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An Organized Home Office

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Maybe it's back-to-school season that triggers me, but as the carefree days of summer wind down, I am motivated to head indoors to organize. As kids return to the classroom, there is an influx of paperwork in many households, and it is important to have a system to keep everything in order. I find that the way people arrange their home offices can make a significant difference in their ability to stay organized. All it takes is a little bit of effort and planning to create a space that is both functional and beautiful.  Below, I pulled together tips from past issues of Martha Stewart Living, to give you ideas on how to get started.

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Hanging file frames, available at most office supply stores, can be adjusted to fit inside decorative baskets.

1 Hanging file frames, available at most office supply stores, can be adjusted to fit inside decorative baskets.

Plastic file boxes are perfect for long-term storage and are water-tight. Cardboard varieties can also be used for long-term storage in a dry place.

2 Plastic file boxes are perfect for long-term storage and are water-tight. Cardboard varieties can also be used for long-term storage in a dry place.

Metal filing cabinets are useful for files you need to have on hand at your desk.

3 Metal filing cabinets are useful for files you need to have on hand at your desk.

A blotter with an elastic strip is a good place to tuck your to-do list.

4 A blotter with an elastic strip is a good place to tuck your to-do list.

This clothespin organizer is easy to make–just attach pins to a piece of wood and mount to the wall. Pin up small items like postcards, invitations, and business cards that might get lost otherwise.

5 This clothespin organizer is easy to make–just attach pins to a piece of wood and mount to the wall. Pin up small items like postcards, invitations, and business cards that might get lost otherwise.

One of the essential elements of a home office is shelving. These shelves hold items that are not used frequently, but need to be within an arm's reach.

6 One of the essential elements of a home office is shelving. These shelves hold items that are not used frequently, but need to be within an arm's reach.

If you don't have a great deal of room, set up a home office in your bedroom, using under-the-bed space as a place to story files and supplies.

7 If you don't have a great deal of room, set up a home office in your bedroom, using under-the-bed space as a place to story files and supplies.

Kitchen drawer organizers can be painted and glued together for a custom tray to hold desk supplies.

8 Kitchen drawer organizers can be painted and glued together for a custom tray to hold desk supplies.

Here the tray fits inside of a storage bench for a pop-up office. We used molding as rails for the tray, cork sheeting for a pin board, and adjustable rods to hang files from.

9 Here the tray fits inside of a storage bench for a pop-up office. We used molding as rails for the tray, cork sheeting for a pin board, and adjustable rods to hang files from.

This idea can be used on a smaller scale too.

10 This idea can be used on a smaller scale too.

A roll down shade makes it easy to hide a workspace in an alcove.

11 A roll down shade makes it easy to hide a workspace in an alcove.

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On the wall we used a pot lid holder as a mail sorter. If you're innovative, you can find office organization items anywhere. We often look in the kitchen or at hardware stores.

13 On the wall we used a pot lid holder as a mail sorter. If you're innovative, you can find office organization items anywhere. We often look in the kitchen or at hardware stores.

Here, cup hooks and a drapery rod function as a place to display photos and business cards.

14 Here, cup hooks and a drapery rod function as a place to display photos and business cards.

When attached to the underside of a desk, a kitchen basket is perfect for corralling cords.

15 When attached to the underside of a desk, a kitchen basket is perfect for corralling cords.

Food covers, traditionally used for outdoor dining, can be used as a makeshift mail bin.

16 Food covers, traditionally used for outdoor dining, can be used as a makeshift mail bin.

Uniformity gives any home office a sleek look.

17 Uniformity gives any home office a sleek look.

Recycled paint cans make convenient cubbies for mail and office supplies.

18 Recycled paint cans make convenient cubbies for mail and office supplies.

Create a custom Rolodex by cutting file folders to make index dividers.

19 Create a custom Rolodex by cutting file folders to make index dividers.

A recycled shoebox can be customized with a grommet and ribbon to hold mail and small papers.

20 A recycled shoebox can be customized with a grommet and ribbon to hold mail and small papers.

Here, a vintage floral frog is used as a pen holder.

21 Here, a vintage floral frog is used as a pen holder.

Any unit with multiple compartments is ideal for organizing a desk.

