Declutter Your Home Office

Attempting to declutter your home office can seem like a daunting task.  Papers, office supplies, books, electronics, boxes, folders, stacks of stuff - it can all pile up to the point where working in the space becomes nearly impossible. But it doesn't have to be that way. With a little decluttering and a practical system for utilizing the space, your home office can be a comfortable, functional work area that inspires your productivity. It's well worth whatever effort it may take to get the job done.


The first step to any organizing project is to purge.  This means sorting through everything to determine what you need, what you use, and what you should get rid of.  Sort items into the following categories as you set out to declutter your home office.

  • Trash -- Trash can refer to actual garbage or to stuff you no longer need, want, use or like.  The unwanted items are candidates for donation or recycling.  Be careful when disposing of documents containing sensitive information.  If at all possible, shred them. 
  • Tools -- Home offices are full of items such as furniture, office supplies and electronic equipment which can be classified as tools.  These items are all necessary to the room’s function.  Not only do they get to stay, they also get top priority in terms of claiming real estate. 
  • Transients -- Transients are items that have value but do not belong in the space.  Home offices often become catchall spaces for stashing stuff that doesn’t have a place elsewhere.  If you truly want to declutter your home office, these items will need to be removed from the room.  Reclaim the space for its intended purpose and find a new home for those items that don’t serve that purpose. 
  • Trimming -- Trimming refers to the things that will be used to decorate the space: photographs, art work, knick knacks, and memorabilia.  It’s the stuff you like to look at that makes your space feel personal and welcoming to you.  These items, while unnecessary for the room’s function, serve an important role.  Their job is to stimulate you.  Ideally, your office should be an inviting and inspiring place to work, a place you want to be.  Keep in mind that trimmings take a back seat to tools.  Function takes precedence over decoration. 

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Learn more about the process of purging and sorting by clicking on the icons below.

Consider Work Flow

Once you've purged the contents of your home office, you’re ready to decide what goes where.  To do this you will need to consider work flow.  In this case, work flow simply refers to the systematic way in which you use (or would like to use) the space. 

Do you tend to stay in one place, such as at the desk?  Or do you move around a lot from desk to filing cabinet to a mounted white board, etc.?  Do you need an uncluttered surface on which to lay out projects in addition to your desk area? 

Thinking about the way you use the space will help you determine the best arrangement for the room.  Try to arrange things in such a way that they will compliment your natural work flow patterns rather than impeding them.

Store Things Where You Use Them

A really useful method to both declutter your home office and keep it clutter free is to store things where you use them.  The more you have to move around to retrieve the things you need, the more things are going to pile up on your work surface.  That can  make it difficult to get any work done. 

We often feel compelled to keep things close at hand for easy access, thinking to ourselves I’m going to need that again soon, so I might as well leave it out.  I know this because I am guilty of this. 

Take a moment to think through the items you use most often when working at your desk.  Find a place for them in the desk or on the desk top.  If there is room to spare, fill it with items that would be nice to have close by but which are not essential. 

A Place for Everything

One of the biggest causes of clutter in any room is homelessness.  Items that don’t have a designated home end up as squatters.  If, in your efforts to declutter your home office, you find yourself with a pile of potential squatters, go back to the purging stage. 

Decide which category the item in question belongs to.  If you are certain it isn’t trash (either the throw away or give away kind), then the next question is whether or not it truly belongs in the space.  If you are sure it does, then you will need to find it a permanent home. 

Utilize Vertical Storage

Finding a home for everything in a home office can be challenging.  Sometimes it’s necessary to think vertically in order to find the space you need.  Vertical space can be claimed in a number of ways. 

  • Tall Furniture -- Utilize tall cabinets and bookcases in order to take advantage of every inch of available space.
  • Wall Shelves – Fill a blank wall with functional shelving.  Make sure the shelves you select are sturdy enough to support whatever you intend to store on them.         
  • Cabinetry – Installing standard premade cabinets in a home office can provide abundant storage.            
  • Wall-mounted Storage - Use wall-mounted file sorters or magazine racks to keep important papers from cluttering your work surface.            
  • Cork - Install a cork board or cover all/part of a wall in cork for pinning important information.   
  • Magnetic Boards - Hang magnetic strips or boards on the wall.  Store office supplies in magnetic containers or tack important papers to the wall using magnets.        
  • Peg Boards - Incorporate a peg board with lots of removable hooks and bins for sorting and storing a myriad of office supplies. 

This tall hutch was originally designed to hold dishes.  These days it houses office supplies and books.  It's large capacity makes it an excellent storage piece.

Control Cables

Cables are the bane of every office, are they not?  If you truly want to declutter your home office, cable control will need to be considered.  For starters, you will want to think about furniture placement.  Any item that will house electronics should obviously be placed as close as possible to an outlet.  This will be safer and will also help to hide the cords. 

Think carefully before placing a desk in the middle of a room.  Personally, I prefer seeing out into the room rather than staring at a wall, but that means running cords across the floor unless you are fortunate enough to have a strategically placed floor outlet at your disposal.  Running cables across the floor can damage the cables over time if they get stepped on or rolled over.  It also poses a tripping hazard, and it's an eyesore. 

All sorts of cable control devices are available from channels, to wraps, to clips, to boxes and more.  Whether you decide to invest in cable control gear or create your own, it’s a good idea to label your cables.  Use bread tabs or tape wrapped back onto itself to create your own labels or purchase some from an electronics or organization store. 

Create a Filing System

To truly declutter your home office you need to have a functional filing system that allows you to find or file any piece of paper in 30 seconds.  Sound impossible?  Check out my page titled Declutter Your Files for details on creating such a system for your home office.  

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An organized home office is a productive home office.  Declutter your home office today and put the space to work for you!

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Need help to declutter your home office?

Having assistance as you tackle an organization project can mean the difference between temporary improvements and long term success. If you're serious about whipping your home office into shape, click on the link below to contact me for personalized, professional help. 

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