It’s been close to 18 months since most of us started working from home. The early days of setting up your webcam in your closet have (hopefully) been replaced with a home office that meets your daily needs. But with any office setting some cleanup is always needed, and with most things in the digital space it’s very easy to grow accustomed to your surroundings and not realize what can be fixed.
Source Nerds has put together our top 10 tips on how to get that home office sparkling like new!
Take An Item As You Go
It’s hard not to have clutter build up throughout the week. A stack of papers at the corner of your desk. A pencil or pen resting at the top of your keyboard/laptop. Maybe you’ve got an old box on your desk filled with trinkets that have a designated spot somewhere i
n the house, but have somehow made their home in front of your face right now. Yes, you have the option to stop what you are doing, and put everything away in one dedicated chunk of the day. But right now you are in the middle of something, and you’ll forget about cleaning up by the end of this sentence. There are plenty of distractions that come with a home office, and putting things away becomes a job at the bottom of that list.
But here is the trick that is easy to remember, and one that I always have in mind whenever I leave my desk. Just pick up one item to put away. If you are headed to the kitchen for some coffee or water, grab that bowl that’s been sitting around since your snack yesterday and put it in the kitchen. If you are standing to stretch your legs, grab one thing from your desk and walk it over to the correct spot. You don’t need to put the pressure on yourself to do a big clean, and as you stand up your workspace will get cleaner and cleaner. Give it a try and watch the mess disappear!
Organize Your Desktop
The physical office space isn’t the only thing that gets cluttered. Randomly saved files have probably filled up your inbox, downloads folder, and desktop. You know exactly what email that important excel doc was saved into, but isn’t it about time it found a home in a harddrive somewhere? Especially if those important work files are used by a group of colleagues, it’s probably best to keep everything digital so you can access your hard work from anywhere.
It isn’t just about keeping your files in an easy to access place, but safety as well. Back in the days of the traditional office with an IT team, your documents could be saved to a network that was always backed up in case your computer went down. Many backup systems won’t bother saving what is on your desktop by default, so anything left on that front page is at risk of getting lost in the worst case scenario.
I lose my keys all the time, and a cartoonish number of times at that. I fell into the stereotypical pattern asking if anyone had seen them, looking in the last place I’d expect them to be, or triple checking a place knowing they weren't there. Until I finally checked my pants to discover I had never taken them out of the pocket when I got home. Minutes of frustration and panic that didn’t just come from my keys, but everything else including my wallet and even glasses. It might be because the area around my workspace is cluttered, a mismatch of hobby items and work supplies, including daily vitamins and chewing gum. Rarely did these items interact with one another, but now they exist in the sameplace with a home office.
The solution to this is easier than expected, and for me it came in the form of storage containers. Now the chaotic space around my desk has become organized (if not still somewhat chaotic) spaces that have everything I need in them. This helped with those rarely used, once a day sort of items that seemed to loom over the other items I own, now packed away neatly in their designated spaces. And this is a cheap and easy fix as well. A quick trip to the dollar store netted me some basic boxes to help keep things organized, with one doubling as a phone stand for added convenience and space storage. And let’s be honest, odds are there is a tupperware container with a lid that has been lost in the same place single socks go after you’ve done the laundry. This might be the only time it’s acceptable to put all your eggs in one basket so give it a try.
The Pencil Shuffle
When was the last time you used a pen or pencil? Was it recently? Maybe write a quick note to yourself, write in a day planner, or sign off on an important document that needs a physical signature. In my case, it was writing a birthday card a week ago, and I haven’t picked up a writing device since. Since I’m in front of a computer during most of the workday, anytime I want to write a note, schedule my calendar, or write something to a colleague, it’s always through a computer leaving my pens and pencil collecting dust.
So why is it that I have a stuffed container filled with pencils I’ll never use? Brimming full of colourful pens and pencils that no longer have any use or function in my daily life. Why do I have my large, bulky, novelty pen from a trip that was 15 years ago right next to a nicer looking pen that I know probably doesn’t work? I am also unsure if I even own a pencil sharpener, and have been using mechanical pencils for the better part of my life. Why are there still wooden ones with their erasers down to the nub? And the kicker to it all is it’s two containers stuffed with pencils, not just one. At most what I should have at my desk is:
1 Pencil (Mechanical)
Highlighter (Bonus if there are multiple colors)
Optional Letter Opener
And that’s it. All your daily work utensils should now fit in the container they were designed to be in, and not stuffed with lidless pens, cracked pencils, and that old marker that’s scene better days.
What odd thing have you found cleaning up around your home office? Anything you'd sworn you lost, only to now discover it? Let us know on twitter by clicking below!
The Office Plant
If you are looking to liven up your workspace, I highly recommend a houseplant to keep you company during your days, especially if you get to work near a window. It will be a change of colour, different from the wooden or metal textures you’ve been staring at for hours at a time, as well as give you something to admire, being able to keep an office plant alive and well at your desk.
If I ever have a tough task at work which requires some thinking and problem solving, I’ll stand up and go get some water for my plant. Stretching out your legs with a problem in the back of your mind can often bring a solution, with watering your plant being the perfect solution to move away from your desk for a minute. In an office work environment, there were always events going on, or people you needed to talk to, to allow you to let your mind wander and figure things out in the background. Now that those distractors are gone, being stuck with an issue that you can’t move off of can be cause for a lot of concern and mental frustration. With that office plant now, you can give yourself that much needed break to think, all while bringing beauty to your workspace. And why just stop at one plant when you have a ledge’s worth you can take care of. Try with one and bring your collection up, trying different breeds of plant to liven your place up.
Upgrading your video calls
In the beginning months of our work setup, one of the requirements that came up was to get a webcam for yourself. It was a way to make sure you were really at your desk for a conference meeting, but it also brought some comfort seeing your colleagues again. If not in person, this digital representation of them would be what we see for the next few months. And nothing was more frustrating than seeing them off their laptops built in camera. You could count the pixels on their face as they talked to you in their closet office, with an overhead light that barely clicked on and cast them into permanent darkness. It could be worse though, as during the time the cost of webcams shot up, costing sometimes 3x more for a webcam you could have bought months ago. Pricing and stock eventually settled, letting now be a great time to upgrade your home office setup.
A computer/laptops built in mic and camera are fine, and will get you through any meeting. But think about how frustrating it has been with other people’s cameras and their poor quality. Or hearing them type away because their laptop microphone is built in right next to their keyboard. These issues already have solutions, and they are now cheaper than they were a year ago. So go out and get a standalone webcam and microphone. Some webcam’s even have a built-in microphone which is usually better than the ones that come standard in a laptop. Even ring/halo lights have become very popular and cheap. Every social media influencer already knows the secret about them, which is why their videos look so good, and these simple fixes will make you the most in focus person in all your zoom calls.
Upgrading your chair
It was bad enough when it was a chair you had to sit in for eight or more hours a day, but now this might be the chair you sit on during your off time as well. Does it have the same sort of support now that it did last year around this time? Have you been feeling any back issues after work or during long periods of sitting? It might not be a new chair that you need, but some accessories that will help with sitting, like cushions or back support aids will help enhance your sitting experience for your home office.
This is also the perfect time to take a look at ergonomics, and the best ways for you to sit for prolonged periods of time. Have you picked up any bad habits that can easily be corrected? Figuring out the best way to sit is great in the long run, and getting a new chair might help correct some of those absentminded decisions we make to try and get comfortable.
With these tips, Source Nerd’s knows that you’ll be a new outtake on life and your work setup. Are there any obvious ones we might have missed? Let us know what you think below in the comments!