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How to Set Up a Productive Home Office

How to set up a productive Home office (Sunny Side Up)

Well!  It has been an eventful few days around here to say the least.  Thank you so much for all of the love and well wishes about my knee surgery!  It made my day to hear from so many of you on the blog/social media and truly helped get me through a not so fun week.  Surgery went well and after a few days of serious pain and nausea I am doing much better!  My sweet family is taking such good care of me.. my kids just piled in bed with me over the weekend :) and we are making it one day at a time.  I go in for my first post op app. tomorrow and will be able to take a shower for the first time since surgery after that so counting down!  It’s the little things. :)  I will share more knee updates along the way but for now we are switching gears to talk about how to set up a productive home office!  Why?  Because productivity is a favorite topic of mine and it’s especially fun to talk about when I’m laying in bed being sick and completely unproductive.  Ha. ;)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

I’m always looking for ways to be more productive during my work day and one thing that really helped me last year was getting my office organized.  And by organized I don’t just mean clean.  I mean organized and set up in a way that helps me to be more efficient with my time.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

I while ago I bought these wood and metal 2-level trays for my office.  (I bought three of them to put together.)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

I made labels for each one and the system I’ve set up with these trays really helps me keep my paper organized and helps me to stay on task!  I use the top three bins for personal items and the bottom three are blog/work related.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

The top right tray is for urgent to-do’s.  These are the personal items that need my attention soon.  They might have their own deadline like a form that needs to be signed for my kids’ school, or it might just be something that I want to go over soon with my husband.  Anything that I need/want to address and take care of within the week goes in this bin.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

Right below that is the “urgent to-do” inbox for my blog.  Again it just holds things/notes/forms I need for posts and blog stuff I’m working on now.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

The middle two trays hold personal and blog items that I’m “working on” which for me just means things that are coming up. Future posts and paper work that needs to be addressed at some point, but not necessarily this week.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

Then the last two trays hold paperwork for blog resources (mostly notes I refer to often) and house projects that are always in the works.  I love having a spot for house project odds and ends!  Notes I’ve written when I have an idea for something house related, a bid from a contractor for the theatre room, a magazine inspiration page, a paint sample I picked up and love, etc.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

I’ve loved these trays because when paper starts to pile up it’s so easy to go through everything and either trash it or file it here.  When I sit down to work after dropping my kids off at school in the morning I always start by glancing through my “urgent to-do” trays to make sure I’m focusing on things that need to get done soon.  Then I refer to my to-do list and work off of it.  The urgent trays have really helped me make sure nothing slips through the cracks that needs my attention!

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

Soon after I bought my wood trays I started paying attention to what type of paper was piling up every day and that’s how I knew what to label everything.  If you think something similar would help you organize all of the random paper that piles up in your house start thinking about what categories your paperwork would fit in.  Do you have items for a project you’re working on?  Stuff for the kids?  Work related lists?  Paint samples and magazine pages cut out like me? :)  I think everyone should have some type of “urgent” or inbox tray that gets looked through daily for those items that require action.  That has been the most helpful for me!
How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

I’ve shared these white hanging file folders before.  (I’ve had this for years!  You can find something similar here or here.)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

This is where all of my kids’ paper work goes.  I took this picture last summer so the files are just holding their summer workbooks, but usually these slots are for anything my kids are currently working on (files are labeled with their names).  Study guide for a test coming up, notes to review, flashcards, Kole’s weekly spelling list, etc.  Current things.  (I file their school/art work we are saving somewhere else!  That’s a post for another day.) :)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

This fun to-do board was a Home Goods find.  I took this picture months ago and keep forgetting to share it!  Nice to have a place to jot down random house to-do’s I can work on when a free minute pops up.

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

My desk drawers hold my favorite pens and highlighters.  List making essentials!

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

And below that.. my secret stash of cute notepads.  I know.. I hoard cute notepads.  It’s a problem I don’t want to fix. :)

How to set up a Productive Home Office (Sunny Side Up)

Those are just a few things I’ve done to set up a productive home office that have helped me be more efficient with my time!  Now if you’ll excuse me.. I need to move from my bed to the couch which takes a great amount of effort and is the main thing I will accomplish today.

