When it comes to the home office, there’s nothing like a cluttered desk to keep you from the work you actually need to accomplish. For procrastinators, the temptation is too great: You end up cleaning the desk instead of getting to the task at hand … hours drift by … and you’re still left with piles of paperwork waiting for your attention. Here are a few ideas to organize your office and tamp down on the clutter before it happens:
Switch to Paperless Billing
There are pros and cons to paperless billing, but the pros easily outweigh the cons when it comes to both clutter and environmental impact. A paperless bill only clogs your email inbox (a topic for another day) whereas a paper bill clutters your desk. And saving paper means not only saving trees, but 171 pounds of greenhouse gases, 63 gallons of water, and 4.5 gallons of gasoline annually for the average paperless household, according to Pay It Green, a coalition of financial institutions and businesses promoting paperless billing. Now, if only we could find a way to stop them from billing in the first place…
Get a Laptop
A laptop uses as little as 10% as much energy a typical desktop computer uses, and it takes up a lot less space on your desk. In fact, if you actually keep it on your lap, it would take up no space at all! If you do have a desktop computer you feel you need, consider an Energy Star-rated slim flat-screen LCD monitor, which will take up less space and use less electricity than other comparable monitors.
Download Your Software
We’ve all done it. You buy a new program, and then a little voice pops into your head. “You should probably save the CD… and the owner’s manual … and the box … and the packaging materials.” That’s your dirty devil. Your uncluttered angel recommends downloading your software instead. Around the world, 1 billion discs are discarded every year, contributing to the e-waste problem. If you feel like most of them have found their way to your home office, it’s time to get with the digital revolution and download your next program.
Ditch the Answering Machine
If all answering machines currently used in U.S. homes were replaced by voice mail, the annual energy savings would be nearly 2 billion kilowatt-hours, equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road, according to the authors of The Green Book. Why? It’s simply more efficient for a centralized facility to process all that data, then to have each individual use his or her own desktop machine. More to the point, and it’s one less gadget cluttering up the desk.
A decade or two into the information revolution and the typical household has generated a small mountain of E-waste like old televisions, VCRs, DVD players, video games cell phones (and, uh … answering machines). Chances are there’s a drawer in your home office that’s become the unofficial purgatory for a mess of cell phones and chargers. Clean it out!Electronics can be recycled, either by the manufacturer, the retailer or by community drop-off programs. Cell phone recycling is even easier: You can donate your old cell phone to charity or, if it hasn’t been sitting around too long, even sell it for $125 or more.
Consolidate Your Chargers
The age of personal electronics devices has freed us from our desks! And yet, somehow, it has left our desks cluttered with the cords of chargers. Do yourself and the environment a favor by buying a power strip, plugging your devices into it, and then only turn it on when your devices are actually charging. That will prevent phantom loads – electricity that flows to a charger, whether it’s plugged into your device or not – while keeping your chargers at hand and in one place, so you never have to hunt for them or trip over them.