Tag Archives: Home Office

home office | Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers – Decluttering and Organising across the UK

a laptop keyboard

Decluttering and organising digital documents

Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms has been decluttering and organising her digital documents. In this post she explains how she did it, and how she keeps her digital world organised. 

The Big Sort Out!

I recently sorted and organised every single digital document I own. I expected it to take me days of staring at my screen in mild agitation as I wrestled with thousands of little yellow folders. Surprisingly, it only took me about half a day to complete, and by the end of it I’d renamed, removed and reassigned almost all of the documents stored in my cloud.  I now know exactly what documents I own, which folders to find them in and where to allocate new files. It was a hugely satisfying achievement that still feels absolutely wonderful!

The process was worthy of a name so I called it, The Big Sort Out!

The motivation

The Big Sort Out was prompted by a renewal request from my existing file management provider. I knew there were free alternatives available but I just hadn’t got around to addressing the task until I was faced with a renewal bill.

Deadlines (especially ones involving payments) can be great motivators! I see this a lot when tackling physical clutter with my clients. The deadline of an impending house guest can be a fantastic motivator to clear out your spare room; a tea date with your children’s friends can be a catalyst to organise your toy cupboard; the builder starting your loft conversion may well get you sorting through dusty old boxes.

It’s the same with getting started on your digital clutter. Your motivator might be to stop paying for cloud storage, to eliminate the daily frustration of searching for missing files, or simply to reduce the volume of documents in storage.

If you’re ready to embrace your own Big Sort Out, here are three tips to help you get underway:

  1. Keep all your documents in one place. This will help you see what you’ve got and make it easier to spot what you no longer need. Gather together any floating documents from other devices and drives. You might simply create a folder on your desktop called Documents. Group similar topics together dividing them into sub folders. Keep your system simple, being consistent and specific with your document names so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
  2. Consider what you need to keep. Regularly delete any out-of-date, unused, or redundant documents and folders. It’s much easier to organise less so before filing every document you come across, consider whether you really need to keep it. Look at your directories and think about where you would look for it if you needed it.
  3. Make a plan to maintain your documents. When you go into a folder, develop a habit of getting rid of anything you spot that you no longer need. Whenever you create or receive a new document, make sure you file it quickly to prevent building up floating documents in random places. Think about choosing a regular interval, such as the end of the month or half yearly, to carry out a mini review. This will help ensure your system remains simple, ordered and clear, helping you avoid another Big Sort Out in the future.

If Lynda’s experience has encouraged you to get your digital world more organised, you can find APDO professional organisers who specialise in digital organising and photo management on our Find An Organiser database.

Pens organised in pen pots on an organised office shelf

Show us your workspace!

Many of us are working from home at the moment. Some of us for the first time, most of us more than usual. So in this post for National Organising Week, we asked some of our APDO members to show us their workspaces, and give us some tips to make working from home work for you.

Show us your workspace!

Nicola Davie of TidyGirl

Nicky Davie's office

Nicky Davie’s office

At the beginning of lockdown, I was sharing an office workspace with my husband. Then, when our youngest child moved out to get married in the summer, we changed their old bedroom into an office space for my husband! I am very fortunate now to have a lovely space of my own – ready to re-decorate, organise and make mine!

Tilo Flache of ClutterMeister

Tilo Flache's desk

Tilo Flache works from his dining table

A lot of my work is done from home but, as I don’t have room for an office, I work in my living room. Since there is only one table here, at first I found it hard to separate work time from free time. I solved the problem by simply sitting at a one side of the table for work, and on the opposite side when it’s time to relax. Putting all my work stuff away after work is an additional reminder that the office is closed. I find my mind is much better able to make the switch through these two simple actions.

Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms

Lynda Wylie at her desk

Lynda Wylie at her desk

I’ve seen all sorts of home working set ups since I’ve been back in client homes post lockdown. Necessity has produced creativity to establish the best arrangement, and there is a great deal of compromise going on. Our house is no different!

