From Spotlight: Organizing Solutions for People With No Time

5 Easy-to-Do Strategies to Have a More Organized Work Space

Like thinking vertically, especially if storage space is lacking.

Man working from his home office
Image: Geber86/Getty

Working from home has a lot to offer. No more long commute (or drama from your cubicle mate). It's so much easier to be productive, right?

Only if you've got an organized home office, that is.

"It really allows you to focus on what's important," says Calabasas, Calif.-based organizer Lori Gersh. That means you can more easily ignore distractions (like that pile of dirty laundry).

Here's how to fix your home work space to pump up your productivity.

#1 Purge First

Sure, shopping for organizers is fun. They don't call it "retail therapy" for nothing. But to create a system primed for maximum output, you should first soldier through the task of ditching paperwork and office supplies that clutter rather than help and, most important, find homes for all things unrelated to work (well, except for a sentimental photo or two — and plants; plants are good). Consider it boot camp to get your work life in shape.

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Plus, the more open and organized your space is, the easier it'll be to focus.

#2 Create a Work Hub — Even if Space Is Minimal

A separate room with only one function — work — is ideal, but so is a beachfront address. Just because you don't have a spare room doesn't mean you can't have an "office." You can easily create one.

A small desk and storage ottoman for files and supplies may be all you need.

Or a small coat closet could be repurposed if you need something more substantial. Relocate the coats and jackets to hooks in your entry or move them to other closets, and convert that closet into a work nook with a built-in tabletop and floating shelves.

Yellow information station storage in home entryway
Image: Aniko Levai of "Place of My Taste"

But if you work from a multipurpose space like the kitchen table, or prefer to roam from table to couch, it's a bit more of a challenge — but still solvable. 

Try a rolling cart loaded with your work supplies. "It helps you focus because you have things right where you need them," says New York City organizer Stephanie Shalofsky. (There's a ton of sizes and configurations to choose from.) Then simply roll it out of sight when company comes.

#3 Use Vertical Space to Organize

It's surprising how often wall space is overlooked as an organizing solution. When everything you need is right there on your wall and easy to find, your productivity jumps.

Buy ready-to-hang cubbies, or create your own system, and hang them just as you would a collection of pictures. Some other ideas:

  • Use a pegboard to store supplies such as scissors, calendars, and notes.
  • Stow files in magazine holders mounted to the walls.
  • Hang a shoe organizer with clear sleeves to keep supplies such as pens in plain sight (this will work on a rolling cart, too, if you cut it to fit).

Over-the-door shoe organizer used to store computer cords
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Related: Creative Ways to Use Hanging Shoe Organizers

#4 Separate Household Files from Work Files

If you do business and household duties from the same space, you need separate systems to help you stay focused, Shalofsky says. This is super easy to do. You just need to commit to do it:

  • Keep two different calendars and to-do lists.
  • Use different drawers, cabinets, shelves, or file bins.

Then keep those household files out of sight when you're working. Just like seeing a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, seeing bills waiting to be paid can entice your mind to wander.

#5 Tidy Up Before Clocking Out

When you work from home, there's no cleaning crew to spruce up your space after hours and no peer pressure to maintain a somewhat orderly space. So, although it's tempting to let it be, take just a few moments to toss unnecessary paperwork, remove trash, and make sure your work space is ready for work in the a.m. By clearing the way today, you'll hit the ground running tomorrow.

Congratulations. You're now living the work-at-home dream! 

Related: 7 Places You Keep Missing When You Clean (That Everyone Else Notices)

Author photo of Amy Howell Hirt
Amy Howell Hirt

Amy Howell Hirt has written about home design for 13 years. Her work has been published by outlets including "The Home Depot," "USA Today," and Yahoo! Homes. She previously served as home and garden writer and columnist for "The Cincinnati Enquirer."