I used to call myself a “pile person.” I had given up entirely on being organized in the office and labeled myself as someone who works best with stacks of paper strategically placed all over my desk (and yes, my floor). I had a stack of bills to pay, a stack of papers to file, a stack of projects I was working on and a zillion other piles. They created a visual chaos that was distracting, mentally draining and stress inducing.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have the storage space; I just didn’t devote the time I needed to de-clutter my office. I didn’t realize how important it was to my sanity and success. But one morning I decided I had had enough. I wanted new office furniture and I couldn’t bear the thought of covering it up with piles of paper. So I stopped telling myself that I was destined to be a “pile person” forever and started looking for a solution. Thanks to the help of my friend Amy Volk of Simplified Living, I kicked the clutter habit for good (to be perfectly honest, I am still working on other areas of my home, but at least my office is tidy!).
It’s been more than two years since I shifted my thinking and turned my office into an organized, inviting and productive environment. And I share my results with you because I want to encourage you to take on a de-cluttering project if you’re feeling overwhelmed by papers, piles or “stuff” in general. If you work at home, either in an office or a corner of the sofa, then take heart in knowing that even the smallest effort to organize your space can produce colossal results!
Five Small Miracles That Happened When I De-cluttered My Office
1. My office is now a place I love. This is a tremendous motivator – especially since I work from home and would easily be tempted to spend time in the kitchen, laundry room, living room or even on the porch if I were trying to avoid a cluttered office. Now I enjoy sitting at my beautiful desk and working in an open space. It’s easier to maintain regular working hours because my office is a haven of order and comfort.
2. On a more practical level, I can find things when I need them, which makes me more efficient in the office. I used to lose things often and trip over junk all the time. It was just easier to throw something on a pile because I didn’t know what else to do with it. Now everything has a place and I know where to find things. Imagine that!
3. I’m not holding onto negative energy. I know this may sound a little New Age or “woo-woo,” but I believe that we attach emotions to our belongings. I had files in my office for projects I hadn’t worked on in years. When Amy asked about them, I told her I might work with those clients again. So she asked me if I WANTED to work with them again. And the truth came out – NO, I didn’t want to work with them. I was holding onto something that brought back stressful memories. Why on earth would I want to do that? Amy showed me how me to toss things ruthlessly – she taught me to file things in the attic if I absolutely needed them “just in case,” but to let go of anything that weighs me down emotionally.
4. I’m surrounded by visions of where I’m headed. When I organized my office, my husband also painted the walls and put in a new floor. (I love that man!) So I had to move everything out of the room. I’ve learned this is the best way to de-clutter, because I had the opportunity to evaluate every book, photo and vase as I brought items back into the room. I tossed anything that no longer held a happy memory or a useful purpose. And I covered my walls with vision boards, inspirational quotes and strategic plans. Now, every direction I turn, I see a vision of encouragement, possibility and joy.
5. I have the space to welcome new clients. Empty space is a beautiful thing. It gives you room to breathe, expand and grow. One of my coaches taught me to create file folders for new clients before I need them, and keep them in a drawer ready and waiting for new business. Another professional organizer shared the value of leaving an empty drawer in the room so you can revel in the open space. Isn’t there a feeling of excitement and anticipation when you have an entirely empty drawer? It’s like being on vacation or moving into a new home.
My Favorite Home Office Organizing Tips
If you’re ready to clean up your office and watch miracles take place, you have my enthusiastic support! There are thousands of organizational gurus, hundreds of books on the subject and countless methods for de-cluttering. It doesn’t really matter which one you follow (or if you attempt to do this solo); but I encourage you to make the decision and get started. It can change the way you work and transform the way you think about yourself.
Here are a few of my favorite tips from the professionals I’ve worked with and learned from:
- Love It or Toss It. There is nothing in between.
- Decide quickly. If you have to think about it, you probably don’t need it.
- If it’s out of date, broken, or missing pieces, and you haven’t fixed it yet, you probably never will.
- It’s easier, quicker and often more profitable to donate items rather than try to sell them online or at a yard sale.
- Shedding junk is an ongoing process – give yourself permission to take it slow; but make it part of your new routine.
- Use a timer and commit to a certain amount of time each day.
- Go digital wherever possible.
Have you had a similar experience? Let me know what miracles happen in your life when you kick the clutter habit. And share your personal tips for organizing and simplifying your office!