In today’s society, people are spending more time than ever working from home—either due to technological innovations, entrepreneurial liberation, or simply due to the expanding work-from-home policies that have been implemented due to the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
While working from home (for some) can be quite comfortable and productive; especially when your space is nice and clean and everything in-between; It can be the complete opposite for you if your dedicated home office is a hot mess.
If you fall into the second category, here are 10 quick tips for an organized office space.
Not only are these super practical, but they are so simple that you can do them yourselves!
10 Simple DIY Home Office Organization Ideas
Organize your home office space with these easy-to-follow tips.
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1. Pick Up Paper
I admit it is a dreadful feeling having to deal with paperwork all over your office space.
If we aren’t careful enough, neglect can cause a pile-up of paperwork which can be even harder to tackle.
During preschool, our teacher devised an ingenious method to get us to clean up after our messy out-of-control selves.
She sang a nursery rhyme called ‘Bits of Paper’, while we all had to go around the room and fix any out-of-place furniture, books, or stationery supplies, or pick up any piece of garbage laying on the floor.
The song went something like this, “Bits of paper! Bits of paper! Lying on the floor. Lying on the floor. Make the place untidy. Make the place untidy. Pick them up. Pick them up!” and we (the kids) had to do this until the entire room
Child labor? Maybe.
Was it effective? Certainly.
Fun? Heck yes!
It is easy to let stacks of paper pile up in our home office; especially when there is so much work to do!
Don’t use ‘too much work’ as an excuse not to take control of your files and declutter your space before you drown in paperwork. Literally.
Sometimes as adults we need to imagine we are preschoolers again singing that song and tidying up.
Use the Triple ‘T’ System: Toss it (in the shredder. If the file isn’t important), Tuck it (in a file for the more important documents), Take action from it (if the file has not been closed).
Investing in a filing system may be well worth the effort.
2. Upgrade Your Filing System
If you don’t have one, now is the time to get one.
If you already do, but it’s not the most effective, now is always a good time for an upgrade.
There is something about a filing system that just makes an office space seem professional and functional; especially when we are working with small home office spaces.
There are about as many different filing systems out there as there are types of personalities. Some function fairly well; others just sort of work and then there are the ones that are a jumbled mess—avoid these at all cost!
You could pick and choose between different options until you find a system that works for you.
All in all, the main goal of choosing a filing system is to make it easy to find what you’re looking for when you’re looking for it (saves time) and easy to return it to its proper place when you’re finished (be more organized).
Whether you are managing tens of thousands of records for a large company or simply organizing your personal documents, you need a way to quickly find the one you want.
Use indexing methods (be it color codes, name tags, strip labels, numbers, or if you are sophisticated enough; you could go with bar codes for electronic tracking) to identify each file and remember where they fall in your filing system.
Alphabetical indexing is a common method; however, whether you choose to file your documents alphabetically or numerically, or even alpha-numerically is totally dependent on your taste, the type of records you keep, and how they are used.
You should also consider how your files will be kept.
Will your files be kept in a simple manila folder with a name or number on it?
Or will you get more targeted with fasteners and dividers to sort papers per category?
TIP: You can use expanding pockets to hold bulky paperwork. As well as use colored files to differentiate between various types of records and help you locate files quickly and easily.
Refer to the below example of a color-coded filing system:
- BLUE FILE: Financial records
- RED FILE: Medical records
- GREEN FILE: Business records
- YELLOW FILE: Personal records
The type of filing equipment you choose has a significant impact on the effectiveness of your filing system.
If you have a relatively small amount of files that you want to keep near a desk, then a standard vertical file cabinet is perfect for you.
If you want “somewhat” better access to files and something that will use less space, then you can look into lateral file cabinets that do the job well.
Yet if you are looking to make the best use of office space, provide the fastest access to records, and invest in a filing system that is the least expensive to set up and use, go for a filing shelf/shelves.
