By Anna Kocharian

Published on March 26, 2018

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Photography by katie mitchell

When it comes to organizing a home office, it’s important to keep productivity and efficiency in mind. A wildly colorful space can be overly distracting for some, while a sterile scheme can verge on the unmotivating for others. We rallied the help of productivity pro and Fellowes Brand Ambassador Laura Stack, to guide us through how to have an organized (and stylish!) home office. Take a look!

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Photography by Marissa Cox via Rue Rodier

What should one keep in mind when designing a home office

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Think about designing your home office for maximum productivity. First, consider the location. When doing so, ask yourself how often you’ll be using the space and for what kind of work. You need to allow the right amount of space for the amount of time and the type of work you’ll be completing.

Which space in your home will allow you to focus on the work you want to accomplish? That often means a separate space that is not in the way of playing children, near a bed that tempts you to nap or in the middle of your family’s coming and goings. If extra space is difficult to find, you’ll have to be creative. Personally, I use my “formal” living room—no one ever used it anyway—so it was wasted space.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

What are the essential components of a home office

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First, you need a laptop or computer. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s important to invest in the most efficient technology so that you don’t have issues down the road. A comfortable work table or desk and an ergonomically correct chair are also crucial. Stackable sources of storage can help maximize your space vertically, while supply caddies or desktop organizers can help keep the space clutter-free.

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Photography by chriselle lim

What are the three things every home office should have

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Every home office should have the proper technology, personalization, and organization. Getting the right technology will help ensure your home office is well-equipped, and you’ll be set for productivity down the line. Don’t forget to add a few personal touches to spruce up your desk to feel inspired. Live plants, family photos, and small trinkets help make the home office part of your home while still being a place to get work done and be productive.

Once you have everything you need, zone your workspace and arrange your home office based on your needs. For example, organize supplies and files to make space for your computer and room to review documents. Ensure what you use most is at arm’s length. Creating zones for your work and what you need throughout the day will result in an efficient workspace and clean desk.

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Photography by ELISABETHHEIER.NO

What are the necessary steps for spring cleaning a home office, and making this as efficient as possible

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Choose the best time to organize. Part of being the most productive when you organize is choosing the best time. You won’t get very much done if you’re distracted by the kids’ homework or your favorite TV show. Choose a time of day you can dedicate 100 percent to organizing. No multitasking!

Also, schedule a clutter attack. We all tend to hold onto paper, because we might need it someday. But I’ll bet you never look at 99 percent of it twice. Bills more than one year can go, but keep tax forms and receipts for seven years. Of course, remember to shred papers that contain confidential information.

Don’t forget your email either. While papers take up physical space, you don’t want to neglect the digital space that files can take up on your computer. Go through files and delete what you don’t need, make folders and subfolders to easily find what you need and consider making shortcuts to save time getting where you need to go.

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Photography by HOLBORN

How would you recommend decorating different parts of an office

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Use colors. Throwing papers in a pile will slow you down when you’re trying to find what you need. Create categories of files and assign a color to each group. For example, blue for budgets and red for expenses. This will speed up the time that it takes you to find something.

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Photography by MIM DESIGN

It’s important to have an organization system in a place. Remodeling or organizing a home office is the perfect time to set up a system to stay organized, like my “5-P” System.

  • PURGE: Get rid of outdated information you no longer need or know you won’t reference in the future.
  • PLAN: Map out your new organization system and list any equipment you’ll need, such as a new shredder or printer for your home office, filing cabinets and supplies.
  • PURCHASE: Buy only what you need. This means only purchase what you need at the time. Stocking up too much will result in excess clutter around your home office.
  • PUT: Store items and file papers into their new homes. Every item should have a home, so when you need to find something you don’t waste time looking for what you need.
  • PLACE: Get new items ready and in the right place. Label files with your label maker, put the hanging folders in the drawers and get set up.
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Photography by JEROEN VAN DER SPEK FOR THE DUTCH DELICIOUS MAGAZINE

Now that you have an organized home office that is set for productivity, make sure your office stays organized. Straighten up a little every morning and evening. Try to tidy up around the same times each day, so it becomes routine. This will help prevent a time-consuming, big clean-up every week.

Another great way to stay organized is at the end of each day, take five minutes to write down what you need to accomplish the following day and prioritize your list. When you wake up the next morning, you will have a jumpstart on your day and know what tasks you need to tackle first!

This story was originally published April 15, 2016. It has been updated with new information.

See more home office inspo:

How to Refresh a Home Office for Under $500
7 Home Offices That Give Us Serious Design Envy
10 Ways to Create an Organized Home Office in a Small Space