Need More Home Office Space? Look Up

bookcaseWhen you work from home, it’s not the size of the space that matters…it’s how you use that space. The last three home offices I designed were small, but functional. Instead of focusing on the lack of floor space, we made the most of the vertical space.

Whether you’re setting up a home office for the first time or redesigning your current office space, think vertically and put your walls and corners to work.

Start with shelves.

Add shelves above or next to your desk to gain more storage space and to reduce desktop clutter. You can use open shelves or a hutch that sits on your desk. A tall, four-shelf bookcase — ideally with adjustable shelves – can hold dozens of books and reference materials. If you have a hutch, you’ll need to place your desk against a wall. The only exception is when you want to divide a larger room and use it for two different purposes.

Don’t waste corners.

The L-shaped arrangement is my favorite because the two work surfaces are at a right angle. Also, the L-shape makes it easy to use the corner that normally is wasted space. A corner is the ideal place for a copier or printer because it’s out of the way, but within reach.

Make furniture do double-duty.

Several years ago, I set up my home office in a spare bedroom. I used an antique dresser to hold my all-in-one machine and reference books on top. Inside, I stored office supplies. One of my clients uses her dining room as a home office during the day and stores all of her equipment and supplies in a large sideboard. When she entertains, no one knows that along one wall is a fully functioning home office. Look at the furniture you have in your home and consider whether you can use it for storage in your home office.

Make Room for the New Year

new year organizing declutter officeThere’s something about the new year that brings out the organizer in all of us. Maybe it’s the desire to start fresh, wipe away the previous year, or start over.

I started 2013 by organizing my garage. Big deal, right?

Actually, it was. I’ve been able to fit my car in my garage (my son’s car too), but I was tired of looking at all of the shelves in my garage filled with things I knew I wasn’t ever going to use. By the time I finished, I had four trash bags full of stuff, three rugs, and a desk, all ready to donate.

How could I have kept so many things I didn’t need? The answer was as clear as my newly organized garage. Because I had extra shelves and plenty of room to store things I didn’t need to keep, I kept them.

Doesn’t it make sense that the more space you have, the more things you’ll keep? Think about it…it’s easier to stick something on a shelf in case you need it some day (something my clients always say), than to decide whether you really need to keep it.

So this new year, take a look at your closets, bookcases, cabinets, your garage, or storage space — not in one day, it’s too overwhelming — and see if you can get rid of a few things you’re no longer using.

Don’t be surprised if while your organizing you say a few times, “I was looking for that!” because I promise you will.

Which organizing project are you going to tackle this year?

Challenge Yourself To Do It Now

source: stevendepolo

The other day when I needed to work on a project but couldn’t get motivated, I remembered a speech I heard about the “Assoonas.” You know…as soon as I buy a different house, I’ll have the perfect home office. As soon as I buy a new computer, I’ll have more clients. You get the idea.

Sometimes it’s easier to put things off than to handle them right away. Get off your “buts” (I’ve attended way too many motivational seminars!) and follow these tips to help you jump-start your next project.


Use a to-do list

Whether you use a scheduling program, your Smartphone, or even a paper-based planner to record everything you need to do, find a planning system that works. A good system for keeping track of client information is one that’s functional and easy to use. The to-do list should be simple and you should be able to customize it. When you use a to-do list the right way, it can keep you on track and make projects more manageable.

Keep in mind that making a to-do list is easy, yet remembering to look at your list is the hard part. If you feel yourself getting sidetracked, go back to your list.

To read the rest of my guest post on Work Your Way, click here.


Take the Time to Purge Your Home Office

source: Rita H Cobbs

I’d love to invest in a storage facility. You know, the ones where people pay $120 a month to store $50 worth of stuff.

I know it’s hard to get rid of things, especially if you’ve had them for a long time.

My cousin used to have a basement loaded with boxes that she’d had almost her whole life. A few years ago, her basement flooded and she had to get rid of everything. Last year she finally admitted that she was relieved about the flood. If it hadn’t happened, she still would have had a basement full of boxes she didn’t need to keep.

You don’t have to wait for a disaster to clear out your office (or maybe even your garage). Consider these questions to help you take the plunge and purge.

