Break Large Rooms into Manageable Sections – Minimalizing the Office

The office was one of my most difficult areas to minimalize, due to its multi-functionality. I found it helpful to divide the room into sections and tackle them one at a time.

Our office also functions as our guest room and our TV room, so to start with there were quite a lot of things in there due to the multi-functionality. But having so many things in there meant that it wasn’t really being used to its full potential for any of its uses—our paper and office supplies weren’t easy to access, it was too cluttered when the couch was pulled out for guests, and there were things distracting from the TV when we tried to watch movies.

If the room is large, break it into sections

The office seemed like a large task to tackle, so I decided to break it down into more manageable pieces. I started with the desk and office supplies, then moved to the TV and entertainment unit, and finished up with the bookshelf.  

Going through the office supplies showed us just how many pens, pencils, coloured pencils, erasers, markers, and other miscellaneous supplies we had. As an example, we had 20 000 staples. When are we ever going to go through 20 000 staples?! Likely, never. But for some reason, that’s how many we had bought, probably thinking we needed to pick some up each September when back-to-school shopping. We pared down to only what we regularly use, keeping only our favourites, and donated the rest to a school’s life skills department. Now, our supplies take up much less space and it’s easier to find what we need.

The harder part of the desk was going through our files. We each keep all of our important paperwork and receipts in file folders, so we took the time to shred what wasn’t current or useful anymore. This took a while and was a bit boring but definitely worth it since papers are easier to find, and easier to file, so they are staying organized with little effort.

For the entertainment unit, we organized all of our electronics chargers and cords and got rid of anything that wasn’t being used anymore. We also took a hard look at our movie collection and donated a few movies we don’t watch anymore. We have started purchasing movies on iTunes rather than buy DVDs as well, so that we don’t have to take up physical space to store them.

I had thought the bookshelf would be hardest to minimalize. Alex and I are both avid readers, so I anticipated that it would be difficult to part with any books. To my surprise, we donated around 40 books, from old textbooks to forgotten novels, using the following decision tree.

We kept any book that we were likely to read again, but donated those that we had always “meant to read”. We figured that if we had had them for years, if we were going to read them, we likely would have already. We didn’t need that constant reminder of something we felt we should be reading. It’s really nice to look at our bookshelf now and see only our favourites and unread books that we are truly looking forward to reading.

In my next post, I will highlight some of the benefits I have experienced from our tidy, de-cluttered office. Stay tuned!

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