Working from home isn’t about wearing sweatpants and T-shirts and taking breaks whenever you want, it takes hard work and dedication, and having a well-organized home office can be a sanity saver. Storage space is an important part of that organization. These seven home office ideas will make home office life easier and happier.
1. Make enough space
Larger pieces of furniture, such as the desk, makes storage without crowding or clutter easier. Make sure you have a big enough desk to provide a clear workspace and for office hardware and peripherals, reference materials, and office supplies. Ensure that every piece of furniture has a practical function and have clear passage ways between items such as filing cabinets and printer tables so you can move around unhindered.
2. Create activity centers
Arrange the furniture to create dedicated activity areas. Set up a work center that contains your computer, open workspace, and the supplies you use most frequently. Nearby, establish a reference center with wall shelves for binders, manuals, professional books and materials, and a dictionary and thesaurus. Set up a supply center for extra items you don’t need every day.
Another useful area, which can find a home in the supply center, is a mailing station. Stash different sizes of envelopes in wire or fabric baskets, along with stamps and return address labels in a mail organizer. If shipping large envelopes or packages is a regular task, add a postal scale to the area.
3. Choose storage containers carefully
Storage containers are essential for keeping a home office running efficiently, and most work spaces need multiple types. Open or box shelves hold wire, fabric, or wicker baskets filled with supplies or bankers boxes of files. Choose a neutral palette to allow storage boxes and baskets to fade into the background, or go bold to add colorful interest to the office.
A mobile storage cabinet is useful when space is limited or when you use the room for more than one purpose. Select a storage cabinet that meets your needs and add casters to the bottom to make it easy to move the unit where you need it.
Arrange documentation in order of when it arrives in the office and when you’re going to need it. Keep today’s papers together with an inbox. Choose stackable plastic trays or go for classic leather or contemporary wire trays. For short-term storage of frequent-use papers, use color-coded file folders in magazine holders or baskets. Medium-term storage calls for wall-mounted systems or filing cabinets. Store sensitive documents in a fire- and water-safe box to keep them safe from accidents and prying eyes. Jazz them up with a little paint or patterned contact paper if you don’t like the industrial look.
4. Corral small items with desk organizers
Keeping track of small but essential supplies can be a challenge. Use a divided pencil cup to sort and store pens, pencils, highlighters, and sticky notes. Store paper clips, rubber bands, and push-pins or thumbtacks in small glass jars. Not only does it keep them from cluttering drawers or the desktop, the clear glass makes it easy to find and retrieve what you need, while the lids prevent spills. Take a tip from workshop tool setups and mount the lids of the jars to the underside of a shelf to free more surface space. Add drawer dividers to separate small items, like notepads, to make them quick and easy to find.
Another option is to mount a curtain or shower rod along the wall above your work space. Use binder rings or clothespins to hold small, clear zipper bags of small items or to keep papers you refer to often close at hand.
5. Store items according to frequency of use
Research shows that clutter impairs productivity and can create stress, lowering resilience and mood. Organizing your home office can help ease that impact. Store supplies and equipment by the frequency of their use. For example, if you only need to touch the computer CPU once a week, put it under or beside the desk; if you only use the fax machine once a month or so, put it outside the work center altogether.
6. Use labels to keep surfaces tidy
Place mailing labels around cords and wires to identify them, and bundle similar cords, such as computer speaker and stereo speaker wires. Attach binder clips to the edge of your work station to keep cords organized and out of the way. Use UL-listed surge protectors, naming each outlet to help with organization of cables. Label all baskets, document trays, and folders so you know where to retrieve and replace items.
7. Eliminate clutter with systematic methods of recording and reminding
Eliminate scrap paper clutter and make sure you can find notes about new ideas by recording them all in a single ideas notebook. If you write them on sticky notes or scratch pads, tape or glue those papers into the notebook. Mount a whiteboard to keep your goals and your to-do list easy to see, rather than buried under the day’s current paperwork.
Make life easier and more productive with these storage ideas for your home office. Use existing furniture, and add helpful items such as trays, baskets, and storage containers. Clearing clutter immediately makes a home office a pleasant place in which to work.