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Organizing Your Home Office: A Step-by-Step Plan

source: Stefan Friedle
source: Stefan Friedle

If your office is unorganized, cluttered or out-of-control, the idea of reorganizing it may be overwhelming.  Where should you start? What should you do with all of the clutter? How will you keep it organized this time?

Let’s look at organizing our home offices step-by-step:

1. Clear off your desk and empty drawers.

The reason I always recommend starting with this step is simple: it gives you a clean slate to start with so that you’re not just moving clutter around.

Pros: Pulling everything out allows you to get a better idea of exactly what you have, so that you can envision how it should be grouped and what you need versus what is just taking up space. Having a fresh start can also motivate you to organize more carefully and completely because you can see the difference that getting rid of the clutter makes.

Cons: The reason most people skip this step is because they don’t want the clutter spread out all over the floor or another room while they’re working on the project. There’s always the chance that children – or pets – will get into it, turning it into an even bigger mess, and once you take this step, there’s no turning back.

2. Sort through your office supplies.

Depending on how much space you have in your home office, you may decide to create a storage box for the extras (who really needs 1,000 paperclips in their desk drawer?). Get rid of old or broken pens, crumpled paper, etc. and sort through the rest, grouping items and deciding what needs to be available for immediate access and what can be stored for later.

Pros: Getting rid of extras – whether they end up in the trash or in storage – means you have less stuff taking up space and less stuff that can end up out of place and disorganized.

Cons: There is always the chance that you’ll need something you’ve put into storage sooner than you think you will, and that can be a hassle. I think the hassle of having to rifle through things you don’t need to get to the things you do is worse, but you may disagree.

3. Sort through your paper clutter.

Earlier in the week, I shared my system for organizing paper clutter. Think through which categories make the most sense for sorting your paperwork and sort the piles you already have accordingly.

Pros: You’ve got to start somewhere, and organizing the paper is a great place to start if paper clutter is your biggest issue in your home office. Even if you don’t get all of the “To be filed” pile filed right away, at least your piles will be organized and ready for your attention rather than simply taking up space.

Cons: There isn’t really a downside to doing this, but it’s not the most fun part of reorganizing your home office either. I would encourage you not to skip this very important step, though!

4. File the old papers and records.

If you don’t yet have a filing system, we’ll be talking about creating one in just a few weeks. However, if you do already have one in place, go ahead and get those papers filed before the pile gets even bigger!

Pros: Having papers filed means that you’ll be able to find them quickly and easily when you need them.

Cons: Again, there’s not really any reason I can think of that it’d be better not to file your papers. Even if you end up redoing your file system, you’ll at least have the papers grouped, which will make that project easier.

5. If you share your home office, be sure to tell your spouse/roommate/whoever about the systems you’ve put in place.

Ideally you will have worked on this project together, but if not, be sure to show the other person where the supplies are, how the paper piles are categorized, etc.

Pros: Communicating the new system to the other people it affects increases the likelihood that they will follow it and that it will last.

Cons: If the other person disagrees with the system you’ve put in place, this might not do any good. On the other hand, it might give you the chance to tweak it so that it meets both of your needs.

Are you ready to get started now? Be sure to blog about and take pictures of your reorganization efforts so that we can all hear/see what you’ve done!