10 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Home Office

Man working in home office by bikes and books piled by doorway

The holidays hit my home office like a tornado, but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to get my office space spic and span and keep it that way. And with a genius storage system, a change in behavior and a few simple items that are inexpensive and widely available, I plan to do just that.

Sure, you could blow all your holiday gift money at the Container Store, but you don’t have to do that. Here are the steps I took and items I’m utilizing to keep myself and my work, organized:

1. End clean, start clean. Throughout the day, my work unpacks itself: books, papers, post-its, pens and pencils, push pins, newspapers and magazines. So I end every day by tidying up my space and bringing order to the widespread disorder known as my desk. I write out a list of my tasks for the next day and place that list in the center of my desk so that I can start tomorrow with clarity and focus.

2. Wrangle papers. While the good ol’ filing cabinet works for some people, it’s a blackhole for me. Papers go in there and never see the light of day again. Instead, I bought a simple set of three stacked trays marked “urgent,” “current” and “to scan.” All of my papers make their way down the ladder in that order. When they hit the “to scan” tray, I use my desktop scanner and file them away in folders on my laptop hard drive. Neat is another wonderful option for receipt tracking and document scanning. With the push of a button and the accompanying Neat mobile app, you’ll banish papers and keep your space clear from rampant paper clutter.

3. Get wireless everything. A few years ago I had a storage box marked “cords.” In it I stored a tangle of cords for my many electronic devices. Even when they were wrapped and labeled, I couldn’t stand that box and I hate the mess that wires cause in my home office. In that moment, I decided to go wireless as much as I could. The plethora of brands that now make wireless and Bluetooth-enabled devices have greatly reduced their prices and increased the available selection.

Some of my favorite wireless pieces are my wireless printer/scanner, wireless device charging pad and wireless mouse. I couldn’t believe the peace and harmony I found in my office once I cleared the jungle of wires. I still have to charge some of my devices overnight but now I have a designated space for that charging and all the cords are neatly tucked away in a drawer under the table where everything charges after a long day of work.

4. Use just enough space. I move a lot. Last year alone I moved to three different apartments. When you move a lot, your items tend to follow you and they may not always be best for your space. To counter this, I keep everything as small as possible no matter how big my space is. My desk is only as big as I need it to be to fit the essentials of my trade as a writer: a laptop, a pad of paper, a jar of pens and a small desktop printer/scanner. The bigger the desk, the bigger the mess. I fill my space so I keep my work space, and furniture, small.

5. Find storage everywhere. Everything I have serves a double or triple purpose. I learned early on that all furniture needs to pull its weight in my space. There’s hidden storage in everything. For example, the seat of my desk chair lifts up for storage and the desktop itself sits atop a hidden storage tray.

6. Use the walls. Because I keep my desk small, I make full use of my walls. I have hooks, cork boards, magnetic strips, and right-sized sturdy shelves woven in with art that inspires me on my walls. Walls resist clutter in a way that horizontal surfaces can’t, so I use my walls as much as possible.

7. Choose a bright and simple color palette. My office space has a simple color palette — white, brown, seafoam green and a dusty blue. That’s it. It’s a beautiful combination of brightness and soothing comfort because it reminds me of the sea, the sand and the sky. And because it’s beautiful, I’m motivated to keep it neat so that it remains a place where I enjoy spending my time.

I also have just the right combination of light: natural light, desktop light, and an overhead light when I need to spread out a bigger project. I use the right light for the right time of day for the right project. By keeping it bright, clutter isn’t able to hide from my view so I’m more likely to take care of it quickly and restore order.

8. No junk drawers allowed. Forget giving yourself an allowance of a junk drawer. It has a natural ability to grow without your permission. In 2015, I’m subscribing to the old philosophy of “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I picked up mason jars of various sizes and a large set of small plastic boxes at my local dollar store to keep all those tiny desk items like paper clips, rubber bands and writing instruments organized.

9. Keep It Clear. This is a new idea I got when I was shopping around for organizing materials. If we keep them clear, we can easily see what’s inside of them and the light that filters through them gives an airy feeling to the space. They also make a small space seem bigger. You can even get a clear desk, chair, storage furniture and shelving if you really want to make everything in your space clear.

10. Digital Wins. I read a lot of books, magazines and newspapers not only because I love to read, but because I also edit and review books for publishing companies and write on a wide variety of topics that require me to read massive amounts of content every day. I have a handful of books and periodicals in paper form — these are ones that really resemble workbooks of some kind that are easier to use in paper form. Everything else is digital on my Kindle and through a set of mobile apps on my iPad. After a few days, my eyes were feeling the fatigue of that bright screen so I adjusted the settings on iPad to have my screen be black with white type. This helped tremendously and now my eyes aren’t any more fatigued than when I read in paper form.

And all those books? I donated them to my local library so that they could be enjoyed by my community.

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