Those of you who work at home may think you don’t need to bother with de-cluttering. With no boss looking over your shoulder and few if any colleagues to look disapprovingly at your clutter, you may think it doesn’t matter. Well you’re wrong!

Just because your boss isn’t raising eyebrows at the sight of your desk, or your colleagues giving you funny looks after tripping over the pile of files on the floor next to your desk, doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Even if the only person to see your office is you and the cat, your clutter may be giving your business a problem.

The Problem

If your office is cluttered then you can’t find things. This will lead to inefficency. You can’t ring back an important client if you’ve lost the reminder to yourself. You won’t be able to produce an effective quote if you’ve lost the notes you made during the meeting.

Clutter clogs up your mind too. You sit down at your desk first thing in the morning and think to yourself “Now what am I supposed to be doing today, what are my priorities?”. If all you can see in front of you are mountainous piles of paper, stained coffee mugs, paper clips, staplers, calendars, pens, files, envelopes, and other assorted miscellanea, then you’ll probably think “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, or I know what I should do but I don’t feel like doing it. I feel harrassed!”

The Solution

In order to get through that work as efficiently and quickly as possible, you need to de-clutter your office. You can’t afford to be slowed down by not being able to find things, or by the feelings of loss of control and harrassment that clutter brings.

Clear Your Desk

You first priority is to clear your desk. People who work at home need to do their own filing, sadly. Get used to it and stop putting it off. Put all the files away in your filing cabinet (please don’t tell me you don’t have one!). Next put all the dirty spoons and ringed coffee mugs in the kitchen where they belong. Scoop up all the paper clips and pens and find a receptacle for them. Items which don’t seem to have an obvious home, like odd bits of paper with phone numbers on or assorted business cards, should be put into a miscellaneous box temporarily, and a home found for them at a later date.

Don’t Keep Everything

Don’t just file or tidy everything away regardless of whether you use it or not. Throw away or shred papers that are no longer needed. Phone numbers on scraps of paper without a name on are useless as you don’t know who they belong to. Throw them away.

Equipment that doesn’t work should be disposed of. This may sound obvious but how many people have phones/printers/keyboards, etc, lying around that don’t work? If you haven’t got it mended by now you never will; just get rid of it. Equipment that is superseded and is obsolete should also be got rid of. If you have a better printer then you’ll never use the old one. If you have a superior phone, you’ll never touch the inferior one again. Give it to charity or to a relative.

Look at Yourself Too

Now take a look at yourself. If no one is seeing you, then you may think it doesn’t matter how you look. But you’re wrong. If you look sloppy then you’ll feel sloppy, and your work will be sloppy. If you look smart, then you’ll think and act smart. My father used to work from home before he retired; every weekday he would dress in a suit, shirt and tie and go into his home office at 9.00 am. No one saw him, but he felt ready for business and that’s what mattered. So, don’t sit at your desk in your pajamas or a scruffy old tracksuit. You don’t have to wear a suit, but do wear an outfit that makes you feel business-like as this will come across in your manner on the phone and improve your general mental attitude.

The Benefits of De-Cluttering

Once your desk and floor start to emerge you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Each item that disappears into the bin or into storage will lighten your mood. You’ll feel more like working. Your mind will feel clearer and more focused. Your clients will be pleasantly surprised at your sudden efficiently. In effect, you will turn into superman or superwoman!

If you don’t believe me then just try it. Working at home is no different that working elsewhere in some ways. Once you get into your designated work space then you have to feel in the right frame of mind for working. With no boss to keep your nose to the grindstone, then self-discipline becomes even more vital. You can’t afford to get distracted.

Without clutter, with all the things you need to do your job within easy reach, then a focused frame of mind will be much easier to achieve. Without clutter, you can get in the zone and plough through that workload singlemindedly. Your clients will be delighted and you will free up the time to enjoy a much needed break.