22 Any unit with multiple compartments is ideal for organizing a desk.

A recipe file can be repurposed as a card file for addresses.

23 A recipe file can be repurposed as a card file for addresses.

Screw hooks and clips are an easy way to keep important papers visible.

24 Screw hooks and clips are an easy way to keep important papers visible.

Two medicine cabinets can be outfitted as a office. The doors have been fitted with metal and homasote covered in linen to make a pin board and magnet board. Inside, files and supplies are stored.

25 Two medicine cabinets can be outfitted as a office. The doors have been fitted with metal and homasote covered in linen to make a pin board and magnet board. Inside, files and supplies are stored.

The back of this bookshelf is also fitted with homasote covered in linen for a tucked away pin board.

26 The back of this bookshelf is also fitted with homasote covered in linen for a tucked away pin board.

Labeling files and bins is a great way to save time. This way you don't have open up each bin.

27 Labeling files and bins is a great way to save time. This way you don't have open up each bin.

This pin board features pockets for supplies, papers, and other important items.

28 This pin board features pockets for supplies, papers, and other important items.

The pockets were sewn onto the fabric that lines the pin board.

29 The pockets were sewn onto the fabric that lines the pin board.

Create a home office in a formal dining room that is only used a few times a year, but utilizing the drawers of a hutch or china cabinet.

30 Create a home office in a formal dining room that is only used a few times a year, but utilizing the drawers of a hutch or china cabinet.

Here, everything you need is tucked away.

31 Here, everything you need is tucked away.

Supplies can be organized in an extra drawer. This one is designed to hold silverware.

32 Supplies can be organized in an extra drawer. This one is designed to hold silverware.

Storage under a window bench is an idea place to store files.

33 Storage under a window bench is an idea place to store files.

Adding casters to a file basket makes your work space mobile.

34 Adding casters to a file basket makes your work space mobile.

A secretary desk is perfect for a narrow hallway, as you can fold up your work space when it is not in use.

35 A secretary desk is perfect for a narrow hallway, as you can fold up your work space when it is not in use.

Here is a look at the desk in use.

36 Here is a look at the desk in use.

This is such a great use of a small space.

37 This is such a great use of a small space.

Tension rods can serve as file dividers.

38 Tension rods can serve as file dividers.

To maximize your storage, use space below the drop down desk for fills and a waste bin.

39 To maximize your storage, use space below the drop down desk for fills and a waste bin.

This dual workspace has plenty of drawers and cabinets to help you keep things tidy.

40 This dual workspace has plenty of drawers and cabinets to help you keep things tidy.

Kitchen cabinets that flip up, instead of out, make contents easy to access.

41 Kitchen cabinets that flip up, instead of out, make contents easy to access.

A cart outfitted with casters is a great place to house supplies.

42 A cart outfitted with casters is a great place to house supplies.

Cubbies are another storage option if you are comfortable with having your items in plain sight.

43 Cubbies are another storage option if you are comfortable with having your items in plain sight.

Compartmentalized boxes can hold a variety of supplies.

44 Compartmentalized boxes can hold a variety of supplies.

A paper shredder is another great tool, essential to any organized home office.

45 A paper shredder is another great tool, essential to any organized home office.

Labeling computer and other electrical cords with small tags is a smart idea.

46 Labeling computer and other electrical cords with small tags is a smart idea.

(Martha Stewart Living, November 1998)

47 (Martha Stewart Living, November 1998)

New Years Resolutions -- Organizing My Office

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This year -- 2011 -- I have a few New Years resolutions that I am planning to execute.

The first resolution -- to organize my office and library. In order to be successful with whatever it is you are doing at your desk, you need to clean up, organize, and prioritize the items you wish to keep in your workspace.

Here are some helpful library/office ideas that not only help add color and beautiful decor to your home office but they also provide you with an organized work area.

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Add a splash of color to basic storage boxes.

1 Add a splash of color to basic storage boxes.

Don't let your desktop disappear under piles of paperwork. Inexpensive, unused cans can be purchased at paint stores; lined up on a shelf and anchored in place with Velcro, they become organizing cubbyholes with a modern flair.

