Whether your office is a place you write your bills, wrap your presents, or work from full-time, it is most effectively used when it’s well-organized. I’m sure by now you all have noticed that when it comes to organizing a home, I focus a lot more on function than decor. But when it comes to the office organization, I’m going to make a little departure.
Sometimes, when a room is used for things we sometimes find unpleasant (like paying bills), we aren’t very motivated to make is lovely for us. This is the most common mistake people make with their offices.
Where to put your office & basic needs
In most homes, the office is set up in a spare bedroom. This lends itself to becoming a place to store things because of the unused closet space. That can lead to the room being the dumping ground for anything you don’t want to keep in a garage and don’t have room for in your own bedroom.
So between the tendency to avoid the room and make it a storage area, it can spiral out of control in no time at all.
Before you move things to that room (or if you are planning to reorganize after this article), choose a nice, soothing color to paint the room (maybe a sky blue or pale peach). If you work from home full-time, then you might want to use a more stimulating color, like a more intense teal or coral. I’d stay away from yellow and pale green, as it tends to feel institutional.
Install some lighting that can be both bright and practical as well as soft and atmospheric. Be sure any windows have coverings that will keep the sun from shining right in your eyes but also lets in natural light. Natural light helps fight depression, and if you spend a lot of time in your office, that will be VERY important.
Decide exactly what you are going to keep in your office and where. It’s ok to use that closet to store clothes that are out of season. Just do it in a way that is INTENTIONAL. Be as specific about the storage in that closet as you are about your own. Are you going to have bookcases? Shelves? A sofa? Decide this first and plan a layout for the room.
Get the largest desk you can that will fit in the room. A large surface makes work a lot easier. Having to constantly shuffle your books and papers around on a small surface if, frankly, a pain. Some people will tell you that you should get a desk with a lot of storage in it. That depends. I use one that is more like a writing desk, and I like how open and airy it is. My 80 pound Australian Shepherd can lay down by my feet and has plenty of room.
Office Organization – All the Stuff
Now, about all that “stuff” in the office. Before talking about organization, let’s talk about necessity. We hang onto a lot of paper. Anything that’s been printed, we seem to be afraid to toss. Get yourself a shredder and let’s start clearing it out.
Check the tax laws in your country, and find out how long you need to keep records and what kind. I’m not going to offer any advice on that front, because that is NOT my expertise. Be sure to get the most reliable information you can, and use that to guide you.
Once you know, get rid of anything older than what is required. If this still leaves you a lot of paper records, consider buying the necessary storage boxes made specifically for storing records and create space in the closet of your office to store those papers.
Think about creating an electronic record of them by scanning them into an external hard drive. It will save you a lot of storage space (check any laws first to see if the paper records are required).
For current papers that are still being referenced on a regular basis, invest in a filing cabinet. It can be small. I have a two drawer, plastic one on wheels on the floor of my closet. Invest in hanging files and manila folders, label them well, and make your information easy to find when you need it.
Keep anything you use regularly right in front of you. I have erasable pens and highlighters that are my go-to and they are in a cup on my desk. I also keep my planner, some post-its, and large binder clips right at my fingertips. One thing I do scrupulously is THROW THINGS AWAY. Pens that don’t work like they should, junk mail. One of the biggest things in my office is my recycling box. I highly recommend one.
Find things that are beautiful to you to organize the things you keep. I have a chevron pattern, rose gold desk set with inbox, hanging file holder attached to the wall, tape dispenser, and pen holder. In my filing cabinet I use plain manila folders, but for the files I have out and reference regularly, I use some really cute ones that go with my rose gold set.
Final Thoughts on Office Organization
If I don’t make my office as pleasant for me as possible, I have a tendency to dread going in there. So I also have plants and an oil diffuser in there. I keep a gallon container of water tucked away to easily refill the diffuser, and my essential oils right in the office. The plants make it really homey.
The trick to an organized home office is to treat it with the same attention to organization and detail you would an office away from home. Use professional products to organize your papers, filing drawers, bookshelves, and a good, sturdy ergonomic office chair. Take it seriously and your work will reflect this (even if that work is paying bills and meal planning, which is every bit as serious as any other work).
We know a lot of you work from home. Tell us in the comments what you do to organize your home office, and what tips help you to be as productive as you can while enjoying being at home.
This is the last in our home organization series. You can see the rest of the posts in the series below: