There are few things in life I love more than new office supplies. Pretty paper, new pencils, and crisp file folders spell HEAVEN! I could spend a tiny fortune on paper, folders and pens in a heartbeat, and my obsession with researching and buying a new planner every year verges on the obscene. (In case you’re curious, I’m a big fan of this one and this one too.)
Sometimes I love the idea of getting organized more than actually putting in the work to stay organized. (Ahem.) Sound familiar?
When I started working from home a few years ago, I realized that keeping my work space organized was crucial to my sanity and my bank account. What worked for me in my former profession as a teacher did not work for running creative business out of my home.
Trial and clutter ensued.
If you struggle to keep a neat desk and are constantly moving that stack of papers from one place to another, today’s post is for you.
9 STEPS TO A MORE ORGANIZED OFFICE
1. Use vertical wall space.
This is key to maximizing usable space and cutting down on desk top clutter. I have shelves that serve to hold both file storage and decor. Also organizers that hang on the wall are great. My very favorite organizer is my wall magazine rack from IKEA. It allows me to move most of my paperwork off of my desk. (More on that in a minute.)
2. Tame Small Items With Trays
This is one of my go-to tips for any room, but especially in the office. I filled a large hexagon tray that I scored from a flea market with small containers for things like paper clips that I use often. They are available but contained and can easily be cleared off quickly if I need more work space.
3. Stack Boxes for Decor and Storage.
The next time you see some cute boxes at Target, grab ’em. Stacked boxes look great and are so practical. I keep office supplies that I don’t use frequently in boxes on my shelves. This way more of my drawer space is freed up, but things are close by if I need them.
4. Categorize Your Whiteboard.
Yes, you need a whiteboard. The more you can differentiate between your tasks, the easier it will be to get a mental picture of what areas are most needing your attention. I use my white board to help me remember the “big things” going on that month. (My to-do list is totally separate.)
5. Multiple Inboxes
If I could suggest ONLY ONE tip from this whole list, this would be it. One of the systems that I’ve been using for years is a multi-section inbox with the following categories: “Read, File, Send, Sort, This Week”.
Think of it like your office’s Mail Room. Nothing stays here long, but the temporary files serves as holding spots until you can address each item.
When I started teaching years ago, I used only one file basket as my “inbox” in my home office. Very quickly my mutating paper stack became a monster I couldn’t control.
A labeling system with multiple inboxes gives you a visual of outgoing mail, forms that need submitting, or items needing filing (in your permanent file cabinet).
6. Leave Some Blank Space.
This will look different for everyone. For me it means keeping one magazine file holder empty and ready for a new project. I leave one desk drawer empty as well. Sometimes temporary projects fill the spot, but most times it’s left as a placeholder in case I need it. This ensures that new things don’t pile up during the busiest times, when you most need to stay organized. You always have place for temporary overflow if needed.
7. Allow Yourself Only One “Stash Spot”.
I have a wire basket on my desk top that is my catch-all “stash spot”. If I’m in the middle of something but don’t have time to officially file and sort, I use the basket. This greatly helps me with the next step…
8. Clear Off Your Desk Surface Everyday.
I know. Sounds obvious, right? Taking just 5 minutes to straighten up at the end of the day seems like a little thing, but making a habit of this is huge. By clearing your desk top at the end of the day, you’re setting yourself up for a more productive morning the next day. Plus if you have a “Read, File, Send, Sort” system in place, this should help to speed things up.
9. Go Minimalist.
This is something I’ve recently discovered. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have heard me talk about my quest to simplify everything in my life this year. I am guilty of wanting lots of options when it comes to office supplies ( and desserts…and lip gloss).
The fact is, I just don’t need 257 different pens to choose from. And neither do you.
Think for a moment about your favorite pen or pencil. My guess is that you opt for that one 90% of the time. Now think about all those office supplies which rarely if ever get used that are taking up precious real estate in your desk right now.
Throwing or giving away all those “extras” might feel like a waste, but I promise simplifying your options will eventually lead to less mess in the long run.
While you’re clearing out the clutter consider a deep clean. Keeping your space clean is also crucial.
OFFICE INSPIRATION & GOAL
I’m always looking for unique office spaces to see how I can tweak my own. Here are some of my fav office organization items…
i am just now creating a little office space for myself… thank you for this!
I’m sure it will be great, Cassie! Can’t wait to see it.
Jessica H. says
I’ll soon be giving my home office a major overhaul. I’m glad I found this post on Pinterest. But… “The fact is, I just don’t need 257 different pens to choose from. And neither do you.” That really hurt! I love my pens! You’re right, you’re right. 😉
Hah-It’s “tough decor love”, Jessica!! A compromise? Keep your favs close by and store the rest in a spot where space isn’t so precious. (And if you don’t miss them after 6 months, throw them away:)
Rhoda Fajardo says
Your desk is as organized as my desktop (in my laptop). My actual desk looks nothing like that. I also work from home and just starting out to get serious on my online gig. These tips are so inspiring and I will try them myself and take photos and post in IG. 🙂
Julia Slike says
Great it’s! Especially taking 5min at the end of the day to clear desk. I know how relieved I feel walking into a fresh space in the am when I do it. I’m a huge fan of white too….white walls and white furniture and white wood floors for me 🙂 I can also use one of those ikea wall pockets, nice filing system!
Seana Turner says
I especially love tips #6 and #7. We always need room to grow, and we need to limit the amount of space where we allow ourselves to procrastinated decisions.
Such good advice, Seana! Thanks for visiting:)
trevor mankini says
can you name the objects, and seller, in your photographs please?
specifically the drawers, desk, and wall mounted file holders.
Great article & tips! It’s exactly what I want. I would also love to know where to find those shelves.
Love these tips! Looking forward to organizing my ‘new’ office soon! I absolutely love the black leather office chair, is there any way you could tell me where it came from?!
Jennifer O says
Dying to know where you got that butcher block top on the desk from. I’m having the hardest time!! Thanks.
Heather Freeman says
Hi, Jennifer. It’s actually a kitchen counter butcher block from IKEA. Best of luck!
Thanks so much! That’s exactly what I was also going to ask.
Damon Danielson says
These 9 steps look very promising. I’m looking forward to implementing them. I have an office in a Children’s Ministry. So I’ve got all the paperwork, office supplies, clipboards, etc.; and I have leftover crafts and some toys. So this mix is both interesting and exciting. And I need help!
Thank you. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Where did you get the drawer cabinet?
Jessica Dove says
Where are this drawer cabinets from that the butcher block is resting on?
They’re from IKEA and they’re called ALEX Drawer units. I was wondering the same thing and then I found them listed in one of Heather’s other posts!
B C says
Hi. What is your source for the large white wall shelves above the desk? Thank you!
Thanks so much, Heather.
Where is your chair from?
I literally love every tip in this post! I will move soon and Im looking for inspiration how to organize my desk. I will definitely come back to this post! Thanks for making this 🙂
Melanie – http://www.unicorners.co
Amanda Thompson says
Great tips! I’m setting up an office/craft room/jeweler’s bench and have really been debating the need for some shelves on the wall where my desk is. I have now decided I need to make use of that vertical space so that I can have needed items closer by. Thanks for helping me decide!
Fantastic post…thank you! I love office supplies too, but I’m trying to be more mindful of what I bring in to our home now. It has to be functional AND look good. We just bought the same Ikea magazine rack too. I can’t wait for our office to be done!
Susan@ Under the ButternutTree Blog says
I have just realized that our home office is not functioning well. My husband I are both retired, but are now working at our passions: him with an arts non-profit and me with a museum non-profit and my own blog. Our office has not transitioned well from a place to take care of personal business to a place where more complex business is handled. Your simple and easy tips are just what I needed to get started on creating an efficient place for us to work. Thank you for your help.
Heather Freeman says
Glad you found it helpful, Susan! Sometimes that chaotic feeling in a space during transition is what drives us to come up with new creative solutions that work for the current situation. Best of luck in the office update!
Kiersten Kennington says
I am curious how tall your walls are? I want to add two shelves above my desk just like this!
Heather Freeman says
They were 8 feet walls. Best of luck, Kiersten!
I love this! I especially love the whiteboard with labels on it to organize your space. That is what I am currently struggling with as I have lists of “to do, to buy, to delegate” and so far it’s been post-its all over a bulletin board but it’s not as pleasing to the eye or organized. I will consider a whiteboard approach. Can you tell me how you divided it up? Thanks in advance
I came upon this while browsing for ideas for a home school desk. I love the desk and colors. Could you please let me know the paint color?
Where is the chair in this post from?
Thank you very much 🙂
Catherine Pitcher says
Hahaha, I just audibly said “NO” to your comment about the fact that no one needs 257 different colors of pens to choose from. I guess some of us are at different stages of organization than others…
Hello! I was wondering where the wall shelves–specifically the metal brackets–are from?? Thank you!!
Tracy Conoly says
I read and looked at LOTS of office post, office organizing post, office everything trying to put an office space together. Finally a post with actual helpful organizing tips, with some great decorating and useful ideas of what’s really nessisary and what’s not, and things that are actually doable!! Great post!!
Where is the chair from? I love it!
Hector Uba says
I agree that it’s important to use vertical space when it comes to being more organized. Our home office is beginning to clutter up and we are looking for ways to optimize the space in our room. I will have to keep an eye out for some storage containers to help us utilize our vertical space.