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Dos and Taboos for Keeping Your Home Office Organized

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Avoid common organizational mistakes and pitfalls in your home office.

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    Here are some common areas where junk and gunk will always accumulate in a home office. Keep these areas clean by applying these tips and you'll avoid the mess that comes along with it:

    • Don’t leave items in this area that could be stored somewhere else, such as newspapers, dog or cat dishes, skateboards, or golf clubs.
    • If you have a hall closet, refer to Chapter 5 for more hints on how to organize it effectively. If you’re lucky enough to have a closet by the entryway, you can work miracles by building shelves and organizing using available wall space.
    • Use walls to hang baskets, hooks, and small organizational bookcases or shelves.
    • Don’t let shoes accumulate. Insist if shoes are muddy, they stay outside. If they aren’t, put them outside yourself. Create an area for them on the patio or porch. If shoes are a real problem, insist all shoes be put away each night before bed time.
    • Install a family bulletin board/calendar/dry erase board in the entryway and attach markers using string so markers can’t get lost. Use this as a way to communicate with your family about appointments, to leave messages, and to remind kids what they need to take with them everyday (backpack, lunch money, iPod, and so on.)
    • Put items that you need to return and their receipts in your car, and handle them the next time you’re out. This includes items to give to charities or churches.
    • Be patient with family members as they learn the new system.

    You can apply this method to any area that is a daily gunk-magnet. (Take note that I’m using the term “entryway” liberally though. An entryway is where most family members come into the house, and it may be the back door, or where the garage meets the house.)

    Now, if your spouse is an accomplished slob, it’s going to be a little harder to take control of your home. Slobs are the Oscar Madison’s of the bunch, You’ll have to be creative to get some results. Let’s say your slob opens the mail and leaves all of the torn envelopes, junk mail, unwanted catalogs, and other items on the counter where he opened them. You have a few choices. Put a small office-sized trash can in the area, create a new area for opening mail, one that is close to an existing trash can, or get the mail yourself, separate it yourself, and put his mail in his office or slob-room. These area all really just boxes from the four-box method, adapted to meet the needs of your particular problem.

    As a final example, let’s say your slob is always using your scissors, tape, stapler, calculator, or pens and pencils, and never returns them, leaves them open, or uses them all up. Again, you have several choices. You can lock the items in your desk drawer and make her ask for them, you can purchase duplicates and create a small office for her in another room (preferably one that has all of her other stuff in it), or you can create an area in the house that you both use, and create a public space for everything using an organizer. While it might be difficult for your slob to put everything back in its place, it will be easy for you to, and you can keep an eye on things in the mean time.