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An Organized Home Office; 7-Day Plan

Whether you’re using your home office to work from home or for personal business, getting it clean and organized can make your time there more productive and pleasant. Piles of work papers and to-dos are visual reminders of things you don’t want to be doing. Take this opportunity while you’re at home more to whip it into shape. This plan will help you clear the clutter and put systems in place to make it easier to keep things looking good all year.

Make a Plan of Attack

How big your home office is, and just how packed full of stuff it is will make a huge difference in how much time you’ll need to devote to get it in shape.
If you use your home office regularly, or if your home office is large or has accumulated a lot of clutter, plan to spend a few longer stretches of time on a weekend and follow up with shorter tasks during the week.

If it’s a small space or not too cluttered, you may be able to compress the plan into a single weekend — read it over before beginning and tailor it to work for you.

Day 1: Deal With Paper

Decluttering tasks: What is all of that clutter? Do you even need to keep this stuff? This is the day to find out. At the end of today’s tasks, your home office may very well look worse than when you began — consider yourself warned!

  • Do some research. Sometimes we keep things simply because we are not sure if it’s OK to throw them out. Go on a fact-finding mission (call your tax preparer or search online) and figure out what you need to keep and for how long.
  • Sort and stack. Work your way through your home office, pulling every loose paper out of drawers, shelves, cupboards etc. As you go, sort your stuff into categories as best you can, shredding and tossing what is no longer needed.
  • Make quick temporary labels for your category piles with a marker on plain paper — it’s amazing how quickly you can lose track of what goes where.
  • Set aside anything that does not belong in your home office and make a point of returning it to where it belongs (or to whom it belongs to) today.

Cleaning tasks: Keep a shredder, recycling bin and trash can nearby for obvious junk mail and garbage.

Day 2: Make Some Space

Decluttering tasks: Pour yourself a big cup of coffee or tea, because you’ll need the boost to get through today’s task — but when you’re done, your workspace should be feeling significantly better.

  • Pull every (nonpaper) item out of your desk and office storage and sort it into piles, placing like with like — for instance, all letter writing supplies in one pile; everything computer related in another.
  • Now take a closer look at those piles, removing unneeded duplicates (do you really need three staplers?) and anything that doesn’t belong in your office.
  • Armed with the knowledge gained on your fact-finding mission on Day 1, dip into your files and see if there are papers you can safely get rid of.
  • If you haven’t yet moved to a paperless home office, go online today and set up paperless statements and billing.

Day 3: Get Organized

Decluttering tasks: Think outside the file box to find an organizational system that works for you. Here are a few ideas for organizing your home office:

  • A grid of clipboards on the wall can make for a handy place to keep papers organized.
  • Wall-mounted cups keep frequently used supplies neat and within reach.
  • Labeled, open-top baskets on shelves are great for people who like piles.
  • Traditional files are still useful for important documents.

Day 4: Freshen Up

Cleaning tasks: Give yourself a big pat on the back, because the hardest work is now behind you! Today is all about making your home workspace fresh and clean, so it will be a healthier, more pleasant place to spend time in.

  • Vacuum your home office from top to bottom. Use an attachment to clean window treatments, high corners and fabric lamp shades.
  • Wipe down shelves and surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Use monitor wipes to clean your screens.
  • Use a keyboard cleaner to blow dust from between the keys or gently clean them with cotton swabs.
  • Bring in some fresh plants to help clean the air.

Day 5: Consider Comfort

Decluttering tasks: How comfortable is your home office? If you use your workspace often, it’s important to have an adjustable chair with proper support, good lighting and perhaps a small stool to put your feet up on. See what you can do today to make your home office more comfortable.

Day 6: Add a Personal Touch

Decluttering tasks: The beauty of a home office is that you can emphasize the home part as much as you like. Bring in family photos that make your smile or treasures from your travels; drape a beautiful textile over your chair; or store your office supplies in pretty fabric or woven baskets and china teacups. Cut a few fresh flowers from the garden and place them in a vase on your desk. Light a scented candle while you work. Do whatever makes your office feel more like you.

Day 7 and Beyond: Do Daily Maintenance

Decluttering tasks:

  • Aim to handle paper as soon as you get it, rather than letting it pile up. If you don’t have time to do this daily, set up an inbox with slots for a few broad categories (bills, work, school) so papers will be easier to handle later.
  • Post a note detailing what you should save and for how long.
  • Schedule a weekly time to empty your inbox.

Cleaning tasks:

  • Straighten up your home office before you are done working each day. Bring the coffee cups back to the kitchen and completely clear your desktop.

