Clear your home office, and your mind, to work more efficiently with these organization tips.

People who work at home full-time or part-time spend so much of their days bidding for work, meeting deadlines and troubleshooting problems that organization usually lands buried under a pile. Now if you could just remember which pile…

The problem is that whether you use your home office for work or for family bills and projects, it’s hard for some of us to free up our mind’s energy when surrounded by clutter. Here are a few tips to help you stop wasting time and to bring less clutter and more energy to your office:

  • Before starting a major office cleaning, take a picture. Just think how rewarding it will feel when you finish and see the “after” shot and how far you’ve come.
  • Take photos of the backs of computers and printers, or any electronics that you have to disconnect when rearranging your office or upgrading systems, a frequent occurrence with today’s technology. The photos help you reconnect wires correctly. While moving, dust the backs of gadgets, which draw lots of dust.
  • Get rid of papers or other items you haven’t touched in a year or two, including anything that’s already in digital form, like electronic tax returns.
  • Use six large bins or boxes to help organize clutter as you go: One for paper and other items that need shredding; one for items you’ll donate; a box for items to file; a bin for anything that doesn’t belong in the office; another for items that stay in the office; and a final container for trash.
  • Before filing, check for obsolete items and toss them. Re-label if necessary to match your current needs.
  • Use notebooks in addition to any hanging file system you have. Three-ring binders are portable and vertical, and you can use sheet protectors to sort and protect recipes or medical and pet information.
  • Create a mail station for incoming clutter.
  • Designate the space for your office if you can. If your family needs to share the space, work out assigned areas, organization and rules about computer use and quiet.
  • Use chalkboard or clear dry erase board paint so you can write on areas of the walls for ideas or reminders.
  • If you have lots of software, keep it all in one place. And if you store it outside your office, make a master list of serial numbers and help-desk phone numbers for easy reference.
  • Play some music while you organize, whatever makes you most productive.

To get all of this done, make a date with yourself to regularly clean and organize your office. For example, every Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m. The regularity keeps it from getting out of hand and becoming an overwhelming task, and setting a finite time says “I’m only going to do this for an hour; I can handle that and enjoy the rest of my day.”