To read the rest of my guest post on Work Your Way, click here.


How to Increase Home Office Storage

When you start a business from home, you may have think that you have plenty of storage space in your home office. As you grow your business, don’t be surprised if your storage space shrinks quickly. After all, no matter how much storage space you have, you probably want more.

When I first moved into my latest home office, I thought that I would have plenty of room for my books, supplies, projects and anything else that belonged in my home office. A few months later I realized I was wrong. I bought two bookcases, added shelves to my closet and donated a huge box of supplies I’d never used. Now I have extra storage space and I’m able to find what I need more easily.

Before you give up on finding more storage space, try these tips.

Think vertically. [Read more…]

4 Organizing Misconceptions You Can Stop Believing Today

I credit my older sister for putting me over the organizing edge. When we were younger and shared a room, her side was a disaster, and mine was obsessively neat (although I’ve mellowed a bit).

Even though my sister is still disorganized — she’s fine with it — she knows it’s possible for anyone to get organized. But some people are stubborn and refuse to get organized because they believe a few misconceptions about organization.

I want to set the record straight.

Misconception #1—Handle paper once.

This is not only impossible, it’s unrealistic. Whenever I hear an organizing expert tell others to handle paper once, I cringe. Instead of pressuring yourself to handle paper once, get in the habit of doing something to move each piece forward. The point is to keep the paper in play until it lands in a file or in the recycle bin. It’s a waste of time to pick up the same piece of paper and put it back repeatedly. [Read more…]

How to Help Others Have an Organized New Year

One of my clients was so excited about her new organizing habits, that she decided to change her husband’s disorganized ways. The more she talked to him about helping him sort through his files, clear off his desk and switch from writing his to-do list on his hand to using a smartphone, the less interested he was in the whole process.

Some people can help others get organized and still keep their relationship in tact. Others wind up frustrated and stop talking to each other for a few days.

Whether your spouse or someone else you know is organizationally challenged, you can help him or her get organized. The only catch is that they have to want to change.

The New Year is a good time for all of us to do things differently and change what isn’t working. While you’re making your own changes, consider helping others change their organizing habits.

Be non-threatening

If you call someone a slob, they’re going to be less interested in cleaning up than if you offer to help. If you see scraps of paper and sticky notes everywhere on your spouse or your associate’s desk, help him or her find a better planning system. The notes they’re using to remind them of tasks they need to handle are easy to lose and too hard to track. They could use a simple spiral notebook to list tasks, find a computer program to track to-dos, or use their smartphone for [Read more…]

Get Thinner Files in Just Minutes a Day

A few years ago, I reached the point where I was tired of handling papers and despised filing even more.

I sorted through my files, took out as many papers as I could and then dumped the papers I didn’t need in my recycling bin. This decluttering process took a few hours, but when I finished, I knew that maintenance would take only a few minutes every day.

Now, instead of adding more files to my file drawers, I store files electronically and back them up in three places. This may seem like overkill but it takes only one computer crash to figure out it’s easier to back up info than to try to recreate it.

Try these ways to reduce your files and overcome information overload, without spending too much time or money. [Read more…]

Last-Minute Tips for End of the Year Organizing

This time of year, many businesses slow down and take care of the annoying tasks they haven’t had time to deal with all year. Some people are still wrapping up loose ends, finalizing contracts and planning ahead for next year, but for the most part, businesses are getting ready to enjoy the break between Christmas and New Year’s.

Those few quiet days are the perfect time to clear out your home office and get organized. Start with these tips: [Read more…]

What is Clutter Costing You?

The show Hoarders is an extreme example of clutter gone wild. I’ve watched only a few episodes, but I’ve seen enough to know that there’s more to the stacks of stuff, and rooms filled with fast-food boxes, newspapers and items that the owners can’t possibly throw away, than just the inability to get organized.

Your home office may not resemble anything close to the homes on Hoarders, but consider how much you own, how much you need, and why you’re still holding on to things you no longer use. Even if you didn’t pay for anything in your home office, the clutter may be costing you more than you realize.

The mental cost [Read more…]