5 Easy Ways to Organize an Office to Make You as Efficient as Possible

Updated 06/03/19

 Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson Design

It's no surprise to anyone that we work a lot these days. Our collective to-do lists routinely surpass the traditional 40-hours-per-week mark, and our emails ping incessantly through the weekend. Our hobbies, which were once carefree periods, are now potential side hustles. And more so, our careers are equated with callings and our coworkers are akin to family. It's no wonder, then, that our offices tend to be of the utmost importance.

While we all know that working too much can be harmful, we also know that having a disorganized space where work should get done can make the whole endeavor worse. So, in an effort to get you to work as seamlessly as possible, we'd like to share tips on how to organize an office to its full potential. 

Follow along as we describe the five things you should do to make this area nice and neat—as well as the five things you should routinely avoid—in order to get things done effectively. While we can't exactly convince you to work less, since we know the collective mentality we're up against, we can provide some advice on how to design an office more strategically. 

Emily Henderson—How to Organize an Office
Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson Design

Do: Have a dedicated work space.

Don't: Make this dedicated work space the couch. 

If you work from home regularly, it's important to have an area that's conducive to work—and yes, we're talking about a desk, or at least a table. While a couch may be appealing, it won't provide the physical support you need to tap on a keyboard for hours on end. 

Design to Consider: This office space designed by Emily Henderson is simple yet entirely effective. Its streamlined desk makes room for a computer and any other necessities, while its accompanying chair and overhead sconce round out all you'd need to focus on work. 

Lacourte No Hutch Desk—How to Organize an Office
Williams Sonoma Lacourte "No Hutch" Desk $1500
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Em Henderson Cabinet—How to Organize an Office
Sara Tramp; DESIGN: Emily Henderson Design

Do: Figure out the amount of storage you'll need. 

Don't: Do without any storage at all. 

Now is the time to consider how much office supplies spark joy for you. If you're someone who contains all of their work to their computer, then you're probably not going to need as much storage as someone who still writes everything down. However, you should have something—whether that's a small console, a couple of containers, or a full filing cabinet—to keep important papers organized and off your desk. A clean desk will stop you from getting easily distracted. 

Design to Consider: A vintage filing cabinet makes a bold statement in this second example from Emily Henderson, since its labels match the other gold accents in the room. A large furnishing like this one should be paired with a simple desk and a few accents, in order to create a balanced look.

Printer's Three-Drawer File Pedestal—How to Organize an Office
Pottery Barn Printer's Three-Drawer File Pedestal $70
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Nina Holst—How to Organize an Office
Nina Holst 

Do: Make use of shelving. 

Don't: Over-clutter the shelves. 

If a filing cabinet seems like too much storage, but a few baskets seem like too little, then go for the best compromise: shelves. Whether you fill an entire wall with open shelving or simply employ one or two to hold your things, shelves can provide an easy place to store documents and display a few cherished items. 

Design to Consider: Stylist Nina Holst's bookcase is ideal for an office, since it has open shelves to contain everything from paper trays, to books, to stylish accents. Feel free to add in whatever you'd like, but remember to edit this display down to the essentials—again, it will help to keep the impetus on work. 

West Elm—How to Organize an Office
West Elm Industrial Modular Bookcase $800
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Sarah Sherman Samuel—How to Organize an Office
Sarah Sherman Samuel 

Do: Add in pops of color.

Don't: Make a home office neutral. 

A home office should make you feel inspired, and that's why incorporating color into this design is important. After all, this is your personal space to get things done, and so it doesn't need to be as neutral as a general office. Come up with a color palette that speaks to your tastes, and see how you can use those shades throughout the design. 

Design to Consider: Joy Cho of the lifestyle brand Oh Joy! is famous for her love of color, and designer Sarah Sherman Samuel captured that in her office. The bright tile flooring and variegated gallery wall succeed at creating a fun environment, but ample storage and a clean desk make it easy to get to work, too. 

Clé Tile—How to Organize an Office
Clé Tile Oh Joy! Pinwheel Hexagon Tile $20
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New Darlings—How to Organize an Office
 New Darlings

Do: Bring in plenty of plants.

Don't: Forget to water them. 

Plants provide color, texture, and height to a space—and when set in an office, they can bring in some much-needed oxygen, too. Once the main furnishings of your office have been put in place, don't forget to add in a plant or two as well. They'll also give you an easy goal to cross off your to-do list: regular watering sessions. 

Design to Consider: Much like this design from the New Darlings, it's possible to work a range of plants into a room. Position them on shelves, in corners, or on trays, and organize them into various vases, too. If you're worried that caring for a plant might be too much to take on, then pick a resilient succulent or even a faux plant for this detail. 

Fern—How to Organize an Office
The Sill Bird’s Nest Fern $60
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