How To Organize A Small Office

How To Organize A Small Office


Today, more and more people are learning to work from home and the immense freedom that can bring. It also means you’ll need to keep your home office organized and tidy so you can be productive and creative.

This can be a challenge if you live in a small studio apartment, tiny house, or townhouse without a ton of space. You may even not have a designated room you can use to work. Have no fear, there are many ways to organize a small office that supports productivity despite limited space.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I do most of my work from my small office in my own tiny house. Because I don’t have an office to go, I am extremely strategic about the way I organize my small office to best support my work flow and keep me from life’s distractions.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Simple Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Office

Steps To Start Organizing Your Small Office

It is way too easy for a small office to become a cluttered disarray. From loose papers and bills to extra pencils to all of the non-office related junk that piles on your drawer and desk, things can get messy quickly.

As the stuff stacks up, it makes it difficult to keep your small office organized in a fashion that supports productivity and the creative flow. However, with a little bit of strategy, you can create the ideal workspace, even if you don’t have a lot of room to work with.

tiny house office

Step One: Sort What’s Visible In Your Small Office

Sort Whats Visible In Your Small Office

When you’re ready to start organizing your small office, begin with the items you can already see. Desks are a huge culprit for clutter in a small office.

organized small office spaceMove the frames on your desk, décor, stacked papers and pages, and folders to the floor of your office. This will be your staging space as you continue the organization process.

Take a look around your office space — what do you have laying around that can be sorted better? As you lay everything out, start to make piles based on categories that make sense. What items do you use at the same time? Put your stationary with your envelopes, pens with pencils, paint with craft paper, etc.

Step Two: Sort What’s In Your Small Office Drawers And Cabinets

Sort Whats Hiding In Your Small Office Drawers And Cabinets

Now it’s time for the fun part — going through items hidden away in your small office. Start digging through those junk drawers where everything barely fits.

Pull out the tiny erasers, old gum packets, and other miscellaneous items hidden in your desk drawers, stuffed on shelves, or shoved inside overhead cabinets.

Lay everything out on your floor when it’s all empty. Make sure you categorize things as you go and create piles while you dig through every nook and cranny in your small office.

junk drawer clutter

Step Three: Declutter The Office Supplies You Don’t Need To Keep

Declutter The Office Supplies You Dont Need To Keep

Dive into the decluttering process once you have everything sorted. It’s important to declutter your belongings before you organize them as it makes the process way easier. You don’t need to keep all of the random supplies around that you never actually end up using.

Four Box Decluttering is my favorite decluttering method. The categories that the method has you sort things into are effective yet simple.

four box decluttering method

Step Four: Design Your Small Office To Fit Your Personal Work Style

Design Your Small Office To Fit Your Personal Work Style

No two small offices will look exactly the same. The way you organize yours depends on the type of work you do and the individual needs you have in a given day. It also depends on the type of environment you work best in.

erin mursch

“Take some time to think about how you work best and what environment allows you to function optimally.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

Maybe you are a creative writer who needs a solid writer’s desk plus a cozy writing nook in your home office. You might be an architect who needs to find a way to make room for a large drafting table in a small space. Maybe you are an at-home therapist and need a sitting area in your office where you can see clients. Your layout depends on your line of work and specific needs.

Considerations When Designing Your Small Office

  • Which furniture pieces are essential?
  • Do I need a large, flat surface to work on?
  • What furniture items will take up the most space?
  • What items can I do without?
  • Where does it make sense to place furniture?
  • What work activities are most essential?
  • How can my design accommodate essentials?
  • What aesthetics will inspire me to be productive?
  • How much natural light do I need?
  • How can my essential needs use less space?
natural light in a small office

Step Five: Categorize Items By Their Purpose in Your Work Day

Categorize Items By Their Purpose in Your Work Day

I’ve found that the best way to categorize items in any room is to sort your items by the specific purpose they serve. This is essential in a small home office where you are working hard to be as productive as possible.

In a small office, this might look like keeping all of your forms and files in an easily accessible spot, tech gear and cords together in a drawer, and your favorite pens and pencils in a cup on your desk’s surface.

You don’t want to waste time in the day searching for that assignment you’ve misplaced, the forms you need to reference for a project, or your favorite pair of scissors. Numerous studies have shown that intelligent organization supports better productivity and helps you to become a better worker.

Organization Guide For Each Room Of Your Home

home organization guide

Tips And Tricks For Organizing A Small Office

Tips And Tricks For Organizing A Small Office

When trying to organize your small office, it’s important to think about the little things you can do to be creative with the space you do have to make the most of your workday.

1Make Use Of The Wall Space Above Your Desk

One of the best approaches to maximizing a small space is to make use of empty wall space as extra storage or another functional purpose. The wall does not just have to be used for décor.

Consider adding a shelf on the wall above your desk to house pen and pencil holders. I also love the look of floating bookshelves or hanging books directly on the wall. Some people like to use the space above their desk for hanging their calendar or extra notes, adding hooks to store extra supplies, or accentuating with inspirational sayings.

using your walls to save space
make your walls be extrea storage space

2Create A Chalk Wall To Keep Your Day Organized

Speaking of using wall space for a calendar, chalk paint can really be your friend when trying to make the most of the space in your small office.

If you need extra room for notes, a calendar, or to brainstorm ideas, try covering your wall with chalk paint. This can help you prevent your desktop from being covered in loose pages.

create a chalk wall to stay organized

3Designate A Central Location For Daily Items

The last thing you want is to waste time during your work day looking for things you’ve misplaced. One way to stay organized in a small office space is to designate a specific spot for the items you use every day. This could be a tray next to your desk, inside a specific drawer, or on top of a wire shelf above your desk.

