November 19, 2009

Create A Minimalist Home Office

If you work from home, there’s a good chance that you spend a fair share of your time in your home office. I know I do. But is it too cluttered?

If you missed my post yesterday, I already talked about the art of decluttering and how nice it feels. Along with getting rid of everything I didn’t need, I also spent time making my home office as minimalist as possible.

What Is A Minimalist Home Office?

I think this varies depending on who you ask. For me, it’s all about having the things I need to do my job and nothing else. Others might find that they need more or less things depending on your profession. I’ve seen some awesome offices before where people had nothing but a desk, a pad of paper, and a pencil.

However, not all of us can get by without a computer and other technology related items. So that’s why it’s important to decide what you NEED to get your work done.

Determine What You Need

The most important step of this whole operation is going through everything and determining what you need to get your work done. It’s easy to start with the basic items like your computer, something to write with, and so on. However, don’t overlook the small things like pens and pencils.

Prior to going through everything, I had about 40 pens and pencils stashed around my desk. Half of them didn’t even work. So I took the time to go through all of them and tossed the ones that didn’t work and kept a few of the good ones. I also moved them to my drawer instead of keeping them on my desk. When I need one, I grab it out of the drawer.

Once I finished that, I went through my tiny hidden drawer and removed everything I didn’t need. Man is it amazing to have a drawer that has more room than you need. I remember when I had stuff piled up in them and couldn’t find a damn thing when I needed it.

Don’t Forget The Computer Itself

Of all the items in most peoples offices, the one they often overlook when cleaning up is the computer itself. Is your computer organized? Do you keep it updated? Do you have applications and files lying around that you don’t use?

Going through my computer took the most time because I had a lot of stuff to clean up. For the past few weeks I’ve had issues with my user account, so I ended up creating a brand new one. It felt like a fresh start and ended up being a life saver as I managed to remove a lot of stuff I no longer needed.

Here’s a quick look at my current desktop:

My Desktop

If you didn’t notice, I stopped using desktop icons and set my dock to hide automatically. Instead, I’ve opted for a clean and simple setup.

I also added the large clock to my desktop because it helps me stay focused. I tend to waste far less time when I’m staring at a clock that’s ticking away. It reminds me that time is precious and that it shouldn’t be wasted.

I’m also a big fan of positive quotes on my wallpapers. I created a bunch of them and set it to automatically change every hour. Seems to keep me in a great mood 🙂

A Few Tips To Help You Out

In the process of simplifying my home office (and my life), I’ve noticed a few things that can make it easier. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Learn To Let Go – The hardest thing for me was learning to let go of some of the stuff I had. Even getting rid of unused pens and pencils can be tough. It must be the pack rat in all of us.
  • Keep Your Desk Simple (and clean) – The less stuff you keep on your desk, the better you’ll feel. The things we collect and set up around our desks distract us, even if we don’t notice.
  • Don’t Be A Collector – In other words, don’t keep multiple copies of the same items.  Do you have two printers? More than one stapler? Three pairs of headphones? Try your best to buy (or keep) the nice things and remove the rest. I’d take one nice pen over 10 dead ones any day.
  • Take An Inventory Of Your Work Tools – Then remove the ones you don’t need. I used to have a stapler, a cork-board, a scanner, and tons of other stuff that I used once or twice and never touched again.
  • Use Less Paper – I must admit that I love to jot notes down and keep papers lying around. However, I’ve taught myself to use the computer for the majority of my note taking. When I still feel the need to write stuff down, I use a designated notebook. It’s so much nicer having a nice notebook that you can use for all your note taking, ideas, and other items you might want to write down. Then you can tuck it away in your drawer and know where it is.

Good luck. if you have any tips and tricks on simplifying your workspace, I’d love to hear them!

9 thoughts on “Create A Minimalist Home Office

  1. Pingback: Get Rid Of Clutter

  2. Gordie Rogers

    Hey Justin,
    First time to visit your blog. Very nice. As an English teacher here in China, I sometimes have students’ papers in piles on my desks. However, next year I’m retiring from teaching at 34 years old to try and start a business. I’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. No more piles of papers! Hooray. That will be a major step to keeping my desk top minimalist.

  3. Carla

    That is so funny because I just got rid of dozens of pens before I relocated a couple months ago. Now I just keep one pencil and a black, blue, red, purple, and pink pen, letter opener and scissors in my pencil cup on my desk. It really does make a difference.

  4. Jeremy

    Lots of good points. One I want to throw in for pc users is a great free program called Fences. It sections off parts of your desktop for related icons, thus keeping things organized and helps you to either organize the clutter, or dump it. Trust me, check it out.

  5. OweEng2

    Hi Justin, we do share a similar taste for our desktop. I also hate tons of icons in my desktop. Having also a sheet of paper and pen besides your computer is a must for me.

    I love reading your articles, keep up the good work.

  6. Joe

    Hey, Justin, your pic above of the modern-looking white table inspired me to build one very similar to it last week.
    I am now writing this comment from my brand new white computer desk. I used plastic paint to give it a shiny, nice tactile quality, and I love it.
    I used to have this teeny little glass desk with a pull-out keyboard panel underneath it. It was so horribly cramped and inefficient, I couldn’t even slide my chair under it!
    Now my computer area is simplified, and free of clutter- it’s so refreshing!
    Thanks for the inspiration!


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