Whether you run a business from home or have a small corner where you do your bills and taxes, your home office should be conducive to productivity. Sometimes, however, it may seem like your home office is simply a giant clutter magnet. Here are some tips to help you organize your home office and keep it that way!
Tackle the Paper Clutter in Your Home Office
Before you start organizing your home office, clear out any paper clutter. Paper has a way of accumulating unlike anything else. In fact, often the reason we decide to declutter our home office in the first place is because we get overwhelmed by the paper mess.
Here are some ways to keep your paper clutter at bay:
- Regularly clear out unnecessary files, receipts, bills, mail, and used notebooks. You can toss, shred, or recycle them.
- Create a system to store the paper you are keeping, such as:
- A file cabinet for important documents
- A basket or wall organizer for incoming mail
- Letter trays to sort papers, notebooks, and files that need to stay on your desk
- A shelf or bin for notepads, sticky notes, envelopes, and other paper supplies
- You may want to get a recycle bin and shredder for your office. These can really help mitigate paper accumulation.
- Designate a separate space for each family member’s important papers, such as education and health documents. You could use stackable letter holders, file organizers, plastic bins, or a filing cabinet.
Organize Your Office Supplies
Sometimes it seems office supplies have a mind of their own. When we’re not looking, they multiply and venture all over the house. Pretty soon, you’re finding paper clips in odd places and you have no idea where the rubber bands went.
If that sounds all too familiar, try these tips:
Purge your supplies each month. Toss out pens that don’t work. Pare down an overabundance of paperclips. Recycle old notebooks. If you're regularly on the lookout for things you don’t use, it helps make room for the things you do use.
Only keep things out if you regularly use them. Sort your office supplies into two categories: items you use each day (maybe it’s pens, tape, sticky notes, and paperclips) and items you use less frequently (maybe stamps, glue, push pins, markers). Only keep the daily-use items out where you can access them easily; consider tucking away the others in a designated drawer, bin, or desk cubby.
Get creative with office supplies storage. Store pens, markers, scissors, and pencils in upcycled mugs or mason jars. Use makeup organizers or small plastic drawer systems for smaller items like paper clips and mini note pads.
If you’ve got somewhere to hang an over-the-door shoe organizer, you can easily convert that into “cubbies” for supplies. This works especially well if you do a lot of arts and crafts—you can sort things like knitting needles, yarn, paint brushes and paints, beads, and more.
Utilize wall space. Making use of your wall space, especially if your office is quite small, can help contain supplies. You can use:
- Floating shelves
- Hanging paper holders
- Cork boards and white boards
Do you have a printer? If so, create a "printing station." Put your printer on the top of a shelf, filing cabinet, or desk and keep all your printing-related supplies together, especially if you use your printer often. This will help you keep paper and ink stocked and save time looking for a place to plug your printer in when you need to use it.
Use stackable storage bins, file holders, or a desk drawer to store printing paper, and use clear plastic bins for ink cartridges so you can easily see when you need to buy more.
Clear Your Home Office Desk Space
Some people may have a desk and others may be working with some counter space or a lap desk in their bedroom. If you do have a flat surface to work on, here are some ways to make it conducive to your work:
- Clear enough space to complete your tasks.
- Keep frequently used items on the desk; everything else should find another home.
- Use drawer separators or organizers in your desk drawers.
- Use paper holders for mail, notes, or important papers you need to have on hand; try to avoid letting paper pile up around the center of your desk.
- Keep desk decor and accessories to a minimum especially if you are pressed for space.
Commit to a Simple To-Do System
Do you use a digital system to keep track of your to-do list? Do you use sticky notes, a calendar book, a dry erase board or memo system? Maybe you use all of the above. Choosing one or two methods can help keep things simple and more organized.
Use the system that works for you, but keep clutter minimal. Regularly purge old notes, used calendar books, dried-out markers, and the like.
Keep Your Tech Organized
If you’ve ever torn apart the house looking for your phone charger, you’re not alone. Organize your tech so you can easily access it and reduce clutter.
- Keep cords and chargers neatly tucked away in a drawer when not in use.
- Do you have old electronics sitting around taking up space? Many office supply stores or sometimes even donation centers or thrift stores will recycle them for you.
- Use a charging or docking station to keep your phone, tablet, and other electronics in one place when charging.
- If you have many electronics accessories, devote a drawer, bin, or cubby to them.
Add a Little Decor to Your Home Office
Decor can lift your spirits and boost productivity if you choose decor you enjoy. The key is to make sure your decor doesn’t take up space in your office that you need for other things.
If you have a large computer on your desk, a camera for video meetings, a printer, or a cramped space, for example, this will impact how much decor you can use.
Photos. If you want to display photos, try to avoid cluttering your desk with too many photo frames. Maybe choose one or two and display the rest on a cork board, the wall, a shelf, or clothespins and string.
Knick knacks. The same goes for smaller decor items. If you enjoy knick knacks, arrange them in such a way on your desk or shelf that they don’t spill over into the space you need to work.
Lighting. You may want a floor or desk lamp if you don’t have an overhead light or if it isn’t bright; consider how much room you have. A lamp is both practical and a great way to express your style. (By the way, try to choose a home office with some natural lighting if possible. This can help boost your mood while you work!)
Utilize Your Office Closet Space
If you’ve got a home office with a closet, chances are a lot of random items find their way into that space, sometimes to the point where you aren’t sure what is even in there anymore.
Here are some ways to make your closet space more manageable:
- Avoid the common pitfall of making your closet a dumping spot for random papers and items that don’t have a home.
- You may want to install shelving in your closet or use hanging closet organizers depending how big your closet is and what you need to store.
- Use labeled stackable bins, cubes, open baskets, or file organizers. If you do a lot of arts and crafts, you could sort your supplies by color and put them into clear bins.
How to Keep Your Office Organized
Now that your office is organized, here are some ways to make sure it stays that way!
- Do a light weekly declutter - papers, trash, tissues, old pens; return things to their proper place.
- Do a bit more thorough monthly declutter.
- Keep work items in your office and try to keep non-work items out of it as much as possible. If you use your office for work and family management, designate “stations” or sections in your office for family management items and work to keep them separate.
- Never leave dishes at your desk if you eat and drink in your office.
- Put things away immediately when you are done using them.
- Return tech to its place when you are finished using it.
- If other family members use the home office, ask them to leave things in order when they are done.
Are you looking to clear out your clutter as you organize? Caring Transitions is here for you! We streamline the process to help you get your home and life in order.