Your Summer Home Checklist

Keep an Eye on Irrigation Systems

A faulty sprinkler or irrigation hose that goes unnoticed can quickly cause big problems for your lawn and garden. Make a habit of checking each component once a week, especially in summer.

Install Screen Doors

If you use them, now is the time to take down the storm doors and put up screen doors to let the summer breezes pour in. Be sure to inspect screens carefully, patching holes as needed — even a tiny hole can be enough to let in a mosquito.

Reorganize Your Kitchen

The change in seasons is a good time to rethink how you have things arranged in the kitchen. If there are small appliances you use more in the warmer months (a blender for smoothies, perhaps, or an ice cream maker), move them to a more accessible spot, and you will be more likely to use them. Stations devoted to a certain purpose can also do wonders. If you have children on summer vacation, create a self-help station stocked with healthy snacks. Or create an iced-coffee bar or smoothie-making station for yourself with all needed supplies within reach.

Update First-aid Kits and Emergency Supplies

Be prepared for everything from minor snafus to natural disasters with well-stocked first-aid kits in the house and car, plus emergency supplies for your family and pets. Not sure what to include? The American Red Cross has a helpful checklist.

Make Space for Summer Crafts

A dedicated space for arts and crafts can provide screen-free entertainment and a creative outlet — and it’s not just for kids! Even if you must work all summer, having a space to devote to a hobby can re-energize and inspire you.

Organize and Put Away School Papers

If you have kids, at the end of the school year, it can be tempting to jump right into summer. But taking the time to sort through each child’s school things will help prevent clutter from piling up, and you can start the summer fresh. Sort through the papers, artwork, and projects from the year, and choose the best representative pieces (and those that most pull at your heartstrings) to save in a portfolio or document box, then recycle the rest. If you want to preserve more than you can keep, consider scanning the artwork into your computer and creating a photo book with the pictures.

Set Up a Spot to Dry Beach Towels and Swimsuits

Soggy, sandy beach towels getting dragged through the house is a mess waiting to happen — but you can easily prevent this with a bit of planning. Choose a dedicated spot, either just outside the door (a covered porch works well) or in the mudroom, as shown here, and hang a row of sturdy hooks for wet towels and bathing suits. Once dry, sand can be easily shaken off outdoors, so it doesn’t end up in your washing machine!

Lighten up the Decor

Roll up heavy rugs, put crisp percale or cooling linen sheets on the beds, and bring in accents in lighter hues for the warmer months ahead. Breezy white curtains look delightfully cool in summer, but if the weather gets quite hot where you live, you may want to leave heavy window coverings up. Closing the shades during the heat of the day can actually help keep your house cooler.

Keep Cooling Systems Running Smoothly

Take the time before hot weather sets in to dust ceiling fans, install window air-conditioning units, and schedule maintenance for a whole-house cooling system.

Refresh Your Bathroom

Shower curtain liner looking a little dingy? Bath towels seen better days? Give your bathroom a mini spa makeover, and swap out your tired old bath linens for fresh, fluffy new towels and a new curtain liner. Use a woven basket to corral rolled towels. And contain toiletries on a tray or in zippered containers.

Schedule Major Outdoor Projects

Whether you are dreaming of a new patio or need to replace a deck, don’t delay booking a pro for your projects. Their schedules tend to fill up quickly in the summer.

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

If you did not get your gutters cleaned in spring, be sure to get this essential task checked off your list as soon as possible. Leaf- and debris-clogged gutters can lead to leaks and siding damage with summer storms.

Catch Up on Projects and Maintenance

No one is perfect, and chances are there are a few home-maintenance projects you have been meaning to tackle. Why not make June the month to get caught up?

Get Seasonal Gear Ready

From camping to beach trips, summertime activities come with a lot of gear. Get it cleaned up and ready now so that you’re not surprised by a leaky tent or blown-out beach umbrella when it’s too late to replace them.

Make Your Summer Must-do List

Beach days, lemonade on the porch, pick-your-own fruit farms – with so much to look forward to in summer, don’t let it zip by in the blink of an eye! Be sure you are making the most of your season by creating a list of your personal must-dos, and posting it where you can see it. A big chalkboard or family bulletin board would be ideal.

Family Handyman |Updated: Mar. 31, 2021

6 Small Steps You Can Take Today to Get Organized for Good

The thought of getting (and staying) organized spurs a variety of reactions in different people. Some consider it a quick but necessary chore, while others see it as an insurmountable obstacle. However, organization isn’t just a way to get your physical belongings in order. It can also help build confidence, add fulfillment to your life, and foster a positive mindset (something many of us need these days more than ever).

