Quick! Your friend/mother-in-law/work colleague/client just decided they're going to stop by for a visit. Your over-worked self needs to scramble to make your over-worked home office look magazine-spread-ready in about 15 minutes. It's time for some clutter-busting shortcuts.
No room seems to be such a magnet for clutter as the home office. In addition to your office's own messes of paperwork and wires, it also seems to be the place where the "we-should-keep-this" junk from the rest of the house ends up. Luckily, there are some quick and easy ways you can make your home office appear cleaner than it really is.
Real Simple recently published a guide to faking a clean house, complete with tips for every room. Here are a few suggestions they had for the home office:
• Stash stray office supplies, like pencils and pens, in decorative stationery boxes or filing containers on your desk.
• Take down calendars and notes from bulletin boards and file them in folders. Or align them so that the tops are all in horizontal lines.
• Rearrange crooked books so that all spines are facing the same direction and the titles all read from top to bottom.
• Stow the keyboard and the mouse in a drawer so only the computer monitor tops the desk.
• Temporarily hide wayward Post-it notes and to-do lists underneath the keyboard.
In addition to those stellar ideas, here are a few of our own for faking a clean office. All of these can be done together in less than 15 minutes. You'll always be ready for unexpected guests.
• Run your desk top through The Breadbox Test and stash small items in drawers or bins.
• Use a lint brush on your desktop and keyboard for a quick dusting (especially if you have pets). If you have time, deep clean your keyboard with tape or a sticky note.
• If you've got a rip or stain on your office chair, cover it with a decorative throw or a small pillow.
• Stack books and magazines in neat piles, or place them into files or bins, like these inexpensive ones from IKEA ($1.99 for a pack of 5). You can keep them folded and ready to go for clutter-clearing emergencies.
• Unplug unnecessary cords (like that cord you leave attached to your computer for syncing your iPod) and place them in a decorative box, or in a plastic baggie in your desk drawer.
• Create a temporary "stuff-to-file" file and get that stack of papers off your desk and into your cabinet.
• Empty the trash can (you'd be surprised how a bare bin can make your office feel cleaner). If you don't have time to run to the trash chute or dumper, empty your office trash into a can in the bathroom or kitchen.
Do you have any other tips for quickly cleaning your home office area? Please share them in the comments!
More on "Faking" Clean: Real Simple