Today I am going to write about small home office organization. Covid19 has meant more people are having to work or study from home. What do you do if you don’t have a separate room for your home office? Working or studying from home is hard enough at the best of times. There are many distractions, and potentially constant interruptions from pets, family, and doorbells. As a Professional Organizer, I have helped many entrepreneurs create home offices, creating workspaces that are efficient, productive, and organized. The home office needs to look good, feel good, and be somewhere they want to sit down and work in.
The Small Home Office
If you don’t have a separate room for your home office, you will need to fit it into and around your home. Sometimes, that is a corner of the kitchen, the bedroom, the dining table, or the couch. How do you even begin the organization of your home office when it has to be split up between rooms? Defining the actions involved in your work and the environments required for them to be accomplished in, is the first step.
Desk: In small spaces, it is not always possible to have a designated workstation. Whether you use your dining table or the couch to work from, you will need to define how much space you need when working. In other words how much clutter do you create while working? This “clutter”, once you have finished, will need to be put away safely and in an organized fashion. My Organizational Personality Type System will help us here in determining the kind of space required for your workstation and the size/style of storage best suited to you.
I am a Spreader. A Spreader needs a lot of space while working because, as their namesake suggests, they spread! So, squeezing into a tiny corner of the kitchen will not work for me. I need to lay my work out, to see it. However, if you are a Filer then the small corner in the kitchen will work perfectly well. So, think about how much space you need to work on.
There are so many choices out there. I know it’s tempting to work on your couch but it is not a long term solution. The following article by Brittney Morgan in House Beautiful has some great ideas for small desks that might work for you: 23 Best Desks That Will Fit in Even the Smallest Spaces:
Computer: Whether it is a laptop or a computer with a monitor you will need to think about the surface you work on and also how you put it all away. Only put the computer and desk in an area of your home that you know you will definitely have consistent and scheduled time to be alone there. If you can’t control the environment then you won’t be able to control your work output. Think about when you work – daytime or evenings. Where you put your desk and computer is VERY important.
Storage: You will need to create some permanent storage solution for keeping the computer, its parts, and its accessories when you are finished working. In small spaces, it is important to keep things out of sight or things will look cluttered very quickly. Here are some ideas for where to create office storage in your home;
- Plastic bins that fit under the bed (the ones that have rollers on them are best)
- A drawer in a cabinet
- A bin that fits on a shelf
I always suggest storage solutions that have lids on them when you are creating solutions for small spaces as you don’t want any food, liquid, pets, or children getting into them. It keeps the contents safe and private.
There are some fantastic designs out there that make fitting a home office into a small space not only possible but, stylish and practical. I used a desk similar to this one for a client who was working on her PhD. She didn’t have a second room for an office. She also loved entertaining so it was important to her that her research work and technology was safely out of sight.
Paper/File Management: You will want your home office to be invisible when you finish work or study. This can easily be created with a few steps. I have found that having a drawer/box for “Action” (any bills you have to pay or items you have to take action on) and a drawer/box for “Filing” (is ready to be filed away in the filing cabinet) means that papers are kept from becoming piles or getting lost. With regards to stationery and supplies storage, again, put them in a drawer or attractive box.
Filing: Whatever your filing system – binder or filing cabinet – you will need to assign somewhere for it. The most important thing here is that you can get at it. If you are hiding your filing cabinet in the back of a storage locker or wardrobe then you will never do your filing. When papers get out of control your stress levels go way up. There are many attractive filing solutions that don’t look like ugly filing cabinets and can live in any room without offending.
A working filing system means that you can find any piece of paper in five seconds. If it takes 15 minutes to get to the cabinet you are kind of setting yourself up for failure. Once I put a filing cabinet in a kitchen; no one knew as it matched all the other cabinets. For another client, we created a filing system for all her research papers in the window bench of her living room. To get at her filing all she had to do was lift the seat top.
Filing cabinets are not essential for storing files, what is important is the system to store and organize the documents. Binders can blend in on a bookshelf without anyone knowing what is in the binder. Likewise, a simple gasket box for files can be stored in a cupboard out of sight.
Tips: Small Home Office Organization
- Determine how much space you personally need while working and choose an area of your home that accommodates this
- Set boundaries over noise and interruptions while working
- Choose a filing system that fits into your home environment and that is easily accessible
- Document and paper management: create an “Action” drawer/box and a “Filing” drawer/box.
- When storing supplies and technology away choose storage containers that have lids and can fit discreetly away under a couch, bed, or in a cupboard.
Good luck and drop me a line if you have any specific questions on the design or layout of your office.