How to organize your home office

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Published on: March 27, 2017


Working from home can be great, as long you keep your office a clutter-free zone. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Purge paper. Get a handle on clutter and clear your space to let the productivity flow. Go through all that paper and separate it into three piles: toss, file, or to-do. Review the papers in your file pile to see if you can scan and store any digitally, making sure to back them up regularly. Be sure to shred any papers with sensitive information in your toss pile.   

Create a colour-coded filing system. We recognize colours faster than words, so adopt a colour-coded filing system for all the papers you can’t digitize. Some useful categories are financial, medical, personal, insurance, pet, auto, home and manuals. On your computer, sort your files using the same categories and colours to keep things simple.

Organize your bookshelf. Take inventory of every book you have, returning any stray library books or ones you borrowed from friends. Decide which ones you want to keep, which you can donate, and which belong at home but not in your office. If you store your books in your home office in an open bookshelf or bookcase, sort them by colour to add an attractive design element to the space.  

Use space creatively. Limited space requires making sure every inch serves a purpose. Look above and behind items and go vertical. Use wall space to hang a calendar, whiteboard or shelf. Hang a magazine rack behind a door for extra filing.

Go wireless. Cables are messy and hard to tame, so opt for wireless electronics whenever possible, including your printer, mouse and keyboard. They’ll also give you more freedom — you’ll be able to type from whatever position is most comfortable for you, and you can place your printer anywhere in the room instead of taking up valuable desk space.  

Choose functional furniture. Tables, chairs and filing cabinets with wheels provide loads of flexibility, allowing you to rearrange your space as needed for different tasks and projects. Avoid desks with large, deep drawers or office armoires as they hide things and can encourage disorganization. Think open concept with great accessories to keep you organized every day.  

Sort with containers. Use labels and containers to sort and store office supplies like pens, sticky notes, markers and envelopes. Keep these items out of sight for a neat and tidy look.  

Avoid overloading. A crowded work area fosters mental clutter and hurts creativity. Once your space reaches the limit of what it can be comfortably and neatly stored, adopt the “one in – one out” rule. This means for everything you bring in, one similar item must go out, and applies to books, office supplies, and furniture.

Incorporate impeccable design. Many people tend to think of a home office as a practical environment, but don’t forget that your surroundings influence how you feel and your ability to work. If your office is functional but lacks beauty, you’ll have a hard time even wanting to enter it, let alone get some work done. Choose calm, neutrals that soothe the mind and add decorative items that inspire. Think pretty wicker storage baskets, framed photos of beautiful scenery, and textured pillows or throws for a cozy vibe.

Set aside 10 minutes. The best thing you can do to keep your office in tip top shape is to set aside 10 minutes at the end of each day to straighten things out. Recycle scrap papers, jot down to-do items in your agenda, and tidy your desk. Keeping this small commitment to yourself is an easy way to maintain an organized home office and set yourself up for success tomorrow. 

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