A professional organiser's 7 tips to making the most of working from home

Anita Fortes, of A Neater Life, has given seven tips on how to make the most of your desk when working from home.

Anita Fortes, of A Neater Life, has given seven tips on how to make the most of your desk when working from home. - Credit: Anita Fortes

For nearly 12 months the commute to the office has meant rolling out of bed and heading to a desk very close to home.

But how do you make the most of your space to help with motivation and productivity?

Offering her top tips is Norfolk professional organiser Anita Fortes, who is accredited with the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisaters.

She cast her over the desk set-ups of four EDP reporters, and came up with seven tips to improve your desk space.

1. Utilise Space

Make the most of natural light and declutter your desk are among the top tips from a Norfolk professional organiser.

Make the most of natural light and declutter your desk are among the top tips from a Norfolk professional organiser. - Credit: Archant

The top tip is to only have on your desk what you need.

Mrs Fortes said: "Try and set it up by a window and have some natural light, it makes a real difference.

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"Make sure everything is completely necessary if you do not need it for day to day work, store it away and make that space."

Many people probably have too many pens or paperclips in their pen pot, according to Mrs Fortes. Adding a lamp for working in the evening and greenery can also give you a boost.

She added: "A vertical storage container or magazine file that stands up doesn't take up much of the desk space."

2. Ergonomics

In an office environment, risk assessments are carried out to ensure employees have all the equipment necessary - and this should apply to home working too.

Mrs Fortes said: The height of your computer, the chair you grabbed from around the dining table, all of that is really important when you're working in a home environment. 

"When it becomes more long term it might be worth thinking about investing in an ergonomic chair which provides good support for your spine, wrist guards for when you are using a keyboard and a laptop stand so your computer is at a good height." 

3. Pets

Finding your pet is taking up space, cat TV has proved popular for this feline.

Finding your pet is taking up space, cat TV has proved popular for this feline. - Credit: Archant

Our four-legged friends have had to get used to having their owners back in the house.

Mrs Forte said it was a tricky area, apart from keeping your pets out of your space.

She said: "The more you try and keep a cat off a keyboard the more it will want to be on the keyboard.

"It's different with dogs. With my dog I brought her bed and put it next to my desk. She sits there and she is very good at staying there when I am working."

4. Take breaks

Mrs Fortes is a believer in the Pomodoro technique, first developed in the 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

The professional organiser has an app on her phone which buzzes after 25 minutes, but a timer or alarm will do. 

During breaks, move around, go into the garden or take your daily walk, but try to avoid going straight from your computer to your phone.

Setting tasks for children can help give you time to get on with your tasks says the professional organiser.

Setting tasks for children can help give you time to get on with your tasks says the professional organiser. - Credit: Archant

5. Sharing Space

For the home workers that are sharing spaces, the former primary school teacher said it can be tough.

For parents, breaking up their day into slots was a possible way forward, for both them and children to keep their productivity up.

Mrs Fortes said: "You've got to get on and your children are there wanting your attention, you feel absolutely pulled in two different directions.

"It is better to give them 10 to 15 minutes of undivided attention. Giving some of those 10 to 15 minutes slots and give them a task while you do yours."

6. Eat the Frog

A motivational metaphor, for those with a long list and wondering what to do first, make it the thing you least want to do.

Mrs Fortes said: "The worst task? Do that first and get it done, if you do that it immediately makes you feel like you have achieved something." 

7. Declutter regularly

When you are finished for the day, tidy your desk and store things away until you need to get them out the next day. To stop items building up, make sure to store in containers or get rid of items you do not need.

"You're not starting the day with chaos, get into the habit of tidying away at the end of the day."