Between meetings, conference calls, paperwork, and everything else that comes with a desk job, who has time to keep their office clean and organized? Many of us don’t consider home office organization “work” until our workstations have reached the point of chaos that we simply must organize it all or we will explode.
Office organization has become even more important as the pandemic has moved many professionals to work from home. We’ve put together some of the most tried and true office organization ideas to help you clear out the clutter and create a space that will help you stay more focused and can also help keep stress at bay while on the job.
We prioritized organization tips that require minimal effort and produce the maximum effect to give you the home office of your dreams without turning you into a full-time Marie Kondo (we love her, but not everyone needs to be a professional organizer).
What to Know Before You Start Organizing
To set yourself up for success, you want to set reachable organizational goals. Before you begin your new year’s resolution of maintaining a more organized workspace, be sure to set yourself up for success by making reachable goals. In other words, don’t try to take on too much at once.
Do a little at a time at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and you’ll be able to get organized much more quickly. Maybe one day you’ll want to file away all of the paperwork on your desk and the next day you might choose to alphabetize the books on your bookshelf. Whatever your process, take it one step at a time.
Create a Personalized Work Space that You Love
Not only will personalizing your space fuel you to be more productive, but it will also inspire you to stay more organized. The more you enjoy the space, the more pride you will take in keeping it clean, making organizational efforts seem like less of a chore and more of a pleasure.
Home Office Organization Ideas
Notice the areas where your office is most prone to disarray and invest in tools that will help you stay organized. If you’re continually drowning in piles of important documents, that’s a sign that you need a file cabinet— or at the very least some dedicated filing system. If your drawers are overflowing with highlighters and wired headphones, you might want to purchase a drawer organizer.
A small space is more likely to get cluttered because there’s not as much room for junk to pile up. When dealing with a small space, we recommend going vertical. Use your wall space to maximize what you have to work with. You can hang a memo board to keep track of important paperwork. A shelving unit is another way to take advantage of vertical space and maximize storage.
Strategies for Creating the Organized Home Office of Your Dreams
Once you’ve determined the what of office organization — like finding drawer dividers, a file cabinet, or open shelves—you want to create a plan for how you’re going to organize your home office. Follow these 7 proven methods to tidy your office… and keep it that way.
1. Designate a Place for Everything
It may seem pretty basic, but it’s a crucial step toward organizing your office and keeping it organized-pick a place to put everything! Return items to their designated drawer or cabinet as soon as you’re done using them rather than letting paperwork and office supplies pile up on your desktop. A good practice is to only keep supplies at your desk that you need to do your job on a regular basis. Other supplies that you may not use as often should be stored elsewhere for access only when needed.
2. File Your Paperwork
Just like your supplies, paper clutter should only be kept on your desktop if it is needed for specific projects that you’re working on that day. Following this rule will help you stay in control of your space and will also keep all those papers from becoming a serious headache. Create a storage system that will work for you and the number of physical files that you’re working with, whether that be in the form of filing cabinets, desktop organizers or a bookshelf.
3. Cut Down on Paper Use When Possible
Cutting down on the amount of paper you use will help you stay significantly more organized. Consider using a program such as Microsoft One Note to gather your ideas rather than sticking Post-Its all over the place. You can also start typing meeting notes on a laptop rather than wasting notebook paper. The fewer pieces of paper you have floating about your workspace the better.
4. Complete Quick Tasks Immediately
If you come across small items in your workspace that need to be cleaned or put away, then take care of them as soon as you notice them. Cleaning up these little things immediately will help you stay on top of them so that they never become a major cause for concern.
5. Clean Your Inbox
Make sure you organize more than just your desktop! Keeping too many old emails can overwhelm you, and it can slow down your computer too. Be sure to respond to urgent emails right away, categorize important emails into appropriately named subfolders, and immediately delete emails that are not needed.
6. Implement Dumpster Days
Here at OfficeFurniture.com, we participate in quarterly “dumpster days” in which we set up large garbage cans at the ends of our cubicle rows. This encourages our employees to clean out their desk spaces and purge any papers, supplies or unneeded junk in order to make way for more important items. By providing your employees with an easy outlet for disposing of old materials, you’ll greatly increase the chances of creating a more organized office overall.
7. Manage Your Time
Organizing your time is just as important as organizing the physical items in your office. Because organizing your workspace cannot always be made a priority, it’s best to use your downtime wisely. Were you put on hold during a conference call? Tidy up your inbox. Did you get to work earlier than normal? Spruce up your supply drawer. Purposely arriving to work early or staying late is actually a great idea. Because it’s easier to stay on task when no one else is around, try setting aside private time for organizational purposes when you know you won’t be bothered.
How Do You Keep Your Office Organized?
Do a little every day. Keeping up with the organizational systems you’ve set up is just as important as getting your office organized in the first place. Build 5-10 minutes of organization time into the beginning or end of your word day. That way you can take a moment to separate paper clutter from important paperwork. You can put away that stray binder clip and leave your desk looking clean and tidy so that you’re actually excited to get to work… or as excited as you can be.