In our book, Good Riddance: Showing Clutter The Door, we shared our observations regarding dysfunctional home offices. We enumerated the major causes of office C.R.U.D.: the abundance of supplies, defunct information technology and, of course, paper. Yet, these do not tell the full story as to why home offices are such a source of agony for many of our clients. Today’s blog is devoted to the misuse of furniture in the home office environment.
That’s right. We invite you to step inside your own home workspace. Do you see what we see? Most of what passes for home office furnishings is woefully inadequate, starting with the desk. A small computer desk may pass muster if it is only serving as a workstation for a laptop. But, if you are working with a desktop machine, you are pretty much out of real estate for doing anything else like paying bills or filling out insurance forms or contest applications. These workstations often lack drawers. Pens, paper clips, staple removers and the like vie with plastic wind-up toys for the few leftover square inches that form the work surface. If you happen to glance down at floor you will soon realize you’re surrounded by pads of fluorescent sticky notes, gummed reinforcements for three ring paper, push pins and other casualties of the most recent desk re-organization campaign.
What we want to know is this: what do people have against file cabinets? Admittedly they are often oversized eyesores, but a file cabinet for the typical home office can always be disguised or incorporated into the décor. So it must go deeper than just the aesthetic objections. Many people feel defeated by their legacy filing failures. So much optimism followed by so little follow-through, resulting in so much self-loathing. Instead, they comb the aisles of office big box stores in search of portable filing products like accordion files, kits and metal and plastic boxes. Each new filing solution brings the promise of redemption. Unfortunately this is not the case. These misguided attempts get abandoned. The files that had at one time populated a three drawer cabinet are now disbursed over seven or eight pygmy-sized receptacles without any connection to each other. One contains paperwork file by date. Another incorporates color coding. The next one relies on alphabetical order. Some contain work related files. Etc., Etc.
There is a third musketeer that wreaks its own havoc within the home office walls – the humble little bookshelf. Why even bother to make do with something that measures 2 feet by 3 feet when you’ve got hundreds of books stacked in a carton a mere 18 inches away.
It should not take much to figure out how to fix this one. You need to get rid of that re-purposed dressing table, card table, the desk your daughter left behind when she moved out, or whatever you are using for a desk, and replace it. Your options run the gamut. There are terrific bargains on desks to be had at used office furniture stores complete with hutches, returns and credenzas. A lot of them have built-in or matching filing cabinets. Just remember that you must choose something with drawers. The desktop should be capacious enough to stack a month’s worth of un-opened mail, in addition to the computer accessories and aforementioned stationery supplies.
As for the two-shelved bookcases? They will make wonderful kindling if your power goes out in the winter. Think about all of the vertical space you have in your office. Don’t be miserly with it. Use taller shelving units that have the capacity to put all of your books on view.