Working on a different set of to-do’s around here for the next few weeks. ;)

{OFFICE SOURCES and SIMILAR ITEMS} *affiliate links used

xoxo, Erin
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50 thoughts on “How to Set Up a Productive Home Office

  1. So happy to hear you are doing better, Erin. I’d love to send you a card, but alas, I do not have your address. So please accept my virtual hugs and positive vibes that you will recover very quickly. I’m so happy your family is taking such good care of you. Thanks for sharing your ideas for productivity. Sure looks great and is working well for you. The best kind of system! Please don’t over do and try not to worry about being a little unproductive for a short time. Your body needs the down time to recover! Big hugs to you!

    1. You are such a sweetheart Jeanne! I can feel your virtual hugs and they are helping. :) You sound just like my mom on the phone today.. “don’t try to do too much!” She knows how hard it is for me to just sit around and not be doing things. But I’m trying! I know I need lots of down time to heal. The leg brace I’m wearing makes it pretty hard to do too much. ;) Thank you so much sweet friend! xo

    1. Hi Loretta! I just typed the words I wanted and printed them on white cardstock and then cut them all the same size to fit. :) I could have just written with chalk, but I wanted a cleaner look. :)

  2. Glad to hear the surgery went well, and you are feeling a bit better. Prayers for continued healing. I need to pick up a few of those items as hubby is going to be moving his office home! I cannot stand paper piles.

    1. Thank you so much Lauren! Your prayers and support mean so much. Definitely time to get the office organized if your husband is moving his office home! Good luck with that one! :) xo

  3. I am saving your TO DO board pic to show my husband…See other people have “pillow closets” too. ;-) Love all the organization!

  4. Your office is the stuff dreams are made of! The things I could accomplish in there! Love this post.

    Hope you are feeling better soon, sounds awful! I’m sure it will get better very soon!


  5. Your office is absolutely gorgeous! I don’t know how productive I would be there – I think I’d just spend my time looking at all the pretty things! Love your in boxes. Because I’m retired, I just have one box where I pile the paper that I need to deal with and go through it once a week to handle, file, etc. And although I seem to love written lists, I found the best thing for me was to create a Word document for my to do list. I have 3 sections: the first is a table for items I need to purchase, broken down by type of store (Home Improvement, Home Decor, Craft) and as soon as I see a need, I write down the item in the appropriate column.

    My second table is a Sun-Sat list where I put all the things I want to do that week. If I miss something one day I can just move it to the next instead of rewriting.

    The third is a list of all the rooms in my house, and columns for medium term (within a month) and long term projects that need to be done.

    I check this list every morning, and different times during the day, and it keeps me on track. I’m sure that there are apps for this, but I don’t have a smartphone, and I’m on my computer all day, so it works for me. Sorry for the long post!

    1. I loved reading about your system Dyan! Your Word Document is so smart. I really don’t think it matters what people do to stay organized as long as it works for them. Your system sounds like it’s working perfectly for you! Love that. :) And thank you for your sweet words about my office! So kind of you. xo

  6. Thank you Erin for these tips, especially your labeling ideas. My office is a 5′ desk and nothing more so I struggle with what to use for bins to keep organized. I am definitely going to re-do it and use your 3 labeling ideas. So glad you’re on the mend!

  7. Do you ever give decorating advise if someone emails you pics? Like for paint colors or what to do with cupboards (paint)

    1. Hi Brenda! I’m so sorry! Unfortunately I don’t have time for that sort of thing. I wish I did! I get so many e-mails every day and have a really hard time keeping up with it all so I’ve had to stop sharing decorating advice. I do have a great designer/friend who I can recommend if you wanted to pay someone to help you! She can do it all on-line if you’re interested! Her info. is in the post below. :)

  8. I wish I would have came across your blog when my kids were young. I would have been much more organized with school paperwork. :) I love your office; super organized, and a bright and happy place.

    I hope you are feeling better soon! Just tell your family you need rest for healing.