1. Toss Out Fear and Guilt

Decluttering can also bring about feelings of shame and guilt, which are usually manifested because we assign emotional attachments to our possessions. As you consider getting rid of something, your thoughts might turn to the family member or friend who gave it to you, which can make you feel guilty even if the object is outdated or broken. Guilt can also arise if you have clothing you bought for a special occasion, such as a honeymoon, that you will never wear again because it’s not your style or doesn’t fit right anymore. Toss items that no longer suit you. Or, if you feel like the item could have a potential life with someone else, consider donating or consigning the clothing.

2. Set a Schedule

Although many of our schedules have changed recently, we still need structure in our days. Humans naturally crave a sense of accomplishment, whether that’s achieved through completing a crossword puzzle, learning a new skill, or tidying up around the house. Sticking to an organizing schedule can boost feelings of productivity as you check items off your to-do list. Remember that your plan doesn’t have to be strict or detailed to be effective; it can simply be used to create a better sense of control over your day.

3. Do Daily 15-Minute Projects

To conquer a disorganized home in quick daily bursts, pick a short task to do each day. Finishing one to-do will give you a sense of accomplishment that can help motivate you to take on another small project tomorrow. These small tasks can be as simple as sorting mail, organizing your sock drawer, cleaning out your medicine cabinet, or conquering that dirty sink.

4. Break Larger Projects Into Sections

Start small to avoid getting overwhelmed by sizeable tasks. For example, if you want to organize your kitchen, start by cleaning out your pantry. Focus first on throwing away expired items or donating shelf-stable items you won’t use, then work on arranging like items together the following day (store breakfast foods, condiments, and grains on separate shelves, for example).

If you want to tackle your closet, start by evaluating what your lifestyle is like today and if your wardrobe reflects it. Acknowledge that styles, our bodies, and even our work environments can change over time. Only hang on to things you love and those that are meaningful to you. Try not to get stuck on aspirational thoughts about the clothing you’re going to wear someday. Instead, celebrate who you are today by letting go of judgments, she says. Remember that it’s OK to let those pieces go so that someone else can enjoy them.

5. Get the Kids Involved

Whether you have kids, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews around the house, it’s never too early to teach children how to organize. Encouraging kids to get involved can help you let go of perfectionism, appreciate their efforts, and value the input of young ones. The more you can involve kids and get them to think creatively, the more they will be willing to participate.

6. Donate or Sell Unwanted Items

Now that you’ve cleaned out your cabinets and closets, the final step to staying organized is parting ways with your old stuff. To get rid of unwanted items, start with your inner circle. Ask friends or family if they want anything, spending extra attention to family heirlooms. Another option is to find a charity you want to support. Donating to a cause that is meaningful to you will make it easier to part with something since you know that you’re helping someone in need. If you want to sell it, try Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or consider online consignment shops like Poshmark and ThredUp or TheRealReal for luxury items.

As you start organizing, remember that creating a functional home that works with your lifestyle is key. It should be a reflection of who you are and what you love. A good way to keep that up is by organizing seasonally so you can evaluate what you typically wear and what is or isn’t working in your home. Just remember to start small!

BHG | By Christie Galeano-DeMott | June 18, 2020

4 Tips to Maximize the Sale of Your House

Homeowners ready to make a move are definitely in a great position to sell today. Housing inventory is incredibly low, driving up buyer competition. This gives homeowners leverage to sell for the best possible terms, and it’s fueling a steady rise in home prices.

In such a hot market, houses are selling quickly. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are typically on the market for just 18 short days. Despite the speed and opportunity for sellers, there are still steps you can take to prep your house to shine so you get the greatest possible return.

1. Make Buyers Feel at Home

One of the ways to make this happen is to take time to declutter. Pack away any personal items like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. The more neutral and tidy the space, the easier it is for a buyer to picture themselves living there. According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging by NAR:

“82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Not only will your house potentially attract the attention of more buyers and likely sell quickly, but the same report also notes:

“Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%.”

As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavior Insights for NAR, says:

“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property…It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”

2. Keep It Clean

On top of making an effort to declutter, it’s important to keep your house neat and clean. Before a buyer stops by, be sure to pick up toys, make the beds, and wash the dishes. This is one more way to reduce the number of things that can distract a buyer from the appeal of the home.

