How to Create an Office in a Box

I know many of us work from home, and, most often, either our dining room table or kitchen table is our office. Wouldn’t it be great to have an office in a box so you wouldn’t have to take over the entire table and have nowhere to eat most nights?

Materials needed:

  • A plastic file box (you can grab one at any Staples store)
  • 50 hanging folders
  • 50 plastic label holders
  • Sharpie or a label maker (whichever one is handy)
  • A clear small plastic bin (Dollarama or Canadian Tire)

What you’re going to do with these materials:

Step One: On your 31 hanging folders, you need to label them 1 to 31.

Step Two: On the next 12 hanging folders, add the months of the year.

Step Three: On the remaining 8 hanging folders, add categories you keep receipts for tax purposes; gas, networking, supplies etc., and keep them in alphabetical order.

At this point, here’s what you should have in your box.

How the system works:

Your hanging file folders from Step One (labelled 1 – 31) represent the days of the current month you are in and/or will be going into. Keep today’s date as the first number in the system. For example, if it is the 6th of January, have the file labelled 6 first and the rest in order behind it. You will open every file on the day that it falls on (i.e. open the file labelled 6 on the 6th of the month) to see what actions you need to take. Work on what is there, and, if anything does not get finished, add it to the file marked for the next day (i.e. the 7th of the month) so you are sure to approach it the next day to complete it.

You can also use this system to rack your follow-ups. Say you sent an order to a client on December 3rd and you need to follow-up with them in two weeks, put their lead page and/or file in the hanging file labelled 17 (this is two weeks from the 3rd). Once the 17th rolls around and you open that file as part of your day-to-day routine, the client’s file is there and ready for you to do follow-up with them.

The files labelled with the months from Step Two are there for you to add action files and papers to the month they are needed. When you get to the 15th of the current month, open up the next month’s file folder and start dividing up the action files into the first 14 days of the following month, as those files are now finished in the month you are currently in.

The other eight labelled files form Step Three are for receipts for tax purposes. Please take the liberty to add anything that pertains specifically to you and your business. I used the main ones: Car for gas receipts, Networking for food/event receipts, Supplies for any business related purchases ie. ink, paper, etc. Your bookkeeper or accountant will be able to help you figure out exactly what you should be keeping and in which file.

Finally, the small clear bin is a place to put pens, pencils, stapler/staples, post-it notes, paper clips and so forth, and should fit into the file box a.k.a. your new ‘office.’

Keep your office in a box near your work space, but out of people’s way.

Why you should use this system:

Your files will act like an agenda/planner and be an organized method to keeping all of your random papers for your business in order. 

Instead of having papers, post it notes and receipts lying around on the table come dinner time to get spilled on or loosing them when you move them around so they don’t get spilled on, they will all be tucked away and organized in your new ‘office.’

With this system, you have the freedom to choose what works best for you, your style and your business.

Stephanie Butler

Stephanie comes to the professional organizing world with 20 years of social service work under her belt. She has worked with people from all walks of life and has the unique ability to help those with anxiety, depression, ADD/HD and emotional attachment, to declutter and get organized. Stephanie teaches her clients how to get organized and stay organized. When she is not working you can find Stephanie crafting, out for walks, kayaking and reading. Her favorite thing to do is travel and to socialize with good friends. She recently travelled to England and Paris to be with friends and also Brazil. She finds it a blessing to have friends all over the globe it is an excuse to travel and visit them. Stephanie grew up in North Toronto but moved up north a few years back as she was tired of the hustle and bustle lifestyle. She loves all that Barrie has to offer, the water front, close to hiking trails and the ability to go to Toronto whenever she wants to see old friends and enjoy live performances. Stephanie is also the Co-Author of Dear Stress I'm Breaking Up With You. Find it on Amazon at

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3 thoughts on “How to Create an Office in a Box

  • Avatar
    January 9, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Wonderful steps, thank you for the great article. I look forward to trying this out to keep me organized and papers out of view when the day is done.

  • Avatar
    January 9, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    So glad you found this helpful!

  • Amanda Gobatto
    January 13, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Stephanie – MY MIND IS BLOWN!!

    I’m going to try adopting this system – thank you so much.

    My office desk IS my kitchen table, since the new year, I’ve made the habit of tidying it up properly each night before dinner so that it doesn’t feel like the photo you featured in this post, but having a system would be AMAZING. I’m a system’s girl – my struggle is finding a system that works for me.

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