    1. Thank you so much Dawn! School work is such a beast to manage isn’t it!? Something all moms struggle with for sure. My family is taking good care of me. :) So sweet of you! xo

  9. Hi Erin! I just discovered your blog and I have to admit, I am obsessed! I love, love, love your style and I could not have found you at a better time. My husband and I are getting a house built here in Southern California, and we not only seem to have a similar layout but also complementary styles! I’m in the process of choosing my interior materials, and had a couple of questions for you (hope you don’t mind):

    1) What material is your kitchen back splash? Can you share the manufacturer / brand? I’ve literally been running in circles with our designer trying to find a nice marble or marble-like brick, but can’t seem to find that perfect bright airy color. I end up with samples that are either too white, too grey, or with too much gold-ish streaking.

    2) What type of edges do your hardwood planks have for the flooring? I fell in love with a wide-plank dark wood flooring that has beveled edges – it would make each plank very noticeable, which visually I like but I’m afraid of feeling the “gaps” underneath my feet if I walk around without shoes.

    Thank you so much for sharing you lovely home! I am so beyond thrilled to have found you!


    1. Hi Preetika! You are too kind. Thank you! I’m so happy you found me too! :) My kitchen backsplash is Carrara Marble subway tiles. I’m sorry I don’t have the manufacturer! I went through the same thing and remember sending back several boxes of tile because it was too white and had no veins! I just had to keep trying until I found one I loved. As far as the floor edges they aren’t beveled. I’m not sure what you would call them! Here is post all about my floors where you can get a closer look at them!

      I hope that helps! Best of luck with your new build! So exciting! :)

      1. Thanks for answering my questions! I’m going to see a few more marble brick options this weekend with our designer so hopefully I’ll spot the perfect white veined pattern that’s not tooo white or tooo grey, ha!

        Haha, I actually spent quite a bit of time last night analyzing your post on floors. Based on what I can see, I think yours have a really tiny bevel (maybe a “micro-bevel”)? I’m really not sure but they look oh so beautiful :-)


  10. Hi Erin,
    It’s good to hear you are recuperating well.
    I have a question for you! What do you do with the papers you save – especially the
    magazine page or the paint color chip? I just continue to collect them and then
    I have a HUGE folder or box of papers/chips! HELP ME!!!

    1. Good question Jenifer! I have a spot in my cupboards where I store house paint chips, fabric samples, etc. that I keep. I also have a drawer where I keep magazine inspiration pages. I used to file them in an accordion file but now I just keep them in a deep drawer. I’ll try to share pics of these things on the blog at some point!

  11. What a beautiful office, one that anyone would be happy to get to work in!
    I love your filing system. I personally hate a bunch of papers on my desk-so that’s a great idea to keep things sorted that you can’t put away/throw away yet.

  12. Loved this post! I may have to purchase those trays. My office organization needs a little overhaul! Wish you could come over and help me! xoxo

  13. Hi Erin!!
    I haven’t ever told you this, but I severely broke my heel (calcaneus) about 7 1/2 years ago falling down some stairs, so I feel your pain. I have had multiple surgeries and have had to go up to 4 months at a time without putting any weight on my left foot. I have worn out 9 of those lovely gray boots and can still not wear any kind of shoe except for a specific Lindsay Phillips flip flop because everything hurts so much! Brother!! I have bought two of those knee walker things and still have one up in the attic for future use. I’m so sorry you are going through this knee surgery but so happy your sweet family is taking care of you! Bless all of their sweet, pure hearts for their efforts to make your life easier while you are not able to get around!! Love & hugs!!! Jane Carden

    1. Jane! Oh my word! I can’t believe you have been dealing with that injury for so long! What a nightmare. I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve worn one of those lovely boots myself when I had Plantar Fasciitis a couple of years ago and they are NOT fun! I can’t imagine all you’ve been through. Going through experiences like this sure make you grateful for overall health and for all of your body parts when everything is working right! Thank you for sharing that with me! I knew we were kindred spirits and this just sealed the deal. ;) Love and hugs right back! xo

  14. Thank you so much for this! My desk/office/work space is a constant disaster and dumping ground. This gave me the extra nudge that I needed to re think my strategy and to start re organizing!

