Design a Productive and Stress-Free Home Office in 6 Easy Steps

Design a productive and stress-free home office in 6 easy steps (with pictures):
1. Make your cable clutter disappear.
2. Get the biggest desk you can fit in your office.
3. Make a peripherals playpen.
4. Use multiple monitors.
5. Store documents and tools in filing cabinets and sorters.
6. Keep frequently-used tools in a desktop swivel organizer.

A year ago my home office was a mess.

It was full of clutter. It didn’t have the tools and supplies I needed. I felt overwhelmed just walking into it.

One day I decided enough is enough. I resolved to create a workspace that would help me:

  1. Easily find stuff.
  2. Work quickly and easily.
  3. Feel relaxed and in control.

Below are the 6 steps I followed to transform my office from chaos to order, from a stress-inducing mess to a workspace that’s functional and comfortable.

These steps worked for me and they can work for you too.

1. Make Your Cable Clutter Disappear

It would have looked prettier if I had used cable ties instead. But I didn’t have any and I was curious to see if the duct tape would hold. Well that was a year ago and all I can say now is “God bless duct tape.”

2. Get the Biggest Desk You Can Fit in Your Office

I started with just one Ikea Fredrik desk. But one day I came home with 4 pages of hand-written notes. I wanted to lay the pages side-by-side so I could refer to them while I typed some follow-up emails.

But I didn’t have room on my single desk so I bought a second Fredrik and placed it beside my first one:

Then I gave myself another few feet of desk space by buying some shelving board from Home Depot.

3. Make a Peripherals Playpen

I wanted peripherals like my headset, voice recorder and thumb drive to be within reach of my chair but I didn’t want them to clutter my desk space.

I tied most of the cables so that they’re not sprawling everywhere. But you might want to keep the USB cable and wall charger for your phone at full length if you need to use your phone while it’s charging.

4. Use Multiple Monitors

You just don’t have time to constantly resize windows and compare them as you squint at a tiny laptop screen.

The extra monitors help me complete most tasks about one-third faster.

You can buy a second monitor for about $165 and set it up in 3 steps.

5. Store Documents and Tools in Filing Cabinets and Sorters

The sheer number of papers, tools and supplies that you can neatly organize inside a filing cabinet is amazing for how little space it takes up on your floor. And cabinets rock when it comes to fast storage and easy retrieval.

I recommend you get 1 hanging-folders cabinet and 1 sliding-tray cabinet.

The cabinet with the hanging folders and envelopes works best for storing anything that isn’t a standard-sized sheet of paper:

Use the sliding-tray cabinet for standard-size paper documents. But try putting your folders in the top drawer and supplies like tape, CDs and batteries in the bottom drawer:

But what about the paper documents you use most frequently? If you look through the same folders every week, it’s a pain to find and resort them alphabetically each time.

I keep documents related to projects I regularly work on in file sorters that I got at Staples:

6. Keep Frequently-Used Tools in a Desktop Swivel Organizer.

I’m right handed so I keep my desktop swivel organizer within reach on my right.

It’s got everything I use most often, like scissors, markers, ear plugs, staple remover and even a tape measure.

You Can Do It!

I had a blast designing my new office and I wish I’d done it sooner.

I found that creating an effective workspace that increases productivity and reduces stress is about doing  3 simple things:

  1. Get the furnishings, equipment and supplies you need.
  2. Regularly purge your clutter.
  3. Keep things organized: “Everything has a place. Everything in its place.”