Declutter your office and your business

Every year, as we dip towards Winter with its longer, darkening evenings and the ending off the old year, I feel the urge to discard things I no longer find useful or have never been needed in my home and life.

The declutter bug comes nudging.

And never more is it needed than in my office space where office clutter and business stuff just seems to grow and multiply. I’ve been inspired by the lovely Hazel Dow from Freespace to write a blog about decluttering your office space and making it a beautiful and healthy space to work in.

Now, just before we go on, I do not expect you to just throw everything away. Where  possible, try to recycle, upcycle, take to charity, gift to others.

Why should I declutter my office?

A well organised office space will:

  • Save you time,
  • Help you think more clearly
  • Increase your overall efficiency
  • Lower your stress levels

Don’t be tempted to fill every available space or wall – allow for pockets of calm, uncluttered space.

Only have items in your office that are essential to your work, enable you to work more effectively and bring you joy!

My office is a mess, where do I start?

Little and often is the key, putting aside 15 minutes a day means over an hour every week.

Don’t start a pile  – it will only grow. Trust me!

Start with a small area, a drawer, a corner of your desk or an area of your room.

Be decisive about what needs to happen to information when you’re handling it straight away –  throw it out, assign it to a relevant folder or create a folder if you need to keep it.

Paper, paper everywhere

In my office paper seems to be the biggest culprit, it seems to grow over night. I worry I might need that particular scrap of paper or my whole business will grind to a halt.

At the end of last year I had a huge purge and cleared so much paper I had empty shelves. And I thought I was using paper sparingly.

Get tough. And I mean really tough. Get shredding and recycling.

Then before storing all your paper consider whether you can store it digitally.

Contracts can be sent digitally, banking can be done online and important information can be scanned and stored on your computer. Just remember to back up regularly.

For everything else, create a system that works for you whether a filing cabinet, files or box files. And treat yourself to some lovely stationery! Your office space doesn’t have to be dull and utalitarian so get creative with different types of storage – plastic, wicker, metal, fabric.

Ditch all the old stuff

You know, the broken chair, the old computer, the printer you no longer use. Check your drawers for old mobile phones and iPods.

Do you have cables you don’t even know what they’re for? Ditch them!

I can’t even see my desk

I use my desk for all sorts of jobs; designing, photography, accounts (business and home), card writing, planning (business and home) – in short, like most of us, I’m juggling all my business jobs with all my home jobs. And I need to be organised.

I need to know where my diary is, my planning notebooks, my weekly To Do List, scribbled ideas. Even just a pen that actually works!

And I need a clear corner for my social media photography.

It’s so much quicker when you know where everything is, when you know where your receipts are, when you don’t have to shift a teetering pile of rubbish just to take a photo.

Get your desk clear and keep it clear. You can do this at the end of every day, or I prefer to do it last thing at the end of the week. This not only gives me a sense of satisfaction but I love to come into the office on a Monday morning and see a clean desk ready to start work on. Extra points for super organisation and writing a To do List ready for the following week.

Get digital

Decluttering isn’t only for physical clutter.

We live in a digital world and we have GB worth of documents, images, photos, folders, emails on our computers. We’re scared to delete anything!

And although I advocate going digital and saving paper where ever possible, our poor over worked computers need a clean up every now and again. If only so we can actually find that particular document that we really, really need but it’s actually quicker to recreate it than actually find it. Yes, I have done this myself…

Zero inbox

A couple of years ago I tackled my inbox. It was a monster with thousands of emails that I couldn’t delete. Just in case.

But I was spending so much time trawling through spam looking for emails I actually needed.

So I tackled it. But it was a monster and it did take time. I spent just 15 minutes at a time creating folders for clients, finances, marketing, even a To read Later folder.

Now I tackle emails straight away, either reply, delete, put in a relevant folder or colour code if it’s amendments for a design job.

Clean up your branding

Create a folder and keep just one copy of your logo, or one copy of each variation if you have different colour options or strap lines. This keeps your logo and branding consistent and stops you getting confused about which version you used.

Create a brand style guide with information on fonts and colours.

Create a folder to keep all your images together. Again, it makes them easier to find plus you can make sure they follow your brand guidelines to keep your branding consistent.

Clean up your social media

At the end of the year I like to spend some time tidying up my social media.

Pinterest boards are sorted out, pins and boards deleted if no longer relevant.

In general, I delete groups I no longer want to be a part of and unfollow people who don’t inspire me or make me happy.

A few years ago I even stopped posting on a few social media sites as my head was spinning trying to keep on top of them all. I still post blogs and any relevant business news on them but now I concentrate only on those where my customers hang out.

Make your website easy to use

Yes, declutter your website!

Is it easy for customers to see what you do? Can they see your products easily? Can they find your business services and business packages? Where are your prices? Can they contact you easily?

Clear out the fluff and waffle and get to the point.

Organise your space

Once you’ve decluttered, take a moment to visualise how you’d like your office to look like. Move furniture around and create different zones for different tasks. I do all my design sat at my desk but I have a small nook with a comfy chair next to a bookcase where I sit to brain storm with notebooks, get creative with layout pads or research on my iPad.

Make your office a healthier and happier workspace, and an inspiring place to spend your time.

If you’ve decluttered your office or just taken steps to tackle some clutter, I’d love to hear how you’ve got on in the comments.

Liz x

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