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Have you ever gone into your office to work and could not concentrate? All you could see was the clutter and messiness surrounding you? That’s what happened to me yesterday. I sat there stewing because all I could think about was how hard it was to work with junk everywhere. (Yep – junk is what they used to call clutter). If this is you and organizing your home office in one day is your priority, then read on. For sure, my call to action hit me that day. Clean up the mess or plan on getting nothing done!
My perfect home office space will be created in my spare bedroom. But, living in the middle of a major home remodel (putting up sheet rock, new flooring, building shelving, and more) prevented my dream office being built in just one day. Thus, my goal that “call to action” day: create a work space allowing me to be productive on a daily basis while working toward my entire home office completion. This whole blog is about my journey to create the perfect, organized, energizing, productive dream office because I believe if you work at home – you NEED an office.
But today's post breaks down what I did on that one day to organize the home office by de-cluttering and arranging desk space and essential tools quickly and on a tight budget. BTW – is there any kind of budget except a tight budget? And, as a matter of fact, for me, the total cost that day amounted to only $1.08. I bought a little container for miscellaneous office supplies rather than spend the time creating a DIY project. Since my plan was to get everything done in one day, I left the DIY office supply holder for later. So, read on for how I met my goal of organizing the home office in one day.
First, what is already in place in your office?
Before beginning to organize, I realized I needed to have a plan in place. I knew that I didn’t like the office area I had, but rather than starting to move furniture around willy nilly, I took some time to plan my day. This took a bit of time initially, but in the long run it allowed me to complete the work rather quickly once I started the actual work. My first step in the plan was taking a hard look at where I was. Then, I had to look at where I wanted to be. Finally, I had to look at how I would get there in one day. I did this by studying the clutter that surrounded me, then asking and answering a series of questions. I will share my answers with you. Although you may have very different needs, my answers can help you brainstorm and possibly give you some ideas. Below are the questions and answers that I used for my one-day office makeover.
What really bothers me about my workspace?
This is probably the hardest question to answer because you really have to look at the space and assess what is wrong. Since you made the mess, it is harder to be objective about what is wrong with the clutter. If you plan to organize and de-clutter, then you have to be brutal about looking at your current workspace or you can’t make it better. Take a look at the hot mess on the right. This is what I discovered I didn’t like:
- The clutter. Duh. Seems obvious, but I had to name it to get rid of it. It was driving me batty.
- Not having enough space to write/take notes as I am working on the computer. I take copious notes and jot down ideas on paper – so I needed a space to work on that was next to my computer.
- Difficult access to tools: plugs for recharging, staplers, pens, pencils, highlighters, even headsets. To get writing tools, I had to get up and climb over the junk and reach behind a monitor. To get to the stapler, I had to dig under everything – where did I put that darn thing? I had to untangle cords to use the USB ports or headphones. Well, you get point.
- Cord clutter. Yes, extra cords sitting around in sight totally distract me
- Desk wobbles
- Chair not comfortable for long periods.
- Clutter in the room surrounding my workspace. Yes, clutter bothers me.
- Basic looks: unattractive ceiling, walls need to be finished, floors need work. In essence, my future perfect home office is a huge work in progress.
What do I need to work effectively RIGHT NOW?
This is probably the next most critical question, because it will help you prioritize what needs to be done immediately and what can be done later. I really had to think about what I needed to get myself productive as quickly as I could. Below, I listed my priorities. Again, your needs may be different, but it is important for you to discover your particular needs in organizing your home office.
- CRITICAL NEEDS: Makeover must be done quickly; must be free or cheap
- A BIG writing space in addition to keyboard space. Since I am left-handed, it had to be open, flat and level with my desk so I could “spread out.” Yes, I am a spreader when I work. Some of you know what I mean!
- Extra space to put notes that I will need later.
- Easy way to switch from desktop to laptop without having to move things (or me) from one place to another.
- A safe place to put my drink(s). I am a “liquids” person and I need either a mug of coffee or glass of ice-cold water to sip all day – or both. I need a place that makes it easy for me to grab and sip, safe from ruining papers and equipment if I knock it over. (Yes, I have done both.)
- A place to hang up work materials for easy access.
- Easy access to USB cords for charging, but out of the way when not in use.
- Easy access to “tools” of work – staplers, pens, flash drives, etc.
- A place to work on DIY projects.
- A more comfortable (ergonomic) chair.
- Motivating signs to keep me going.
What can I do in ONE DAY to make my office more effective?
The next question was critical because I did not have a lot of time to spend organizing and de-cluttering my workspace. Organizing is good and productive in the long run, but it didn’t get any work done that day. So, I couldn’t take multiple days to get this done. With this in mind, I prioritized by looking at my first two needs – a fast and budget friendly organization and a workspace that allowed me to have room for taking notes beside my computer. Then, I compared what I had in place to what I needed. To do this, I roughly sketched out what was already in place – just a sketch and not to scale. I highly recommend that you sketch out what you have in place so that you can objectively see how things can be moved to better suit being productive. See the sketch below:
Then, to be honest, I took a coffee break to just sit and think about how to rearrange the desks already in the office. I needed to re-position the desks to give me what I critically needed – a place to work on the computer AND to write, scribble notes, read documents, etc. The TV table at a different height from the desk just didn't cut it. This step requires some soul-searching as well as you ask yourself – what can I change to make the space more usable for me? In addition, how can I take what I already have and reorganize it to fit what I need? Then, sketch out a new arrangement that meets your top priorities. If you can’t figure out how to rearrange just by sketching, then consider making paper cut-outs to rearrange your room in several configurations to see which is best for your needs and priorities. This is my revised room arrangement to meet my needs.
