The office is often seems to be a spot of contention in the house because of the important role it can play. With so many people working at home at least part of the time, the office becomes the keeper of all that’s important – and everything is important. It can also be a place where kids do their homework of the family shares the computer.
There are two items of focus in an office: paperwork and objects. In your 15-minute declutter sweep, ignore the computer: it’s really only taking up space and there is not much you can do to make it uncluttered other than dealing with the cords (and that’s a 15-minute or more project on its own!). Give it a quick swipe with a dust cloth if you like, then move on.
A home office tends to collect things: awards, collectibles, books, souvenir mugs, and a host of other items find a home on and around your desk. In addition, you likely have equipment such as a computer, printer, scanner, docking stations and external hard drives. That’s a lot of “stuff” to deal with.
Start by cleaning up everything at eye level. Determine if it’s a ‘put away’ or ‘tidy up’ item. Eye level would also include anything you can sit on. Perhaps there is a chair or small sofa besides the main office chair. What does it have on it? Take care of those items first. If they hold clothes or stuff that belongs elsewhere in the house, have a basket or box handy and toss them in. You’ll deal with that later.
As you move around the room, your goal is to straighten up. Most office items – other than paperwork – should have a place to reside. For example, books go on the bookshelf (surprise!), knick knacks go on shelves and charging cords go in a drawer.
With the eye level stuff put away, pick up anything on the floor and put it away, too. “Put away” means located in a place that is previously designated for the item or a place that is not visible. (You can work on the closets and cabinets in another, longer decluttering session.)
Tackle paperwork next. Have on hand a basket or container with a lid (with the lid being critical). You cannot file paperwork in 15 minutes so it needs to be collected into a central location for dealing with later. If you have time, give it a quick sort. Toss what you can and loosely organize the rest into relevant piles. If you fill up the trashcan, be sure to dump it when you’re done. Trashcans are clutter by themselves.
If you put stuff away in the desk, avoid the inclination to want to clean the desk drawers. This is not the time for that. Your goal should only be to put like items in the same drawer, not organize the contents.
When you think you have everything in the proper location, do another quick pass and straighten things up. Arrange objects in groups of 3’s or 5’s, stack or line up books, be sure pens/pencils are in their proper containers, etc. It’s important to note that you should not plan to dust or clean anything at this time: that’s handled during your routine cleaning tasks.
An office can be the most difficult area of the house to declutter in record time. Take a focused approach, have your plan in place, and then dive in.