How to Fix a Cluttered Home Office

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your cluttered home office? If so, I totally get it. Papers are something that come into our homes every day and if we blink, they can take up residence in every room of our homes.

If this sounds like you. If you are looking for an easier way to get the office clutter under control, help is here. We are going to give you a step by step approach that you can follow along to. Before you can do a little home office organization we need to fix the mess.

Cluttered Home Office

Working from home has really skyrocketed over the past few years, three of my four boys for example now work from home as well as myself. It even has a term, remote working, and it’s this new reality that has our homes taking on new shape.

But this post is not only for those folks that work from home.

It’s for anyone that has an office. Whether that be for bill paying, computer work, or daily planning. Having a space that is organized and free from mess and chaos will help you to use this room more efficiently.

How to fix your Cluttered Home Office

Working in a messy space can be super distracting. To stay on task and make life easier, do yourself (and maybe your sanity!) a favor by getting rid of the extra stuff. The things that you do not need or use.

Let’s break it down into steps. Use them to help you to turn your home office into a room you really enjoy working in.

a messy desk covered in papers books and clutter

Step #1. Where are you now?

Take a good look at your office. What do you see.

Is it cluttered? Is there furniture that’s not being used as intended? Do you have chairs holding boxes and piles on your floor?

Analyzing the current state of your home office will help you pinpoint the areas where improvement is needed, allowing you to tackle each task one at a time.

If you are not sure where to begin, break the room down into areas. Work on one at a time decluttering, cleaning, and organizing it all the way to done.

Here are a few ideas:

  • The top of your desk
  • The filing cabinet
  • A bookshelf or cabinet
  • An end table or credenza
  • The floor
  • Drawers in your desk
  • Shelves on the wall

Make a list of each area and use that as your map for working through your home office. This list will keep you on track and help you to keep going all the way to done!

a messy desk covered in papers books and clutter with 3 pink numbers 1, 2, 3

Step #2. Do the 3 core steps

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to get to work. But before you do, let’s be sure that the things you are seeing are all actually clutter that needs to be sorted.

How do you do that?

With the 3 core steps.

Here at Declutter in Minutes, we have a simple three-step process that is easy to use and will really make a dent is the stuff you see lying out.

Here’s how it works.

1. Remove the Trash

Arm yourself with a trash and walk your office gathering up and trash that you find. Not sure what to look for?

Here’s a list to get you started.

  • Junk mail
  • Crumbled up papers or scraps
  • Old electronics
  • Dried out pens or markers
  • Empty food bags

If you have never done this before you may need a few sweeps to ensure you get it all. Once you are done, take the bag out to the trash.

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2. Collect the Recyclables

The next step is to gather up any items you can recycle where you live.

A few ideas are:

  • Empty water bottles
  • Soda cans
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Old newspapers
  • Empty printer cartridges

Once done, take these items to your recycling bin.

3. Put Away Items

Finally, gather up any items that belong in another room. I like to use a laundry basket for this step. Walk your office and look for things that belong somewhere else.

A few ideas are:

  • Clothes – in the laundry room
  • Dishes – in the kitchen sink
  • Toys – in the play room
  • Shoes – in the closet
  • Books – on the book shelf

Next, put away anything that stays in this room that already has a home.

A few ideas are:

  • Bills – in the bill paying area
  • Receipts – in the receipt bin or a designated drawer
  • Office supplies – in a cabinet or organizer

After finishing the three core steps, it will be a lot easier for you to sort and organize what is left. Remember the goal with decluttering and organizing any space is this. Remove what you do not use in this room and designate a home for what you do. If you do not have enough room for the amount of items you have, downsize so you can put things away more easily.

Let’s see this in action.

• Pens – You have 300 of them yet only need about a dozen. You can donate the extra so you can more easily keep them in the container you have on your desk.

a pile of pens, pencils, and markers in a pile on a desk

• Scissors – You have 5 pairs and only need 1. Put a pair in your kitchen utility drawer and one in your craft room and donate the rest.

Pads of paper – As you are cleaning you gather a stack of half used pads of paper and spiral notebooks. You keep 3, put one in the kitchen, one next to your bed, and donate the rest remove any used pages before you do.

