Whether you work from home or just need a place to pay bills and file paperwork, the home office is one of the most important rooms to keep organized. After all, this is a place where productivity is king, and to stay on top of the work in this room, it is essential that you have just what you need, right where you need it, exactly when you need it.
First step to organize your home office
The first step to getting any space organized is to purge the excess. The home office can be particularly tricky on this front because it seems as though paper reproduces in the night while you sleep. It's one of the easiest things to let accumulate, and one of the most tedious types of clutter to clear. Another element that makes paper hard to deal with is that it's not always obvious how long you should keep it. (You can check out this article from Consumer Reports detailing how long different types of records should be kept.)
The best way to tackle this seemingly-unpleasant job is to just jump in and do it. I find it's best not to focus on "oh my gosh, there are 7 foot-high piles of papers here," but instead hone in on one stack, one drawer, or one file folder at a time. You know the old saying about the best way to eat an elephant? Well, that applies to purging your papers, too. Break it down into small, manageable sizes, and set a time for how long you're going to work on it.
Just, you know, don't eat your paperwork.
Other to-dos when organizing your home office
Of course paper isn't the only thing that might build up in your home office. Paper clips, pens, the kids' craft supplies... all kinds of office essentials can build up. Gather these things together in one spot and sort through them. Paperclips bent? Toss 'em. Pen doesn't actually write? Throw it out (or better yet, send them to Pen Guy Art to be repurposed.) This task is one that could be fun for the family. Have the kiddos check the pens and markers for any that don't work. Who knows... you might even get an interesting work of modern art out of the deal.
The fun part of home office organizing
Once you have purged the paper and excess supplies (and anything else that you may no longer use or need,) the fun part begins. Setting up the office to work for you! Start by evaluating the work you do and how you use the space. If you're constantly opening the desk drawer to pull out the stapler, maybe it should be left out so you can access it quickly when you need it. Perhaps you work almost exclusively on the computer. Clear off the desktop so you have room to work comfortably without straining your eyes or your neck.
Remember that there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping the office organized. Just because I like to have all of my paperwork filed out of sight doesn't mean it's wrong for you to keep it in a tray on the desk. Work with your natural style instead of trying to emulate what works for somebody else.
Home office products
While purging and sorting is the number one way to get your home office organized, you may need to purchase some things to help keep items contained and available. Here are some of my favorite products for corralling office clutter.
Festive File Folders - Whether your hanging files are visible or tucked in a cabinet, something pretty to put your files in can make it more fun. These patterned folders* provide just a little splash of interest when you're tired of boring old green. If you've already got a supply of green ones and want to make them pretty, you can also do what I did and use some washi tape* to brighten them up. Cover the whole thing or just decorate the top!
Magazine Files* - These handy items are great for magazines, of course, but they can serve a lot of other purposes in the office, too. With a variety of styles and price points, they are a very flexible option for also holding paperwork and books. You can hang them horizontally to hold files or supplies above the desk, or even use them as a pretty way to hide your wireless router or power strip.
Drawer Organizers - I've written about drawer organizing before and even how to DIY your own version. It's just that I can't get enough of them! Whether they're expandable*, modular and colorful* or basic plastic baskets* you grabbed at the dollar store, there's a size, shape and price point for every drawer and budget.
Do you have a home office organizing challenge or a favorite product? Share in the comments!