Many of you are organizing your home office in the challenge. Tricia emailed me about the trouble she is having in her home office. Here is what she had to say:
My main problem is my home office. In addition to working full-time outside the home, I am responsible for my children’s ministry and youth ministry at my church, in addition to some women’s ministry things and being part of the pastoral management team. We don’t have a church building, so all of the administrative stuff (including the church copier, bulletins, etc.) are currently residing in my office…along with all the normal things like bills, books, files, magazines, etc. Right now, it looks like a bomb exploded in this room. I can’t find anything and am really feeling frustrated.
My goal here isn’t to sound like a “know it all”. I just want to help any way I can because judging from the amount of emails I have gotten, I suspect this is a pretty common problem area. Tricia’s office must meet many requirements and it looks like what she is missing is some boundaries. I certainly don’t see a problem with containers…..it looks like she has plenty but they are overflowing and overworked. I know the routine because it happens to me too. You get busy, you get behind and you just throw things into the room to deal with later and close the door, only by the time later comes you realize that the paper mountain is so huge that instead of the quick 10 minute job you thought it was going to be you look around and realize “whoa this is going to take way more time than I have” and you leave the room saying “I’ll have to deal with this later”. Once we get into this pattern frustration sets in and pretty soon we are so overwhelmed we don’t even want to go into the room, let alone work in there. We all know what happens then right….bills don’t get paid on time, school papers don’t get returned, medical reimbursements don’t get submitted, pictures don’t get printed (that is if we can find the camera) and the biggie, time gets lost….lost because we spend 1/2 an hour looking for something that was “right here” the last time you saw it but somehow “jumped” over to the pile on the other side of the room.
In Tricia’s case she is also trying to house the church office as well. I can see how this could get overwhelming for anyone. I know this isn’t the “quick fix” answer she probably wants to hear but in order to get her office into a tip top organized space, my suggestion would be to empty the space first….say what??? I know, believe me I know, that takes time and who has that kind of time right? I actually think it is faster to empty the room and start from scratch…really I do. Somehow it is easier to purge when the “stuff” is out of the space. Get rid of as much as you can….if you haven’t needed it in the past year you aren’t going to need it! Get your piles going. Tricia will need 7 boxes…trash, church, filing, books, immediate action, donate and miscellaneous (the how the heck did that get in the office box). As you start consolidating stuff you realize that all of sudden you have 100 pens and clearly NO ONE needs a hundred pens….it is okay to get rid of oh I don’t know 80 of them!!! Donate, donate, donate!! Anyway you see my point, until you consolidate “like with like” you often don’t even realize what you have and how much of it until you see it altogether. Definitely the sorting and purging takes the biggest chunk of time but also VERY necessary.
Zoning – ahh yes I love that word….I love to zone in on my zones…..oh I think I just found my new key phrase (he he)! As you stand looking at your almost empty space (your furniture will still be there of course) think about how you can divide it up to establish boundaries. Tricia clearly needs to divide her space in two….church and home. Designate a filing cabinet or bookcase solely to the church stuff and have it on one side of the room all in one spot. Look at what you have to go back into the space and yet before you do put it back plan the space out….put it down on paper if you have to….think it through before jumping back in. Tricia didn’t send me a picture of inside her closet but it looks pretty big from what I can see. Could she put all the church stuff in the closet out of the way or maybe all the books? If you don’t need to hang clothes in your office closet I would recommend a closet organizer shelving system to maximize this space….it really is invaluable.
Now back to all those boxes. Beside being able to consolidate “like with like” sorting into all the different boxes comes in real handy for another reason. If you don’t have time to deal with all of the newly sorted boxes in one day (and lets face it who does) you can tackle one box at a time. For instance, Tricia can do the church stuff one day and the filing another, etc…. but try to finish one box per organizing extravaganza.
The other thing I think Tricia is missing is drawer space. Her desk is nice and big but no drawers which are usually pretty helpful especially for the office supplies….pens, rulers, calculaters, glue, highlighters, etc.. I might suggest a plastic rolling cart with all drawers that could slide right underneath the desk.
The one other thing I want to touch on is the “nick-nacky” stuff. Really think hard about how much each piece means to you and only keep it because it brings you joy to look at it. Carefully examine each item and give it some thought as to what it means to you and ask yourself “is it worth it to me to keep this and take up valuable living space that I could be using for something else?” I’m not saying it isn’t okay to have nice decorative pieces around but only if you have the space for it. One idea if you really do want to keep something is to consider putting up shelves on the wall to house these things out of the way and not taking up valuable “real estate”. Just a suggestion only…I’m not a nick nack girl but I do know some people get really attached to their things. Reading my previous post on purging may also help in this area. Take care of the essentials first (paper, supplies, books, etc) and then and only then put back in the nick nacks if you have the room for them…..and remember it is nice to leave some empty space as well….I call this breathing space!
Here is the link to a post I did on how I keep my home office organized.
I hope that helps Tricia….I would love to see some after pictures!
You can see all the 30 Day Organizational posts here and don’t forget I’ll be posting a new Mr. Linky on Dec 6th for your challenge entry post….anyone can link up to a post on this day with your before and after pictures (and don’t forget summary) if you want to enter the challenge….it’s not too late! I won’t be around much in the next week and a half as I will be away but I’m hoping to at least check in every once and awhile to see how you are doing.