How to declutter a home office – 9 rules organizing experts swear by

Create a well-functioning and zen work environment by decluttering your home office with methods that will have a lasting impact

Office header
(Image credit: Albion Nord/80 Holland Park/Patrick Williamso / Future PLC / James Merrell / Graham & Green)

Decluttering a home office is an essential task for keeping stress at bay and creating a functional space that maximizes your working efficiency. 

For those of you working at home full-time, your home office will be one of your most-used rooms which means mess from hectic days can quickly build up; unchecked, a home office can quickly become a disorganized, frustrating and ultimately unproductive space to be in. 

We asked organizing experts for their best decluttering tips to help you organize your home office to make it a neat and functional environment.

How to declutter a home study

Home office productivity is closely linked to good organization. Making sure your office is clutter-free is one of our top tips for working from home since it will make everything run much more smoothly. But how should you go about it?

According to organizers, it's all about sorting items into usefulness, dealing with items that are non-essential, categorizing items into storage and finding the right home office set up that will keep mess in check, reducing future build ups.

1. Make a plan to declutter your office

home office with desk and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Before you start the actual decluttering process, ask yourself what the purpose of your office is. This will help you judge what you need to keep and  what to declutter.

Nathaly Vieira, cleaning expert and founder of InspireClean advises, 'Always start your decluttering mission by setting a goal. What are you hoping to achieve by decluttering your home office? Identifying this goal will help keep you motivated throughout the process and ensure that all of your efforts are focused on the same end result.

'Once you have established your goals, it is time to get to work on creating a plan. Make sure you know exactly what projects need to be completed – from sorting through paperwork and organizing drawers, to determining where furniture should go.'

Nathaly Vieira
Nathaly Vieira

Nathaly Vieira is a professional cleaner and founder of Inspire Clean, a cleaning company full of cleaning tips and advice. Based in the US, the company aims to reach people in the Niagara region, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Mississauga, Guelph, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

2. Clear out the study

Home office ideas lighting James Merrell

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Evaluate the purpose of your office equipment section-by-section. Categorize your office contents into four piles or boxes called 'keep', 'toss', 'donate', and 'move'. 'Move' can be for the items that belong elsewhere in your home or in storage. 

Make sure that you are only keeping truly necessary items and that will contribute to a productive workspace. Get rid of anything that no longer serves a purpose such as old electronics, cables, broken pens, carboard boxes, etc. Holding onto mostly useless items is the main way offices become cluttered.

You may also want to consider removing any furniture or décor elements that are taking up space, and which don't add to the room's overall aesthetic. 

3. Categorize your belongings

home office with shelves desk and two laptops

(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

'Categorize your office items into specific groups', recommends Mariusz Baran, owner of We Clear Everything. 'This could include office supplies, paperwork, electronics, and personal mementos. Tackle one category at a time, ensuring that you give full attention to each before moving on. This focused approach will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and help you make clear decisions about each item.' 

This can help you visualize which categories of items should be stored where, how much room or home office storage compartments will each need, and which items are most frequently used and should therefore be filed near your desk.

There will often be categories within categories, so investing in different filing systems depending on the type of items you are dealing with makes accessing items easier as well as helping to declutter the space.

4. Get better storage options

A pink home office with desk and chair next to a tall plant in basket

(Image credit: Graham & Green))

'Incorporate design elements that encourage organization. Decorative bins, baskets, and trays can corral items while adding a touch of elegance to the space', advises Angela Rubin, owner of Hellamaid.

Wayfair has a great selection of desktop organizers, and you can find decorative shelving that's practical too at Anthropologie (our favorite find is below). 

Organization and decluttering often come hand-in-hand, in the sense that when a room stays well organized there is little room for clutter to build up since everything has a defined place, and there should be no room for unnecessary miscellaneous items.

Angela Rubin
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin is founder and owner of Hellamaid, an award-winning cleaning company in based Canada.

5. Aim for a minimalist desk

A home office with desk and chair in front of large, light wood bookcases

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio+Shop/Leslie Brown)

Desks can easily become cluttered, but this is possibly the biggest eyesore and cause of stress in a home office, so aiming for a minimalist desk is ideal. This starts with organizing your desk, perhaps from scratch.

'Keep only the most essential items on the surface, such as your computer, a
notepad, and a pen holder. Minimize decorative items or personal mementos
that can distract from your work. Implement a "one in, one out" rule –
whenever something new comes onto the desk, remove something else', recommends Victor Cheung, Founder of Feng Shui Nexus.

Desk organizers will ensure pens and stationery stay neatly in their assigned zones. The all-in-one Egepon Rose Gold Desk Organizer (at Amazon) is a great buy, particularly for organizing small desks when you're decluttering a home office.

Victor Cheung
Victor Cheung

Victor is a Feng Shui expert versed in interior design. He is the founder of FENG SHUI NEXUS and practices classical Feng Shui – Eight Mansions, Flying Stars, and San Yuan.

6. Digitally declutter

A study with green walls, wooden L-shaped desk and wooden open shelves

(Image credit: Albion Nord/80 Holland Park/Patrick Williamson)

Extend your decluttering efforts to digital spaces. This means organizing computer files into folders, deleting useless files and sorting through your emails. You may even want to transfer information which is still in a paper format to a computerized version to help declutter your home office.

'A clean digital environment translates to enhanced mental clarity', says Angela Rubin, Owner of Hellamaid.

7. Sort wires

Home office ideas pink Dominic Blackmore

(Image credit: Dominic Blackmore)

Although this may not seem to be the most pressing task when it comes to decluttering an office, often the biggest source of frustration and blocked pathways is the wiring. Hiding and organizing cables can make a home office feel less cluttered. 

Victor Cheung, Founder of Feng Shui Nexus says, 'Cable clutter can make your home office feel chaotic. Use cable organizers, clips, or sleeves to bundle and route cables neatly along the desk or walls. Elevate power strips off the floor to prevent dust accumulation and create a tidier workspace.'  

We recommend this NOROCME Cord Management Organizer Kit from Amazon.

8. Create zones to keep clutter controlled

Home office ideas open plan Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Designate zones within your home office for their various purposes. Have areas for work, storage, and relaxation. This will help you organize your space so areas are not cluttered with random items, but rather items are in their designated space. This will also make finding what you need an easier task. 

9. Maintain a routine

Blue cabinets and pin board

(Image credit: Sharps)

Now that you have done the groundwork of creating a space that should be decluttered, the key to keeping it this way is by maintaining a routine of removing unnecessary items, cleaning and sorting. Try to maintain daily and weekly cleans to make sure clutter doesn't accumulate, and to keep things where they belong. Begin with the most visibly cluttered areas such as your desk or shelves and work your way to more hidden spots. 

Ideally, file papers, empty trash and tidy away stationery as you go or at the end of the day. This should save you time down the road and will keep your home office more pleasant and productive.


What is the KonMari method for decluttering a home office?

A popular, holistic way to declutter home office items is the KonMari method. This is where you imagine your ideal lifestyle, discard of unnecessary items and tidy by category, not by location. Then, go through each category of items in your home office ask yourself if it 'sparks joy'. If it does, keep it and store it neatly. If it doesn't, toss or donate it.

The key is to declutter your office in a way that leads you to consider which items you really shouldn't allow back into the room in the future; this way, clutter is unlikely to build back up. Then, keeping up a regular, light decluttering routine should mean you don't need to become overwhelmed by decluttering in future. 

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.