At the end of each day, place your favorite pens, planner, laptop and charger, and any other items you use frequently throughout your work day in this specific spot. This way, your basic necessities are ready to go for you the next morning, and you don’t have to think about finding them.

desk organizer
erin mursch

“To keep your desktop clear, you’re going to want to have a home for everything. That could mean drawers, a cart situation, and a designated place to put papers.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

4Use A Desk Organizer As A Charging Station

In today’s digital working world, working from home often looks like having multiple devices that need to stay charged. I used to find myself wasting so much time looking for the right cords to pair with my laptop, phone, headphones, and more.

To prevent this, try using a desk organizer as a central charging station. Line up all of your devices in the slats with their respective cords. This way, everything is charged and ready to go when you start your work day.

small desk charging station

5Make A Mail Station

With junk mail, bills, letters, and ads constantly coming in, it’s easy to just let it pile up on top of your desk. Stay organized with all of your mail by creating a mail station in your small office.

Designate a separate folder or holding place for incoming mail and outgoing mail. As soon as your mail comes in or is ready to go out, file it away in your mail station. Set some time aside each week to leaf through this station to keep it from overflowing.

small office mail station

6Labels Are Your Best Friend

Using labels effectively is one of the best ways you can stay on top of clutter in a small office. You can use labels on the visible areas in your small office, like the front of bins or drawers. However, you can also use labels for smaller containers or dividers inside of your drawers, cabinets, or shelves.

The more specific you are with your labeling system, the more likely you are to stay organized during your workday. It’s also a great way to keep everyone sharing supplies on the same page.

When you use labels, you make it clear to others where each items belongs. It’s more likely that the item will be returned to the appropriate location by friends or family members.

labeled drawers

7Create A Life Binder

This is one of my favorite tips I’ve found for staying organized in your office. So much of our time is spent filling out forms, signing up and canceling memberships, re-entering our personal information online, dealing with taxes, and transferring our data from one company to the next.

To stay organized and prevent a ton of loose forms from piling up on the desk in your small office, try creating a life binder. Your life binder will include all of your essential information in one central location: medical forms, pet records, manuals, bank information, house documents, birth certificate, and anything else you need to frequently access.

Organize your life binder with tabs or labels that make sense for you. Keep it in an easily accessible location so you always have your essential information at the ready.

life binder to stay organized

8Buy Office Furniture That Serves Two Purposes

A savvy way to maximize space in your small office is to invest in furniture that can serve two purposes in your work day. It’s the best way to reduce space and accomplish two tasks at once.

Maybe you invest in a desk with shelves on the side to store books and supplies. Or you could buy a desk that folds down and back up into the wall to add more space to your small office. You might also consider buying a bench or chair that includes storage underneath.

Office Furniture That Serves Two Purposes
Dual Purpose Office Furniture

Inspiration For Organizing A Small Office

Inspiration For Organizing A Small Office

When you don’t have a ton of space in your small office, you have to be creative with the ways you maximize space. These organization products can help you stay organized and on top of your productivity game in your small office.

erin mursch

“On my husband’s desk, he has a file sorter on the corner where he keeps his daily notebook and folders he is using for current projects. Underneath, there is a file drawer for our home files.”

– Erin Mursch, Organized For Good

pegboard combo kit

Stay Organized With This Pegboard

The humble pegboard is the best for keeping your office space tidy and organized. Use it for pen and pencil holders, floating shelves, pictures, a calendar, or anything else you need to hang up.

Desk Organizer

Try This Helpful Desk Organizer

A desk organizer is awesome for sorting mail, folders, notebooks, magazines, or any other paper product you may need to sort. Keep it on top of your desk to prevent loose papers from piling up.

interlocking desk organizer

Use These Desk Drawer Organizers

Desk drawer organizers are absolutely essential to keep every drawer from becoming a junk drawer. Try these organizers for your pens, pencils, erasers, paperclips, and more.

Cord Organizer

Keep Cords Straight With This Organizer

It’s best to avoid tangled and mangled cords in your small office. This cord organizer will help you keep your cords nice, neat, and in their own place.

Metal Rolling Cart

Invest In This Metal Rolling Cart

I love this metal rolling cart for keeping my small office as organized as possible. It’s great for books, journals, or daily office supplies.

Shelf Dividers

Try Out These Shelf Dividers

These clear shelf dividers are essential in any small office. They are sturdy and adjustable, perfect for folders or books.

wall mounted file organizer

Use This Wall Mounted File Organizer

Keep your loose pages in one place with this file organizer. It will come in handy when you need to access that one particular form right away.

Minimalists Checklist When Organizing A Small Office

Minimalists Checklist When Organizing A Small Office
Organizing your small office in a way that is ideal for your personal work day is a must. Even without a ton of space, you can be intentional in creating a space that helps foster your productivity, efficiency, and creativity while you work.


Sort Items In Your Small Office

  • Make piles by purpose
  • Centralize what you use often
  • Sort important forms
  • Put away what you use least
  • Create a miscellaneous pile
  • Make a pile to declutter

Organization In A Small Office

  • Create a space for cords
  • Use your extra wall space
  • Designate a space for mail
  • Label office supply drawers
  • Give all supplies a home
  • Create a life binder

Design Your Small Office

  • Choose an office layout
  • Reorganize furniture
  • Maximize space
  • Remember desktops are not storage
  • Create your ideal work space
  • Remove non-essentials

Use Small Office Organizers

  • Use floating shelves
  • Try desk drawer dividers
  • Hang a pegboard
  • Buy a file cabinet
  • Try shelf dividers
  • Give furniture two purposes

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you use to keep your small office organized?
  • What steps will you take today to begin maximizing your small office?

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