Q: I’m interested in tips for a new home office area. My big desktop computer had broken and my granddaughter gave me her old laptop computer. I am very much looking forward to getting rid of the large desk and other office furniture I needed because I want to turn my old office/guest room into a full guest room. However, I am at a loss for where to store my files, receipts, and supplies including paper, envelopes, and stamps, as well as my printer. I enjoy working wherever I please now, especially in my formal dining room. However I do not want to clutter the table with stacks of paper. How can I keep everything readily accessible as well as organized?
A: Isn’t modern technology amazing? It’s also funny how we hardly say “laptop” anymore, because now, that is a computer. Has your granddaughter ever known any other kind? Fortunately, as you discovered, our computers take up so much less space today, and they also require less furniture.
Even though you’re more mobile with a laptop, you’ll still need a central desk/supply area and a place for a printer. If you have a wireless network, you can put the printer in any closet, out of the way. Consider a cart with wheels for it. For your supplies, choose a cabinet someplace, or a closet section or shelves and work hard to keep this space from overflowing. Then, to help keep your supply area neat, declutter your supplies thoroughly. Do you really need to have 50 pens and boxes of printer paper or hundreds of envelopes on hand? Clear plastic storage bins will help keep everything you keep organized and easily accessible.
Also get rid of all those boxes, cables, adapters, cords, manuals, and software disks from your old computer(s) and other electronics. Technology moves so fast now, it’s really not likely you will need any of those again. And while you probably couldn’t recycle those items on your own, a charity that refurbishes old computers might appreciate such a donation.
If you haven’t already, do a big purge of your old files. Not only is this cleansing mentally and frees up valuable storage space, it could help reduce allergens in your home. As old paper and cardboard deteriorates it creates dust, may attract pests, and can grow mildew or mold if not stored properly. And these days, it’s so easy to reduce the amount of paper we need to save. Records and receipts are all conveniently online, and many important documents are replaceable. So ask your tax professionals and other representatives including insurance agents and financial planners about truly how long you need a particular piece of paper or receipt.