Since my epic decluttering post, 250+ Things to Throw Away, I’ve been on a decluttering binge in my home. And boy, does it feel good! It’s been a while between posts – for those of you who are new around here, I was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago and because I’m pregnant (35 weeks now!), I needed to have a short hospital stay. All is well, and I’m so grateful to all of you for your kind messages and emails of support. You always touch my heart!
The nesting hormones are in full swing over here with only 3 weeks left until baby makes an appearance, and for my American readers, many of you are in spring cleaning mode. The perfect time to kick off a decluttering challenge. We’re going to tackle one “zone” together per week. So far I’ve purged my way through several zones, but rather than share what I’ve done in strict order, I’m going to jump straight in with Zone 6 – the home office. If you want to join in with the challenge and bust some clutter in your own home, make sure you leave a comment so we can cheer you on. You’ll find the complete office-decluttering checklist at the end of this post.
I have a very pretty little home office space off our dining room, but in the interest of complete honesty, I’m about to show you the not-so-attractive side of my workspace. Steel yourself for some embarrassing “before” pictures of my study drawers. If you have an aversion to ugliness, clutter, and extreme disorganisation – look away now. This may burn your eyeballs.
Yep. It was nasty. It’s always harder for me to get motivated to tidy something up when it’s essentially hidden. As long as it looks good on the outside, I tend to procastinate indefinitely. The problem is, it annoys me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I open that drawer or cupboard.
I eventually came to this conclusion: sure, no-one else might ever see it, but I’m worth tidying up for too! It’s totally worth it for the feeling of serenity and satisfaction I get from a well-organised space – even if it IS “just” for me. Plus, it saves time when the items you need are visible and right at your fingertips, instead of buried beneath a whole heap of useless crap.
I started by emptying EVERYTHING out of the drawers and giving them a good wipe out. Then I lined them with some pretty coral and gold wrapping paper, because, well, pretty. I used a bit of double-sided tape to stick down the paper in each corner.
This is what my top drawer looked like before I attacked it:
After emptying the drawer, I purged a heap of unneeded and unused stationery items.
I bought a clear acrylic divider to replace the ugly old purple one I had in there before. For a couple of dollars outlay, everything was already feeling so much cleaner and more streamlined.
So much better! Now I can see everything, and what I need is right at my fingertips. The drawer only contains items I actually need and use on a regular basis.
Onto the second drawer, which looked like this before:
It was kind of a pointless junk drawer, really. It had no specific purpose other than for me to shove random stuff in it. My first step was to give it a reason for existence. So, I named it my “Tools” drawer.
This drawer now holds a sticky-tape dispenser that actually has sticky-tape in it (unlike before), a hole-punch, calculator, to-do list pad, and a jotter. There’s also spare sticky-tape and staples up the back.
Onto drawer number three, previously known as the home of the paper dump:
Essentially, I was using it to store notebooks, among other things. I started by getting rid of a heap of old notebooks. Then I bought a clear acrylic caddy so my remaining notebooks have a dedicated area to hang out in. Everything else slotted in like puzzle pieces after that – blank index cards, a receipt wallet, label maker refills, and various other chalkboard and nameplate labels up the back.
The fourth drawer is where I store paint colour fan-decks for decorating clients. But they were so buried under other random stuff that they weren’t even visible. A before shot:
It’s funny how organising one drawer has a flow-on effect to all the others. As I worked through the process of purging unnecessary stuff and grouping like items together, it created so much more space in all the remaining drawers. Now I can easily see my fan-decks, plus there’s plenty of room for envelopes, a couple of spare pencil-cases, and even my adult colouring book.
The last drawer contains my cords and electronics, and it was worth a whole post all on its own! You can see how I organised my tangled mess of cords in this post: Cord Organisation with Washi Tape.
Here’s the checklist I used to purge and declutter my home office area. (You can see the complete list of all items for the whole house in this post: 250+ Things to Throw Away.)
- Cords that don’t fit any known electronics in your house
- Duplicate cords
- Chargers for items you no longer use
- Old phones and tablets (sell or recycle them)
- Out-of-date calendars
- Old diaries / day planners
- Scrapbooking supplies you no longer use
- Old receipts
- Old bills (take your banking online to stop unnecessary paper coming into your home in the first place)
- Duplicate office supplies such as hole-punches, staplers and rulers – keep one of each
- Outdated business cards
- Pens that are out of ink
- Stubby pencils
- Sticky note pads (keep one or two)
- Old paperwork you no longer need to keep on file
- Old notebooks
- Excess paperclips / thumb tacks
- Anything that doesn’t work (the broken-down scanner, photocopier etc that’s gathering dust in the corner)
- Old photo albums. Can you amalgamate them? – streamline those bulky albums by scanning favourite photos into photo books?
- Empty albums
- Film canisters
- Packets of old negatives
- Old school work from when you were a kid
- Essays you wrote in university
- Old textbooks
- Resources from a job you no longer work (eg teaching resources, company manuals)
- Old name badges
- Bags and lanyards from past conferences
- Conference packs and notes that you’ll never refer to again
- Books you’ve never read
- Books you read and didn’t love
- Old magazines (clip any favourite images, and toss the rest)
- Old newspapers
- Travel brochures
- Unused puzzle books
- Promotional goody bags from expos, trade fairs etc
- Letter openers (have you ever actually used one?)
- Stamps or mailing stickers personalised with your old address
- Kids artworks and school memorabilia. Cull the excess and display the favourites in a memory box system like this.
- Gift books of the sentimental or “coffee table” variety that serve no purpose once read
- Old birthday and Christmas cards. Keep a handful with meaningful messages in a memory file, and toss the rest.
- Half-finished craft projects
- Redundant technology such as floppy discs, cassettes and video tapes
- Redundant electronics such as VHS players and cassette players
- Old electronics you’ve kept since upgrading (includes TVs, laptops, stereos, computer monitors)
- Outdated computer software
- DVDs you’ll never watch again
- X-Box or Playstation games your kids don’t play or have outgrown
- Phone books (the majority of people search online for local businesses now)
- Remotes that don’t match with anything
- That CD collection that has been replaced by your iPod
- Extension leads – keep only what you need and use
- Electronic gadgets you don’t use or that don’t work
- Instruction manuals for appliances you no longer own
- Trophies from when you were a kid – photograph them and move on
- Old sheet music
- Board games you don’t play
- Multiple decks of cards
- Mailing tubes and boxes you’ve been hanging onto for years “just in case”
- Incoming invitations and school paperwork: write down the information in your planner (or scan and store in Evernote) and toss the paperwork
Looking for some more home office inspiration? I’ve shared two popular study makeovers on the blog – click the images below for all the juicy deets!
Happy office decluttering, peeps!
Let’s chat: Who’s in for the decluttering challenge? What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to decluttering your home?
Linked up at these parties this week!