Mini Declutter Week Day 5: Ten minute home office sort-out

home office declutter messy laptop

The activity for Day Five of the mini Declutter Week challenge is a 10-minute home office declutter. Full decluttering schedule here if you need a reminder.

This doesn’t have to be a physical home office in the classic sense. It could be a study spot or other work desk, any ‘life admin’ area (even if it’s a small part of the kitchen table), or your personal finances shelf or drawer.

Many home office setups are now virtual and paperless, so if you want to do a digital declutter instead today then feel free to carry one out.

The benefits of tidying here are extensive. You can achieve a calmer work or study environment, you’re less likely to miss an important message or bill payment, and it’s easier to find important documents or other items in an emergency.

Which home office area to choose

It’s important to pick a small area to sort out, ideally something that will take ten minutes or less.

Don’t try to do the whole home office or admin area at once, or you risk becoming overwhelmed or distracted. Stick to a limited bit that you can fully complete in the time.

Examples for a mini home office declutter:

  • The top surface of a desk
  • One of your desk drawers
  • Stationery holder or pen pot
  • The ‘admin spot’ of a kitchen or dining table
  • A file or folder containing paperwork
  • Wherever you store guarantees, receipts, instruction manuals, etc, whether paper or digital
  • Pile or box of notebooks
  • Collection of textbooks
  • A shelf or windowsill
  • Items on the floor or in a corner
  • Pinboard, pegboard or noticeboard
  • Bank statements
  • Insurance documents, mortgage or pension documents etc
  • Specific bills (council tax, water, electricity, credit card etc) – paper or digital

When it comes to life admin, school or university admin, business stuff, important documents or everyday bills, I’m sure you can think of plenty of other ideas of your own too. If in doubt, pick something physical that you’re fairly sure you can sort out in ten minutes or so.

home office declutter desk and shelves contemporary

How to do your mini home office declutter

Once you’ve chosen the spot or the type of bill, the most important thing do do next is this: decide exactly how you want this small area to function.

With home or personal admin, often it simply needs to be functional or practical. However, it can also be a creative space for design, writing or crafting, in which case you might also want to make a special effort to make it feel aesthetically pleasing or inspiring.

Here’s the running order:

  • Clear up the space (for example, remove physical clutter from a shelf or drawer)
  • Clean the area (dust, wipe, etc)
  • Sort through the clutter (keep here, keep but move, delete, recycle, donate, sell)
  • Add structure if needed (boxes, files, digital folders)
  • Put the ‘keep here’ things back, grouping them together
  • Add other items if you like (office plants, pictures, desk calendar, wall planner)
  • Other immediate jobs (put ‘doesn’t live in here’ things away elsewere, bins, recycling)
  • Choose timeframe for other tasks (deal with paperwork emergencies, take to charity shop, list on Vinted)
  • Make a shopping list (what do you still need for this space, if anything?)

The most important thing to be aware of here is that bills and other important documents may surface unexpectedly. Remember to allow time to sort that out later – if you’re doing this Day 5 exercise on a Friday, that’s something to take care of over the weekend.

Extra items you might need to add structure (or digital structure or backup or safety)

If you need to add structure, here are a few ideas:

  • IKEA for affordable fold-away desks and clever small-space solutions
  • Papier for beautiful planners, notebooks, diaries and more
  • Muji for minimalist, eco-friendly storage and stationery
  • Ryman for a one-stop office supplies shop with loads of stock

You might also decide to get some more file space, a new firewall or other digital security, some organising software, or a spare physical hard drive for back-ups.

home office mini declutter exercise freelancer work from home

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What’s happening here

My home office declutter has been relatively simple. Over the festive season, the room I have my work desk in became a bit of a junk room. Things were moved out of the way to make room for visitors, and I was also hiding gifts in there, so it got a little messy.

The main problem was a big, awkward-shaped cardboard box on the floor, full of old packaging materials, used wrapping paper and postal packets. The box made it hard to get into the room and access some of the shelves and other things I needed.

It was taken downstairs and blitzed through at speed, with recycling taken straight outside into the collection bin, followed by some shredding.

There’s some other decluttering I can do in here over the next week or two, now that the physical block has been removed, but I’m not in a hurry. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Where’s your main office / study / life admin space?

Which one of the mini home office declutter ideas will you do today to get organised?

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