2 Don't let your desktop disappear under piles of paperwork. Inexpensive, unused cans can be purchased at paint stores; lined up on a shelf and anchored in place with Velcro, they become organizing cubbyholes with a modern flair.

Glass or ceramic containers get a rustic makeover when wrapped with tree bark, which can be found in the woods, as well as ordered online.

3 Glass or ceramic containers get a rustic makeover when wrapped with tree bark, which can be found in the woods, as well as ordered online.

It can be a challenge to create a desk that's roomy enough for one person, let alone two. This symmetrical setup is the perfect solution, unifying a pair of workstations in an open configuration that fits snugly against almost any stretch of wall without overwhelming the rest of the room.

4 It can be a challenge to create a desk that's roomy enough for one person, let alone two. This symmetrical setup is the perfect solution, unifying a pair of workstations in an open configuration that fits snugly against almost any stretch of wall without overwhelming the rest of the room.

A hardworking bulletin board is, quite literally, pretty as a picture when covered with cheerful fabric, then placed in a frame and hung from a wide ribbon.

5 A hardworking bulletin board is, quite literally, pretty as a picture when covered with cheerful fabric, then placed in a frame and hung from a wide ribbon.

When you are crawling under a desk, all the power cords look the same. To save yourself some trouble when searching for the one you want to unplug, make labels from leftover bread-bag clips.

6 When you are crawling under a desk, all the power cords look the same. To save yourself some trouble when searching for the one you want to unplug, make labels from leftover bread-bag clips.

Eliminate tangles under your work area by feeding all cords through a hole drilled in the desktop. Then plug the wires into a power-surge protector strip, which is mounted on the underside of the desk.

7 Eliminate tangles under your work area by feeding all cords through a hole drilled in the desktop. Then plug the wires into a power-surge protector strip, which is mounted on the underside of the desk.

Add a splash of personality to a lackluster work space by covering plain floating bookshelves with wallpaper.

8 Add a splash of personality to a lackluster work space by covering plain floating bookshelves with wallpaper.

With a staple gun and some carpet squares, you can create a colorful bulletin board.

9 With a staple gun and some carpet squares, you can create a colorful bulletin board.

Use decorative paper (or wallpaper leftovers or samples) to brighten basic clipboards.

10 Use decorative paper (or wallpaper leftovers or samples) to brighten basic clipboards.

Transform a traditional piece of bedroom furniture into a multitasking mini office, complete with bulletin board and filing cabinet.

11 Transform a traditional piece of bedroom furniture into a multitasking mini office, complete with bulletin board and filing cabinet.

Brighten your desktop by slipping a picture of a familiar face into the lid of a round tin.

12 Brighten your desktop by slipping a picture of a familiar face into the lid of a round tin.

Turn empty gift baskets into stylish household organizers.

13 Turn empty gift baskets into stylish household organizers.

Add splashes of color and texture -- as well as more storage space for papers -- to your home office with these fabric-and-ribbon-wrapped accordion folders.

14 Add splashes of color and texture -- as well as more storage space for papers -- to your home office with these fabric-and-ribbon-wrapped accordion folders.

Get organized -- again and again -- with these chalkboard drawers. The labels can be erased as contents in each drawer change.

15 Get organized -- again and again -- with these chalkboard drawers. The labels can be erased as contents in each drawer change.

Make a favorite notebook or journal an organized repository for papers, business cards, and receipts by giving it a built-in pocket.

16 Make a favorite notebook or journal an organized repository for papers, business cards, and receipts by giving it a built-in pocket.

For your children's art projects, label mailing tubes, available at office-supply stores, by semester or year, and fill with rolled-up stacks of artwork.

17 For your children's art projects, label mailing tubes, available at office-supply stores, by semester or year, and fill with rolled-up stacks of artwork.

Mounted at eye level above a desk, clothespins on an unobtrusive strip hold home-office essentials: correspondence, a calendar, and whatever is relevant at the moment.

18 Mounted at eye level above a desk, clothespins on an unobtrusive strip hold home-office essentials: correspondence, a calendar, and whatever is relevant at the moment.

This week on my blog I will share with you my other New Years resolutions. What are yours for 2011?