In our first edition of space stealers, we talked about products that eat up our precious cabinet and pantry space. But in the office, the biggest offender by far is paper, supplies and gadgets. The emphasis will be on paper though because it is something all home offices struggle with.
Saying paper is a problem, though, is an oversimplification. Let’s explore the type of paper kept and how it is maintained to get to the heart of the paper typhoon that plagues most home office spaces.
- Monthly Investment Statements. There was a time when we did not have access to our accounts and needed to keep the paperwork for the life span of the investment. But our accounts are available to us online. Most experts recommend that you keep the original policy and any paperwork that shows account activity, such as trade confirmations, and the year-end tax documentation. Get rid of the dense files, bankers boxes, and three-ring binders that store decades of history.
- Daily Mail. The only unopened mail that needs to be kept is mail that requires action, such as bills, RSVPs, or personal notes. There should be no advertisements, flyers, and marketing materials taking up any space in your home. We suggest having a recycle bin in the office or near the area where you read the mail so these can be readily tossed.
- Paid Bills. With online account review, the need to keep paid bill statements is not as necessary. But we set up many systems where these are stored for one year and purged after taxes. The key is the annual purge for keeping this paper tamed. In addition, we make it simple to file in monthly folders. Easy in. Easy out.
- Cards and Photos. You may have read previous posts of mine explaining that cards are meant to celebrate moments and are not meant to be kept for a life time. Of course, there are some with personal notes that may have special meaning; but they don’t belong in the office. Cards and photos should have a home that matches your vision of ownership in the long term. Do you want to keep them in albums? Do you hope to store them and pass them on? There are a number of photo safe storage options that should keep these out of drawers and shelves.
- Magazines and books. Admittedly, in the age of eEverything, this is my least favorite pile. The electronic versions are space friendly, environment friendly and convenient to keep. Give yourself some space back and let go of the outdated magazines, or the books that were just a good quick read.
- Notebooks with notes in them. People hold on to these because there may be a note with some value in them. Rarely are they called upon for that note of value. It may hurt, but I can tell you unequivocally to toss them and don’t look back. You won’t miss them. Find a way to use the notes program on your phone or via an app to help keep your important info or action items available to you without taking the space.
We should also take a moment to talk about eGadgets that take up space: old phones, old computers, and that pile of cords that belong to…something. And let’s not forget the boxes that stored them! The marketing is so good that most of us keep the boxes too. Recycle the boxes and keep the product documentation if needed. There are a number of ways to recycle the gadgets and destroy hard drives as well. For example, Verizon will take old phones, and Goodwill has a program for all electronics, just to name a couple.
Take back your space! Keep your work space clear of this clutter, and watch your productivity and your mood improve!