Interior Design

Marie Kondo shares 3 steps to an organized home office – to stay tidy for good

From an exclusive excerpt of her book, Ms. Kondo shares her secrets to an eternally organized working space

Home office tidy
(Image credit: Ikea)

Tidying guru Marie Kondo may have just taken over our TVs with her latest Netflix series Sparking Joy – but her reign over 2021 does not end at the small screen. Instead, the globally-renowned organizer has today published a new edition of her book, Joy at Work, which simplifies an organized work life, so you'll never have to do it again.

In the latest edition of Joy at Work, Marie discusses some of her home office ideas – while sharing tips for virtual working and organizing your workspace at home – which is, of course, an apt addition to her publication. 

Whether you’re looking for small home office ideas to make your compact space permanently seamless, or you’re looking for a professional home office setup that will get the job done – Marie has the answer.

In the below excerpt from Joy at Work, she shares what you need to know. 

Marie Kondo at an event in Southern California

(Image credit: Phillip Faraone / Stringer)

Rule 1: Designate a place to store each item and store by category 

Office with plants and tapestry designed by Albion Nord

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

‘The reason people rebound after they have gone to all the work of tidying up is that they don’t decide where each item belongs. Because they don’t know where to put things after they’ve used them, their space gets cluttered again. That is why you will want to decide where to store each item. It’s so much easier to keep things tidy if you get into the habit of immediately putting each item back where it belongs. 

'It’s important not to scatter storage for things in the same category. Storing everything in the same category in the same place lets you see at a glance how much you have. This has added benefits. Once you know what you have, you no longer accumulate excess or buy unnecessary items.

'In a general office setting, it’s common to store business cards and stationery supplies in the top drawer; electrical, personal-care, and food-related items in the second drawer; and documents and papers in the third drawer. This is the basic storage layout for a typical office desk, but it will vary depending on the type of desk you have or the type of tasks your work involves. Make adjustments as needed and create a space in which you feel comfortable working.’

Rule 2: Use boxes and store things upright 

White home office with bespoke storage wall

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin / Future)

‘The amount of storage space in a desk is very limited, so you’ll want to maximize its effectiveness. Boxes are great for this. You can use boxes of various sizes as drawer dividers. Store items in the same category in one that suits their size and shape, such as a small box for items like flash drives and a medium-sized box for personal-care items like supplements. 

'Small things in particular store better when they are arranged upright in a box rather than placed directly in a drawer with no dividers. The box keeps them from disintegrating into an anonymous heap and lets you see at a glance where things are when you open the drawer.

'Any type of box that fits in your drawer will do. You can buy boxes specifically for this purpose or use empty ones you have on hand in your home. I often use business card boxes and smartphone packages. They’re just the right dimensions to fit inside a desk drawer, making them very easy to use. 

'The trick is to store everything standing upright as much as possible. This not only looks neater but maximizes the available space. All items that are the right height should be stored upright. I even store erasers and packs of sticky notes in the upright position.'

Rule 3: As a rule, don’t store anything on top of your desk 

Home office with cabinetry

(Image credit: Future/ANNA STATHAKI)

‘Your desktop is a work surface, not a storage cupboard, so the rule of thumb is to store nothing on it. Pick a spot in your drawers and on your shelves for each item or category. As much as possible, the only things on your desk should be whatever you need right now for the project you are working on. Keep this image of a clear desktop in your mind when you start storing. People who do so usually finish with only a laptop and an ornament or potted plant on their desk.

'Designate a storage space even for things you use daily, such as a pen or memo pad. My clients are often surprised to find that it’s not inconvenient at all to store these things out of sight when not in use. Once they experience how a neat and tidy desk enables them to focus on their work, they quickly become addicted to that state.’

Has Marie Kondo reshaped your future modern home office ideas

Joy at Work| £14.99 at Amazon

Joy at Work| £14.99 at Amazon

Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein is out now. US readers can pick up a copy on Amazon US or shop deals below. 

Excerpted from JOY AT WORK © 2021 by KonMari Media Inc. and Scott Sonenshein. Used with permission of Macmillan Publishers. All rights reserved.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.