Top tips to declutter your office

The 30th of June marked the 100th day since the UK entered lockdown.

For many households, the beginning of lockdown was an opportunity to embrace the spring clean and finally undertake neglected jobs from around the house (whilst working and managing childcare and schooling).

Three months on and arguably our lives at home are much more settled, particularly for those who are working from home.

Now that the UK is 'opening up' again, it is predicted that business is about the become busier; not dissimilar to what is experienced in the UK in January and September. We, therefore, encourage you to treat this time with the same focus; out with the old and in with new habits.

Looking around your home office (or makeshift home office), ask yourself if now is the right time to declutter, get organised and create an environment more conducive to effective home working.

Even if a full overhaul isn't for you, most of our tips are easy, effective and affordable:

  • Clear & clean;

  • Sort & shred;

  • Orderly organisation;

  • Keep it clear.

Clear & clean

Get yourself a few collapsible crates and fill them with anything not tied down in your office space; put this to one side for now.

With clear surfaces you can now get to cleaning; we use the three w's - windows, walls and worktops.

Cleaning your windows will ensure that you are getting maximum natural light (good for well being) and giving walls a gentle wipe will pick up any dust that might be ruining your air quality.

The content of your shelves should be in your crates, so give these a wipe over too.

Use a static free cloth to dust your computer and other furnishings (including light bulbs) and consider using antibacterial wipes for your keyboard, mouse, telephone and other hardware that comes into contact with your hands or face; this must be done delicately, leaving minimal residue to avoid damaging your equipment.

Finally pop the vacuum cleaner around, using the soft brush on furnishes such as your office chair and curtains.

Sort & shred

Go back to your crates, it's time to get ruthless about their content. Consider the following three categories:

  • need; items you are currently using or use regularly (every week).

  • store; items that you use or that you cannot dispose of (guidance on data retention). It's worth considering a specific lockable/fireproof cabinet for archived paperwork if you plan to keep these in your office, although digital filing is a more effective tool for decluttering.

  • shred; any confidential waste or old documents that are no longer needed should be disposed of securely to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands. Where possible attempt to recycle any general waste; along with shredding this will enhance your green credentials. Make sure to test all pens work and that you aren't keeping out of shape pins/paperclips.

You may also wish to sort cupboards and cabinets using this method, ensuring a complete decluttering and freeing up valuable storage space.

Orderly organisation

You've cleared, cleaned and sorted; now it's time to bring some organisation to your office space.

This may require some investment in storage (high shelves, tall cupboards, organisers), so plan before you purchase.

Start the organisation with your desk area; try limiting this space to your computer, notebook, phone and pen. Other items you use regularly should be away, but easy to reach - for example in your desk drawers, on shelves above your desk or at hand height in a cupboard behind your desk. Consider a wall mounted pinboard for your in-tray, using push pins with clips will avoid damaging important documents.

Use filing cabinets or box files (stored up high) for archived documents, labelled and with an easy to use filing system. If these aren't fireproof you should seriously consider replacing or storing documents away from your home office.

Infrequent-use electronics should be put away and wireless tech can help minimise cable clutter (including USB hubs). What cables you do have should be surge protected and tied together behind your desk.

If you can afford to streamline your office equipment now is the time to do so; consider multi-function printers, flat screen mounted monitors, and cloud storage to allow you to reduce the physical size of your hard drive (or move to a laptop). Lamps, fans and other accessories should always be freestanding to ensure they do not encroach on your desk space, and move personal effects off your desk e.g. wall mount photos and use window sills for plants.

Utilise your tech for 'to do' lists (and calendars), as these can be synced to various devices and upgrade your sticky notes to a wipeable alternative to cut down on clutter and unnecessary paper.

Finally, consider a declutter of your computer to speed up systems and make filing easier. Remember that old hard drives, storage devices and smart devices should be completely destroyed to protect your confidential data.

Keep it clear

Keeping your office space clean and clear is proven to facilitate a more productive working environment.

Whilst you will find a way that works for you, our top tips are:

  • put it all away at the end of the day; even if you need it tomorrow it can still be put in an easily accessible storage location

  • eat out; to keep food debris out of your office and take that much needed break from work

  • bin the bin; not only will it encourage you to take the recommended 20 minute break from your desk, but it will also stop the 'mess mindset' - we are more likely to create mess if we see mess

  • clean as you go; when you're finished with something put it away - if you find yourself retrieving the same thing multiple times each day it should probably be a permanent fixture of your desk

  • wipe down daily; phones, screens, surfaces - get on top of the daily build up and do your bit to create a covid-free office environment.

If you aren't yet sold on the idea of decluttering your office space, it's important to remember that decluttering will help to sanitise your workspace, elevate work quality, boost efficiency and improve your health.

The office is an easy place to become distracted and a clean and clear office is a good defence to maintain your focus. Being organised also saves you time in the long-run as you know exactly where everything is, improving your work efficiency and simplifying processes. Wellbeing is improved due to fewer germs in the workplace and the minimising of clutter-based stress.

Your office space is where you spend a third of your working week and therefore it's important to take the time to invest in making this the most effective workspace for you.


For more information on secure shredding, please visit us at:

www.shreddingmadesimple.co.uk