Simplifying Your Home Office

Aaron’s new and improved office!

We have been completing our home office organization over the last few weeks. Aaron works from home, so not only do we manage organizing his business materials but also the home bills and paperwork. Here are a few things that we found helpful in the process of simplifying and eliminating a lot of excess materials.

Here’s a little secret tip (which actually applies to most organizing projects around your house and life)…simplify before you organize! Rather than first choosing an organizational systems among all the “wonderful” products on the market and spending a lot of money and time trying to figure them out, start by just reducing the excess! More often than not, if you simplify enough, your office will organize itself!

1. Choose a small desk and storage space

We formally had a large corner office desk, which meant more of a tendency to stack up piles of papers. Switching to a smaller variety, keeps us more motivated to maintain the clutter and stay organized. We also went from two filing cabinet drawers to one unit with a file drawer and three regular drawers. A larger desk or storage space gives the feeling that you have more room to collect stuff.

2.  Remove everything

We found it was very helpful to completely remove all our files and empty all the drawers completely. This way we were forced to sort through and decide what needs to go and what should stay as we put things back.

3. Simplify your file cabinet

Scan your documents – Thanks to Aaron’s brother (who also lent us the scanner!), we received the idea of copying over all of our important documents to our computer using a simple scanner and back them up on the hard drive. This enabled us to really weed through years of old paperwork, bills, and the like. The important documents are now easily accessible on the computer if we ever need them.

Manuals - We also found that we had a huge folder of miscellaneous manuals from different household appliances and tools. Come to find out, most of these are available in pdf version online directly from the manufacturer. That sure cleared out a lot of space! They went into the recycling.

Bank/Credit Card Statements/Bills - most companies now offer paperless statements which can be sent to your email inbox and viewed online. Choosing online versions of your statements significantly helps to reduce paper waste. Check out the websites of the companies you use and make the switch!

File Folders – In organizing our file cabinet, we have several main labels on green file folders, including for example: medical, investment, insurance, bank statements, taxes, etc. If there is need of further division, we use yellow manila folders. For the insurance main file folder, we have sub-categories for home insurance, life insurance, car insurance, etc. If desired, file your folders alphabetically to find things more quickly.

4. Use drawer organizers

To keep all those miscellaneous pens and such, use a drawer organize. It makes these smaller tools easier to find.

5. File immediately or recycle

Only pick up your mail once! Place it in the recycling or file immediately. Keep a “TO PAY” folder for such bills.

Works for us!

What tips do you have to share in simplifying the home office?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

17 Responses to Simplifying Your Home Office

  1. Megan October 3, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    My ”office,” which is a small space, not a room, is currently a desk with small cart underneath. I am about to downsize to a small, round table (glazed flat piece on a wrought-iron stand). I am choosing to look at it this way: far less to dust! ;)

  2. mama February 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    After reading some of your posts this week, I have started the simplifying process… But here’s a question for you. What do you do with all your books? Where do you keep a bookcase? My one bookcase down stairs is full, and I can’t seem to let go of more than I have.


    • Lindsay February 7, 2010 at 10:46 am #

      I actually wrote a post on simplifying your book collection. Check it out here.

  3. Kate July 25, 2009 at 6:25 am #

    I would caution scanning everything into your pc. My old pc crashed the other week, and nothing can be recovered. We have a safety deposit box at our bank for our most important papers or valuables.

    This is not the first time I’ve had a computer crash on me, I never keep anything good saved on the pc.

    • Lindsay July 25, 2009 at 11:39 am #

      Yes, that is why it is important to have a back-up. We have a back-up hard drive especially to prevent that.

  4. LiveWellSimply October 2, 2008 at 9:35 am #

    Great post! I find that in most families (particularly larger ones), the area around the computer is the hardest to keep simple and organized, partly because so many people use it. :-)

  5. Michele October 1, 2008 at 1:25 pm #

    What a blessing this post was to me! I was planning to sorting our computer desk this week and moving a lot of things to a file cabinet. These ideas are so helpful. I am really enjoying your series on simplifying!

  6. Mrs. M October 1, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    We just restuctured my husbands office space last week. He is in the garage with all the storage. Funny thing is it looks like his time working from home is over and he will be going to an office soon. But hey, atleast now it’s all organized…maybe I will make his old office space my sewing space :o )

  7. Barb J. October 1, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    As soon as we can afford it (after Christmas), I plan on getting rid of my big, bulky computer armoire and getting small, simple desk. Simplify!

    • Lindsay October 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

      We sold our old desk on craigslist and then purchased this one from IKEA with what we made off the other desk. Maybe you could try selling it?

  8. laura October 1, 2008 at 9:18 am #

    where did you get that file cabinet? i have been looking for something like this for a reasonable price!

    • Lindsay October 1, 2008 at 2:08 pm #

      We purchased this cabinet from IKEA…good quality but reasonable price.

  9. Andrea in Alaska October 1, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    What kind of documents did you scan? I don’t know where I would start! I would think that this would be valuable in setting together an emergency file or back up plan. I really want our photos on CDs that we can give to our parents for safekeeping in case of a fire (or our computer is destroyed). Important documents on disk might work well that way too. Probably, though, it might also be good to have important documents (like wedding and birth certificates and pet vaccination forms) zeroxed or in a special red emergency folder in case of forced evacuation. I’m not afraid of some big catastrophe, but it makes sense to be prepared (like the Proverbs 31 woman).

    Thanks for doing a post on office and paper filing! This is just what I need right now. I love how all your important files fit in one small drawer. I have been procrastinating terribly about my paper mountains. I know much of it can be recycled, but somehow the organization intimidates me. I will make it my goal to really tackle that this month.

    Thanks again and God bless!

    • Lindsay October 1, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

      We scanned everything that was important but just taking up room, such as all our home purchase papers, insurance documentation, old statements, etc. Like I said, we just removed everything first and then slowly started filing back what we had to keep as hard copies and others were scanned and stored on the computer while others went to the recycling. Just work through one file at a time and you would be surprised at how quickly you can get it done! You could use the same technique for all those needs you mentioned as well!

  10. Shannon October 1, 2008 at 6:14 am #

    Thanks, I’ve been waiting for this! :)

  11. Emma October 1, 2008 at 1:18 am #

    I’ve just cleaned out our filing cabinet too! Did the scanning take a long time? I’m keen to use that idea, but not so thrilled about the time it would take!

    • Lindsay October 1, 2008 at 8:19 am #

      It depends upon what kind of scanner you have. We had one that scanned double sided copies simultaneously, and thus saved us time, but we worked off and on with it on several evenings to complete the process…but we would have still done it either way, due to the fact that it was FANTASTIC in simplifying and organizing our file cabinet! It can be done at the same time while you complete other projects as well.