The One Thing Everyone Should Remove from Their Home Office

published Mar 4, 2022
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Whatever your home office situation is — whether you’ve got a dedicated home office or a more creative solution — you may be feeling like it could work better and harder for you. Maybe you’ve thought about investing in a standing desk or an ergonomic chair. Maybe you’ve been eyeing some new organizers to keep your WFH space a bit tidier.

But before you spend a ton of money, there’s one high-impact (and super-affordable) way to transform your home office (and, as a result, improve your workflow): Reduce your paper clutter. Here’s why it’s a good idea for pretty much everyone:

Paper clutter is physical clutter. All your stacks of paper — accumulated mail, receipts, to-do lists, and work documents — can physically get in the way of your productivity.

Paper clutter is also mental clutter. Jaclyn Strauss, CPA, efficiency expert and co-founder of the digital storage tool 2ndVault, says it’s hard to get in the zone and feel inspired in a cluttered environment. Papers, in particular, are reminders of what you haven’t done and can contribute to low-level anxiety.

Paper clutter is environmental clutter. All that paper just isn’t good for the environment, even if you religiously recycle.

A 3-Step Process for Reducing Paper Clutter

So, how do you create a more sustainable, less cluttered paper system?

Start by paring down existing papers, says professional organizer Lauren Saltman of Living. Simplified — and be ruthless: “Yes, there will always be a few items, like birth certificates and car titles, that you should keep the original hard copies,” Saltman says. “The rest can go into the shredder or recycling bin.” Recycle what you don’t need, download product manuals online and save them in dedicated digital folders, and use an app with a scanning feature to digitize other paperwork. Keep essential paperwork in a dedicated space, ideally outside your office.

Next, prevent more paper build-up by opting out of unnecessary mail and, instead of using paper to-do lists and notes, pivot to Evernote or Google Docs. Be mindful, too, of what you print out. If you can get the job done without a physical copy of a document, take that approach first. “If not, print it, use it, and recycle it in a bin next to your desk,” Strauss says.

Finally, set a calendar reminder to go through papers and mail once a week to keep your office free of paper clutter.

It may take some time to implement and adapt to a paperless system, but over time, you’ll probably find yourself grateful for all that extra space — and hopefully, renewed motivation and focus.