I know it’s hard to get rid of things like old client files, equipment so out-of-date they don’t make ink cartridges for it anymore, and stationery that you probably haven’t used in ten years. Do people even order business stationery anymore?
My cousin used to have a basement loaded with file boxes she’d accumulated during the 25 years she owned her own business. A few years ago, her basement flooded after a huge rainstorm and she had to get rid of everything. She finally admitted she was relieved her basement flooded and was glad she had remembered to renew her homeowners insurance. If her basement hadn’t turned into an indoor pool (minus the cabana boy), she still would have had a basement full of boxes she didn’t need to keep and never even opened after she packed them.
You don’t have to wait for a disaster to clear out your office, garage, or attic office (leaky roofs rank near the top of the disaster list). Consider these questions to help you purge your home office.
Are you using out-of-date equipment?
Figure out what your time is worth and whether or not you can afford to waste time each day using unproductive equipment. In other words, stop being cheap, step up to the plate and buy a new computer. If your desktop is close to dying, consider whether you should invest in a laptop instead. You’ll be able to take the laptop with you when you travel, work from a coffee shop, or stay in bed and work on those extra cold days.
Are you struggling with outdated software?
If a computer program is too complicated or has more features than you need, like my oven that I’ll never figure out, buy a different program. Your friends, colleagues or even your neighbor may use a certain program that works perfectly for him or her. That doesn’t mean the same program will work for you. Before you invest in new software, try it out first, like a car, a television, and a potential spouse. Most companies offer a trial period. Keep in mind that technology is supposed to help you save time, not make you waste time.
Are you fighting the urge to keep magazines and catalogs?
If you know that you’ll never read something, get rid of it faster than an unwanted house guest. If you ever need an article from a past issue, it’s usually available online. Keep your e-mail newsletters under control by deciding before you sign up for one whether you’ll have time to read it. Once or twice a year, look through your list of e-mail newsletters and unsubscribe from more than half of them.
Are you facing your fear of purging?
Some people are afraid that the minute they give or throw something away, they’ll need it again. It’s like a frustrating game of hide and seek where no one wins. You put something away and when you need it, you can’t find it until the next time you play hide and seek when you’re looking for something completely different. Consider this: if you own something but you can’t find it, it’s of no use to you.
Are you ready to start today?
De-clutter your home office by peeling away each layer like an onion. Start with files and supplies you haven’t used in a year. Then move on to equipment, books and anything else in your home office that you could store in your garage, basement or attic. You could also donate the items you don’t use.
Your home office probably looks a little different now from when you first started working from home. When you take the time to clear out your office you’ll save time by working in an uncluttered space, money by not buying duplicate supplies, and your sanity by no longer saying, “I know I bought that. I just don’t know where I put it.”