ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When the workspace at home or the office resembles a disaster area instead of a place humans inhabit, it might be time to get organized.
The start of a new year presents the perfect moment to clean up the clutter.
Local professional organizer Hazel Thornton, who owns Organized For Life, said the first step in transforming a messy workspace is an assessment. She said whether the space is at home or in an office setting, the user must determine the purpose and function of the space and what they are trying to accomplish there on a daily basis. A cluttered, messy workspace, she said, can create stress, waste time, lead to late fees on bills, and result in missed opportunities.
Clearing out the work area comes next. She said using boxes with lids to sort out the stuff creates a clean workspace immediately and is the first step to organizing and purging. The boxes should be organized by purpose. For example, there can be a box for decorations, another for stuff that will go into another room, a box for stuff that needs to be filed and one for things that will be donated or thrown away.
She said the first step to putting the office back together is returning the most relevant items to the desk or worktable.
“Within arm’s reach should only be things you need every day,” she said. “I call that prime real estate. The less you use something the further away it needs to be.”
The hard work starts after this – sorting through the boxes, creating a system and finding a home for everything. She said to schedule a time to work on sorting and purging the contents of the boxes.
“Whether the workspace is a room with a door that closes or it has another function,” she said. “You have to have a dedicated spot for everything.”
Thornton said digital clutter is also something to consider when organizing a workspace. She said email boxes should be purged at least once a week. Once the organizing is complete, she said it’s important to stay on top of it.
“You need a system in place to help you maintain the organization,” she said. “At the end of every day, put things away.”
Thornton has written several blogs about organizing a work area and they can be found at org4life.com.
Thornton recently coordinated a project with the Professional Organizers of New Mexico to help de-clutter the New Mexico Kids Matter offices in Albuquerque. The project was part of the annual GO Month, designated as such every January by the National Association of Professional Organizers.
New Mexico Kids Matter is a nonprofit advocacy group that works within the court system. Its CASA (court appointed special advocates) program matches its adult volunteers with children going through the court system and in foster care. The volunteer’s job is to advocate for what they believe is best for the child.
“I have a friend who works there,” Thornton said. “She told me things were cluttered and unorganized and could I help.”
Thornton said there are some important things to consider when trying to control clutter in an entire office space.
“You want to make sure everything has a home and the everyone knows about it,” she said. “You also want to think about what people will see when they come in. Presentation is important if the office is seen by the public.”
It took Thornton and her team of volunteers several visits before the project was complete. They gathered all the supplies in the office, sorted them into bins and put them in one location. The front desk was cleared off with only essentials remaining out and the rest being stored away. They also reorganized a storage closet and the kitchen by getting rid of stuff and putting other things in bins.