  15. I’m glad you are feeling better & are back to blogging! Wishing you a speedy recovery. I bet that shower will feel amazing! My mom is having knee surgery in a week – double knee replacement (eep!). Just wanted you to know I’m glad you’re on the mend. :-)

    1. Oh sending hugs and prayers to your mom! My mother in law just did the same thing! So many knee issues! Not fun. Thank you so much for thinking of me Kerry! Baby steps around here but I am definitely on the mend. :) xo

  16. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    Great post and lots of good tips!

    What keeps me in a funk is all my paper and digital mess. I have underbed bins for each kid and they’re overflowing with school/art stuff.. I struggle in deciding what to keep and what to trash. What do you do?

    Also, I’ve longed to organize my digital photos to print albums for the kids that I’ve put off for a very long time. Believe it or not, one of my goals is to make each their own digital baby book since I never got around to it. And they’re 10 and 12!! Lol!! I don’t know where to begin!!

    Thanks for your inspiration and hope you feel better real soon!

    1. Thank you so much! Oh my word.. it’s so hard staying on top of all of the kids’ school stuff isn’t it!? I wrote a post on that very thing (what I save and what I toss) and I get more selective every year about what I keep! See if this post helps:

      I have a lot of photo albums I want to catch up on someday too! I wish I could help you more with that one. If I ever come up with my own solution I’ll definitely share it! xo

  17. Hi Erin, so happy you are back to your blog! Your office looks beautiful and so organized. I hope you are doing well and getting plenty of rest!

  18. Erin, I am so happy to hear your surgery went well and that you are on the mend. I don’t comment often but love reading your blog… I always save your posts to read on the weekends as a way to treat myself. :). One thing that caught my eye in the comments above was that you mentioned dealing with Plantar Faciitis awhile ago. Was wearing the boot the only type of treatment you needed? Anyway, here’s hoping and praying that your recovery will be swift… Thanks for always being so upbeat and “sunny!” Clare. P.S. Love your inbox tray labeling ideas–so helpful!

    1. So sweet of you Clare! It means so much to me that you enjoy my blog! Thank you! That makes my day. :) Ahh.. plantar fasciitis.. not fun! Yes.. the boot was really all I did to treat it, but I was in that boot for months! I also had to sleep in it. Now I have custom inserts I put in my running shoes that help and I can’t be barefoot on my wood floors all day! That and running is what caused it in the first place. So I live in house shoes. :) I hope you’re not dealing with that! Getting it to go away is such a pain. xo

  19. HI Erin! I hope your week is off to a great start as far as healing and feeling better. :) Wish I could drop you off some popcorn with M&Ms for a snack or whatever comfort foods you are craving as you recover! This post makes me smile, as I am setting up a home office space now in the final days before my second little boy gets here and I make the slow transition to a new part-time contracting job from home. I am SO excited for all the changes and to get our office nook area organized and decorated to my liking! Thanks for the great ideas. And that notepad/card drawer….LOVE. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Genelle you are the sweetest! I could definitely go for some popcorn with M&Ms right about now! :) So kind of you to think of me. And I’m thrilled you liked this post! Congrats on your new baby coming! That is so exciting. So are the work changes. Happy for you! :) xo

  20. Glad to hear your surgery went well and that you are on the mend! That has got to be a huge relief! Good organizational tips. You have a nice big office which is a real asset! I keep things pretty simple around here. Just a to do, pending and file folders. I write out my to do list and tackle the top three items before noon every day. My to do list is quite long though. I keep a blush folder with a a to-do list and my grocery list in it. I write anything that is pending on the back and slip it in the pending folder. I file every evening so there is nothing to file really. I have my daily routine typed up so nothing slips through the cracks. It feels like I’m always working but everything gets done. The key with any paper is having a system in place and filing the paper every day.

  21. Wow! Your home office setup is amazing! I want to do like the same.
    Use of natural light in your room is perfect. You have organized it very well with the use of boxes.
    I simply love it!

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