If you don’t have a home office, congratulations! You get the day off to relax.
For those of us who do have an at-home workspace, today you will be optimizing your space, getting rid of clutter, and creating an environment where you can be productive, creative, and content.
If you work from home, it can be hard to maintain the line between home-life and work-life. How often have your personal bills become mixed into work files? Is it common for junk to pile up on your desk? How many of your kids’ toys are hiding under the desk?
It’s normal for life to spill over into a home office. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either, as long as it isn’t hindering your productivity and focus. So, let’s dig into this unique area of the home with the mindset of intentionally creating a clean, inviting space where you can thrive in your work, unhampered.
Before You Get Going, Get Your Gear!
You may or may not have everything on the list below. If not, do your best to substitute what you can, unless it isn’t applicable to your space.
- All Purpose Natural Cleaner
- Glass Cleaner (Combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle with a few drops of your favorite essential oil)
- Rubbing alcohol and cotton rounds
- A stack of clean flour sack towels or microfiber cloths
- A small bristled brush or toothbrush
- A paper shredder and/or trash can
- File folders or envelopes to sort paperwork
- Long-handled duster
- Vacuum and vacuum brush attachments
- Mop and mop bucket (only if you have hard flooring)
- Step stool
Spring Cleaning The Home Office Checklist:
Each home office looks a little different, depending on what your vocation is. For instance, a CEO’s office space is going to be very different from an artist’s or architect’s studio. That’s okay! The following offers just general cleaning guidelines that you can tailor to your unique situation.
- Move small furniture (side tables, potted plants, chairs, etc) out of the room you’re cleaning. Clean each item with All Purpose Natural Cleaner as you move it.
- Clean dust and cobwebs from the ceiling, walls, light fixtures, ceiling fans, window frames, and baseboards. Start at the ceiling using your long-handled duster or your cloth and work down. Remove any artwork, whiteboards, or calendars from the walls and dust them before setting aside. Wipe the window frames, light fixtures, fans, and baseboards with a microfiber cloth or flour sack towel dampened with All Purpose Natural Cleaner.
- Clean your HVAC air vents. Remove the air vent covers, remembering to place the screws in a safe location. Clean the cover with a cloth and an all purpose cleaner, or scrub each vent cover in a sink of warm, soapy water. Vacuum the interior of the air duct to remove dust build-up.
- Clean doorknobs and light switches.
- Clean the windows. If your home office has windows, remove the window screens and scrub them clean in the bathroom tub. Spray a natural cleaner along the window tracks and scrub them using a toothbrush or small scrub brush. Replace the screens. Use a window cleaner or your own DIY solution to clean the glass.
- Clean your window treatments. Remove fabric curtains and dust the curtain rods. If your curtains are machine washable, launder them using Oxygen Whitener to bring back vibrant colors or brilliant white. If they’re dry clean only, immediately take them out to the car. If you have blinds or other window treatments, wipe them with a cloth dampened with All Purpose Natural Cleaner to remove dust and debris.
- Get rid of the clutter. All unfiled documents, all scraps of paper, unused cords or worn out supplies need to be thrown away or sorted through.
- Clean storage areas. Remove all items from your desk or other storage areas. Clean the inside of shelves and drawers using a clean cloth and All Purpose Natural Cleaner.
- Get organized. Organize the chaos you’ve pulled from your desk into piles or bins. This step will likely take you the longest. Paperwork that you no longer need can be shredded. The rest of your paperwork should be sorted into file folders and stored in the appropriate location. Continue this until all items have found a home! (See below for more guidelines on what to keep, what to make digital copies of, and what to throw away.)
- Clean the furniture. Office chairs can be thoroughly wiped down with a clean microfiber cloth, dampened with All Purpose Natural Cleaner. Armchair and couch cushions should be removed. Vacuum the furniture inside and out using the appropriate vacuum attachments. For leather furniture, use a leather cleaner.
- Clean all remaining surfaces with All Purpose Natural Cleaner. Clean all end tables, lamps, electronics and electronic cables, TV mounts, computers, and desk surfaces. Dust any decor you have in these areas as well.
- Clean the electronics. Use rubbing alcohol and cotton rounds to clean your computer cables and electronics. ALWAYS unplug the device before cleaning it! Your device screens, trackpads or mice, keyboards, and screens should be cleaned as well.
- Thoroughly vacuum the carpet (or mop the floor). Move the furniture as much as possible to vacuum or mop all areas.
- Steam-clean carpeting (optional). If you own or have rented a steam cleaner, now is the time to use it! Remember that you will need to move all furniture off the carpet you’re cleaning. You cannot return those items until the carpeting is completely dry, so plan to do this over a weekend when you won’t need your space as often.
- Return all items to their places. Return the furniture and decor back to where it belongs. Take out the trash and place all the items you’ll be donating in the back of your car.
- Forget about work for the rest of the day and relax.
Making Sense of Your Paperwork
If you only do this task once a year, chances are good you’ve got some serious work cut out for you. So, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever else you need and get settled in.
Here is our rule of thumb when organizing paperwork: keep only what is very difficult to replace. We know, it sounds easy, but if it were, we’d all stay organized all the time. The reality is that what is difficult to replace can be hard to accurately assess.
Here are some guidelines to help.
- Does an electronic copy already exist? If yes, then throw the paper copy out. Product manuals, for instance, are often kept in dusty stacks, but the reality is, they’re pretty easy to find online.
- Receipts for online purchases and banking receipts already have a digital paper trail. Shred them.
- Old pay stubs from the tax year prior are all documented on your W-2 forms. Shred them.
- Most bills also have a digital copy. Unless you need hard copies for tax purposes, shred them.
- Paperwork from old class projects or work projects that do not contain important information can be thrown away.
- Old calendars simply take up space, so toss them. If there’s a special date, take a picture and save it to a file on your phone or computer to remember it.
- Greeting and thank you cards. Unless it has significant sentimental value, throw it away.
- Your children’s artwork. It is so easy to end up with mounds of artwork from your loving kids. For most of these, it’s better to scan it and let go of the original. (Just do this in the dead of night when there is no chance your kid will see you do it!)
What About Important Documents?
Always keep documents relating to governmental or legal matters. We’re sure we don’t need to remind you what a hassle it is to go down to the local DMV or federal office for a new passport or Social Security Card. The following should always be retained in paper form, and we strongly encourage you to make digital copies as well that can be placed on a flash drive and stored in a secure location.
- Birth/adoption certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Name change certificates
- Immigration paperwork
- Death certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Social security cards
- Travel visas
- Tax returns
- Home mortgage documents and deeds
- Vehicle titles and registration
- Insurance policies (all forms, including homeowner, renter, health, etc)
- Year-end investment statements, including the purchase price of stocks and mutual funds
- Proof of IRA and 401(l) contributions
- Documents related to your death, such as your will, living will, living trust, power of attorney, power of healthcare, funeral plans, life insurance policies, and so on.
Keep Your Questions Coming!
One of our favorite things is when our team gets questions from our customers. We love having the opportunity to share our tips and tricks around the home. Get in touch with our team or comment on our posts on Facebook and Instagram.