March 5, 2021 by Julia Weaver for Redfin blog

Redfin asked me, along with other experts from New York, NY to Sacramento, CA, to share our best tips and tricks on how to declutter and organize your home office so you can be back to feeling productive in no time. Check out what I had to say!

Since the start of March 2020, many of us that made the daily commute into work were forced to transition to working from home. If you’re still working from home a year later chances are your workspace has become messy and cluttered with paperwork, bills, and mail. It’s next to impossible to be productive in an office taken over by clutter. Not only do you feel distracted and stressed, but sometimes you can’t even find paperwork when you really need it. But with a little guidance, you can transform your cluttered nightmare of an office into a functional workspace. 

We’ve asked experts from New York, NY to Sacramento, CA, to share their best tips and tricks on how to declutter and organize your home office so you can be back to feeling productive in no time.

Set a quarterly reminder

Put a recurring reminder on your calendar that alerts you every 3 months to do a “desk detox.” Remove everything from your desk and go through each item one-by-one and make sure it should go back on your desk if it meets the criteria of A) helping you be productive or B) brings you happiness and motivates you. Anything that doesn’t make it back on your desk should be filed away, shredded, or donated. – Wandering Aimfully, un-boring business coaches for online entrepreneurs

Establish a home for your belongings

The key to office organization is establishing a system that supports the way your brain processes information, and then creating the habits necessary to maintain it. Once every item in your office has a “home,” try setting aside 10 minutes at the end of each day to make sure everything in your office is put away and ready for the next morning. It takes anywhere between 18-254 days to create a new habit, so consistency is key. – Create Calm

The key is to write everything down

First, get out of bed, eat breakfast, and put on some pants. Then, make a to-do list. No matter how smart or clever you think you are you will never be productive unless you have mastered how to be organized. Make a to-do list each morning and allocate time for each task to help plan your day. Remove all personal items from your workspace so you can focus on work-related tasks. File papers into binders or folders and have a designated area for all your stationery. – Neat Rules

Minimize paper clutter by only keeping the documents you need

Keep these documents organized in physical or digital filing systems. Take time every quarter or every year to go through your filing system and eliminate any unnecessary documents from your files. – Midori Eyed Mama

Have a dedicated space for your work

Both of us here at Hive work from home, and we don’t have a lot of space. No matter how small you can carve out a dedicated area ONLY for work, whether it’s a single bookcase or an entire room. As interior designers we have a lot of samples and multiple projects going at a time, so we stay organized by starting a drawer for each project. Having a dedicated place things belong means they get put away as they come in and loose things don’t pile up. – Devon McKeon and Jessica Fleming, Hive LA Home

End each workday by organizing your home office

At the end of each workday, take 10 minutes to organize your notes and your workspace. That way, the next time you sit at your desk you aren’t surrounded by chaos. Throw away unneeded items, straighten up your different work areas and write down a list of what you need to do the next day. Taking this time makes a real difference in preparation and organization. – Vee Frugal Fox

Eliminate paper clutter

With so many device storage and cloud storage options, scan those papers and send them to the cloud. A paperless office is a tidy, productive space.- All About Tidy

Take 5 minutes to declutter

Define an area of your clutter, NOW. Take five minutes to release the cluttered toxins in your productivity pipeline. Focus on process combined with consistent action for consequential outcomes. – STUFFology 101

Curate your workspace with intention

The items you keep in your workspace should have a reason for being there. Ask yourself “Does this item deserve a place in my workspace?”. If it doesn’t, it will contribute to clutter which is a source of distraction. Every item in your workspace should inspire you to create and be productive, and assist you in completing your tasks. And if an item does both of these things, even better. To minimise distractions, keep your desk surface as clear as possible and store items that you don’t use every day out of sight. Items such as excess stationery or files can be kept in a desk drawer or within an inexpensive storage solution such as a simple cube shelf next to your desk. – Mel Green, Declutter Consultant at Simply Mel Living

Use tools to become more productive

Sometimes the most cluttered thing in your home office is your own brain, thanks to the firehose of digital distractions that stand between you and focused work. With zero data entry, use an automatic time-tracking software that gives you a clear picture of how you spend your time and attention on your computer and provides tools to help you spend it more efficiently. – RescueTime

Plan for the clutter instead of letting it overwhelm you

The best question to ask is “Why does clutter happen?” or “What’s actually cluttering up your space right now?”. Creating an inbox system for handling paperwork, projects, and supplies that come into your space will give you the chance to put things where they belong as you have time. Schedule one day a week to catch up on your inbox and sort, file, complete, or migrate those things to their proper homes. – Nora Conrad