Most of us these days have a laptop computer, and we desire the ability to pick up and move to various locations in order to work effectively. Whether you are working on your ipad while the kids are in soccer or meeting someone at Panera, we want to be able to pick up and go quickly. You might have work and/or home files that mostly stay in one location, yet your computer and other supplies need to be easily accessible to carry along. Here is how to have an (almost totally) portable home office.

How to Have an (Almost Totally) Portable Home Office|The Holy Mess

How to Have an (Almost Totally) Portable Home Office

There’s nothing more frustrating that setting up to work somewhere away from home and not having everything you need. You carve out several hours of uninterrupted time and then you get there only to find you are without a critical piece of information (for me it’s often something like my password book, and I’m texting my husband or one of my kids, asking them to take a picture of it for me, and I can’t get ahold of them…) Argh, it’s so, so frustrating!

Thinking in advance about what you will need will save you loads of time if you want to create a portable home office.

The other thing that’s important is you that you need a fast way to re-organize when you are done. Otherwise you get home, the kids are pulling on you, you are tired and just want to crash, dinner needs to be made, and you throw everything into a huge pile. You end up with a scattered disorganized mess the time you try to work. Keep a SIMPLE system that will stay organized.

Here is what you need:

  1. Computer. Unless you are going very old-school, you need a computer or possibly an i-pad with a keyboard. Make sure you bring your charger. I also keep a phone charger in my bag.
  2. Calendar. I use an Erin Condren calendar (see below) which is my command center and to-do list all rolled into one, so I always have my calendar with me.
  3. Portable files, 3-Ring Binders, or Clipboard. This is where things get sticky. How much and what to bring? I like using clipboards but they take up a lot of space in a bag. These portable files are handy for on the go. I have 1 folder with To-Do List items that I carry with my calendar, and then I have files for my business and separate files for my home (in my case, my special needs kids) that I can grab depending on what I’m working on that day.
  4. Bag. I love my Timbuk2 messenger bag which has a space for my laptop plus plenty of room for files, books, papers, and more.
Portable Home Office

My laptop fits in the back of my Timbuk2 bag. I can go through security without taking this out of the bag.

Portable home office

Portable home office: inside the main compartment of my bag is computer cords, calendar, files, and I keep a couple emergency bags with small items I might need also: chap stick, band-aids, make-up.

For many of us, gone are the days of a huge computer desk. In years past we had a huge L-shaped computer desk where I worked from home.

L shaped computer desk

Remember these huge computer desks?

A large computer desk stored everything, but this sucker was a beast. I think it took about 10 moving boxes to get everything moved from ours when we came to New York from Colorado.

My Home Office

When we moved to our new home in New York, we were presented with an interesting decor dilemma.

Our front door opens right into the dining room which is also my home office.

How could I make that room appealing, inviting to guests, yet also usable for my home office space?

Come inside for a tour and see how we’ve done it.

Welcome to my house!

Welcome to our house! This is our front door area with room for hanging coats.

Standing inside our dining room.

Standing just inside our front door, looking into our dining room. The challenge was making this a warm, inviting space yet also usable as an office area.

How to Make Your Home Office (Almost Totally) Portable|The Holy Mess

This 9 cube organizer and storage cubes are available at Target.


Target 9 Cube Storage Organizer: Link here

Target Storage Bins

Target Storage Bins, 13 inch: Link Here Target has the best selection of bins of different sizes and colors.

Old fashioned desk as printer stand.

This is so fun! This old-fashioned desk came from the Lutheran School Association where I went to elementary school. When they were getting rid of the old desks, they gave the families the opportunity to purchase them and my parents bought one. I kept mine and still use it, and now we are using it for our printer. It’s heavy as all get out but I can’t bear to part with it.

Laptop Computer

One of the first steps in a portable home office is your computer. A laptop or ipad with a keyboard. I store mine in the roll top desk when it’s not at the dining room table.

Portable home office.

Inside the rolltop I have office supplies, my calendar, and one folder that contains my To-Do List papers. These are items that I will need within the next few weeks: prescriptions, sign-up forms, paperwork I know we will be using very soon. These items are grab-and-go with me almost everywhere.

Portable home office.

Here is my calendar (Erin Condren, I love it), which also has all of my to-do lists for my business and home life, plus my To-Do List paperwork of items I know I’ll be using within the next week or two.

portable home office.

Inside the storage bins in the dining room is paperwork that is more long-term storage: papers for my business, paperwork for the kids and the family. Keep in mind we also keep digital files as well. Click here for how to get started with digital files: 5 Easy Ways to Start Going Paperless

Timbuk2 Messenger Bag is my office away from home: Link here to check out their amazing bags.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know our family is a bit crazy for Timbuk2 messenger bags. The top feature I love is that you can carry a laptop through airport security without taking it out of your bag. They are also great all-around bags for the busy person. My husband has had one for several years and it looks almost new. My daughter, son, and I all have one also.

This is what I’ve found works for how to have an (almost totally) portable home office.

How have you made your home office work for on-the-go life?


Action Steps:

Day 5 in Calm the Clutter Series

  1. Choose the items most important to your on-the-go office. Computer, cords, files, calendar, to-do list.
  2. Choose a bag for your portable office.
  3. Plan to re-organize when you come home from working away from your desk, so it’s not all in a big pile.

7 Days to Calm the Clutter

Join our series for 7 days to calm the clutter in your life.

7 Days to Calm the Clutter|The Holy Mess

All this week we will talk about how to calm the clutter and stay organized. This series is full of tips, tips, tips!

Who doesn’t love quick tips and tricks? These are great take-aways you can use right away.

Click here to get the whole series by email! 

Follow along as we go or take it at your own pace.

7 Bible Verses for When You are Stressed and Disorganized

7 Tips to Stay Organized When You are Super Busy

5 Steps to Start Going Paperless

5 Tips to Organizing Your Kids’ School Papers and Schedules

How to Have an (Almost Totally) Portable Home Office

Amazing and Awesome Products for Organizing Your Home Office

7 Tools You Must Have to Stay Organized for Weight Loss and Fitness

How to Make Your Home Office (Almost Totally) Portable|The Holy Mess

Find an Organized You.

7 Days to Calm the Clutter.

* Make your home office portable.

* Go paperless -- for newbies!

* Organize for weight loss & fitness

* Daily action steps

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