At the end of the day, the decision is up to you. Just make your office nice and welcoming!
3. Make Use Of Mail Organizers
Once you are working from home, especially as an entrepreneur, then there is a strong likelihood that you’ll have incoming or outgoing mails at some point.
How do you sort them and keep them sorted?
An easy way for you to keep track of your mail (incoming mail especially) is to have a mail organizer in your home office.
There are so many stylish ones that you can choose from and that will do just fine in helping you keep your desk organized and reduce a pile-up of junk mail!
If you have the time, make folders for all incoming and outgoing mail…and even the tons of junk mail you are bound to get.
For outgoing mail, once you are through preparing them, just stick them in your file tray until it’s due to be posted. Do the same for all your incoming mail as well.
You can even dedicate a small area (could be a shelf or a small desk in the corner) to be your trusty mail station. Once the mail(s) come(s) in stick it(them) in the tray.
Dedicate a few hours or minutes once or twice per week to go through each folder and properly sort each item.
You’d be surprised to see how much just a simple routine can help keep you focused and eliminate the clutter.
4. Store Stationery & Supplies In Containers or In Drawers With Dividers
How many times have you scoured your entire office looking for a pen to sign an important document or to jot down a few notes?
That is a good enough indication that you need to be more organized with your stationery!
The easiest way to do so is for you to get yourself a storage container (the clear plastic ones that some makeup artists use to carry their makeup in are fine) to lock away your supplies.
If those are outside your budget right now, or they are simply not your taste, then having a drawer (with cubbies or dividers for added organization) or using bins and/or baskets work just as well.
I’ve seen where someone used cute little mason jars to store their pens and markers which is another cool idea you can copy. You could even get pretty labels off Etsy to further add a bit of “pizzaz” to your containers.
Simple, neat, and effective.
If you’re using drawer dividers/organizers, but you want it to look less “tacky” you could use label strips or tags to breakdown each section into manageable categories.
A section for all your stickies (sticky notes/pads, stickers…).
Another section for your tools (ruler, calculator, straight cutter, staple gun, staples, staple remover, hole puncher, bulldogs, tape, and fasteners, et cetera).
Then your writing tools such as pens, pencils, markers, notepads, checkbooks, and so on could go in another section.
You could also have one for your envelopes, stamps, address labels, and the like —in case you don’t want to leave them lying around the mail station.
I know some of you reading this might be tempted to go: “Oh, Karema, that’s too much work. Why go through all of that stress when I could simply use a pencil?”
No, you can’t just use a pencil! I won’t condone you being a lazy bum.
Pick yourself up and organize those stationeries!
I bet it will save you time and be less hassle the next time you need to make a few notes or sign an important paper—your client may not be as patient at that time around.
5. Make Use Of Extra Wall Space
Depending on the type of work you do, you may naturally need lots of room to store your inventory and other essentials in your home office.
The four walls of your office account for a lot of space.
If you are working with a small office area, then it becomes more practical to utilize the extra wall space around you.
You’ll find that using the empty areas to hang items like calendars, shelving, whiteboards, inspirational wall art, password trackers, filing systems, bookcases, other wall decors, and more can help free up space and make your floor or desk less cluttered.
Even if you are working with extra small space; make do with what you have and improvise. Take that awkward bit of empty space next to the window, behind your chair, or over the desk, and put it to good use.
6. Keep Your Work Station Clean And Tidy
You would think that this is a given, but you’d be surprised at the mess that some of us call our office desk.
I personally hate clutter!
I just cannot work if my desk is untidy. So I make it a point of duty to tidy up often.
No, I’m not an extremely clean freak, and I do have my lazy days, because I’m human too, but I do try my best.
This may not be as easy to maintain as it seems though and that’s the reality for some; However, it doesn’t have to take you hours to dump some items, that you no longer need, in the trash.
Your desk is the one place that’s within eyeshot as you’re working and I feel that it should always be organized.
