How To Organize Your Home Office

This is a guest post by Sue LaPointe

Have you written off hundreds of dollars in office expenses from your income tax by investing in a truckload of organizers from the local office supply store?

Chances are your office is even more cluttered with the organizers than before. Two leather paper filers on your desk won’t organize much of anything – in fact they will just keep all of your disorganized stuff in one place.

1) The first thing to do is to plan.

Resist the urge to buy more and more organizers until you set aside a part of your office for different tasks. Make a list of the activities you do most often.

Create a space, for example, where you only keep client files and another for managing accounts and projects.

You can also categorize your files and keep them in the appropriate places instead of one giant metal filing cabinet listed from A to Z. Make sure you prioritize your activity list so that what you do most often is given the more accessible space.

2) Remember that a standard and efficient home office layout is an L-shaped desk configuration.

Keep one surface against the wall and place your desk at a 90 degree angle. The secondary surface will often be more than enough space to keep necessary documents while you can keep your primary desk space clear. It will help you concentrate on the task at hand and makes for a much better spot for meeting with clients if you need to. Many enjoy working at the kitchen table. With a little creativity, secondary surfaces can be used as well, such as counters or a credenza.

If you’re worried about important things slipping through the cracks – out of sight, out of mind – create a fast action file on your primary work surface.

In it, keep the things requiring urgent attention, such as phone calls to return, notes for a conference with clients or colleagues, and invoices. At the end of every work day, clear the primary desk and sort the fast action file so you can start fresh the next day.

An invaluable investment in the battle against paper clutter is, of course, a shredder. Tell yourself, “If I don’t need it, shred it.” The nifty paper slicing machine keeps loose documents to a minimum and helps keep private documents protected. (It’s fun and oddly satisfying to shred stuff, too!)

3) Give each item a logical “home” based on how you use it.

When it comes to storage space, keep the compartmentalized office model in mind. Don’t simply put things where there is space. Instead, think about where it will be most easily found. This is especially for those of us who work at the kitchen table. Create a special space for work related documents.

Grocery lists and recipes don’t belong in the same place with your work files, and keeping them separated will help you separate work space from living space. Keep in mind that documents that you do not often need, such as bank statements and tax receipts, can be stored in closets in other parts of the house.

Corner bookshelves are good for storing easily stackable items, and are often more accessible than filing cabinets and desk drawers. However, if you need client portfolios on hand at your desk, a small filing cabinet that rolls under the desk is a better solution.

You can even look into building bookshelves on the wall above your secondary work surface. You can do that yourself, or look up a local contractor in the yellow pages. If it saves time and energy, the added accessibility could increase overall productivity, saving you money in the long run.

After you have established work zones for all your separate tasks, you can then make a trip to the office supply store and buy that brown leather paper inbox on sale. But only after you determine that it will actually satisfy a need – otherwise it’ll just become more office clutter.


  1. This is very helpful to me especially now I have lots of clutter in the house. Thanks for sharing.