By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

If we’re not careful, our home offices can get cluttered up pretty quickly. Since we can close that office door, it’s easy to use our home office as something like a giant “In” basket. We end up with piles of work papers, to-do lists, and all kinds of clutter behind that door. Now is a perfect time to get that clutter under control and put systems in place to make it easier to keep things looking good all through 2015.

The secret to keeping your home office tidy and organized is to focus on the work surfaces. Keep the paperwork from gathering on the desk, and the systems fall into place. Here are six great tips to keep the clutter from collecting in the spaces you need to work.

1. Use Shelves Above

Office shelving is the first element of office organization. In order to keep those work surfaces clear, you need a place to store your files, reference materials and supplies. For files you use frequently, use binders and baskets for easy access. For deep storage, a four-drawer filing cabinet or two fit nicely in the closet can give you a great place to keep the records you need (but don’t need every day). Favorite photos, personal or professional, certificates and degrees (and other mementos that remind you of why you do what you do) will also fit nicely on those shelves, and keep you motivated at the same time.

2. Use Shelves Below

Now, add some more office shelving below those work surfaces where you can hide in-boxes and peripheral technology such as printers, fax machines, modems and routers. They’re still within arm’s reach, but not interrupting the real work above.

3. Implement a “Touch-It-Once” Rule

My first rule of organization and productivity has always been to touch any piece of paper that comes across my desk no more than one time. When the mail comes in, I open all of it, and deal with each piece to its conclusion. If it’s a bill or an invoice, I write the check and get it ready for mailing, or schedule payment and file it. It takes a little practice, but once it becomes a habit, you’ll quickly see how easy it is to banish those piles of paper from your desk forever.

4. Consolidate Lists

A natural extension of my touch-it-once rule is to make sure that my to-do list is consolidated every day into one list. All the sticky notes and scraps of paper that come my way during the day have to end up in one list, or they end up all over the desk. That not only clutters the desk, but the mind. After you’ve got that habit down, take the next step and go digital with computer and phone apps that guarantee your to-do list is always with you, and never gets lost.

5. Control Cords

Nothing clutters up an office more than a tangled mass of computer, printer, fax and phone cords. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest fixes you’ll find. There are several types of cord management systems out there, so just scope out the area and see which of them will keep your cords hidden from view but easily accessible when you need to move or replace equipment.

6. Create a Space You Love

After years and years of designing homes, I’ve noticed an interesting thing: When you create a space in your home that you absolutely love, you’re a lot more likely to keep it looking the way you love it. I’ve also found that one of the best ways to stay productive is to create an office that you actually like to spend time in.

So, dive in, and indulge yourself with your favorite colors. Hang art and photographs that are personally meaningful and splurge a little on a look that expresses you. Not only will you love your office, your clients and colleagues will love it, too!

What are your best tips for keeping your home office beautifully organized?

To see more office furniture and shelving options like the ones Kerrie talked about in this article, visit The Home Depot.