- Kacy Paide is a professional organizer for home and corporate offices.
- She said to get rid of stuff you don’t need before buying storage bins.
- She also suggested having an evening ritual and switching up your wall art regularly.
After spending years working in your home office — or even just at your kitchen table — it’s not unusual for your workspace to start resembling more of a storage room than mission control. And if you’ve returned to the office recently, your desk may be in the same state of disarray that you left it in.
Ready to take the season of spring cleaning to heart and clear up the clutter in your work area?
Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office has been a professional organizer of home and corporate offices since 2001. Her clients, who pay $185 an hour for her services, include CEOs, politicians, artists, and retirees, and her talents are so sought after she currently has a two-month waitlist and has even been flown by private jet to clients’ houses.
Insider asked the office organizing expert for her tips on how to wrangle your workspace in the office and at home.
Get rid of rubbish, then buy storage
The biggest mistake that people make when starting to declutter, Paide said, is buying organizational supplies instead of doing the hard work of processing and letting go.
“Then they have an abundance of supplies, which are the wrong size or don’t suit the purpose, and they become part of the problem,” she said. Instead, she added, only buy supplies after you’ve already sorted through what you intend to keep.
If you’re clearing a home office, Paide suggested starting with a quick win by separating personal from professional items. You’ll then be able to see what needs to stay in the office and what needs to be returned to other places in the house.
When you’re ready to start storing items, she said, Post-it notes can be used as temporary labels until you decide what you want to label a box or folder, as you may find you change the contents as you start to store your belongings. Also, she added, consider using a credenza or filing cabinet to create a second workspace to store things you may need throughout the day but don’t use regularly. This enables you to keep your desk clear and still have working files within reach.
Use a pile system for paperwork
When Paide starts sorting paperwork, physical or virtual, she immediately splits it into piles that need to be actioned or archived. “I want to get people to a place that no matter what comes through the door, it has a home,” Paide said. “They can quickly say, ‘Does it need to be actioned, filed, or thrown away?'”
Clearing the clutter makes you richer in more ways than one: Paide said her clients regularly find tens of thousands of dollars in uncashed checks and gift cards they’d forgotten were there.
Establish an evening ritual
Paide recommended adopting an evening cleaning routine, such as putting your laptop, notepad, and other tools and electronics in drawers or storage bins each night, so you can return to a clear space the next morning.
If your kitchen table is your office, it’s even more important to turn this back into a personal space. Paide said she likes to use small filing carts that clients can place next to them when they’re working, then roll into a closet at the end of the day.
You can also prepare yourself for the next day with a couple of productive tasks. “This could come in the form of updating your to-do list or shredding paper you no longer need,” Paide said.
Regularly switch up your wallspace
Paide’s in favor of placing beautiful items on your walls, but she said you should change it up regularly to keep you inspired.
“People like having small posters featuring inspirational quotes, but after a while they’ll stop seeing it and the poster can become dusty and tired,” Paide said. “It’s good to rotate that stuff out and put another quote up so it feels alive.”
Don’t treat your office like a museum
Your office should be as inviting as any other room in your home, but this often isn’t the case. “Sometimes they’re frozen in time. We find 30 years of paperwork or old tech, such as obsolete wires or floppy drives,” Paide said. She added there’s no reason for your workspace to have cast-off furniture or be a dumping ground for junk.
“Recognize that getting it organized may take a lot of time and focus, but it’s worth putting the time in,” she said.