Other critical needs for organizing the home office TODAY
For this question, I looked back at my list to see what else really needed to be addressed quickly. From that priority list, I concluded that I could do all except the last three in one day. A place to work on DIY projects, a more ergonomic chair and motivating signs would have to wait for another day. So, now that I had my goals in mind, what did I need to do to accomplish them quickly and with little or no cost? Onto my next big question.
Next steps for organizing your home office ONE-DAY makeover
Basically, I had to plan how to accomplish all the tasks in one day. So, I went back to making a planning list. This is what I came up with:
- Turn off and unplug all the technology. It is MUCH easier to rearrange technology if not also fighting the cords when moving monitors, laptops, printers, laptops and other technology.
- Get rid of the clutter. For now – just put all the junk out of the way so you can see the blank desktops reducing distraction and frustration when moving stuff around.
- Pull out the tables, desks, etc. and clean behind them. This might be the last time you can easily clean the dust bunnies out of the way.
- Move the desks and technology around to the new arrangement to see if it works.
- Once you move the technology, plug all back in and turn it on, sit down to see how it all works for the critical priorities.
In my case, I needed a rather large (writing) workspace after putting the keyboard and laptop on the desktop. I also placed to monitor to ensure correct ergonomic comfort. With desks only containing the technology, I looked at my next critical steps to organizing my home office.
After rearranging furniture, what else can be done TODAY?
Next, I went back to the list of priorities to see what else I needed to complete in organizing my home office. First, I ensured accessibility to all the work tools when I needed them. I found space for coffee/water, made pens/pencils front and center, worked on access to USB chargers, nailed in a hanger for my headset, and cleared all desk space of messy (unused) cords. With nothing on my desk except the technology and the few critical things I needed, I took these steps to minimize clutter:
- To easily access USB charging devices, I connected a 10-port USB hub that my brother gifted me. This hub connected to my desktop allowing me to connect my headset, flash/portable drives, and my printer directly from my desk. This small appliance kept me from having to stand up to plug devices into the back of my tower. It also minimized cords on the desk top to diminish tangling.
Though not yet my dream office, the area nevertheless was more user friendly. I forged ahead to see what else I could do. Next in the goal of organizing my office in one day, I further
- unplugged and hung the headset up on the hanger when not in use.
- hung up the empty phone charger and hotspot cords so they were out of the way when not in use, thus diminishing desktop clutter.
- put a coaster on the desktop for my coffee/water.
- placed a mug on the desk with a few favorite pens, pencils and highlighters to easily grab (and put up afterward).
- added the letter box to store materials not necessary for the current post.
- put a box on the desk top to hold detritus – erasers, the stapler, tape, etc. that I needed but didn’t use all the time. This was my expense for this project. Three little plastic boxes cost $1.08. I will decorate it later.
- left everything else off the desktop so that I could work free of distractions.
What still needs to be done in organizing your home office?
My final step was to document what I still needed to do. This will serve as a framework to address tasks when I get some free time. Not really sure what free time is, but I have hopes of one day learning about it. After completing this in one day, I had an effective workspace that I enjoyed working in. A clutter free workspace enhanced my productivity. Throughout the next days, I maintained a neat and organized space with my home office arranged specifically for MY needs. I also developed a list of important tasks next in the long-term goal of creating my perfect office. This planner that I used made the day go quickly and ensured that I had a home office space that was effective for my needs. Please click here if you would like a free copy of my template for the One-Day Office Organization Planner that I created.
Final thoughts about time and budget
If your home office space is not in place, I encourage you to establish your space today. Nothing helps you be more productive than a place to work, as discussed in this post. If you don’t already have an office in place, then look at it as both an urgent and an ongoing project. What do I mean by that? As you can see from the photos, I already had three “desks” made out of pallets and a table for my printer. Note, those are not the desks I will use in the final iteration – not the desks that I will have in my final dream office. But, I made all four in one day for almost no cost. Take a look to see how I made the pallet desk/tables: I almost literally took scrap wood and pallets and screwed them together at the height I needed for working for the three desks.
For the printer table, I screwed a sheet of plywood over an old coffee table. You, too, can create your interim organized office in one day using what you have on hand. You can use old tables, put an old door on sawhorses, or stack a shelf on blocks. The point is to get an inexpensive and fast office up while you are working on your dream office. Use the template today and get to work so that you can have an organized, effective and productive home office tomorrow. I challenge you to organize your office for productivity in one day. To assist you, please fill in the information to access the FREE planner.
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