Ensure your home smells fresh and clean as well. Buyers will remember the smell of your house, and according to the same report from NAR, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the house to focus on if you want to attract more buyers.

3. Give Buyers Access

Buyers are less likely to make an offer on your house if they aren’t able to easily schedule a time to check it out. If your home is available anytime, that opens up more opportunities for multiple buyers to go from curious to eager. It also allows buyers on tight schedules to still get in to see your house.

While health continues to be a great concern throughout the country, it’s important to work with your agent to find the best safety measures and digital practices for your listing. This will drive visibility and create access options that also keep everyone in the process safe.

4. Price It Right

Even in a sellers’ market, it’s crucial to set your house at the right price to maximize selling potential. Pricing your house too high is actually a detriment to the sale. The goal is to drive high attention from competing buyers and let bidding wars push the final sales price up.

Work with your trusted real estate professional to determine the best list price for your house. Having an expert on your side in this process is truly essential.

So…,

If you want to sell on your terms, in the least amount of time, and for the best price, today’s market sets the stage to make that happen. Contact a local real estate professional today to determine the best ways to maximize the sale of your house this year.

How to Upgrade Your Home Office

An efficient home office relies on smart planning and storage. Purposeful design changes can help signal you’re in a dedicated working space and not just another room in your home. Take your office to the next level with savvy upgrades that maximize style and function, while also centering you in your work. These simple additions easily transition to home decor, too, if you need to repurpose your office for guests or your work-from-home status is temporary.

Reduce Stress with Plants

Just one small plant at your desk can help alleviate stress and even encourage you to keep your surface clutter-free. If that’s not reason enough to make room for a botanical buddy or three, studies also suggest plants improve productivity in an office setting. Decorate your home office with houseplants for fresh texture and color. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, today’s faux plants provide the convincing look of your favorite varieties without the upkeep.

Upgrade Your Work Surface

One benefit of working from home is that you can choose the look and feel of your work surface. Say goodbye to coffee rings and ink stains by trading your desktop for Black Bardiglio Formica Laminate from the Living Impressions Collection. This easy-clean material creates a durable work surface with the luxurious look of stone—without the high price tag or required maintenance. Plus, you can customize the material to fit your furniture and space.

Opt for Supportive Flooring

You might have considered converter kits that transition your desk from sitting to standing. Or maybe you even have a fully adjustable sit-stand desk. But what about the surface below you? Anti-fatigue floor mats can reduce discomfort and provide support while standing at a desk. A variety of sizes and materials are available so you can find the best choice for your home office. An area rug with a plush rug pad can also provide cushion underfoot. For a more significant upgrade, consider installing cork flooring, an antibacterial surface with cushioned support that’s perfect for a standing desk.

Divide a Room to Encourage Focus

Room dividers are an easy way to separate a workspace from a larger room, hide clutter, and present a less distracting background for virtual meetings, all without making permanent or structural changes. Thanks in part to today’s work-from-home boom, room dividers are more popular than ever, and there are many options for getting the right look, size, or added features. Consider a folding style that you can easily pack up and store if your home office converts to a living space when the work day ends. For a more permanent solution, freestanding bookshelves or cube storage can divide a room while providing plenty of space for office supplies. 

Hang Eye-Catching Art for Inspiration

Adding art to your home office has both personal and professional benefits. A few thoughtfully chosen pieces can result in a quick office update that helps you feel more motivated and productive. Adding visually interesting imagery or decorative objects near your computer and around your desk you work can also provide a place for tired eyes to land, combatting the strain and fatigue that comes from staring at a screen for extended periods. 

Improve Lighting with Color-Changing Bulbs

If your workspace wasn’t originally designated as an office, you might lack adequate lighting. Ideally, your home office should have natural light as well as task lighting, which provides focused lighting to a particular area, and ambient lighting. When choosing office lighting, consider an adjustable desk lamp with multiple color temperatures. Studies show that warmer light (skewing more yellow) enhances creativity, while cooler light (shades of blue) increases concentration. There’s even evidence that lighting can play a role in decision-making. And if your home office isn’t permanent, don’t worry! Many of these light fixtures are cordless and chargeable so you can take them wherever you like to work.

Utilize Wall Space for Planning

Although a lot is accomplished on computers, it’s not the only place we make plans, store files, and find inspiration. Sometimes only a hands-on approach will do. Combine sheet metal and a picture frame to create an inexpensive hanging magnetic board perfect for updating to-do lists, keeping project details at hand, and displaying inspiring imagery. 

Better Homes & Garden | By Kristina McGuirk  | February 25, 2021

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