Resolution Action: Home Office, Common Problems

Yesterday I got you kick started in your home office by pulling everything out, sorting like with like and  then starting the purge of what you don't need, use or love.  Today I'll go over common issues I see and what to do with them. Files

Go through all of your papers and separate them in a way that makes sense to you, pairing like with like. Bills, receipts, investments, etc. There is no "right" way to do it - just work by how you think and how you'll remember it. What is the first thing you think when you see the paper? That is it's category. Store and label accordingly. Do this because whatever the first thing that comes to mind is when you look at it is also the first thing that comes to mind when you need to look for it.

Hate files? Don't use traditional files. Binders with dividers are an easy way to "file" paperwork. This solution works great if you've got a lot of shelf space but not enough room for a file cabinet. If you set up binders to store current paperwork for the year, when the year is up then remove the contents and place in a large envelope to label and store away. Another idea - especially if you are a piler - is to use magazine files to house your paperwork and then label each magazine file accordingly.

Hate papers altogether or have limited space? Scan and keep everything tucked away on your computer. Make sure that you "file" away the documents as you would hard copies and have a rockin' backup system on your computer. I recommend using online backup that automatically backs up every time you make changes. This way you don't have to remember to back up and if something were to happen to your home, your work is still safe.


Sort by topic and then look at the topics you have. Do they all suit the goal of the office? If not, then find a new  home for them elsewhere. Exceptions would be - the office is the only room with bookshelves, you menu plan in the office so food books make sense in there, etc. Think about how you best work and how you want to best work.

Among the books, determine what you want to keep, donate or sell. Things to keep include - first editions, important texts, signed books, books you love, adore, and re-read or reference to. Sell or donate the rest. Did you find borrowed books? Return them to your friend. Have cookbooks with just a couple of recipes you want? Copy the recipes, put with your other recipes, then sell or donate the book. If you only wanted a couple of recipes, then you don't need to hold up real estate for the entire copy.

People often have a hard time letting go of books, but if you need space then it's important to sort through them as you will with your other things. Think about which is more important - books that you may or may not touch again or the space to achieve your goals.

Office Supplies

Organize like with like - equipment like staplers, hole punch, etc., small supplies like paper clips and thumb tacks, paper, card stock, stationary, pens and pencils, so on and so forth. Check all of your pens to make sure they work.

Keep all supplies in one area such as a closet or trunk. This makes it easier to find supplies as to having them separated. Then you can check supplies area before purchasing more - especially little things like paper clips and staples. I often tell my clients "No more paperclips!" a la Mommy Dearest with the wire hangars. I've found enough excess paperclips to chain them around the world!!

Find yourself with a great excess of things you know you don't need or can be easily purchased down the line? Donate to a school, teacher, after school program, art center, or other cause that can put the items to good use.


Cords are the bane of the new world. Every single client I've ever worked with has a bunch of random cords and has no idea what they go to or if they still need them.When you get those suckers - label them! This can be as easy as folding a file label around the cord to label or even some masking tape. If you find yourself in the situation of tons o' cords and no idea where they belong, put them all in a large ziplock bag and give it the expiration date of a year out. Staple a second large bag to the first. When you use a cord, transfer it to the second, non-dated bag and label it. When you hit expiration date, ditch the cords in that bag unless you know for a fact what the cord goes to and if you'll use it again. (Chances are not.)

Storage is pretty easy - ziplock baggies, dedicate a small drawer or use containers within a drawer. Just make sure to wind them up and band them so they don't all tangle with each other.

Tomorrow, will put your office back together.