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Home office mistakes and how to fix them

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DIGGING OUT to write to you” began the e-mail from a client who needed to get her home office organized. With spring around the corner, now is the time to dig out of the clutter in your home office and enjoy a more productive environment.

If you’ve ever said “I hate my desk or office,” one of the following might be a problem:

Is the space too dark, so you avoid working there? Does household traffic and noise interfere with your work? Is the temperature too warm or too cool, affecting your concentration? Is the view from the space such that you’re always thinking of other things you “should” be doing? If you don’t like being in the space, you won’t get much work done there. Often these issues can be cured with minor tweaks such as task lights, fans, window coverings or decluttering. Alternatively, you may want to consider a more pleasant location.

Inappropriate furniture or equipment
File cabinets that are hard to open or close, desks that engulf the room, dinosaur computers that don’t compute by today’s standards and other inefficiencies can limit your productivity. Uncomfortable chairs can literally be a pain in the neck. Even furnishings in colors you dislike can affect your productivity. Shop around for used furniture at consignment stores and invest in the best chair you can afford.

If you need to move office furniture, but lack the muscle, put pieces on Furniture Sliders. These are friction-resistant pads you put under each leg of the desk or cabinet. The piece will then slide over carpet, hardwood, ceramic tile or linoleum as if it has wheels. Sliders are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and other home stores, or at

Costly clutter
A common problem in the home office is lack of focus. Who’s inspired to sit down to work alongside the ironing board, next to leftover party supplies or by bags still on the floor? A good office space will be free of distractions. Make sure everyone picks up after themselves in your office space, including you and your catalogs, gift-wrap or sewing.

Jungle of cords
Computer, telephone and lamp cords snaking over desks are unsightly, make it hard to open drawers and pose a safety hazard. Take the time to run them down the back of your desk or, better yet, through grommets on the top, if you have them. Try a cord organizer such as a cable turtle, cable ties, cord clips, flex tubing (often used for stereo equipment) and Velcro cable wraps.

Freaky files
Filing is America’s most dreaded office chore, and it’s no wonder with jam-packed file cabinets. Squeezing in just one paper can be frustrating. Try these two techniques to thin your files: First, when you have a file open, quickly sift through it to see if there are duplicates or outdated information that can be discarded; and second, schedule a “file clean-out day” to purge files. Choose a time when work demands are low. For rarely used, but important information, make archives files and store them in a less-used spot.

Inefficient use of storage space
If your current storage space seems full, it’s time to take inventory. Eliminate things you don’t use, don’t like and are broken. Then to maximize space, add shelf, drawer and cupboard gadgets. The Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and other stores are full of them.