• Random Papers – Set up a basket to put incoming new papers such as mail and appointment cards and put these items there as well. When you have time, go through this basket weekly to keep it current.

When you find you have a collection of things that is more than you have room to store, pare things down so they fit. Your office will thank you for it.

Office Supply Resources:

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Step #3. Sort Your Items

By now you should have made a pretty good dent in your office, good for you! Let’s work through what is left. Before you get busy, take a minute to prep a sorting area.

Here is a list of sorting bins you can use in the office:

  1. Donate – This bin is for any items you no longer use that can be donated at donation centers. 
  2. Give away – This bin is for any items that a family member or friend might want.
  3. Toss – This bin is for any items you can toss or recycle.
  4. Keep – items that will stay in the home office and will be organized later on.

Keep working through the area referring to the list you made in step #1. Once you have decluttered be sure to take a minute to wipe this area down so you have a clean slate to organize.

Step #4. Organize

Before we dive into organizing, let’s first do a recap of what organizing is. Organizing is keeping similar items together so you can easily find the things you need quickly but also, so you can easily put your things all the way away when you are done using them.

That is why containers are so helpful. It keeps things “contained” and stops them from spilling out over into other areas where they don’t belong.

Start by grouping together like items – so you can better see what containers will work best to hold them.

A few ideas are:

  • Pens, Markers – in a cup or a basket.
  • Office Supplies (paper clips, staplers, tapes) – in a container or divided bin.
  • Sticky notes – in a holder on your desk or basket in a drawer.
  • Printer paper – in a bin near the printer.
  • Folders or notepads – in basket, drawer, or vertical organizer.
  • Envelopes – in a drawer or bin.
  • Current tasks and papers – a basket or bulletin board

As you find similar things, look for ways to keep them together in the space where you normally look for them.

Organizers that work great in a home office.

Need a bit more inspiration for organizing? Here is a fun list to check out.

  1. Put a large basket on the floor to hold a sweater, back pillow, or other comfort items.
  2. Use a vertical paper organizer to hold current papers, outgoing mail, or other documents.
  3. Use a laptop or monitor riser to create extra space on your desk.
  4. Put a wood tray below your monitor to hold a few office tools.
  5. Invest in filing cabinets that can double as work surfaces to save space.
  6. Use a paper sized basket to toss incoming mail in.
  7. Set up an action bin for things you need to work on first.
  8. Keep cords from tangling with adhesive holders.
  9. Use colorful binders to hold similar papers.
  10. Use drawer organizers to streamline your desk drawers.
  11. Short on space? Invest in a wall organizer for your office.
  12. If you have the space, a bookshelf is a great thing to add to a working office.
  13. Use magnetic organizers to make space on metal desks.
magnetic organizers holding office supplies on the side of a desk

When it comes to organizing your office, you have plenty of options! It all depends on the size and shape of your space, as well as which pieces are going into each area.

With a bit of creativity, you can create a space that you truly love to work in.

Step #5. Develop A Routine.

In order to keep your home office from getting messy again, you will want to create a routine that will keep this room neat and put away.

A few ideas are:

• Before you leave your office, take a few minutes to reset it back to start. Put office supplies away, papers in the drawer, and take any dishes to the kitchen.

• Have a basket on your desk to toss in any incoming papers as they enter your home. Make a habit of sorting through this basket one day each week.

• Set up a budget or bill paying day each week to keep your finances organized and clutter free.

• Set up a family command center to streamline your family’s papers and schedules.

a woman in red with her feet on a neat desk in a tidy office

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the digital clutter.

Take the time to clear out your digital space too by cleaning out the extra stuff from your email account, your computer files or your smart phone. Since this can be a decluttering project all on it’s own, work on these areas when you waiting at a doctor’s office, in a carpool line, or at practice.

A few ideas are:

  • Unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer read or enjoy.
  • Delete old screen shots on your phone or duplicate photos.
  • Set up folders in your email account to organize important items.

Use on online resources like One Tab, Dropbox, and Google Drive…all great tools for sorting & organizing photos + other important documents in a secure place.

Working to organize your Cluttered Home Office will not only create a space in your home that is more streamlined but inviting as well. Use these tips to set up an area that will help you to be more productive and create a room you love to work in!

More Decluttering Resources:

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