My husband has taken over my home office and after a few weeks’ sofa surfing, I settled on a desk in our living room. I’m out for a few hours every day with clients but, once the kids are back and the after-school TV starts, the headphones go on to zone everyone out! Whilst my work files are all still securely stored in the office, I have moved all the basics to have them at hand.  Plus, I have a great view of the comings and goings on my street which has been great fun as passers-by have been waving at me!

Jane Zhang Rice of Serenity Organising & Decluttering

Jane Zhang Rice's workspace

The office and relaxation room in Jane’s house

My workspace used to be our upstairs home office. Since both my husband and I work from home now, I have given him the upstairs office (because he needs space for two monitors) and I use the kitchen/diner as my workspace. I also added a few things to the home office in the past months, making it a relaxation room as well as a workspace. The relaxation room is where I do my reading, calligraphy and meditation at weekends.

Most of the time the space works well for both of us, although I now realise I need a space for my printer in the kitchen/diner, which means I need to declutter and make space in one of the kitchen cupboards!

Amanda Manson of Orderly Office and Home

Amanda in her office

I’m lucky to have a spare room as my office. I use a desk, set of drawers and two shelves of a bookcase for work-related matters. My husband has been home based for more than 20 years but we’re lucky to have a separate space for him to work in.

I clear my desk at the end of the week rather than every day, as often I’m mid-way through something and it would take longer to put it all away and bring it out again!  If I go into that room over the weekend it is purely a spare room at that time, not an office.

What works for me?

  • A clear distinction between personal paperwork (I keep this behind me) and work paperwork (I keep this on a bookcase and in drawers).
  • Creating a layout on the desk that I can stick to, so that I know where to find what I want, when I need it.
  • Having a consistent layout creates a habit for the brain with less ‘thinking time’ and more ‘automated actions’.

Laura Williams of OrganisedWell

Laura Williams' desk

Laura Williams’ desk

When I started my business, I worked from the dining table and created an ‘office in a box’ with all the things I needed for my day-to-day work. It worked really well for a while, and I could pack it away when my working day was done so that we could carry on with family dinner and activities.

Later, however, I wanted my own space to spread out, display images, store more work equipment and have a standing desk, so I targeted our spare room. As many spare rooms do, it had become a space for storage and laundry. My first step was to look through everything, and I found that the things we had stored in there were no longer as important to us as they once were and we felt comfortable giving them up in favour of creating my office. I took photos of some items that held memories and donated, sold and disposed of anything we no longer wanted to keep. I was then able to organise the cupboard space for my work and to store some family items.

There isn’t a lot of space, but I have a home for everything, my stand-up desk fits perfectly and I can run workshops and video calls with clients in peace. I’m lucky to have this space because shortly afterwards the rest of my family moved in for lockdown!

Shelly Moss of Kewniek

Shelly Moss's office

Shelly Moss’s office

My husband works from home and so has his own office.  I have a dedicated space which we call my “Harry Potter cupboard” – we put a few shelves in the cupboard and made a fold down desk.  I only need it for occasional admin so it is perfect.

If you don’t have a dedicated space, it helps to put everything away at the end of the day or at the end of the week to ensure that you leave work at work.  If you are thinking longer term, then think about a small desk, perhaps converting an old dressing table, or using cupboard or wardrobe space.  When working from home, the most important thing is to go online and do your own mini work station assessment: ensure your laptop or PC screen is at the correct height, and invest in a supportive and moveable chair. And, of course, make it Zoom-friendly so you don’t have a dressing gown hanging in the background!

If you enjoyed this post, did you see Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo‘s advice on organising for these current times? And look out for our next National Organising Week post tomorrow, where we reveal our members’ Top 10 organising products!

APDO organising decluttering purchase paperwork shopping bags

Organising the paperwork and packaging from your purchases

When we purchase an item, it often comes with paperwork (receipts, warranties, user manuals) and packaging. This excess paperwork and packaging from our purchases can be a challenge. In this post, Jane Rice of Serenity Organising & Decluttering in Dunfermline shares her advice on what to do with it all.

