8 Strategies to Keep Your Desk and Home Office Organized

Julia Pelly
Written by Julia Pelly
Updated December 21, 2021
A woman working from home
Photo: Jacob Lund / Adobe Stock

Overwhelmed by the pile of papers on your desk? Here are some ways to declutter your home office

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

If you find yourself feeling like the clutter in your home office is holding you back from accomplishing your tasks, you’re not alone. Paper clutter is a common problem in home offices, especially when working in a cloffice or other small spaces.

Organizing your office and desk space is no different than organizing any other area of your home. The best way to start is by finding a home for every item and setting up systems to use your time and space wisely. Follow these simple home office organization tips, and you'll be more productive (and less stressed) in no time.

1. Utilize In and Out Boxes

If you have several types of files moving across your desk every day, consider creating designated in and out boxes to keep them organized. The in box is where new papers live until you find time to process them. The out box is where you put completed papers and tasks until you have time to file them away or dispose of them. This system makes it easy to keep track of the status of your daily tasks.

2. Create Action Files

Your action files are where you store every task between your in box and your out box. Papers or tasks that need action or follow-up live here. You can organize your action files by category (calls to make or bills to pay) or by due date. When you walk into your home office every morning, you’ll be able to jump right into the projects waiting in your action file.

3. Create a Home for Everything

While it may seem obvious that every item on your desk needs a home, it can be difficult to determine what “everything” means until you still have papers on your desk, even after implementing your in box, out box, and action files. Take note of what documents remain on your desk, and then decide where to store them, such as in a filing cabinet or desk drawer. 

4. Use Your Desk Real Estate Wisely

Don’t let logistics get in the way of your workflow. When decluttering your desk, consider which items you use every day and which items you rarely use. Then, place your frequently used supplies within reach, or somewhere you can easily see. Your hardly used items should be placed the furthest away or stored inside your desk. If you need help aligning your workspace with your needs, consider hiring a professional organizer to set up your home office.

5. Keep a Paper Shredder Handy

You can reduce the amount of paper in your office by keeping a shredder next to your desk to avoid a pile-up of bills and paperwork you plan to dispose of ‘later.’ Keeping a paper shredder on hand makes it easy to get rid of unnecessary paperwork quickly and will keep your desk much cleaner.   

6. Toss Old Office Supplies 

A laptop in working space
Photo: fotofabrika / Adobe Stock

The office ‘junk drawer’ is a too-common feature of many people’s desks. Instead of tossing your drying-out pens and mostly-used-up notebooks in a junk drawer, take stock of your supplies and get rid of anything that’s no longer useful. Then, evaluate whether you need to order new supplies or phase out unnecessary items. That way, you’ll never have to pick up a dried-out pen ever again. 

7.  Make Your Work Space Feel Good

Brown chair at desk in white boho home office interior
Photo: photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Most people are more likely to prioritize organization and keeping their space neat when it looks and feels like somewhere they want to be. Consider adding a few framed photographs or a special trinket or two to your desk to help you feel positive about your office and desk space. 

8. Go Green by Reducing Paperwork

To avoid unnecessary paper clutter (and help save a tree or two) only print necessary documents. If possible, complete paperwork online and save completed documents to a shared drive or other secure virtual location rather than on your desk or in your filing cabinet. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.