Home Project: Clean Out the Home Office

By fran-lichtman January 19, 2021

Home Projects – Clean Out the Home Office
by Mary Ellen Dawkins

I’m not really a big New Year’s Resolutions person but nevertheless, most years by mid-December I have a mental list of things I’m going to strive to do better in the new year. They’re official resolutions and can really begin any time.

Perpetually on my list is cleaning/re-organizing our house. It’s generally in good shape (the kitchen and living room for example) but there are problem areas. Like many of her generation, my mom never threw anything away because it might be useful one day… unfortunately I’ve inherited that gene. Thus a 2021 goal is to spend an average 30 minutes a day going through piles and stashes of items to finally address the semi-hoarding and clutter.

Project #1 – the office, my favorite room in the house.


Formerly a small TV room, we morphed it into an office in 2010 with built-in work stations, filing cabinets and shelves. Empty, it was at first gorgeous, but it quickly filled up with volunteer project files, kids’ artwork and school papers, family mementos, binders of recipes, magazines that needed to be saved, etc. You get the picture. Not pretty but I thrived in the chaos. A few months into the pandemic, this was not copacetic for my husband who is working from home. He made do with a small corner we straightened up, but I really needed to address the rest of the mess.

blocked time for decluttering work scheduling 4 hour blocks over the past two weekends. I made a few staging areas in other parts of the house in which to pull boxes/files and go through them. (I let myself be OK with the staging areas messing up other areas of the house for this time.) I’m proud to say I disposed of a lot – I had every Kindergarten worksheet my youngest son brought home and every scorecard from every mini golf game my family has played (and if you know my family – that’s a lot of mini-golf!!). I photographed items that were still useful (art supplies, books,etc) and posted on local Facebook groups to find people who might be able to use them (my favorite new group is Buy Nothing SOMA/South Orange/Maplewood).

I’m not completely finished but I’m proud to say the office is in much better shape today. My husband no longer has to make a virtual background for his Zoom meetings. We can actually see the floor and access all the drawers and shelves. It feels great to have an organized space!  Which space to tackle next?

My Tips for DeCluttering an Office Space:

  1. Block time for the project.
  2. Know that the project will be messy and that’s OK.
  3. Have a staging area in which you can separate items and take photos of things you want to re-sell or give away.
  4. Sometimes deciding what to give away will take two passes. I went through all the kids’ art work 3 times.
  5. Ask for help. I gave my husband a few bins of papers to go through and sort out what he needed. My middle son helped sort years of school photographs.
  6. Be kind to yourself. Have a plan for a simple meal afterward as this work is tiring!
A much more orderly and efficient place to work!