Some experts contend that a messy space creates more room for productivity; others abide by the adage “messy house, messy mind.” I’m definitely in the latter camp—though it has less to do with an intolerance for chaos than the fact that I use straightening up as a way to procrastinate. (The upside? It means that you could eat off my kitchen floor on days I have a deadline.) The same goes for my desk: If things aren’t set up just so, I find it next to impossible to get anything done. That’s why, for the sake of my career and personal productivity, it’s been worth investing in my home office habitat and turning it into a area where I feel settled, organized, and like I have everything I need within reach. I’m sharing what that actually looks like here in the hopes that these simple tips can help you, too.
Places to put things away. For a long time I had what you could generously call a creative setup—a.k.a. a piece of plywood balanced on two sawhorses that looked cool but was super hard to work at. This sounds obvious, but after my boyfriend moved in we added something new to our office: drawers. Having a filing cabinet where we can keep papers, sort his-and-her mail, and I can just get stuff off my desktop so I’m not distracted has hugely improved my day-to-day working life. Whether that means investing in a desk that has built-in drawers or going the sleek filing cabinet route, being able to put things away is a game changer. If you have room under your desk right now, this Poppin 3-drawer filing cabinet has a sleek minimalist design and conveniently rolls if you need to move it around. If under-desk space isn’t an option and you want more transparency to be able to find your stuff, this clear desk organizer is Amazon’s Choice and only $12.
Tools for taming the messy cords. Between USB cords and laptop chargers and whatever other wires are snaking all over my line of sight, it’s easy to get distracted by the sudden urge to untangle everything. (Just me?) Or at least it used to be—discovering these little $5 cord clips changed all that. I like to attach them to the back of my desk, out of sight, so that cords don’t fall to the floor and send me on a sudden search for the right one. Plus, from my phone charger to my USB cable, now everything is always where I left it.
A good-looking but supportive chair. I resisted the office chair for a long time—if I couldn’t have a Herman Miller roller, then what was the point?—before my back put up some serious protest. Eventually I found something that was stylish but didn’t give me major lumbar pain. Turns out you can have it all—at least when it comes to an office chair. Mine came from West Elm—but in the event I ever need a new one, I have this chair waiting in my Amazon cart.
A go-to spot for papers and writing pads. Sure, you could toss all that stuff in a drawer every day—but the truth is, having a spot where you know your day-to-day papers and to-do lists should go is preferable. It gets stuff up and out of your actual workplace. Then there’s this added benefit: When you pack everything up and put it away at the end of the day, you truly feel like you’re done working. I’m especially fond of lucite organizers and file holders because they go with everything and let you show off floral paper supplies like these folders or this fancy notebook.
A non-Google calendar. Look, it’s easy to rely on your Google calendar for scheduling things. And yet… I often find myself wondering what date it is, and the way that I’ve solved that is by always having a physical calendar somewhere in eyesight. I love this giant Mid-Century-esque paper wall calendar and have bought one a few years running. But if you’re working with less wall space, this smaller desk setup ist also capable of helping you keep the date straight.
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