As you set out to tackle daily tasks, meet deadlines, complete projects, and finish all the activities on your agenda, you’ll have less or no time to be thinking about cleaning.
That’s why it helps to maintain a clean, polished workspace.
As they say, “Tidy office, tidy mind”. The same goes for a cluttered workspace.
I find that I even work better (productivity) when I have more free space and legroom to get comfy.
Pro Tip: While you’re at it, spend some time and organize your PC as well! Your desk isn’t the only place that can become cluttered with files and junk.
Go through and weed out out-dated files, unread emails, junk or spam, as well as large files that you won’t be needing for future reference.
Archive or delete anything that has served its purpose in order to declutter your electronic device and free up space.
You’ll see the difference it makes as soon as you do.
7. Integrate Decor
There is no hard and fast rule for organizing.
I have never heard anyone say you can’t make your home office organized and look pretty at the same time!
Just as long as it plays nicely with the entire office decor.
The decor you choose can greatly impact your theme.
You can design a hip office, a chic office, a feminine office space, or even a vintage theme with just a bit of coordination.
Turn your office into your very own indoor greenhouse, if you’d like to, by adding a few plants to complement the decor.
Studies show that live plants can increase productivity and improve mood; making you calmer or happier while beautifying your space!
There are so many Pinterest home decor ideas that you can use for added inspiration.
Again, it’s all up to your taste, preference, and style.
8. Toss Unoccupied Furniture and Boxes
When you have empty space, it is easy for it to be filled with random things.
Of course, for some of us, this may not be intentional; it just happens.
You may have recently changed out your desk or a piece of furniture, but you felt it necessary to keep the old one; saying you may repurpose it at a later date.
That is totally understandable as I too have my own fascination with DIY home decor craft ideas. Without realizing you just may end up with a graveyard of old furniture.
I won’t tell you to dispose of your pieces, but I do recommend that you find somewhere else to store them. There is also an option to sell your old office furniture.
The same goes for empty boxes or boxes with items you haven’t used in a while and don’t plan on using anytime soon.
I know that it may be hard to let go of our once cherished treasures, but sometimes we have to close our eyes and toss them in the trash; in the name of organization.
You’ll feel better about yourself once you see how much of a difference it makes in your office.
9. Rearrange Your Office Furniture
Whether you have a whole room or just a small corner or nook for your office, it might be high time for a major makeover of your space.
If getting new curtains, furniture or paint is not within your budget, at the moment, don’t fret.
Sometimes, something as simple as rearranging a few pieces of furniture can make a world of difference in giving your office space a facelift and make your workspace look more organized.
10. Get Creative
Spending a few hours or minutes a day or every once in a while to get your office space in order shouldn’t be viewed as such a challenge.
It doesn’t have to be boring either!
Find creative ways to get things done in a way that won’t feel like work.
Put on some music, go shopping for supplies, and have a jam session while spring cleaning.
When it feels as if you have so many things to do, and no time to do them all—it is probably because you’re trying to do too much.
Get creative about how you do things. Sometimes, too, you’ll find that you have to let some things go and try not to beat yourself up about it.
For example, break down your workload into manageable tasks.
Today, focus on your desk; tomorrow do the cabinets; then the bookcases; another day, you’ll go through your incoming and outgoing mail and you proceed to tackle different tasks until you are through!
It may take you a few days tops to check some tasks from your To-Do list, but trust me, you’ll feel so accomplished at the end; and so good about yourself!
Regardless of how often you use your home office or what you use it for, there is a high chance that you won’t get much done if it’s a cluttered mess.
Stop tripping over yourself, and get organized. The 10 simple DIY home office organization ideas mentioned above should be enough to get you started.
The idea is to make your workstation as comfortable as possible—after all, you will be spending a lot of time there!
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Can you see over the top of your desk? Let me know in the comments below. Also, what other techniques do you use for keeping your office space or nook organized?