3 must-haves for personalizing your home office

Warning: This is not a Pinterest-worthy post.

But it is real.

When I set out to personalize my home office, I wanted it to be beautiful, functional, and inspiring. What mighty desires for a room! I spent months not doing anything to my office because I had such high hopes for it and was intimidated by my own wants, so I kept procrastinating on the whole project. In fact, it was the last room in the house to be organized after we moved (last August 😅).

So, a few weekends ago, my husband and I got serious about it. This room was full of my junk (Who knew my husband was the clean one?), so to help me focus, my husband grabbed boxes out of the room and placed them on our empty kitchen table. From there, I decided what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw away. Guys, I threw away and donated a lot. I’ve never been so impartial to random tokens of my childhood before and it was liberating.

From there, I wanted to make my office my own without junk cluttering any corners. I wanted to make it functional, practical, and minimal. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but I get distracted easily, so I knew I needed to make my home office a space to focus and get work done. After all, this little space has big goals. I work from home professionally and write for my future published self in that room.

What did I learn from this self-induced experiment? I learned the three must-haves for every home office: cleanliness, organization, and style.

1. Cleanliness

A home office must be clean. That’s why I started personalizing my office by cleaning out the junk. After doing so, I realized all those boxes were distracting, even though I didn’t face them. Plus, now that I freed up half of my office by cleaning it, I now have a dual-purpose office: half desk, half workout area. Bonus: I use my laptop for both activities. #winning

I don’t even have a trash can in my office. I did this on purpose. If I had one tucked away in the corner, I knew I’d allow myself to let the trash build up until trash day, getting smelly and tempting the dogs. If I have a snack while working, I dispose of the dirty dishes or wrappers at least by the time I clock out. This way, my desk is clean before I start work every day.

2. Organization

There are two ways to go about organizing your home office:

  1. Purchase new and stylish organization bins.
  2. Re-purpose organization bins you have laying around the house.

Since we’re on a budget, I opted for the second option with one trip to the local dollar store.

After cleaning out my office, I placed everything I wanted to keep on my desk. For everything else, I found each item a home somewhere else in the house. Then I took stock of what I wanted to store on and in my desk, and what organization bins I already had. I placed items, such as sticky notes and flash drives, in their own bins, according to size. Then I counted how many additional bins I wanted to purchase at the dollar store; it was one.

The key to organization is creativity. I do have old office organization bins from when I was a kid (my desk is also from when I was a kid – thank you, Mom and Dad!), as well as gifts (see the glittery mason jar pen holder and cat sticky note dispenser from former coworkers), but I also used other objects to hold items (the handle on my battleship mug is broken; my Dad used it to drink coffee, but now it corrals flash drives). Most of these items simultaneously serve a purpose while being sentimental and stylish.

3. Style

Every person’s style is unique. Somehow I love how my pink Himalayan sea salt tealight holder and Dad’s old battleship mug offset one another and fit different aspects of my personality. No, not everything matches. But that’s me.

The best thing about your personal office style is that it can change! How my old desk looks now is much different from when I was 15. If you want to buy all new and have the budget to do so, go for it! Have an IKEA sales rep stock you up! If you want to use what you already have, then get creative and be authentic with what you really like. Do those knickknacks complement your desk or do they distract you? Do you need to buy a new desk or can you paint one you already own? Don’t be afraid to change your style as it changes over time.

Optional additions

Desk items

Here are a few things I need on my desk, but aren’t necessary for everyone:

  • Bridal bouquet from my wedding (fake = lasts forever)
  • Lotion
  • Headphones
  • Back scratcher
  • Fun mouse pad
  • Stress balls
  • Batteries
  • Kleenex
  • Assortment of pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Candle holders
  • Calendar
  • Mountain of sticky notes

Photos

You’ll notice there are no photos on my desk (just corralled cards). While my laptop background and screensaver are filled with my friends and family, I am absolutely terrible about printing photos. Plus, in our rental home, the walls are uneven and Command hooks don’t stick to them easily, but we don’t want to put a bunch of holes in the walls. So, our walls are primarily blank, but we do have a stack of picture frames stowed away for our next home. And for me, that’s okay.

Storage

I work for a digital marketing agency, which means I don’t even own a printer because everything I work on is online. But I do use notebooks to organize my to-do lists and weekly goals because I like to write things out longhand. So, I do store these notebooks in my office closet. (This built-in storage is really nice for now, but in the future I will look into other, self-standing storage containers – preferably with wheels.) However, if you have a larger office space or don’t need to workout in your office, I highly suggest buying some filing cabinets that suit your organization and style needs. Perhaps check your local thrift store or wait until garage sale season to find some for a good deal.

Key takeaways 

I wanted to wait until my entire office was perfect and beautiful to share this blog post, but, honestly, that will probably never happen. And that’s okay. I love my office now. It’s where I workout every morning and spend hours pursuing my dreams every day. Plus, tucked in one corner is a dog bed for when one of my furry friends wants to support me in my writing career.

The key to personalizing your home office is to not follow Pinterest and YouTube suggestions unless they suit your lifestyle, personality, and home.

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