5 Tips to Declutter Your Home Office | Wirecutter

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5 Tips to Declutter Your Home Office | Wirecutter

The cliché of a clear space leading to a clear mind has some research behind it: The messier your space is, the more easily you’ll be distracted by all of the visual stimuli around you. I’ve found this to be true in my own life: I’ve worked from home and from the road for over a decade, and it’s indeed hard to focus when my home office is full of receipts, cups of stale coffee, and gear.

Luckily, Wirecutter’s work-from-home team has spent thousands of hours testing the best items for keeping your home office organized. Here’s what they’ve learned along the way.

These ties are sticky and reliable, and they’re really inexpensive, so there’s no reason to buy a knock-off version.

This sleeve makes it easy to organize bundles of cables, even if you need to branch them off in different directions.

“The first thing you should do is clear all of the accessories (and their cables) that you don’t use regularly off your desk,” senior staff writer Melanie Pinola writes in Wirecutter’s guide to how to organize your desk.

Start with a pack of Velcro Brand One-Wrap Thin Ties. Collect all of the cords that snake around and on top of your desk, and thread them around the back, where you can’t see them. Then gather groups of cords into bundles, secured with cable ties. You can also opt for a cable sleeve, like the Bluelounge Soba, especially if you rarely unplug or move the cords in question.

Smoothly gliding doors set this cabinet apart. It’s not too big, it can fit into a closet or under your desk, and it will hold all of your files.

This document scanner is fast, accurate, and reliable, but what really sets it apart from the competition is how easy it is to use.

Next, it’s time to sort through all of the papers on your desk—you know the ones—and put anything that you need to access often in a desktop organizer. You can also add in sticky notes, pens, and whatever else may be cluttering your space.

After that, senior staff writer Kaitlyn Wells recommends spending at least 15 minutes sorting through important papers. Create piles with sticky notes labeled “actionable,” recycle,” “shred,” “relocate,” “archive,” and so on. Sort each document into its respective pile.

Once you’ve gone through the papers, find the items that you need to archive, including birth certificates, estate plans, and business documents. I prefer to scan these important documents and add them to their respective Dropbox files. I ditched my filing cabinet long ago in favor of this method, which cuts down on clutter (and is much easier to move). The Brother ADS-1250W is a portable document scanner that does the job quickly without taking up too much desk space; it can be stored when you’re not using it.

For the archival documents that remain—and for the diehard document keepers among us—it’s worth it to invest in a lockable filing cabinet, like the Lorell 14341 18″ Deep 2-Drawer File Cabinet. This cabinet will keep papers organized and off your desk for good.

“Give each file folder a recognizable name, such as Immigration, Medical, or Taxes [year],” Wells recommends. Then “place your filing system in a secure location that is easily accessible but out of the reach of messy kids.”

This label maker trades a built-in screen and keyboard for an easy-to-use smartphone app. It’s compact and portable, prints quickly, and automatically cuts labels. And Brother’s design software offers plenty of customization options.

“Clearing your desk of clutter is easy enough. What’s wickedly difficult is keeping it clean. No matter how well you tidy up, little by little, a state of disorder is sure to take hold again. Then, frustrated, you’ll likely give up entirely and concede defeat to the untameable mess,” director of photography Michael Hession writes.

To combat this slowly crawling chaos, consider using a label maker. With our top-pick label maker, the Brother P-touch Cube Plus, you can label folders, bins, and shelves, so you’ll know where stray items should land when you inevitably find them strewn across your desk.

Michael says he also uses small plastic trays from Japanese retailer Muji, which is known for its minimalist stylings. “I bought a bunch of them with an eye toward open storage on my junk-strewn desk,” he says.

This budget-priced, glass-surface whiteboard is great for jotting notes, to-do lists, and goals. You can lay it on your desk or stand it up as a clipboard.

This pad will protect the surface of your desk, and it will also help keep things organized.

“If you spend a lot of hours at your desk, it’s worth taking the time to reconsider how it’s arranged, to move things around, and to get the items that will keep you organized and feeling good all day long,” Melanie writes.

Like Melanie, I use the Quartet Glass Whiteboard Desktop Easel for taking notes on what needs to happen during the week. (Any whiteboard will do for this, though.) Start by setting priorities for the week ahead. Then choose two items to tackle on any given day, and then cathartically erase them when they’re complete.

Melanie also loves the Wayber Dual-Sided Desk Pad. This mat will protect your desk from spills, and you can put a sweaty glass anywhere on it. Also, your mouse will glide smoothly over its surface. “Perhaps most importantly, the mat creates a pleasant visual that makes me at least feel more organized and tidy,” Melanie writes.

Now that you’ve decluttered your space, you likely have a pile of electronics, cords, and office equipment you need to get rid of. Senior staff writer Sarah Witman notes that these electronics should not go into a landfill. If they do, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals can leach into soil and water systems.

First, consider repair and reuse options. Look at iFixit to find recommendations for electronics, or locate a repair café in your area. You can also trade in devices at Amazon, BestBuy, Apple, and Dell. BackMarket is a great place to sell (and buy) refurbished gear. Goodwill also accepts most electronics.

Next, consider recycling options by contacting your city’s sanitation department. (This applies both to electronics and furniture, which usually can’t be picked up on the street.) You can use Earth911’s database to learn about national mail-in programs that accept e-waste, too. Before you donate any piece of tech, wipe your data from the device. Office furniture can also be donated to local nonprofits or shared on free-gifting groups.

This article was edited by Annemarie Conte and Erica Ogg.

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5 Tips to Declutter Your Home Office | Wirecutter

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