Black that you put away when you are done using it.
Or you can buy an all in one shredder that you keep under your desk. We have one similar to this Royal 112MX 12-Sheet Cross Cut Shredder Shreds CD’s with Console (Black).
You actually have a third option if you don’t want to add another “thing” to your home office or you have a lot of client documents that need shredding. You can take your pile to a UPS store.
Many UPS stores have shredding services! Who knew, right?
To Be Filed
The to be filed pile used to slow me down until I came up with an easy bookkeeping system that works for my husband and I.
We use a monthly expandable file like this Smead TUFF Expanding File, 12 Pockets, Monthly (Jan.-Dec.) Legal Size, Redrope (70490) for anything that might be a business expense.
We file by month instead of by who sends us the bill.
And when our taxes are finished I shred anything we (and our accountant) didn’t use for taxes that are also available online like our electric bill and oil change receipts. You can learn more about my simple bookkeeping system in this post.
Enough about bookkeeping and back to home office spring cleaning… once you get your bills and papers sorted by month, the pile of what’s left should be pretty small and easy to file in your filing cabinet or file box.
The needs action pile is usually where my home office spring cleaning comes to a screeching halt. And if that happens to you too I have a plan for you to over come it!
Pull out your weekly to so list (or download my Work from Home Simplifed Weekly Planner Sheet at the bottom of this post) and assign two or three items in the pile each day this week and next week until the pile is done.
Now, put the pile to the side grab a glass of water (or wine!) and let’s move on to the next step of home office spring cleaning.
3. Electronics, Cords and Cable
Your Bluetooth headphones, external backup, camera, kindle… and ALLLLLL of the cords that go with them.
If you are like me, all the cords don’t really have a home. And every time you need to charge your fancy new camera or Bluetooth headphones it takes you ten minutes to find the right charging cable.
I’ve found a solution for you!
I stumbled across these Mr-Label US letter Sheet Self-adhesive Cable Label – Waterproof | Tear Resistant – with Free Print Tool – for Laser Printer (10 Sheets (300 Labels), 5 assorted colors) printable tags and I am in love!
You can personalize them to the needs of you and your family for example:
- Dad’s iPhone Charger
- Mom’s Camera Charger
- Daughter’s Headset Charger
- Son’s Apple Watch Charger
- Toddler’s Leapfrog Cable
You get the idea. Use different color tags for each family member to make it even quicker to find what you are looking for!
Put Cords and Electronics Away
Another important part of spring cleaning is to clear things off your desk. If you haven’t designated somewhere for your electronics and their cords to be stored now is the time to do that.
If you don’t have space in a desk drawer or filing cabinet and need to keep them on the surface of your desk I’ve got an option for you. This is also a great option for people (like me!) who do better when the can see everything.
A clear make-up travel bag or pencil bag like the Rough Enough A4 Transparent Multi-Functional Big Document Pouch Clear Hard Plastic File Folder Bag Paperwork Holder Filing Organizer Case with Zipper for School Exam Teacher Office Business Trip has lots of space to contain the cords and small electronics while also letting you see what’s in there.
Or you could use a cute make-up bag or pencil bag. I love the personalized make-up bags on Etsy like this one. They are just the right size for storing charging cords and tossing in my bag to take to the coffee shop.
Another option for storage are the plastic storage containers that have drawers. They now make some that look a little nicer including the STERILITE 3 Weave Drawer Unit, White.
You can put one of these under your desk if you have limited space.
Whew. That took a little time but now that you can see your desk and have spring cleaned your home office are you feeling better?
Your computer is backed up, your piles are put away and the ones that need action are scheduled to be completed.
And your cables and electronics are organized and put away.
I don’t know about you but there is just something about an organized office that relaxes my mind and lets me focus on the tasks I usually procrastinate.
Now that your desk is clean and your office is organized its time to get those taxes done. Free your mind from that nagging todo and make time for the things you enjoy doing!