Tips to clean and organized your home office

A 2017 Gallup survey of more than 15,000 adults, finds that more people are working from home, and they are doing so for more extended periods. Over the last ten years, those who work from home have increased a whopping 91%, with 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working from home.

With all that work being done from home offices, it’s no wonder that people are striving for ways that will help create a working environment so they can be happier and more focused. The problem is that when we become super-focused on work, the office can quickly become out of control. Here’s a checklist that will help you clean and organize your home office so you can maintain peak-performance!

The first order of business… Let’s get organized! 

As time goes by, stuff can quickly pile up. If it’s been a while since you cleaned your office, it may be helpful to tackle specific areas separately. For example, it may take an entire weekend to go through years worth of papers in the filing cabinet. Here are a few easy steps to get organized and keep a clear mind and focus on what’s important.

  • Clear an open space in your office as a temporary holding and sorting area.
  • Then move items in the sorting area, starting with the most cluttered space, e.g., cabinets, shelves, or desktops. Recycle or trash all the things you don’t use or need—for example, non-tax related receipts, junk mail, and old technology. You’d be amazed at how many people keep worthless, obsolete laptops and connectors. The rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in the last year, then you probably don’t need it.
  • Separate the items you don’t frequently use and place them into clear plastic bins that will fit nicely in a cabinet or on a shelf. Group them in a way that will make sense to you. 
  • Put the items you need to keep on hand in easy-to-reach spots like your desktop, or a shelving unit, placing like items near each other—for example, extra printer paper with ink and toner supplies, and stationery and envelopes with stamps.
  • Try to keep your working space as paperless as possible by filing your essential documents in one filing cabinet—it’s important to remember to keep personal and business papers separated.
  • You might be surprised at the number of pens you have scattered about. Put the ones you regularly use in a pencil can or drawer, and store any extras in a different location, such as in a box in your bottom drawer.
  • If you have exposed cords, use velcro strips to keep them from looking like a tangled mess.

Time to clean

Once you’ve gotten everything in its proper place and the clutter out of the way, you are ready to clean.

  • The one item you probably use more than any other is notorious for being one of the dirtiest places in your entire home—your computer keyboard. The problem is hard to reach spaces between the keys, and liquid cleaners can damage the sensitive electronics. A safe and easy method is first to turn the keyboard upside down to shake out that dirt, then use a dust vacuum with a brush attachment to lift any debris stuck between the keys. For stubborn grime, you can use a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. It dries faster than water, but be careful, using too much can cause it to seep under the keys causing damage. For regular cleanings, you can slide the sticky end of a sticky note between the keys. It’s surprisingly effective at picking up all the loose dirt, dust, and hair. 
  • Computer screens attract dust and fingerprints. To improve your view, first, wipe your screen with a dry microfiber cloth to remove any loose dirt and grime. Mix equal parts of distilled water with isopropyl alcohol or vinegar. Then put a little solution on a clean portion of the cloth and carefully wipe your screen from top to bottom in a circular motion. Voila! All your emails will suddenly become clear. Please note: read your computer manual for cleaning solution restrictions.
  • You can use the same solution to clean your desktop and outside of your printer. If you want the smell of clean, just add a little lemon juice to the solution and wipe away the dirt.
  • If you have carpet, laminate, tile, or hardwood floors, you probably have a hard to remove stain or two. CLR® Stain-Free Carpet, Floor & Fabric is a fast and versatile stain remover built to handle the toughest jobs, from wine, blood, mud, urine, and more. It is also part of the EPA’s Safer Choice program and is non-toxic, biodegradable, paraben-free, and with no added fragrance. 

Keeping a clean and tidy office

Now that you have a clean and organized home office, here are a few quick and easy tips to keep it that way:

  • Keep a recycling bin and a shredder handy, so you can take care of the trash as it comes.
  • Invest in drawer dividers. They are an inexpensive and excellent way to keep everyday office supplies organized for quick access. 
  • Use a notebook dry erase board or a notebook for short note-taking, so you minimize all the scraps of paper that tend to get lost.
  • Quickly tidy up your desk each time you finish working.
  • Have a paper towel roll, or better, microfiber cloth in a bottom drawer to wipe down the surfaces daily.
  • Keep a rechargeable hand vacuum handy to clean the little messes from the space around your desk. This is especially useful if you have pets!
  • Keep a small feather duster handy and lightly dust at least once a week.

One final tip is for those who are self-employed with a home office. It has nothing to do with cleaning but making sure you file the proper tax credits will give you peace-of-mind. Visit the IRA website and find out what you qualify for:

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