Week 6: Organizing the Office: Function & Files

Before you even get to organizing your office space, it's important to evaluate...

What will your office space function as?   

*Is it a strictly working from home environment?  
*Is it a family command center?  
*Is it a space to keep arts and crafts organized?
*Are you a student?  Is it only for studying?  

{Fill in the blank with what your space will be used for}

{photograph from Martha Stewart Living May 2010}

Once you've figured that out, then it's best to organize the space to maximize it's use.  Place the items that you need most at arms reach for your day to move smoothly.  If you need to reference files frequently, then it would be ideal to have a filing cabinet near your desk.  For me, I realized that my space would help me function {as a student} more efficiently if I had a calendar in clear view of my desk. {Below, you can see that the arrow is pointing at my calendar}.

It now functions as a space where I can always see what assignments/exams I have coming up.  Having it in a planner just isn't enough, nor online.  In addition, it's used as a household calendar.  I also wanted a board that would fit on this tiny wall for a bit of inspiration, so I recycled an old bamboo mirror that didn't have a place in our home.  Painted it a light grey, added cork, and started by placing photographs from this Spring as a back drop.  {I also filled the blue jewelry box with office supplies}.

Now that you know your office's function and where your items need to be placed, you may realize that you need extra storage or ways to make your space more efficient.  It's best to make a list before you head out for supplies because you may get a little overzealous once you get to the store {also, to stay green, check around your house for items that can be recycled to help organize your space}.  Right now I'm going to cover filing supplies...

Filing Supplies

Before you purchase storage containers for your papers, think about what can actually fit in them, and is it actually going to help your space function more efficiently? Although it may be pretty, if your papers {or fill in the blank} don't fit in the box, it's not going to help you.  

I personally have a ton of paperwork and opted to purchase a filing cabinet.  I have hanging file folders in alpha order and file mail regularly in them.  But before I had a filing cabinet, I used a desktop file.  It works wonders and keeps your papers organized in folders without taking up a ton of space.  Plus, you can hide it under a desk or in a closet.

a desktop file option:

If you have even less paperwork, this is always an option too:

There are several other ways to store paperwork, files, etc.  You can use trays, vertical file folders, letter sorters and hanging file folders on the wall. Also, I saw this article in this months Traditional Home that led me to a video with more ideas:

I think there are some great tips if you have a minute to watch it...

After you have your filing supplies and create your labels for your folders, the most important thing is to keep up with the filing. I have to admit that my piles to file can stack up quickly...so I find immediately filing is my best bet on staying organized!  

A few more tips coming this week...hoping there was something small here that helped inspire!


  1. You seriously have the best tips. I wish I had an office to organize! I really need to get a desk. I am currently writing this comment sitting on the floor with my laptop on my lap :)

  2. Great tips! You've inspired me to get moving on filing in my new office - and I DREAD filing!

  3. yes, keeping up with the filing is no joke!

    that's funny you talk about the importance of defining a space, because I just read about space planning. i think that's ben one of my problems over the years--not being clear enough about the function of my space from the beginning.

    i would LOVE to get my office in order right now, but i am swamped, and i do mean SWAMPED with school work. i have a finished campaign desk in the garage that i don't even have time to bring up . . . crazy!

  4. I'm currently arranging things on our home office and these will definitely help me a lot!

  5. Love your tips! Love to be part of a give-away, a sketch of an organize space framed....or a small work of art.
    let me know....off to organize my office now. (Thanks to you and Chris)

  6. Great tips! My office is slowly getting there and I just bought some really cute file folders from jonathan adler's stationary line. My issue now is maintaining it all - I wish I were more disciplined!

  7. Carlee- I hope you feel the love, I posted your fab jaded office space today to inspire others who work from home.

  8. So many great ideas - I've just been thinking about organising my office space then I came across your blog!

    I've been enjoying looking at your previous posts! I love all of your pictures!

    I'm your 300th follower!!:)


  9. I like the use of attractive containers for office supplies. Who wants to look at gray metal and manila file folders? I

  10. This is such a fantastic post! I have been wanting to tackle my office area. Right now it's drab and totally uninspired - I don't enjoy doing work there. This gives me some great ideas to get started!

  11. Loving these ideas!

    By the way, I would love to include your desk in my reader participation post on desks next week. Visit my blog for details if you're interested. Yours looks great!

  12. First, I have to say, I love this blog! I would love to know how you turned the mirror into a bulletin board! I have an old mirror I've wanted to do this with, but I'm not sure how to start.


  13. Great tips and so inspiring! Love the MS office. Lovely!

    Drop by for a great LED lamp giveaway!


  14. love your little desk area- we need more pics of it, just one does not do :)

  15. I made sure to make my new office space at my new job organized from the get-go! I have cute Vera Bradley pink file folders...everyone comments on how much they love them lol :)

  16. this post looks great. i'm going to have to come back tonight and watch that video. this is very helpful! thanks, hun!

  17. are you really this neat? can you rub off on me a bit?

  18. Great questions to make sure the space you create actually ends up working for YOU! Janell

  19. I'm loving every post in this series. You have so many great tips and pictures of your organized spaces are going into my inspiration file. Love the idea of using a jewelry box for office supplies! I'm always trying to find a good place for all that stuff.

  20. Carlee, I love the shot of your office space! It's perfect. The Martha office is great too. Almost makes paperwork chic! :)

  21. I appreciate your ideas. Having a visual calendar is something that I think I too need to add. I look forward to reading through your blog. I am always looking for more organizational ideas. In my opinion, the more organized one is, the more productive one is as direct correlation. Lovely blog!

  22. Do you know where the bookcase is from - in MS Living?

  23. Wonderful, very organized, clean, perfect <3


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