How to declutter, organise and store receipts, warranties, user manuals and cardboard boxes

If you’re reading this post, the chances are that you are thinking about what to do with the empty cardboard boxes gathering dust in your garage, loft or other spaces in your home. Yes, they clutter up your space, but somehow you or your family members believe they might be useful someday. Empty boxes, together with receipts, warranties and the user manuals they came with, make up a major source of paper clutter in many homes. We know this because some of the frequently asked questions from our clients are: “How do I store receipts/warranties/user manuals?”; “Can I, or should I, keep those gadgets boxes?” To answer these questions, we need first to ascertain the purpose of this type of paperwork and the boxes they came in.

APDO organising decluttering purchase paperwork shopping bags

Store receipts and warranties together

As you know, receipts are needed should you ever want to exchange or return the product. Warranties serve a similar purpose if the item breaks down and you need to get it repaired or replaced by the manufacturer or its approved service provider. Remember to complete your product registration card and send it back to the manufacturer, or fill in the required registration online, otherwise your warranty may not be valid.

Because of the importance of receipts and warranties, they should be categorised as “Receipts and Warranties” and stored with other essentials in a fire proof metal box. If you have a lot of purchase receipts and warranties, it helps to sub-categorise them based on where the items they relate to are normally used or located i.e. kitchen, living room, etc.

This dedicated spot for receipts and warranties in your essential file box is different from where you store your everyday receipts i.e. grocery, entertainment or even business receipts.  These latter types of receipts are accessed more regularly and are used for a different purpose. So having a receipt box in an easy-to-reach area at home or work, scanning with a specialist receipt scanner, or using a receipt management app may prove to be more practical.

Keep user manuals/installation instructions in binders

Before you organise and store user manuals, make sure you get rid of the parts you don’t need; unless you’re interested in reading how to use your lawn mower in eight different languages, just keep the language you need! You can use binders and plastic pockets to store your user manuals. The manuals can be labelled and organised alphabetically, or by room, i.e. garden, bedroom, etc.

APDO organising decluttering purchase paperwork folders

Go paperless

Going paperless can reduce your paper clutter and benefit the environment. These days you can find user manuals online for most, if not all products. Many stores now offer to email your receipt to you rather than hand out a paper one. Your new products can often be registered online to secure the warranty. All of these methods help to cut down on paper, so it’s worth checking to see what your favourite stores offer by way of digital product paperwork.

Downsize the cardboard boxes collection!

Now we come to the empty cardboard boxes. Should we keep them? To answer this question, let’s go back to the principles we use when it comes to decluttering. Ask yourself two questions: 1. Is this box useful (your rational judgement), and 2. Is this box beautiful or does it spark joy (your emotional attachment)?

So, are they useful? The answer is yes, to a certain extent. These days all electrical items have a 12-month warranty. According to Keith Stuart, author and journalist on technology and digital culture, if you’re returning a defective product under your consumer rights as set out in The Consumer Rights Act 2015, you can return items in whatever box you have to hand. However, if you are returning it under a manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee you need to abide by their terms and conditions, which will often insist on you using the original packaging.

Additionally, many people believe that if you want to sell your gadgets at a  future date that it’s better to keep them in the original box to get a better price. And there’s the aesthetic appeal as well. Some gadget boxes, such as Apple ones, are stylish and some of our clients find them hard to let go.

Laptop camera desk digital decluttering

Wait a second, you might think, isn’t this article about decluttering as well? Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you keep boxes for every item you ever purchased. We recommend you edit your existing boxes, and their original purchase receipts and warranties. If an item is out of its warranty period, and it’s not one of those nicely designed gadgets boxes, let it go. If the item is within its warranty period, you could label it with its warranty expiry date clearly marked. Store these boxes with warranty expiry dates in an out-of-sight but accessible place, organised by date and size, so they don’t become visual clutter to your everyday life.

For those of you keen to keep the nice gadget boxes for display, well, you can always build an Apple box tower in a low traffic area of your space.

Finally, review your purchase receipts, warranties, user manuals and cardboard boxes on a regular basis.  If you struggle to keep on top of things, but need a level of tidiness and organisation at home, you can always contact professional organisers for assistance. After all, we all need some help to keep clutter at bay and stay organised.

