Working from home is very different from working in an office. For one, the entire office doesn’t see your workspace every day, so what you wear and how messy your work environment is doesn’t really matter much to your coworkers. The downside to working from home, however, is that there is no janitorial service to take out the trash or vacuum your workspace for you. It’s up to you to keep your environment as tidy as possible, especially as the cleanliness of your work space has been shown to have a direct connection to productivity. Here are some tips on how to keep your home office tidy:
Set Aside Ten Minutes a Day to Keeping Your Workspace Clean
During the course of a day, things stack up on your desk and surrounding area. Your coffee mug, printouts and notes, reference materials, and perhaps even your lunch may end up cluttering your desk by the end of the day. Taking ten minutes to clear this clutter off and get your workspace ready for tomorrow will pay off by allowing you to jump right in to your duties the next morning. Starting your day off by shuffling through a stack of miscellaneous paperwork is a quick way to kill motivation and productivity before the day even starts.
Make it Easy to Clean as You Go
Do you have a trash bin within reach of your desk? Have you invested in actual inboxes or organizational tools like a set of drawers or a filing cabinet? These things can help you keep organized and tidy as you go about your day. Each task you complete could very well end with a quick tossing of notes into the trash or filing away in the appropriate place. This only takes a few seconds, and will keep the environment ready for anything that comes your way later in the day.
Keep the Area Open
Sometimes, clutter leads to clutter. Having a flat surface of stacked boxes within reach can make it very tempting to stack more things on top of it and go about your day. Your home office space shouldn’t be a cramped corner of the room or a little nook somewhere only you can fit. By allocating a larger space to your home office, you make it easier to move around and harder to stack things up.
In addition to your daily pickup, make sure to clean your home office from top to bottom during the weekend, as you would any space in your house. Vacuum the carpet, straighten out the monitors and other accessories that get bumped and shifted throughout the week, and make sure that everything is in its right place. The best rule of thumb here is that your home office should always be ready to accept visitors. You never know when a potential client (or your employer) might be inclined to stop by and see how things are going for you. Having the peace of mind and knowing that everything will be in order helps.
Personalize Your Space
This one might seem to have no connection with cleanliness, but if you personalize your space with figures or pictures that matter to you, you’re subconsciously more inclined to keep the space neat and organized. Hiding a picture of your wife, kids, or family pet behind a stack of paperwork and take-out boxes is more difficult than doing so on a blank empty space. If your work space is set up exactly the way you like it to be, you’re less likely to mess it up.
Photo of messy desk by Urthstripe.