If Jane’s post has inspired you, and you would like some assistance organising the paperwork from your purchases, you can find your nearest professional organiser here.

drowning in paperwork organising paper decluttering desk

Drowning in paper: How to organise your paperwork

Does paperwork have a habit of piling up around your home or workplace? Liz Gresson, professional organiser and owner of Hampshire-based organising business www.allorganisedforyou.co.uk has been there too. In this post she shares her thoughts about paperwork – why it piles up, how it makes us feel, and what we can do about it.

Drowning in paper!

I hate paper!  I don’t mean books or magazines, although I make sure newspapers and magazines are recycled straight after reading and not allowed to pile up.

For years I worked in solicitors’ offices which don’t seem to have changed much since the days of Charles Dickens, with stacks of bulging files piled up on shelves and on the floor round the desks.  Every morning my boss would put fresh letters and documents which had arrived in the post or been printed off from email on to my desk.  We went through reams of paper in the printer every week, often duplicating documents, in my view unnecessarily.  Some days I felt as if I couldn’t breathe for all the paper around me.

Many people work in offices like these and don’t want to come home to a house which resembles them in terms of piles of paper everywhere.  Working from home is a great option, but there is the ever-present danger of paper building up.

drowning in paperwork organising decluttering paper desk2

Freedom from paper

Now that I’m a professional organiser, my mission is to provide freedom from the paper that seems to come into our houses faster than we can deal with it: leaflets advertising all sorts of things from pizzas to conservatory blinds, letters from the bank, charity requests, renewal reminders from insurance companies and many others. We print off emails and attachments, planning to read them at our leisure.  It doesn’t take long for a stack of assorted paperwork to pile up.

I use a number of strategies to organise and minimise paper in our home as well as effective storage solutions. I have methods for dealing with paperwork in ways which reduce stress and increase efficiency.

drowning in paperwork organising declluttering paper magazines

Liz’s Top Tips

My top tips are:

  • Keep all paperwork in one place.
  • Go through it once a week, recycling or shredding what you don’t need and dealing immediately with anything which needs to be actioned.
  • Always select the paperless option with your bank, utility company, pension provider, insurer, etc. An added benefit here is that this can result in lower bills.
  • Scan important documents e.g. insurance policy schedules and shred the paper copy.
  • Sign up to the Mail Preference Service (mpsonline.org.uk) to filter out junk mail.

One client, an editor, told me he felt that I’d edited his life when I dealt with his paperwork and I think it’s an appropriate analogy.  Editing means cutting out what you don’t need and tidying up the rest.

I don’t believe we can become totally paper-free, but we can drastically reduce what we have and manage effectively the paper we do need to keep.

I offer to my clients help in reducing the amount of stuff they have, making their lives run more smoothly.  Tackling the tide of paper achieves both of those things.

If you need some help to start organising your paperwork, you can find your local professional organiser here.

home working

Make Working From Home Work For You.

Today, the increased frequency of flexible working means more and more of us are working from home. Among the many benefits to this, there are certain challenges. What should your home work-space look and feel like? Zoë Short shares her thoughts on home working. 

working from home


Having a space of your own, a space for you to hang out with your business should be at the top of your priorities. Why?

Number One: It gives you and your business a work ethic.

Going to your workspace will tell your brain that it is time to get to work. Pitching up on the dining room table, on the edge of the bed or on your lap in the lounge will not give your brain the same signals. Don’t get me wrong, working outside or in a coffee shop is a perk of being your own boss but you will need to do some work with what you need to hand. Having this space will help with your time management and mindset.

Number Two: It defines boundaries

Having clear boundaries in place is helpful for you and those you live with. When you are in your workspace you are working and it’s that simple.

Number Three: Being organised = being professional

If you have a workspace you will be more organized, in control and make more money (and who doesn’t want to do that?). You will be proactive instead of reactive and less likely to miss opportunities. You will pay bills on time and keep track of what is coming and more importantly going out of your bank account.

I work with clients who run their business(s) from home and they contact me because they get to the point when they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. I will help them get back on track but prevention is always better than cure and starting with a desk and some simple filing solutions will pay dividends.

People from all walks of life work with professional organisers. They can step in during times of disarray or stress. They can help with house moves, downsizing or changes in circumstances. Or perhaps you have always wanted a calmer, more organised home but have never known how to achieve it. Find an organiser near you.